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

Email Marketing Trends for 2021

Follow 2021trends for emails and enhance your marketing ROI.
Emails are relevant and effective when you do them right.

Journalist Daniel Witman recently published a great article on the email trends we will see important for 2021 and beyond.  There has been an ongoing discussion for several years about the relevance of email marketing.  Some wondered if emails were still worth doing with the other choices and focus on social media and chatbots.

The quick answer is that it is more important than ever.  However, businesses need to stay on top of HOW to use them effectively in today’s world. 

It’s a no-brainer that more people are shopping online.  Transaction receipts and follow-ups provide a huge opportunity to turn shoppers into loyal buyers.

Witman includes using AI, personalization, easy to read simple designs, interactivity, and concise easy to read copy as essentials for success. And, of course, everything must be mobile-friendly. 

AI in itself is not used in the email but rather to gather and collate user information. This information in itself helps you better target the segments of your audience.  

As I have found, 62% of marketers agree that personalization and focus on a customer interest/need make the most effective, engaging emails.  

Adding links or including a simple way for the client to respond to the email ramps up engagement. 82% of email marketers report personalization and interactivity increase response and click-through rates.

To maximize the return on your email marketing investment, segment, nurture and follow current best-practices for emails. Time to update your emails?  Schedule a call here. Limited time-slots are available.

You can read the full article here.

CLV–Buyers Need More than a Receipt

CLV is a Customer’s Lifetime Value. It’s how much they make you in the time that they stay a customer. Focusing on CLV means you keep them longer and have a higher ROI.

Many business platforms are set up to allow an automated response for a purchase.  To maximize the buying experience for the customer, this should be the beginning of a nurturing conversation…not the end. It’s a perfect opportunity to start building a relationship that will lead to more sales and a loyal long-term customer.

A series of emails? 

I was recently working with a business manager who hated getting emails.  He was the techie type and a very straight-forward type of buyer.  

“I get tons of emails every day. Just send me the receipt and let me get on with work. I hate getting a series of emails,” he told me.

“I have a question for you. Who are you selling to?”

“You know that,” he grumbled and sighed. “Mostly women salon owners looking for supplies.”

“It’s been my experience women buy differently from men. We know they think differently.”

He laughed. “That’s an understatement.”

“How quickly do they tend to go through their supplies?”

He paused, thinking about the answer. “Some customers buy almost monthly, others it might be three to six months.”

“Okay, why don’t we do a split test and see whether a single email or a series results in more orders or sales over the next six months?”

He nodded. Analytics made sense to him.

We targeted new customers. When we reviewed the analytics six months later, he was surprised at the higher level of sales from the group that received the series of emails. It is always easier to keep a customer than find a new one.  

What I’ve learned about CLV…

It’s been my experience that caring for customers pays off with a much higher and longer-term customer lifetime value. I saw it in my clinical service practice. In consulting and coaching clients on products and services they could benefit from. The experience has been repeated in over 20 years of e-commerce. They aren’t just a list of customers…they’re an online family.

As a business owner who had to deal with purchasing from the other side of the table, those same qualities impacted my decisions.  My buying and customer support experiences had me leaving or staying with suppliers for years.

People like easy.  When we find a business that we like, trust, and feel they respect us, we stay with them. Every positive experience with that business reinforces those feelings.  

One secret to enhancing CLV success.  

To maximize your results you will need to split your audience. First-time buyers need more nurturing. Repeat buyers like to hear from you but need a different type of nurturing and information. 

Give each segment its own thankyou sequence. 

Convert new buyers to loyal customers to increase CLV

The initial buying experience sets the tone with new customers.  They are hungry for information. Since most businesses don’t do a sequence…just a receipt, you set your business apart.  You give more value. Give it without expectations, (they can sense the difference) and it’s cash in the bank. Keep each email SHORT! You know they, like you, have full inboxes. Keep your emails brief and useful.

Thank you email 

The receipt email should be warm, friendly, and personalized.  Thank them for their order and share key information. New buyers all have similar questions.  How quickly will it ship?  When can I expect delivery? 

Include links to articles or blogs on your website to bring them back again.  You don’t want them to forget where they purchased. 

Suggest they white list you so they make sure not to miss the free bonus guide and additional information you’ll be sending.

Free bonus guide

Some businesses start throwing discounts to buyers. At this point, they would rather have information.  Share a free bonus guide or graphic. Answer questions they may not have thought of yet.  Maybe use your FAQ sheet and share them as bullet points.

If your product or service is complex, you may have a lot of questions that people ask, split the information into a couple of emails.

This email can go out one or two days following the thank you email  

Maximize your results

Everyone likes to get the most out of a purchase.  If there are tricks to having a maximum benefit, share them.  

If your product has a “how to use” protocol, it’s great to get this into the hands of the customer on or before the arrival of their order. This maintains the excitement and lets them know you are really trying to help them.

This email can also help them have realistic expectations with and for the product.  Weight management doesn’t happen overnight. Supplements take time to have their impact. 

In 2020, with major ordering online, I realized a lot of vendors don’t include much information or an adequate instruction manual. You end up having to go back online and Google how to use it.  That’s a pretty mediocre buyer’s experience.

Give them the information they need and more. Over-deliver value.

Follow-up 

Once their package has arrived, it’s valuable to followup with the buyer.  Ask if they have any questions.  Let them know how to reach you to get those questions answered.  A rapid response email or phone number where there is a live person, please.  You’re trying to bond with them…not drive them away.

Testimonial request

Some businesses like to combine this with the follow-up.  Give them a week or so to use the product before letting them know you’d love to hear their experience.  

Other customers may make their buying decision on these testimonials. It’s more helpful if the buyer has actually used the item.

Make it easy for them by providing a link where they can post. Let them know you appreciate their time doing so.  Perhaps a bonus of a small discount or free shipping on their next order by a specific date.  

It’s time to ramp up your CLV

Heightened Customer Lifetime Value makes a huge difference in the bottom line of your profit and loss.  It’s a marketing game-changer. Once done, the sequence can work for you for months or years.  That’s a high return on the investment.  If you’re just sending an automated receipt, you’re leaving money on the table, and customers who don’t know if you care about them.   www.jculpcreativecopy.com  . Let’s problem-solve.

Blogs Help 85% to Make Decisions

85% of people now use content in blogs to help make a decision.

If you do a Google search of current blogging statistics, the numbers overwhelmingly support the need for both B2B and B2C companies to have blog content. 85% of people prefer to use content in blogs to help them decide over even testimonials. 

There are some best practices to maximize your return on the investment of time and or money outsourcing what can be time-intensive work.

Blogs share 

I worked in the spa niche for well over two decades. I traveled, enjoyed experiences and visited lots of spas and resorts. 

In the UK, I have my own private native guide, my husband, to take me on discovery trips. In big cities, people are more cautious, guarded. Get away from them and people tend to be more friendly.

UK roads are unique. M-roads are freeways. A-roads are mostly divided highways. B-roads are narrow 2-way roads. However, one lane may disappear unexpectedly. The only way to pass is the tiniest of pull-outs. Driving a road no wider than your car with little visibility on either side is quite an experience.

You never know where you will end up. 

A tiny thatched-roof village where the main activity is the village pub that dates back hundreds of years. If you’re adventurous enough to find them, they’re happy to regale you with history as you listen to the locals’ gossip.

The top of the Welch hills with a view for miles…clear to the sea. This while you stand among neolithic burial stones whose only company is a neighboring pasture of cows.

A 5-star spa, Manor House or Castle with experiences as diverse as their locations.

It was natural to share experiences.

I’ve been writing blogs for years. What start out as journal notes, become invites to leave home, experience something different, and renew.

If your blog is shared on a dedicated Facebook page, you’ve tapped into the power of social media and a place people like to relax and read.

Marketing blogs for myself. Content blogs for my clients. Experiences, information, success stories. All designed to help someone.

What many don’t know

Blogs are not static.They have changed and are evolving.  Most used to be 500-900 words. Now those with 2250-2500 words show the highest engagement and readership. While you can create a short blog in 1-2 hours. Long blogs can take six hours or more.

Longer blogs have caused frequency to drop. Where bloggers used to put out multiple blogs a week. The longer formats, take more research and writing time. They may only be published semi-monthly.

3 Best Blog Practices

Relevant

Blogs can be a stand-alone website. They can also be a column or featured tab on your business website. For the most readership, blog content should tie into the purpose of your business.

Take time to think about topics that make sense to include based on your offer. Health, alternative health, fitness, nutrition, wellness, relationships, kids, life events like retirement, or getting married.

Whatever your website’s purpose is, include topics that support it.  Your goal is to become their information resource. Reliable, relevant, knowledgeable…and trustworthy.

Diversity in your niche

Within your niche, have a little fun and offer diversity.  If you’re offer supplements, nutrition or fitness, consider adding helpful recipes. If your selling supplements for kids, offer simple parenting tips. 

Share things that will make readers’ lives easier/better.

Offer the latest findings.  A major part of my fitness routine is walking. I just had to replace my shoes and the first thing I noticed they weren’t as sleek. Rather broader and boxier. Fortunately, I had a sharp associate helping me. He educated me on the changes in shoe structure to better protect ergonomics and reduce the risk of plantar fasciitis.  

Look for changes or innovations that relate to what you offer. A new ingredient. A new method of formulation that works better. Problem-solution specific. Every reader has a different goal, yet most will read to be better informed.

Keep blogs casual

Blogs are conversations with a friend. Keep them informal.  If you have scientific articles on your site, your blog may be the ideal place to convert that to reader-friendly information.

If a topic is complex, your blog is the spot to break it into easily scannable, digestible chunks. 

Most of your readers are going to skim-read. Help them out with a friendly style where there is plenty of white space and subheadings.

Make sure the reading level is in the 7-8 range or lower. The higher the reading level, the more mental energy is required and the more quickly readers leave.

Relevant, diverse and casual will keep your readers coming back for more. Mix up short blogs like recipes or quick content with longer reads.


Judith Culp Pearson is a wellness relationship marketer. She puts those skills to work helping businesses increase client retention with web content and strategies. Blog content is always something she recommends to clients. If they don’t have the time or desire to do it, she handles it for them. 

“Over-deliver” for Success

Ginsu knives specialized in over-deliver. They coined the phrase, "But wait, there's more."

There is one sure-fire way to a successful business…giving customers something they want and more, in essence, over-deliver. 

“But wait, there’s more”

Back in the late 1970s-early 80s, Ginsu knives made a fortune on their perfectly crafted television infomercials.  It uses the get a lot for a little formula.  

They demonstrate their knife-wielding skills showcasing how fabulous their knives are. As the demonstration draws to a close, they open their offer with  “Now how much would you pay? Don’t answer!”  

Then they reduced the price or sweetened the deal with add on bonuses. More and more and more.

They urged viewers to “Call now! Operators are standing by!”  Even then they added more bonuses to the offer.

They created the tagline which is still used today, “But wait! There’s more!”

The value was so high compared to the price, people couldn’t resist.

It was so successful, they used the exact same formula, and spokespeople, to market a number of other equally successful household items.  

Exceeding expectations works

In my practice, I’ve always tried to exceed people’s expectations, but I never thought of it as over-delivering. I just wanted customers that were so happy they’d return and refer me to their friends.

Over-delivering is a term I learned from a master copywriter, Brian Kurtz.  He is one of the most successful marketers out there and has over 40 years of experience behind him. Over-delivering is his specialty.

I’ve found Brian’s insights accurate and useful in my work with clients and in marketing. If you want to dive deeper, his book Overdeliver is available on Amazon.  

One thing most people don’t realize

A customer’s lifetime value is directly related to the depth of the relationship. Lists and contacts are inanimate. They are for transactions. Human interaction is based on relationships. Every way your buyers encounter you, websites, social media, emails, chatbots need to be relationship-focused. Giving more than expected is a key way to build those relationships. 

In today’s world, where more buying happens online than in a store, this is even more critical. It’s also what people are looking for. They want to understand you, your business, and what you stand for.

The more transparent you are the better they feel about you.  If they can’t even find out where a company is located, or get in touch with them, it rather feels like something is being hidden. 

3 ways to over-deliver

There are three types of people out there, givers, takers, and matchers. Takers have their hands out ready to receive. Takers love it when people offer to help them, but seldom give anything in return. Matchers are tit for tat people. If given something, they respond by giving back the exact same value. 

Givers share with no strings attached.  No expectations. They give to help others.

Be the giver. They share information, appreciate the person they interact with, treat them with respect, reward them. Givers are relationship builders. 

Businesses that follow this pattern have the greatest success.

Every interaction a relationship event

Look for ways to make every interaction a relationship event.  Give information, help, and support freely. Let customers and prospects know you appreciate them. 

Make emails personalized not automated generic. Nurture them, answer questions…even ones they haven’t thought of yet. Thank them, reward them.

Talk to them as person to person.  Be conversational, invite a response. Social media is especially good to get conversations going. Monitor what triggers get responses and use them again.

Give them what they want

Many businesses have an idea and create a product. Then they reach out to find people who they think need it.  Too often, it misses the mark. What the customer wants doesn’t match with the solutions they are offered.

When a product is still in the concept stage that’s the ideal time to make sure it is a clear match. Ask them, research it, follow forums. How can you tweak it to have a 100% match?

It might be the right product but the wrong packaging, formulation, or value.  

Maybe they need more information to understand your product/service or how to use it.  Free guides or how-tos can be invaluable.

Convert transactions to relationships with over-delivery

Often fulfillment and customer support are treated as transactions. Instead, treat them as part of your marketing.  

I once received an order and inside the product was nicely tissue wrapped with a small envelope on top.  Inside was a brief inspirational message and a piece of a cinnamon stick. It was totally unexpected. A gift, a bonus, and I can still tell you exactly who that item came from.

If you’re doing a subscription offer, thank them for renewing.  If you shipped them a product, ask if they have any questions on how to use it. Targeted nurturing emails, segmented by product or interest, following a purchase are an excellent technique to bond.

Be reachable and responsive.  I’ve noticed that almost every business  I interact with has a message to expect delays. It’s true of phone messages, web notices, and email responses. 

Sometimes you get the message and then an immediate contact. Other times, you may wait for days, even weeks. 

After all this time, we need to figure out a way to be more responsive. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. How long would You realistically want to wait? Figure out a way to make that happen.

How I approach this

When I work with a new client, I look at the touchpoints from the viewpoint of their buyer. How does it “feel”.  It may work fine, but feel impersonal. I look for transactionality and ways to replace it with over-delivery and relationship building. 

Here’s a quick read on Keep Your Customers Delighted.

Importance of Relationships for 2021

Blake Morgan recently wrote on Customer Service in the Smartphone era.

TERMS, CONDITIONS & PRIVACY

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