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.
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
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.
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.
In a recent article, I shared the importance of customer relationships for 2021. We’re in a world where the competition is fierce. You probably have competitors who have offers similar to yours. Your key differentiator is likely how you bond with customers. How you take care of them. It’s core to your survival.
If you’re fence-sitting on the necessity of investing in your customer experience, the facts are available. I found an article that shared 50 stats proving the value of customer relationships. Here are my key takeaways.
Companies focused on customers outperform their competition by nearly 80%.
In 2010 only 36% of companies focused on CX. Today 66% use it as a competitive edge.
96% of customers say customer service is key to their loyalty.
Superior customer service can bring in 5.7 times more revenue than competitors without it.
Customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than business-centric.
Customers switching due to poor service costs US companies $1.6 trillion.
Happy customers are 5 times more likely to purchase again.
Negative experiences reduce spending by 140%
Take care of your customer relationships. They will reward you with loyalty and profitability.
To maximize your business success in 2021, you need to look at how you connect with your prospects and customers. Think of them as family, treat them as the best possible version of a family. It’s about building relationships first.
I recently had an experience on a social media channel that you might have had yourself.
Pitch forward marketing
Someone reached out to me to connect. It was a woman whose interests were in my niche. Her message said, “I think I have something you might be interested in.” How could she know that? She didn’t know me.
Being someone who is generally friendly and open to networking, I accepted her invitation. My acceptance triggered another message from her that was a pure pitch. And it was the type of offer that I always steer clear of. A business opportunity that doesn’t resonate with me.
In her response, she asked, “are you familiar with XYZ? They are the company I work with”
I responded, “Yes, I’m familiar with them. I’ve had numerous people try to get me to participate in this. Not interested. Thank you.”
She didn’t try to get to know me nor build a relationship. If she had, she might have picked up this isn’t my direction. She took afront at my lack of interest. She lost the opportunity for a relationship. While it isn’t something I would do, she will never learn if I know someone who might be interested.
I’ve practiced relationship selling for years
I’ve always practiced treating people with respect and TLC. This is essential to earn their trust and long term business. I’ve practiced this for over 25 years.
Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in a virtual summit where some of the greatest minds in marketing shared their best thoughts for 2021. Marketing giants you might recognize. Bob Bly, Brian Kurtz, Kevin Thompson, Eric Partaker, and more.
Each had their own version of the “One Thing” to keep in mind for 2021. Yet, they were unanimous in their conviction on the importance of relationships as we move forward.
Relationship versus transactional selling
We shouldn’t ignore…relationships are opposite of transactions.
Transactions are all about the short term sale. Relationship selling is about connecting, engaging, and focusing on helping the buyer find what they want and need. The differences are huge.
Think traditional used car salesmen, versus an automotive consultant. Used car salesman were pushy. The don’t listen, they sell. Get the deal no matter what. It got them a terrible reputation.
Our automotive consultant doesn’t show the prospect anything until they have listened to the customer. They actively listen and then help the prospect find what they are looking for.
If we have a great buying experience, we are far more apt to return to that business the next time we have a need. We look forward to hearing from them because they “took care of us.” they didn’t try to rip us off and sell us what we didn’t want or need. Customer-focused.
3 Techniques for relationship marketing
Once you have embraced prospects as an online family, you’ll engage with them differently. They aren’t just names or emails, they are people you want to help. For the best success, you need to be very clear on your purpose and your goals. From there you need to give, be open and sincere, and see every touchpoint as a relationship event.
Focus on how you can help/serve others. Give abundantly. Information, inspiration, and value. People respond when we give our best. Focus on connecting with people who want what you are offering and give them your best.
Peloton has this down perfectly. Peleton offers high-end fitness gear. Their focus? Athletes committed to fitness. They know exactly what their customer wants. Peleton makes sure they provide it. They focus on reaching their target market. Targeted quality versus quantity in marketing responses. They only want the very committed in their inner circle.
This is an expensive brand with a high entry bar. This means members are more committed. The more we have to pay to access what we want, the more committed and engaged we become. The more we will connect and use the “value” the business has provided.
Their customers are more successful in reaching their goals and more apt to stay with them long term. They have a much higher lifetime customer value.
Be real, open, and sincere to build relationships
If you aren’t real, open, and sincere with your audience, they will know it. In today’s world, people look for businesses that are supportive and transparent. They don’t try to hide things by withholding or dodging issues.
Customer service quality is paramount in the mind of today’s customers. Let them know how to contact you and when they can expect a response.
2021 will have continued unique challenges. We have to be nimble and quickly adjust to rapidly evolving situations. Being open and honest with your audience will keep them with you as you have to make changes.
As a consumer, I don’t mind that your business had to change my packaging due to shortages. Please, just let me know. If the regional weather or other issues are impacting shipping and delivery, let your customers know. Customers like to be in the loop.
Social and environmental positions are also something that most customers respond to. They want to know how you’re helping others and helping the planet. If you haven’t added them, share them via social channels and on your website.
See touchpoints as relationship events
Every time you reach out or connect with your audience, it’s important to think of it as a relationship event. Don’t think list building, think relationship building. Don’t think transactions, think connectivity and engagement.
Relationships encourage a two-way conversation. Invite them to respond and interact with you.
Be aware of what competitors are putting out there. Look for a way to present your message a little differently to increase engagement. Keep in mind that members are much more engaged than a general audience. The easier the access, the lower the level of active engagement.
Businesses that make relationships their focus have the most loyal clients and fan base to help share their message. Their ROI and lifetime customer value will be higher than any transactional approach can achieve.
When I work with clients
I start with a review of what they publish on their website and social channels. I look for the level of relationship building. Then help them see opportunities to increase value to customers. This always converts to an enhanced lifetime customer value.
Ogilvy’s Social.Lab recently published a report on “conversational commerce”. In 2020 more people than ever are choosing online. They buy groceries, shop, and connect with friends.
It uses chatbots or humans. It also uses language interfaces like Whatsapp and like Alexa to communicate with customers. Businesses are using it to set themselves apart from their competitors and enhance customer service.
The key takeaway? Be useful, be relevant, be trustworthy in every customer interaction.
Ogilvy’s Social.Lab recently published a report on “conversational commerce”. In 2020 more people than ever are choosing online. They buy groceries, shop, and connect with friends.
It uses chatbots or humans. It also uses interfaces like Whatsapp and like Alexa to communicate with customers. Businesses use it to set themselves apart from their competitors. And to enhance customer service.
The key takeaway? Be useful, be relevant, be trustworthy in every customer interaction.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
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. email@example.com.