Transactional is so 2019

The business-centric transactional approach is dated. Customers want a better experience.

Are you at risk of becoming a dinosaur? Customers are tired of the transactional approach.

A transaction focus is business-centric.  Spending more time online in 2020 buyers started getting more picky. They want their shopping experience to be easy and feel good. In 2021 and moving forward, every business needs to become more customer-centric.

Internet catastrophe

When my internet quit working recently, it felt like a catastrophe.  I’m internet-dependent. E-commerce, social marketing, emails. Many of my resource files live on a cloud.  

The projects I needed to complete had most of their data stored on Google Drive or One Drive.

I tried to resolve the issue by re-setting up my router. It took me about an hour, and I got Wi-Fi restored. Yay!  Then, less than two hours later, while I was on a zoom call—it went out again. My feeling of success disappeared.

I called the cable company and got an automated Virtual Assistant. In her rather irritating AI voice, she asked for my identification so she could bring up my account.

I provided the proper identification, and the Virtual Assistant said, “I see your internet is offline. Please unplug the router and then plug it back in to make it restart. I’ll text you 10 minutes to see if the issue is resolved. If not, I’ll connect you with support. Is that okay?”

I agreed, and she disconnected.

Ten minutes later, I got a text: “It looks like there are still some issues with your Services. We’ll text you soon to schedule a tech visit at a time that works for you.”

I checked the router. All the lights were blinking. I restarted the computer. No internet. 

Another text popped up: “x/29 is the earliest date for an appointment in your area.   

“Reply with a number below (1-4) to pick a time:

“1 for 1-3 PM

“2 for 2-4 PM

“3 for 3-5 PM

“4 for more options or to be waitlisted.

“Or reply with a later date (MM/DD)

“Thank you, your scheduled appointment is confirmed.

“Txt Help or Stop

“Msg & Data Rates may apply.”

Zero option to talk to a person or enter anything else that wasn’t a listed choice. Whatever happened to friendly customer service?

Consumers try to avoid transactional companies.

Based on every research study I can find on the topic, consumers are frustrated with a business-centric approach.  

As consumers, we feel frustrated when we can’t get answers. Unfortunately, for things like the internet and cable, they are all pretty much alike and they are very business-centric. Transactional. 

(I see a huge opportunity here waiting for someone to take advantage of it.)

As a copywriter marketer, I know a transactional approach flies directly into the face of the user experience.  It may be straightforward, but it doesn’t make you feel good.

I’m continually reviewing different company websites both in my copywriting work and for personal shopping.  If I see a poor user experience still hanging around, I look elsewhere. I go shopping for a friendlier option. Like most people, how I’m treated is more important than the price for the same item.  

I’m not alone.  A 2019 report by SalesForce shared that $62 Billion is  lost annually from poor customer experiences. Half of all Americans will take their business elsewhere, 91% without ever complaining.

When I see a business  entrenched in a transactional approach, and determined to stay business-centric, I can do little to help them. If they are ready for change, we can ramp up their sales and keep more customers.

Here’s a secret.

Becoming customer-centric isn’t difficult or hugely expensive.  

Implement changes to help shoppers engage with your brand.

Focus on making shopping easier.  Eliminate roadblocks that make the consumer go “What?” Clarity and simplicity. Make customers feel you care about them.

Three techniques to ditching transactional.

Here are three ways to enhance the customer experience. You can have your team handle them or do it yourself. 

The caution there is you need to know what a good user experience looks, and reads, like to make sure your message does the job.  To maximize your success, put this task in the hands of someone who understands UX.

Customize email automation

Most businesses use email automation to let customers know they received their order, when it shipped, etc.  Platforms typically have generic emails in place for easy use.  The problem is these emails are purely transactional.  

Revise these and personalize them.  Adding the purchaser’s first name is essential.  You recognize them as human beings.  We humans put a lot of value in being recognized and appreciated.

Make sure the wording thanks them for their purchase and let them know what future emails to expect. 

Ever place an order, and you get the confirmation and then silence?  

Add an email following the confirmation. Have it provide answers to frequently asked questions. Share more details on how  to get the best results.

Nurture new buyers with knowledge that empowers them.  By sharing in an email sequence, you can reduce calls or emails to customer service and reduce returns.

Personalize shipping notices. Include a tracking number so buyers can follow the purchase to delivery.  It’s helpful if you include the name of the shipping company.  Many businesses use USPS Priority Mail, UPS, or Federal Express, but they often just provide a tracking number. Since early in 2020, I’ve noticed increased lesser-known delivery services.  Let them know how it is arriving. 

A few days after the package delivery, send an email to ask if there are any questions. Let them know the best way to get those questions answered.  This is also the ideal time to ask for a testimonial or review.

Make customers feel good.

If something looks good, tastes good, or feels good, our brain drives us to repeat it. Repeat sales are golden.

Go conversational and be readable.

Take a serious look at the copy on your website, blogs, and social. Content needs to be scannable and friendly in tone. It needs to be respectful. Avoid any wording that hints at talking down to the reader. 

Look for ways to make your copy easier and quicker to read.

White space allows the brain to take a breath. The lack of it requires more concentration to read it – brain drain.  That’s what makes people click away from your page or website.

Both B2B and B2C need white space. Purchasing agents may not be engineers. They want to scan your submission and share it with the right people.

It’s all about making things easy for the person viewing your page.

Ramp up customer service

Quality customer service is high on the list of buyers’ wants. In the last 12 months, it has become more important than ever before.  Many consider it essential if you want to keep their business. 

Every business needs to view customer service as an opportunity to build long-term relationships with loyal customers.  View them as an imposition, and you won’t have to worry about them again.  They’ll be gone to your competition. 

What shoppers want.

Location. After several negative experiences, I want to know a business’s geographical location.  It gives me clues on how I’ll interact with the company and how quickly my product will arrive.

Do you offer chat? If so, what hours?  In the US, there is a six-hour time difference between the east coast and Hawaii.  That’s huge when you’re trying to connect with someone who is only available for limited hours. Providing your geographical location at least gives clues.

If you have a customer service phone line, showcase it. Make it easily found on every page—not hidden in the tiny print at the bottom. A contact page is okay, but the more clicks the shopper has to do, the more it slows them down.  Keep it easy.  

If you only accept email questions, be sure to give them an idea of how quickly you’ll get back to them.  

I’ve waited a month to get a response. How long do you want to wait?

When I work with clients

I start with customer service and learn why shoppers reach out. Then we work to customize emails and answer questions before the customer knows they have them. If you need help improving your customer experience, you can reach me via www.jculpcreativecopy.com.

Entourage Effect for 2021

Entourage effect when all components work together and exceed the parts individually

The entourage effect impacts many aspects of our lives. The CBD niche has highjacked the term to mean how the different plant parts work together.  However, the word entourage is not new. It actually traces back to a French term dating from 1832 meaning surroundings or environment. 

The French were referring to a group of people, but it is equally applicable to many things in life and business. Everything from formulations, to health and marketing.The power of the components of the entourage greater than the individual parts.

Entourage effect for health

Like many people, I managed to pick up a few COVID pounds and wasn’t happy about it. So I started trying different techniques to get rid of the sneaky ten.

Research showed you need three factors to maximize health—adequate sleep, exercise, and the right food choices.  An entourage effect. All your surroundings/environment working together to maximize the result.

I found daily walks made me stronger and I lengthened them to two-three miles daily. I could see changes in the mirror, but there’s a problem. A pound of muscle weighs exactly the same as fat, it just takes up less room.  While I was looking better, my weight didn’t change.

An evening routine to reduce exposure to blue light, (think electronics) and adding a melatonin supplement, improved sleep.

A fitness tracker where I could track food choices was the third factor.  I didn’t focus on “dieting.” Instead, following healthy nutrition choices for my body type. 

That made the difference. An entourage effect is necessary for success.    

Entourage also works for business marketing

In my 25+ years of work in the skincare industry, I earned that formulations are the key to a successful product.  Each botanical enhances the others for an entourage effect. You have to get the right ingredients in the right formula to have the desired outcome.  Then you have to recommend the right product for the right client.

In marketing, I’ve seen the exact same thing. Your marketing messages and strategy either work together as an entourage, or they don’t.  When you have mixed messages, you have confused prospects.  Confusion is the biggest obstacle to a sale. 

One thing to keep in mind

Whether you’re creating a product or designing a marketing campaign, you need to know who it is being designed for.  The right product, for the right buyer.  

As a woman, I learned long ago, one-size never fits all. It’s a myth. You need the right product, the right message, the right “fit” for success and repeat buyers.

Three techniques for the perfect entourage

To maximize an entourage effect in your marketing you have to be customer-focused. You build from the customer out.  What are their needs and concerns?  If you try to start with a product and try to figure out the customer after, you’re likely going to fall short.  

Start with your customer

Consider their demographics, psychographics and create a clear avatar for them. Who do you know like them? Spend time with potential customers. Learn not only about what they need, but how they find it and decide to buy.  

Buying habits will tell you the best places to reach them.  Their needs, fears, and concerns  provide the RAS triggers to use in crafting your messages. 

If you’ve created a new product, get it in the hands of those who need it. Get some real-life feedback—positive or negative.  Run with the positive. Learn and adjust for the negative.

Their buying journey

It’s helpful to create roadmaps of your customer’s possible buying paths. Follow each one from where/how they connect with you through the predictable steps to the purchase.  

I like to use a technique called the WOOP method. It’s great for planning.  W stands for what do they want or need. O is for the beneficial outcome they will get from getting that need met.  The second O is for obstacles.  What might interrupt their buying journey? And the P stands for plan. 

Using your buying journey messages, include resolutions for every potential obstacle. 

Did they get distracted? How can you bring them back again?

Look for issues like confusion, mixed messages, lack of proof including social proof. Validate pricing. Keep the pathway easy to follow. Eliminate any bumps in the road.

Craft seamless messages

Make sure every message supports the journey and connects the dots.  They should each support the previous one.  

Whether they encounter you on your website, social media, emails, or video—keep the messages clear and uniform.

Once created, look at all messages from the 10,000-foot view. Check to see they all flow and share the same tone, the same message. 


Judith Culp Pearson is a digital relationship builder and a problem solver. She uses those skills to help clients— improve their marketing messages, better engage their clients, keep clients loyal, and grow their business.

www.jculpcreativecopy.com

Empathy Marketing – 3 Steps to Engage

We need the buyer’s “why”

In today’s world, it is important for your brand’s success to engage customers with empathy marketing. You need to employ empathy and communicate your understanding and caring about your customers, your staff, and your planet.  

It’s what today’s buyers want and are increasingly coming to expect from those they do business with. Yes, back to the pillars of wellness – personal, social, and global. 

Initially driven by millennials, it’s being embraced cross-generational.  Less transactional, more emotional connections. It puts what the customer values over business sales.  

Route.com said it well… “What empathetic marketing should always boil down to is that tried-and-true Golden Rule. Treat others how you want to be treated.” 

Business Empathy in 2020

I’ve seen some great examples of this in action this year from a broad range of businesses.  

Major companies

In May, Twitter announced all employees would be allowed to work at home permanently if that was their preference.  

They had been moving toward more remote work for some time and testing it.  Now, if staff need or want to go in, they can… pandemic restrictions allowing.  If they prefer to work remotely, there is no discrimination, no pay cuts, no commute.

The benefits? Staff morale boosted, and equal or better productivity.  A demonstration of taking care of people.

Verizon and Fios gave customers free data so they could stay in touch with those they couldn’t physically connect with. They also provided 60 days of free resources to help parents and students with at-home learning. Demonstrating customers and staff before sales.

Statewide businesses jumped in

In Oregon, there are hundreds of boutique businesses in the hemp, beer, and distillation niches. They diverted resources to make hand-sanitizers. It kept staff working, even if the products were donated to those who needed them the most.

Larger companies, like Intel, provided medical workers with PPE and joined with others to accelerate research for treatment and cures.

Then on top of the coronavirus, Oregon was hit with the worst wildfires in the state history. Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes. Some rural cities were totally wiped out. It will take years to deal with the aftermath.

Even small businesses stepped up to help out.

One very small mom and pop Chinese restaurant here in Eugene put a post on Facebook on September 10th. 

“Donating food to fire relief camps for the rest of the week. We will be closed. Thanks for your patience. 🙏🏽🙏🏽

“Thanks for your support,

“Twin Dragon”

They denied themselves income to give their resources to others. Other restaurants and caterers joined them to make sure the firefighters and relief camps had food and water.  

Local people raided their personal stores of food, clothing, pet needs, and every other medical and household item you can imagine to donate them to relief centers. 

It’s been a year of helping others as I’ve never seen before.

As a customer and marketer…I know it’s about the buyer’s problems

While everything has shifted online, not all businesses have adapted.  I’ve seen businesses struggle because they weren’t mentally or technologically prepared.  As a marketer, the solutions are clear. To thrive, businesses need a digital presence. They also need empathy marketing.  

The changes we have experienced aren’t going to go away anytime soon. People aren’t going to give up the convenience of online shopping. However, they also want more.

You need more than demographics, you need psychographics. I find they help me dig deeper and find the aspects of emotions and empathy best suited to prospects.

Brands need to embrace empathy marketing 

It’s not enough to have an e-commerce site. With all the shysters and scammers out there, buyers are becoming more discriminating.  

They are looking for things to improve their life. They want transparency to know your brand can be trusted. And they want to know how you are helping other people and the planet.  

Embrace all techniques of empathy for engaged and loyal customers.

Three steps for empathy marketing

There are three key techniques you can use for empathy marketing.  Start by “walking in their shoes.”  Discover their emotions: problems, pains, views, beliefs, values.  Then craft your communications with transparency and openness.

Be Them

It’s critical to do more than try to think like your target customer. You need to be them, assume their perspective without judgment.  Understand their emotions and motivations.  What makes them buy? Also, discover the things that make them resist.  

How are they feeling now and how do they want to feel? What do they want to be different and how can you make their life better?  Do they recognize their problem or that a solution exists? 

These things together will guide you in where you need to start their journey and the steps you need to include.

By knowing their views and beliefs you can smooth out your buying pathway so they don’t get derailed.

You want to connect with them on shared social and planet-friendly values.

Take salsa. There are lots of choices out there and we all have taste preferences.  My go-to brand donates all the profits to charities. That made my buying decision easy.

Emotions

This where we need psychographics. We also have to recognize how men and women buy differently. Men are more transactional by nature. Women are more emotion-driven in their buying decisions.

Women influence 85% of all consumer buying decisions. That makes them an obvious choice to nurture. It’s important to value them and tap into the emotions – and empathy that will make them loyal customers.  

Deadlines like a limited time offer can trigger a buy. Grocery stores use this all the time with their in-store announcement of a special price for the next 10 minutes. Limited quantities are equally powerful.  We don’t want to miss out and we love to feel we got bonus value.

Benevolence or altruism are also female buying stimuli. They may feel they are better off and want to help others. Or it may be part of their social values. Humanity and giving back.

Belonging is important to both men and women. We like being part of something, a tribe, a team of like-minded people. 

There is also “empathy-response.”  When people get positive feedback from giving or doing something it creates an empathy response. 

In buying the perfect gift, women share the recipient’s joy emotionally. When her daughter squeals for joy over her birthday gift, she gets a surge of endorphins, the feel-good hormone. She gets the same feel-good hormone for problem-solving.

Men get the empathy response when they do something successfully, or the female in his life is pleased with him, or when their team quarterback scores a touchdown.

Communications

Once you have this information you can use it to craft your messages with transparency and openness to build trust in your relationship and brand.  You want to make them feel heard and acknowledged.

Once women make the emotional decision, they need you to provide logical information to back it up. This validates their decision. Science, facts, and social proof. Sharing other’s success stories from problem to solution and how they have improved their life is powerful.  

Use caution with success stories so they don’t come across in a pushy or sales-focused way. They need to stand on their own merits as validation of problem and solution.  What their life was like before and what it is now. Share what they had tried that didn’t work, their failures. How they found your solution and their experiences on the journey to a better quality of life. 

When I work with clients…

I start by learning what they are currently doing and what isn’t working. Then, taking another look at their target, I dive deeper to find a different way to connect and engage with emotions and empathy marketing.  Need help? Reach out to me. judith@jculpcreativecopy.com.

Intra-pandemic Customer Mindset

We have been dealing with the pandemic for seven months. New research numbers are starting to emerge. Key is the shift in the customer mindset. This impacts our society, our businesses, and our marketing.

One thing for sure…we aren’t past this.  We’re intra-pandemic.  

All the marketing guides prior to the pandemic are out the window…useless.  

GlobalWebIndex specializes in consumer data for marketers. Recently they reported on the changes to the consumer mindset that all marketers need to be aware of.  

Their report is based on a global study, interviewing  688,000 internet users aged 16-64.  They share five key takeaways.

Personal data concerns are down

During the lockdown, or just staying home to reduce risks, people moved to online.  Online ordering groceries, home supplies, virtual or phone shopping assistants. However, when you shop online…you pay online.  

What changed is people are less concerned about online shopping risks.  They are less concerned with personal privacy loss. And less concerned about businesses using their personal data to market to them.

It had to happen.  You can’t get help if you don’t share anything. That would be like going to a doctor because you don’t feel well, but refusing to share your symptoms.  

This is not to say they have abandoned their concerns…just suspended them. They are shopping online, however paying attention to how companies use their information.

In the new customer mindset, relevancy has changed

Things like exclusivity, status, and reputation have dropped in relevance as much as 25%.

Consumers are less likely to want to stand out. Instead, they are looking for solidarity, feeling a part of the group.  

Their focus has shifted to values, purpose, and how brands contribute to the common good. 

For those who sell exclusivity, the challenge will be to showcase practicality. 

Life has slowed down

Staying home, being unemployed, or working from home have a different life pattern…and a different sleep pattern. People are sleeping in longer. 

For our normally fast-paced lifestyle, this is profound. It’s the first time since the Industrial Revolution that we have been “unchained” from an alarm clock.  

We are discovering more free time and a slower life pace. 

People are streaming more and gaming. They are also balancing this with offline activities. 

I live in a neighborhood conducive to walkers and from my office, I see my neighbors pass by.  Over the past seven months, the number of regular walkers has tripled..  

It’s not just seniors out for a daily walk.  It’s moms and/or dads with their kids…bicycles, scooters, tricycles, wagons, and strollers. Don’t forget the dog.

People have adopted more pets. Another healing wellness boost and incentive to get out and exercise.

Businesses should look for opportunities to enhance/support a more relaxed lifestyle. 

We also need to be aware of what they call “media fatigue.” Discover ways to help them look away from their screen.  

Both McDonald’s and Heinz released branded jigsaw puzzles to capitalize on the new trend.  They are using the need for offline entertainment as a marketing opportunity. They have released dozens of versions across 17 countries.

Financially, the customer mindset is more cautious

People across the globe are beginning to understand the impact the pandemic will have on their personal income long-term.  

GlobalWebIndex shares “the number of consumers expecting a big/dramatic impact on their personal finances from COVID-19 has increased by 43% since our first wave of research.”

Discretionary spending will take the hardest hit. The report shares that consumers see themselves as less affluent.  They are less willing to put wealth on display.  

Just because they see a brand advertised consumers aren’t dashing out to buy it.  Expect them to take more time to consider a non-essential item as we move forward.

Vendors of non-essentials will be looking for ways to market them as a necessary item rather than an extra.

More local focus

International travel has come to a near halt.  My husband’s family lives in the UK.  We have no idea when we may be able to visit them again.  

I’ve heard similar thoughts from other Ex-pats. You are where you are.

Destination Analytics released statistics covering through October 16-18. The US is split on their thoughts about travel.  

The number of COVID-19 cases is soaring, those ready to travel is dropping. 55.5% of the people say they are ready to travel. This is down from a 2020 high of 57.8% just a week before.

Locally, our tourism bureau shifted its marketing focus from national to regional.  They promote visit local and local staycations. 

Result: higher occupancy rates than anticipated. More people using local outdoor spaces.

People are concerned about where they live

With the pandemic cases on the rise, people are more concerned with their local environment. 

They’re concerned about global issues. However, they are more concerned with how their country, their county, their town are handling things. 

As we move forward expect to see more local and regional focus. 

When international travel becomes an option, security and health issues may determine a destination over cultural attractions.

New customer mindset takeaway

As marketers, we can expect more shifts and changes.  I work with clients to create the best possible user experience to keep them loyal, buying… and businesses making money.. 

Our buyers are there. 

We need to position our offers as customer-focused and relevant.
For the complete article or others by GlobalWebIndex, visit https://www.globalwebindex.com/hubfs/Downloads/The_New_Consumer_Mindset.pdf

Marketing Team for Growing Your Business

Marketing + customer service are your secret weapon for growth
Marketing + Customer service + client input

You have a secret marketing team at your disposal to effectively grow your alternative health, wellness, or CBD business and it’s probably closer than you realize. It’s your customer support team and your customers themselves in addition to your marketing team. They need to be closely working with marketing.

A colleague and I were talking about this recently. He’s been a copywriter for over 15 years. One of his clients suddenly had a huge drop in his business. In less than six months their revenues had dropped over 40%. 

Desperate, he called my friend, Joshua, and asked him to come to help them sort it out and he would make the arrangements for Joshua’s travel.

Joshua flew to their headquarters for the staff meeting. He needed to talk to all the key people to see what had changed.

When he arrived to the meeting, the head of the marketing department wasn’t there. Joshua stopped and told them he couldn’t progress without everyone there. The owner made a call and an hour later the department head arrived.

Like I do, after listening carefully, Joshua started asking questions. He started digging. The products hadn’t changed. Pricing hadn’t changed appreciably. Orders, shipping, and delivery were all handled the same.

He asked to see the copy they had been sending out to customers over the past few months. 

The owner liked the new messages. He found it hard to believe that the changes they had made could cause such a dramatic change in sales. 

Could a marketing change really do that?

Instead of trying to convince him, Joshua asked who had written the copy. Turning to her, he said, “Please write the next piece that’s to go out. Do it just the way you have been…no changes. Okay?”

Slightly bewildered she agreed. Then he turned to the owner and said, “I’ll also write copy for the same content. I want you to A/B test them and we’ll see what your buyers say. Agreed?”

The owner agreed and they sent the test emails out.  The copy my friend wrote outperformed their staff writer’s copy 20:1.  Why?  He wrote directly to their target market and their mindset. He didn’t try to change them from who they were.

Management had lost connection with their buyer’s wants, needs, and mindset.

We can’t afford client marketing disconnects in the midst of this crisis.

Have you noticed it’s harder to get answers to questions right now?  I have. In my client work I’ve noticed they are slower to get back to me. 

Businesses that I deal with are slower to get back to me. Some are even completely ignoring their customer’s requests for support or have reasonable ways to be reached.  

It’s a recipe for decline, loss of sales, and a decrease in customer retention.

The answers are at your fingertips or the other end of your cell phone.  Your best secret weapon is your customer support staff and existing clients.  

Your customer support team is your “first-responders”.  Just like medics and firefighters, there are the first ones your customers interact with. They hear the stories. They know what’s working and where the problems are.

In my client work, I have found there is often a big disconnect between management and customer service. Management may assume they have it all delegated. 

Numerous studies and surveys verify this.  About 75% of management thinks they have great customer service.  Only about 25% of customers agree. 

Management may assume that they are on target. It’s easy to not accurately connect marketing strategies, investments, and focus with what the customer service team is experiencing.

Here are three techniques to lessen this disconnect and empower your business to move forward.

Talk to your real marketing team…

Have a conference with your customer service team with your marketing team listening in. Start by listening to what they are experiencing.  What’s going right? What are the concerns they hear the most often? Where, if any are the breakdowns?

Is there a product that has developed an issue? 

Is there a need that could be better met with a little tweaking?

What about a concern or information that if provided on the website could reduce interaction friction?  You want to minimize purchasing friction every step of the way. What would make the buying process easier?

Review how customer service interacts with clients or queries. 

Phone? Email? Chat? What is the typical response time?

What is the scope of your sales? Local, regional, national or beyond? 

What hours is customer support offered and are they reasonable for people beyond your time zone? 

If you’re an east coast firm doing business with not just continental USA, but also Alaska and Hawaii – you have a six-hour time difference to consider.  Even just in the continental US, it may be 5 PM  on the east coast…but it’s only 2 PM on the west coast.  This can cause a lot of customer service friction.  

Right now…and for the foreseeable future, consider shifting most, if not all customer service to remote work. If you don’t have it, consider how to create a way for that team to be able to offer support.

Also, is there a way you could have longer hours through a remote worker?  Either an opposite coast liaison or someone who would be willing to handle an early or late shift…depending on your location.

Create better customer relations by letting them know when they can expect to hear back from you.  Supply chain users are learning they have to be more flexible and things are taking longer. Retail consumers are less content to wait.

One of my clients is a distributor and while their sales have been suffering greatly, now they are getting lots of requests for “I need it right now.”  

Set expectations by having clear guidance on how you are working and fulfilling orders.

Even if you get it out the same day…we both know deliveries are not predictable. Not even express or other very expensive delivery services. 

What are your customers saying?

You might want to read some of the customer emails or chat threads to get a better sense of how your customer is feeling about your company and your product.

Visit your social media pages and check out the conversations there. Do you need to ramp up support there?

Are you getting reviews on your website or social media?  What do they say?  What can be done to improve them? 

Customer problems are opportunities for increasing sales…if you listen and act on them. 

With over 30 years in business, I know we can’t make every person happy. However, often, there is an easy fix. Product or product packaging tweaking. Digital content tweaking or additions. Better customer experience opportunities.

Get feedback and share it with customer service and marketing

If you don’t have an automatic feedback system following a sale, consider incorporating one. 

Every time I pick up groceries… I get a how did we do email.  Businesses that use square automatically followup with a little smiley face or frown option on my phone…again, feedback on how they did.

Customer surveys are a goldmine.  Offer a bonus for taking a few moments and giving you some feedback.  Keep it short and simple.  I hate my grocery store feedback because it asks way too much demographic information that is identical every time.  

Be respectful of their time.  Think of how You would feel being asked these questions.  

It’s better to have just a few quick questions and then a space for comments.  It empowers and respects them at the same time.

If you get a comment that brings an issue to your attention, have a script for staff to use as a response. Thank them and let them know this will be looked into.

When I work with clients, these are techniques I share. I recommend the findings and suggested modifications/changes be shared with all levels. Management needs the information, Customer Service wants the suggestions and Marketing needs to keep the customer in the loop of changing you are making.   

Need more recommendations? www.jculpcreativecopy.com

Newsletters Build Bonds

Newsletters are a great way to bond with customers. They are a friendly, casual way to stay in touch.

There are a lot of different formats. But there is one thing they must do to be successful.

Newsletters must get the reader’s attention…

I’ll never forget the two teachers I had in a shared-time experimental English class. It was my junior year of high school.  

Monday through Wednesday we had English literature followed by two days of public speaking. 

The teachers couldn’t have been more different. 

The English teacher was a petite woman with a soft voice. Unfortunately, she also tended to speak and read in a monotone.  

I love books, I love literature. But she was so hard to focus on in that soft lullaby voice. The hour dragged. I could feel my eyelids wanting to droop.

The first time I met our Thursday-Friday teacher, I was terrified.

Mrs.Trueblood strode into the room like a warrior-queen. Her voice boomed rich and deep. Authoritative. Strong. 

As she made her way toward the teacher’s desk on the far side of the room, I noticed everyone was sitting up a little straighter. Mrs.Trueblood commanded every class.

Yup. She had my attention…and then she captivated my brain. That turned into one of the most enlightening and amazing classes I took in school.  

If I would see her now, I’d stand my tallest and shake her hand with all the professionalism I grew into…and thank her for what she gave me.  Skills and confidence that are still with me today. 

Every newsletter needs to open with a good subject line and lead that gets the reader’s attention. 

I’ve been writing newsletters for well over 25 years. They’ve kept customers up to date, inspired them and offered valuable information.

Were they all masterpieces? Of course not. But they’ve given me lots of practice to find what works.

Discover your stats specific to your industry niche.

Industry stats are something many businesses are unaware of. 

Sending out e-newsletters and then seeing how many people do, or don’t, open them can be a little nerve-wracking. I’ve seen many businesses start second-guessing themselves and abandon the project.  

Instead use Google and find the typical statistics for your business segment. 

You’ll find out all sorts of interesting data there. The typical number of opens, the typical number of clicks, (if you have links,) and even conversions.  It’s all available as part of the tracking of the mail-handling program. 

Different systems track different things if they are properly interconnected to your website. Talk with your webmaster about what will work best with your system.

Once I learned those statistics I discovered I was doing better than most businesses in my industry. Sometimes 10 times better. 

But what if you get an email that doesn’t get the response you expected? I’ve found most of the time it was timing.  It wasn’t the perfect time for that message. 

It could also be the wrong group or segment of your recipients.

Try these 4 techniques for a great newsletter

One question I often get is…how often should I send a newsletter?

Frequency

Your newsletter can be a monthly release of multiple articles that are featured weekly.

They start with  the first week’s article in brief with a link to the full article. They  also include links to three other articles at the bottom. Each week one article gets its turn at being featured in an email.

That works well for larger businesses who really want to build and share information. It also builds traction faster.

But if four monthly articles are not in your time schedule, or budget, then send at least monthly.

You need to stay in touch with clients and prospective clients at least monthly to stay on their mind.

I like to work from an idea list.  I also review what worked well in previous years for specific time slots. 

You have two choices for tracking data from your email system. Export it to a data file or stay with the same email contact manager system. This builds you a history you can easily review.

Keep your newsletters to one theme if possible. 

Even many popular magazines tend to use themes. You won’t find 4th of July picnics in the December issue. Get the right message at the right time.

Start with seasonal. Look for events or holidays you can tie into if that fits your specific products. 

But if you’re in the midst of a crisis? Pause and think about what is going to be the most important message you can share this month. 

Right now family bonding, mental health and self-care are all important.  

Tips for coping with stress, anxiety and getting a good night’s rest are high priorities.

Tips for dealing with unavailability. Many of us are accustomed to dropping by the store nearly daily to get this or that.  Not now.  

Most of us are planning and shopping in advance to minimize the number of trips we need to make. We’re making contingency plans for things that aren’t available.

We’re coping with back orders and items out of stock with no projected availability.  This adds to the stress levels. Anything to cope with stress or anxiety is getting checked out.

Consider length…

Are your customers  looking for a quick read?  Plan the length and complexity based on your target audience.  Are you sending a series of educational pieces? Those may run longer.

Are you sending a helpful, hopeful, hang in there message? Keep it short, positive and inspirational. 

Get your message clear and simple. 

I’m often asked how long is long enough?  

A short email might be 200-300 carefully chosen words.

A blog length article can be 800-1500 words.

But as my seventh-grade-teacher always said, as she primly lifted her calf length skirts toward her knees…

It needs to be long enough to cover the subject and short enough to be interesting.

Of course, we giggled or tried to keep straight faces. It was years before I realized how profoundly truthful those words are.

Don’t drag it on…that’s when you lose readers. 

Find the magic balance…

Many of the emails and newsletters we receive are 100% sales. If you’re like me, you can spot and delete those in seconds. 

The first pass of my emails is looking for stuff to delete. Sound familiar? Absolutely.  

We are being so inundated with emails…especially sales and sales pitches, that we’re experts at spotting the stuff we aren’t interested in. So we go down, tick them and in one fell swoop…their opportunity is in the trash.

Maybe those businesses haven’t noticed people have other needs than just a sale.

Here’s a quick question or two for you to consider.

What type of email do you like to receive from your suppliers?  

A sale? Or helpful information with maybe a short call-to-action or product special at the bottom?

Which makes you feel better? Which makes you feel more connected to them? 

Make your communications heavy on the information, inspiration and connection side. 

Keep the selling information to between 10-20% of the total. Message first. Sales second is a better way to bond.

Not sure how your newsletters rank?

As we make our way through the marketing complexities we face, here’s a special offer. For the first 2 people who contact me…before 5PM PDT on 4/16, I’ll do a quick complimentary review of an existing newsletter. 

www.jculpcreativecopy.com

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