Familiar with the term Digital Sharecropping? It’s a phenomenon that most people don’t understand. An SEO guru colleague, Heather Lloyd-Martin shared a newsletter email regarding it and got me taking another look.
Digital sharecropping refers to social media channels and how people and businesses interact with them. The earliest concerns about it date back to 2006.
The term derives from the sharecropping, (aka feudalism) that happened after the end of the US Civil War. People had no money so paid to use a landlord’s property with a share of their crops. They didn’t own the land or even the tools they used.
In the game of Monopoly™, when you land on a property that is owned, you have to pay rent just like sharecroppers did.
It’s happening today—digitally. And it can be very risky for your business if you are dependent on it.
Social Media Digital Sharecropping
In the last few years, many businesses, especially B2C, have shifted their marketing to focus completely on social media. Some skip a website altogether, focusing instead on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Simple. Easy. Sweet.
What they don’t realize is they have no real control over what the social channel does. The channel owns the real estate. The channel is their landlord.
So they post lots to get more likes and more fans. They work hard to build a social empire of followers.
So what’s wrong with that? It works great to stay in touch with friends. It’s been a way to stay connected during the pandemic.
However, did you know that once you post pictures the channel actually can now sell the images someplace else without your permission and without compensating you? It’s in the fine print and it’s been this way for years.
Social was designed to be gathering spots, like the water cooler or watering hole. People visit, put up posts, and share for free. In exchange, the channel sells advertising to monetize users. It’s quite profitable, ask Mark Zuckerberg.
However, what if you are a business owner?
Matthew Inman, creator of Oatmeal comics got hit with the dark side of his social media empire.
Inman’s had a website for years where he publishes Oatmeal comics. But to make it easy to stay connected with followers he shifted to build a huge following on Facebook and Instagram. People love his posts.
According to a recent The Oatmeal Instagram post, Facebook has decided if Inman wants to reach more than a fraction of his followers, he needs to pay them $2000 PER POST. And this is content he’s putting up free for his nearly four million followers.
In his Instagram post, he explained the situation and invited people to sign up for his newsletter where they can be guaranteed the full dose of his comic goodness.
He’s also started only sharing part of “something too big for Instagram”, or Facebook, and sending the reader to his website to see the rest.
He is moving away from being dependent on social media. Inman has learned the risks of being a digital sharecropper. Now his focus is real estate he owns and controls. His website and e-newsletter where there are no middlemen charging fees.
Why is digital sharecropping important to understand?
With social media, the rules change with little notice.
Paid posts, or rebuilding a following on a new channel, are expensive.
Inman worked for years to build his following. Then the rules changed. Without paying huge fees, only a tiny portion of his followers would see his posts.
You don’t want your business to be in Inman’s situation.
How would it impact your marketing if you had to pay for every post you put on your business page?
For your business to succeed long term, you need a plan to take control of your social marketing.
I’ve discovered the ways to fight back and I’ll share them with you.
Here’s something most people don’t think of…
Where will you be if a different new social channel becomes the big buzz? Think it won’t happen? Where’s MySpace? Friendster? Google+? MySpace still exists, but it’s pretty lonely there. It went out of favor.
And a recent Social America report shared that for Gen Z and millennials, Facebook has lost favor. Instead, they are using Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat. And this will change again, it’s inevitable.
Every social empire you build is only temporary. So if you want to depend on social, get prepared for changes and having to rebuild.
3 ways to offset digital sharecropping
When I work with clients we use social media as part of the mix, but we focus on things they have 100% control over. We focus on enhancing their website, connecting with emails and newsletters, and building a reputation for offering value.
Your website is something you have complete control over. Wherever you market, drive the traffic to your website. Make it the hub of your marketing efforts.
Start a post on social and send them to the website to see the rest. Share a new product or service and direct them to your website to learn more.
Invite visitors to subscribe to your newsletter. You can increase the number of signups by offering something useful or of value as a reward for subscribing.
Send them emails with links to information or products on the website.
Direct mail pieces have gained favor since there is a lot more in our inboxes than in our mailboxes. What you send is more apt to be seen. Use mail as another way to bring people to your website. Drive them to a special report, service, or offer.
Assure your website offers a positive experience and is easy to navigate.
Contact information needs to be easy to find, preferably on every page so the visitor doesn’t have to hunt.
People have become more skeptical. Use transparency to boost trust. Consider putting a contact number in a narrow banner at the very top of each page. It’s validation you are a sound trustworthy business. They may never call, but it makes you seem safer than a business without it.
Newsletters and emails
Using email to connect and share is one of the best investments in your marketing mix. They come from you.
Whether a short post or a newsletter, they can be informational, educational, and entertaining. They can also drive clients back to your website. Introduce an article or blog with a link to where the complete story resides on your website.
Email communications are a great place to share more about your team, your brand story, and your products or services. Share your uniqueness, your visions, and your social conscience.
Emails are bond builders. People love to be part of a group or a tribe. Your emails and newsletter are exclusive for your subscribers—a place they can hear your news before the rest of the world does.
The right emails nurture new buyers. They help them have the best experience with their purchase as well as get to know you as a brand.
According to a recent study by SubjectLine.com, emails that promote a one-day offer get 21% higher opens than if you just announce a sale. Words like “today only,” or “one day sale,” get attention and people don’t want to miss out. They create a sense of urgency and exclusivity.
Use content as a way to share and display valuable information you put out. Content that’s fresh, relevant, useful, and focused on your target audience’s interests and concerns.
Avoid any techniques or content that seems spammy or pushy/dodgy.
Your value content is the reputation your business earns. Quality and value are the keys to attracting and keeping your ideal customers.
So where does that leave social? Social channels are useful tools to support your website…the real estate you own. Use social as a part of your marketing mix. Mix is the keyword. You are using but not depending on channels that you have no real control over.
Judith Culp Pearson is a digital content marketer helping businesses gain and retain customers for a higher lifetime value. Result-oriented relationship building and empathy-based marketing. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Customer experience enhancers create more loyalty, repeat sales, and profitability. The pandemic disrupted the traditional shopping model forcing people to go online. It stuck.
People often now use a blend between the two. The lines between online and a physical store are becoming blurred. More than ever, it’s about what this blend feels like before buying, while making a purchase, and afterward.
A true story of enhancing the customer experience
One of the companies I work with shared how changing a tiny detail made a huge difference. They have an e-commerce store selling both consumer products and professional-only products. But about 95% of their business is professional sales.
To enhance the buying experience for professionals, they set up a drop-down system to validate they were eligible to buy the professional products. The drop-down streamlined the shopping process as they didn’t have to take the time to set up an account.
The shipping manager received an email from a regular customer:
Why is there a note that pops up that says I’m not ordering XXXXX? That’s the only product I ever order?
The manager quickly responded, explained why they had the drop-down process. She also thanked the customer for bringing it to her attention. Then, she told the client she was going to see if they could change the default.
This one tiny change, altering a default, reduced the number of questions the shipping manager got and made her life much easier. It also made 95% of the customer’s lives easier because they now don’t have to change the default.
The company still does random checking to validate that the customers are qualified professionals. But it was an easy fix and win-win change.
Customer Experience Enhancers work.
Enhancing the customer experience is the top proven technique to reduce churn, retain customers and increase profits. The longer you can keep a customer loyal, the lower your acquisition cost. It also raises the Lifetime Customer Value exponentially.
It’s five to seven times more expensive to find a new customer than to keep them. And you’ll increase sales.
The odds of a new prospect purchasing are between 5 and 20%. But with an existing customer, the odds of another sale jump to 60-70%. Retention is smart for business.
I’ve seen this over and over in my businesses and working with clients. Every little detail that makes the customer’s experience better is a significant positive.
Little things are big experience enhancers.
Some changes may be significant, and others, like in the example, are small technical things. However, they all make a difference in the customer’s experience and overall happiness rating.
For maximum success, the entire brand team needs to communicate, share, and look for ways to be better. The team that interacts directly with shoppers often has overlooked information. Keep them in the loop. Listen to them. Empower them to facilitate and stimulate changes that make shopper’s lives easier.
The Three E’s of customer experience enhancers
More than ever before, customers turn to the internet for information. And they are using a blended model of shopping in person and online. If in your store and thinking of a purchase, they may compare prices online. Or check customer reviews.
The experience you offer needs to be seamless and supportive throughout their buying journey.
As they experience your content, your customer support, and your social media connectivity, they form an emotional reaction to doing business with you. Positive, negative, or neutral.
Those businesses that focus on enhancing positive experiences will see the greatest success.
Experience enhance content
Often businesses in the past had more of an online brochure rather than a customer-focused shopping experience. That model doesn’t work today. Your website needs to feature lots of fresh, helpful content and an easy way to find it. They want positive experience content.
The underlying theme of content is how this product or service will make their life easier, better, more fulfilling, and fun. Emotional connectedness. Then the supporting information validates why this is so. They want the proof: reviews, testimonials, scientific studies, what experts say, and more.
They want all of this in an easy-to-access format that makes shopping a pleasure.
Today’s consumer doesn’t want to have to call to get help or find what they need. They want more of a self-service experience. They don’t want to wait days or weeks to get an email response. The longer they have to wait to get answers, the more likely they’ll go elsewhere.
It’s like when you need a service or repair person, and no one calls you back. You go from enthusiastic to neutral to frustrated.
Help shoppers get to know you.
Shoppers want easy access to learning about you and your products—and what makes you unique. They want
Answers to all the frequently asked questions.
To read your blogs about how you developed a product or service.
To understand how you are helping the planet and being socially responsible
Easy access to resource pages, blogs, articles and to learn about your products and services.
To know you and your team as individuals rather than just a company.
Consider offering books, e-books, reports, guides, video how-tos, and other valuable resources.
Customer service is always an experience. All too often, it is a frustrating, time-consuming process. It needs to be friendly, knowledgeable, supportive. Phone connections are great, but if they are searching on their phone and can do a live chat, that works.
Experience enhance service
For many consumers, a common complaint is the lack of staffing. Lack of staffing might have been a valid excuse during the early days of the pandemic, but it doesn’t fly anymore.
AI is getting more intelligent, and the interactions with it are more favorable. It just needs to be helpful and able to quickly move the shopper to live chat or a phone connection if the AI can’t solve the problem.
Communicate with customers where they hang out. Often this is social media. Use social as a way to stimulate interaction with customers and potential customers. Invite them to ask questions and respond promptly.
Look for ways to reward customers. It doesn’t always need to be a discount. For example, a free guide on having the best experience with your product would be of high value to a new client.
Develop a customer reward program that makes them feel positive about being loyal to your brand. People love to be part of a group, especially an exclusive group. So invite them to be part of your brand. Treat them like an online family.
Then take the online experience offline. Send new customers or those who have referred new clients a physical thank-you note. Send a reward to be used on a future purchase. When everything now comes to inboxes, something in the mail we view as unique, special.
Blend the experience to connect with them online, offline, and back online seamlessly.
Be sure to give them ample time to use any rewards.
Avoid rewards with a short use timeframe. For example, if you just purchased a printer that touts it has a year’s worth of ink in it, why would you respond to an offer to buy more ink now?
Amazon gives credits when you buy a kindle book, but they are very short-lived. If you don’t use them in a week, they’re gone. That’s not very buyer-friendly.
Experience Enhance Connections
These are all the points where consumers interact with your brand. Website, social media, email, print ads, radio, or even television. Using the formats that make sense for your business, look for ways to enhance the experience.
If you offer AI or live chats, evaluate how well that is working. What does your customer service team hear from customers?
Integrate with the service team to identify and smooth out rough spots in the buying process.
Is your team/system available enough to be helpful? We have a three-hour time difference across the continental US. Consider where your customers are calling from? Can they easily reach you?
Stand in your customer’s place. How would you feel about the service if you were in their location? Think outside the box to find a way to smooth and improve this experience. Consider more online self-support information, so they aren’t dependent on phone calls.
Social posting connections
Social posts need to be fun, friendly, and seeking to engage. Get them to smile, inspire them, show them success.
The most successful posting is frequent and regular. People pay attention to what they see repeatedly. That’s why paid ads pop up after you’ve looked at something. Whatever caught your eye and you looked at is now popping up everywhere you go on the internet. It’s reminding you to look again.
Email personalized experience
With so much in our inboxes, generic transactional emails quickly get filed or deleted. Instead, emails personalized by interest get more attention. Tone and engagement are essential.
When doing a marketing assessment, I look at it from the shopper’s viewpoint. I look for things to smooth, enhance and increase engagement. In today’s world, it’s all about experience enhancers to grow business. www.jculpcreativecopy.com
Value Content truly is king. Successful engagement and customer retention take more than sales. Your readers want interesting, relevant information—Value Content. You need it on your website, social media and in your emails.
Which emails do you prefer to receive value content or sales?
As a consumer and as a marketer, I frequently sign up to learn more about a company and/or their products. I want to know what they offer, what value they share, and the marketing techniques they use.
At least 85% of them send me emails that are sales notices. Sometimes, multiple times a week every week.
That 85% is missing an important success determiner.
Where is the recipient in their buying decision?
The people who respond to a sale notice already know the company and want the product. They are just waiting for a great price to buy it.
The rest of the audience may not have enough information yet to make a buying decision. The notice of a sale is probably not going to give them what they need.
That group will probably feel a little frustrated. They couldn’t get enough information or find what they wanted on your website or social media. That means lost sales.
They may hang around hopeful you will send something useful. Or they may just unsubscribe and look elsewhere. Even worse, they could tag you as spam, which can have its own repercussions.
Business owners and marketers need value content
As the business owner or marketer for your brand, you need to understand when to send sales copy and when to send informational content.
I’ve found in my work with clients, it is something often overlooked. The good news? The 15% of businesses that focus on the buyer’s journey have a wide-open field. This group focuses on providing useful information and guiding the prospect through the purchase and beyond. They engage them and build a relationship.
This business practice sets them apart from competitors by focusing on the customer’s need, rather than the sale.
When I added a monthly newsletter for one of my clients, it made a huge difference. The newsletter followed the best practices of at least 80% useful information. In the bottom section, they announced the monthly specials. In less than 10 months, the gross sales for this 20-year-old company increased by 22%.
Relevant value information for the target audience increased both sales and retention. Higher lifetime customer value.
Keep in mind…
It all goes back to your list. If your product offerings and/or your audience interests are diverse, you need to segment.
In some situations, different demographics may use the same product. But they may use it in different ways. That means your content writer has to address both uses in one email, or those groups need separating.
The emails that go out need to be focused on what is important to the audience segment that receives them.
3 types of value content to share
There are different types of value that you can share. Today’s consumer is looking for MORE information than ever before. They are looking for some things that weren’t a consideration two years ago.
Some information is great to share with your entire audience. Other things need to be segmented.
Share content on what’s new and upcoming
If you’re adding a new product or new division, your audience wants to know this. Again, this information may be full list appropriate or segmented.
If you have added a new social or environmental responsibility, your audience, your online family, will want to know. In today’s world, these are considered highly important steps. But follow up those announcements with documentation of actual implementation.
They want to see your words in action.
They also want to know you are taking care of your team.
Take them behind the curtain with staff, product and values content.
For many years, the brand was a product, a company. Now your audience wants to buy from a human being. Human to human.
This is crucial for online connections as you aren’t physically face to face.
They want to meet you and learn about your products, your values and your mission. They want to see these aren’t empty marketing words. Today’s buyer wants to connect with you and become part of your group, your tribe. We’ve been so disconnected, “being a part” of something is highly valued.
They love meeting your team, the people that create what they are buying or help take care of their needs.
Showcase new hires, promotions, or your employee of the month—and why.
Show the value this person brings and how they might interact with them.
This kind of showcasing has another function…staff loyalty and retention. We all crave to be recognized and appreciated. Show your business cares.
Useful product content
I use a Fitbit and MyFitness Pal. I get daily emails with helpful information. How to get the best results, how to maximize the interaction, and tips for success.
You want to do this with your products or services. Nurture them with useful, helpful content. Tips, techniques, and or success stories.
If it is a complex product, help them understand how it, or its ingredients, work to give them the desired result.
Share unique or new techniques customers discovered and shared via feedback or social.
Be sure to emphasize social channels you or your team are regularly active on. Let them know where to find you, how you answer questions and the best ways to reach you.
Judith Culp Pearson is a copywriter and content marketer for brands in the wellness sector. Products that help improve people’s lives. Need help to maximize your email marketing? Reach out to her via her website, Linked In, or by clicking her name link.
“Edutainment” content is a secret weapon to get viewer’s attention and engage them.
Our prospects spend a fair amount of time scrolling through social media or searching online. Subliminally, they are looking for answers to nagging problems.
“Edutainment” content is a secret weapon to get viewer’s attention and engage them.
IF we can catch their attention and keep it, we have the opportunity to help them.
So what’s edutainment?
The first time I heard of edutainment was about 15 years ago when I attended an instructor continuing education workshop. The educator was smartly dressed and pulled together from head to toes. She was in the beauty industry, after all.
“You can’t teach someone if you don’t get their attention.”
I remember jolting more upright in my seat. I knew it was true but had never thought of it that way.
The presenter slapped a silly fishing hat festooned with lures on her head. People giggled. She smiled.
“See, I’ve got your attention. If we can hook the student with a prop or change of approach, we can share.
“Teachers need to be more than educators. They need to employ edutainment.”
It changed the way I taught, and the students loved it.
If you tune into any “kids” channel, you’re likely to see edutainment in action. Catchy tunes, graphics, and tidbits of education cloaked in fun.
Southwest Airlines does a great job of incorporating edutainment into its pre-flight message. Delta has done the same in their pre-flight video.
Both take a serious subject and make it easy and memorable.
Edutainment also works for your content.
I found making dry content more interesting applies equally well to marketing. If we can pleasantly surprise the reader or make them smile, we have their attention.
Edutainment is simply entertaining education.
Over the years, I’ve done a lot of content revision. I take challenging, dull, or complicated subjects and make them more accessible and exciting to read. The result is more engagements.
It works for all types of content, from web pages to articles, blogs, and emails.
One thing to keep in mind
You need to stay true to your voice. You can lighten up and take a more friendly tone, but it needs to be in a way that is consistent with your brand.
The last thing you want to do is send mixed messages.
3 keys about edutainment content
The key to engaging customers is sharing your brand’s story. More than just the story, customers want to know the people behind the brand and its personality.
So if your content reads like a how-to assemble for home office storage cubes, that’s like skating on thin ice. Snoozeville. Many people will tackle the job and never attempt to follow boring directions.
Start with your story.
Revisit your story, your people, and the personality. Look for ways to create positive links. You want to link your brand and the positive experiences the person will have with it. How can it help them overcome a challenge and enjoy the benefits?
Break it into tiny snippets. Let each snippet share a tidbit of information showcased in a mini-story.
You’ll need to appeal to both sides of the brain. You need to engage both the logical side of the brain as well as the emotional side. When done well, you don’t realize it’s happened.
The mini-story is subtle, not blatant in its approach. It doesn’t work if you’re too obvious.
It has to logically work at the same time that it’s entertaining our emotional side. Then it can subtly address our pain points and help us feel better, be happier, and enjoy life more.
Because of their visual nature, videos are instantly more entertaining. The content is generally less than three minutes, with the most popular well under one minute. Short gets more engagement.
The absolute best example of this is excellent inspiration.
So how would you take a dull topic like deodorant and turn it into edutainment on steroids?
A company did it. Which one? Old Spice. It saved the company from bankruptcy. The first series was titled “Smell like a man.”
The theme shared how your guy could at least smell like this great-looking actor, a football star—even if he couldn’t look like him. It was released in 2010 and has undergone various theme changes to keep up with an evolving market. But the pattern is still running today.
Their videos are among the top-watched on YouTube. The most-watched was one in the “Men have skin too” series with 59 MILLION views. Did I mention Old Spice now dominates the deodorant market?
It just goes to show anyone can benefit from a revamp. Out with dull or boring. In with edutainment.
So, how can Your brand’s story become more edutaining?
Your quality online content is critical to stay competitive. Ready to attract new buyers, increase lifetime buyer value, build sales, and more engagement? You need quality content. Let’s have a quick chat. You can message me: Judith@jculpcreativecopy.com.
Everyone had to do a lot of shifting in 2020, and it changed our buyer behavior. It altered our expectations and values.
That means it’s time for businesses, and marketers need to accommodate the changes to stay competitive.
We’ve changed how we buy
Our world has shifted, and we’ve had to change with it. Even now, countries are again in lockdown across the globe, and the virus with its variants rages. The cycle continues.
The pandemic has made us value health and safety like never before.
In areas where the cases are dropping and vaccinations completed, people are ready to go back inside more businesses. But they want to do it safely.
If they see a business slacking on their cleaning protocols or not protecting their staff, they are highly likely to go elsewhere next time. They’ll probably tell others to avoid the place too.
We’re not going back into businesses physically just because we can. We’ve missed interacting with products as well as people outside our household.
However, our expectations have changed. If we don’t have a positive customer experience, we won’t return.
Our expectations for convenience have increased. Curbside pickup, delivery, and virtual shopping assistance. You can get online help via AI chat, or a live style expert, or virtually try on cosmetics.
No more wasted time in a doctor’s office when a virtual visit will do. We’ll do it online, thank you very much.
Forbes Study on Buyer Behavior
In December of 2020, Forbes surveyed 1000 consumers. They asked questions to determine how things had changed and if they were positive or negative. The study looked at both online and offline experiences. In January, they published their findings.
Every business needs to accommodate and embrace what buyers want, need, and expect in 2021 to stay competitive. A big part of this will be rebuilding brand loyalty.
Something to keep in mind
While the statistical findings are intriguing, one jumped at me. Brand loyalty took a massive shot in the foot last year. People might not have been able to order their favorite brands, so they substituted. Supply chain shortages have compounded this problem.
Even more important than looking at the trend statistics is implementing proactive techniques to be the solution your target audience wants.
Three techniques to capitalize on 2021 buyer behavior
There are three things buyers are wanting. Provide all of them, and you’ll go a long way to building brand loyalty. The loyalty that keeps customers returning and staying with you during whatever the next crisis might be.
Three keys to getting them and keeping them are health and safety, positive experiences, and convenience.
Health and safety
If there is one thing we learned from the pandemic, it’s that we each have to watch out for our health. As we go back inside stores, shoppers are observing and critiquing health and safety standards.
While plastic dividers felt a bit awkward in the beginning, they are now the norm. A business working without them would make most people uncomfortable—the same for staff not wearing masks.
Consumers want to see you are looking out for both them—and the employees that are taking care of them.
People expect sanitation stations. Disinfecting counter services or any areas where the customer might touch between customers is crucial.
Buyers want positive experiences
From the moment they enter a business or visit an online store, they are subliminally noting the experience. They pay attention to the ambiance, friendliness, efficiency, and a way to get questions answered.
We’ve become a lot less patient with poor service however it manifests.
We’re also more socially conscious, and we want to see your staff well taken care of too.
Online buyers have the same standards, and there is a lot of room for improvement. Evaluate everything from virtual aids to help buyers make a selection to improved customer service response.
Key to online success will be fresh, relevant quality content. Everything: blog posts, articles, emails, social posts. The big boys like Pepsi and American Express and Apple are making massive investments in new content. Even Facebook is getting into content with the ability to post newsletters.
Both strictly e-commerce and brick and mortar capitalizing via the increase in online purchasing need to ramp up their content.
Solicit feedback from buyers. Implement short, easy-to-do “how did we do” surveys.
A positive experience is without friction. Sometimes friction can be hard to see from the inside. Let your buyers help you smooth them out.
Brick and mortar businesses need to move to touchless checkout. That could be self-checkout or contact-free payment processing.
Shoppers notice things like clean pens, a sanitized payment device, and the check-out area wiped down between customers.
Convenience is the new normal.
We’ve become accustomed to more customer service in the form of curbside pickup and virtual doctor appointments. These are things that probably should have been offered long ago.
Those with physical challenges and or who don’t drive wish they had been.
Inclusivity is now having things convenient for all.
If convenience factors were a temporary add-on, look for ways to embrace them and improve them, so they become permanent.
Look for new ways to enhance convenience, so you stand out from the competition. Buyers will reward you for it where it counts…in your cash register.
The leap has happened. Online purchasing has already blasted past 2021 forecasts. Your quality online content is critical to stay competitive. Ready to attract new buyers, increase lifetime buyer value, build sales, and more engagement? You need quality content. Let’s have a quick chat. You can message me: Judith@jculpcreativecopy.com.
Personalization is something companies like Amazon, Sephora, and Nike have trained us to expect. It’s no longer enough to be customer-centric. We want experiences— a positive customer experience. That goes beyond personalization.
In this time of massive upheaval and uncertainty, we’re looking for easy. Things that simplify our lives. People want easier, healthier, safer, more rewarding, and help us get things done.
While we’re happy with our experiences in some areas, we continue to feel neglected and frustrated in others.
Follow the trend that’s working
We don’t need to reinvent or recreate the wheel in our marketing. Just look at what’s already earning companies like Amazon and Sophora millions.
These companies and many more are investing and involving more AI and analytic data to improve the customer experience. Amazon has been a leader in this.
When you look for something, Amazon includes what other people who searched for the same item also considered. They show you what people who bought this item also purchased. Subtle, helpful, and boosting the value of your order with add-ons.
Sephora hasn’t become the worlds leading specialty beauty retailer by accident. They started incorporating AI in the early 2000s. Using various tech tools, they personalize everything from their choices for you to their 1:1 loyalty rewards.
The long-term goal for Sephora is to continue to enhance the virtual and in-store customer experiences. Not only will they help you shop virtually, but you can also try the makeup on virtually.
Nike has innovated, so you can now design your own sneaker. They have a 3D platform that allows you to create a sneaker that fits perfectly and matches your unique style. Fans love the option.
They also love the experience in the personalized NikePlus loyalty program. Fans get personalized benefits, product recommendations, and the ability to check and see if their favorite styles, colors, and sizes are available.
The clock is ticking.
Customers used to make buying decisions based on loyalty or price. Those things are changing. More and more make those decisions based on the experience you offer them.
In a recent survey by SuperOffice, they asked 1920 business professionals what their number one business priority is for the next five years. By a distinct margin over product or product, customer experience came in at 45.9%.
Thought leaders say businesses who have unsatisfactory experiences are headed for trouble. They will start to see their client base erode if they don’t make the technical changes to improve it.
What you need to keep in mind
The level of stress doesn’t look to be dropping anytime soon. Stressed shoppers are less friction tolerant. If your buying experience is complicated, if your customer support is lackluster—you have challenges to solve.
More than ever before, buyers don’t want transactions that are company sales-centric. It makes them feel like you’re just after their money.
Now I know you need their purchases to run your business, but the experience shouldn’t feel that way. Feelings are pure emotion. You want to keep those feelings positive if you want to earn their trust, purchases, and loyalty.
Three ways to enhance customer experience
Companies with the most significant growth and success embrace the customer experience from the top down. Everyone on the team needs to understand and have the power to improve it. For some businesses, it may be outside-the-box thinking. It may involve more work and initial expense. But if you look at the potential future revenues, it’s well worth the effort.
Think from the customer point of view
Start by thinking from the customer’s point of view. Sometimes we are so close to the process that we can’t see the problems an outsider sees.
Ask your customers, “what could we do better?” “How could we make shopping easier?” In essence, how can you help them?
If you have a customer service team, ask them. The marketing and management teams need to know what customer service is hearing. What the customers need and want that they aren’t getting.
Customers’ questions and their problems provide the answers to improving your sales.
Enhance customer service
Lousy customer service is a pet peeve of mine when I’m shopping online or in-person. I understand company limitations but I also handle customer service for one of my clients. I get the challenges, but I know the value. I’ve gotten those evening and weekend calls where I’ve rescued a customer and solved their issue.
We recently went to Best Buy to find a laptop. The store was busy. The staff was few and far between. We found something suitable, but without the ability to get questions answered, they lost the sale.
When we checked out, we mentioned the lack of staff to our checker. His reply, Best Buy just let another 500 people go. Team members are going to be in short supply for the foreseeable future. In the end, Best Buy will lose its status as a provider of excellent customer care, and they will lose money.
Both brick and mortar and eCommerce businesses need to step up their customer service. With all the options out there, companies need to find a way to expand the routes and time frame where people can get help.
Look for ways to provide support beyond a few business hours. Many times companies on the east and west coast ignore the three-hour time difference. So if I’m on the west coast, I’d better not need anything after 2 PM local time.
Expand your FAQ. Add an AI help option. Outsource or give someone a part-time job, so you are more accessible. Make sure your website is easily searchable so I can find what I need. If your competition is more available, it will cost you money.
Analytics and AI
The most successful businesses are making use of technology to track shopping patterns and offer recommendations. Per 2020 research by Gartner, we conduct about 85% of all purchases without assistance.
That means there is a significant 15% opportunity to increase revenues by helping shoppers solve those issues.
Companies have many new ways to allow their customer support team to automate repetitive or straightforward tasks using artificial intelligence. Automation enables them to reduce costs and empower shoppers to solve their issues. Learn about your options and employ them.
It is essential to do this in a transparent way to maintain trust and credibility.
Chatbots or voice-enabled chatbots are a top choice for businesses. Their effectiveness ties directly to the quality and comprehensiveness of the dialogue provided to the bot.
My final tip is to make sure your system works on all channels across all types of devices. More and more people are switching back and forth from phones to tablets to laptops and computers. Your system needs to deliver in all.
Looking to increase lifetime buyer value, build sales, and more engagement? Let’s have a quick chat. You can message me: Judith@jculpcreativecopy.com.