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November 2017

Cultivating Your Customer Relationships Using Social Media

Cultivating Your Customer Relationships Using Social Media 900 600 Amy Judge

Every business owner’s dream is to have a brand so rock solid that their customers largely do the marketing for them. Think about Colgate vs. Crest. For the most part, Americans choose one or the other and base their decision on what they have always used. But is one toothpaste truly better than the other? Who knows and, quite frankly, who cares. You’re going to buy the one you feel more connected with. Now, while you may not have millions of dollars to sink into innovation and advertising, don’t get discouraged! Small businesses have a tool at their disposal that’s more engaging than has ever existed, and it’s largely free! Social media.

It seems social media is never going to go away. I know, I know. You’re quitting Facebook. And you mean it this time. But before you delete your online life, consider this: there are more than 1.86 billion active users on Facebook right now. And that’s from Forbes.com, so it has to be true. Social media should be an integral part of your marketing strategy because you can connect, engage, and build a loyal base by reaching multiple people at once. Not to mention your ROI! Social media platforms now have built in tracking so you can see which advertising efforts work and which ones don’t. You can’t do that with traditional forms of advertising, which tend to cost thousands of dollars. So, now that I’ve convinced you to keep your business on social media, let’s go over some steps on how to use these nifty tools.

Solve a burning problem
This is how you initially get people engaged. Check out Gekks no show socks as an example. When their sponsored content promised to solve every problem I’ve ever had with trying to achieve the sockless look, I had to find out more. I went to their website, ordered their product, and can’t stop telling people about them.

Stay engaged
Always invite your audience to like or follow your business’s page. Even though they may love your product, there’s still a chance they haven’t followed you online yet. I literally just liked the Gekk’s Facebook page and have been using their product for a couple of years. Also, don’t ignore your audience. Make up contests, provide special offers, and communicate with your customers.

Practice your customer service
Your social media platform is an excellent way to consistently thank your customers. 10% off is a thank you gift I have a hard time passing up! Additionally, when a fusspot begins to speak up, you can immediately and publicly offer a solution. Think of how that will make your company look to potential customers. People who haven’t done business with you yet will go in knowing the type of customer service they can expect from you. That’s a unique opportunity to start a business relationship with a high level of trust.

Cultivating your customers on social media doesn’t have to be challenging. In fact, it should feel natural because your audience wants to work with someone authentic. All of these hints will strengthen brand loyalty, but the bond with your customers will be even stronger when they feel like they know the person behind the product.

The majority of our customer base here at Wild Fig Marketing is made up of small businesses. So we understand the challenge of wearing too many hats and having a full plate. Managing your social media platforms is important, but it also takes time. If you find social media consistently moves down on your priority list, consider contacting us to see how we can help. And we would be remiss if I didn’t ask you to follow us on Facebook.

Use Email Marketing to Improve Customer Retention!

Use Email Marketing to Improve Customer Retention! 900 600 WildFigAdmin

A one-time customer is good. A loyal, lifelong customer is the bread and butter of any business. It’s crucial to promote customer retention within your business and hands down the most effective way to do this is through email marketing.

THE STATISTICS
Let the statistics speak for themselves: According to DMA, the ROI of email marketing is 3800%! What’s more? Business 2 Community states that 80% of brands rely on email marketing to drive customer retention. Additionally, it costs 500% more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep a current one (Destination CRM). Retaining customers through email marketing requires effort on the front end but is a cost-effective way to invest in your business.

THE OBJECTIVE
As a business owner your biggest objective in terms of customer retention should be to create top-of-mind awareness with your customers so they will return to you the next time they are in the market for a similar product.

THE CHALLENGE
The key to email marketing for customer retention is to keep your customers engaged over time – a one-time email won’t cut it. Neither will a slew of generic emails help you meet your customer retention goals. Everyone longs to be known – in relationships and in business. The most effective way to retain customers and promote brand loyalty is to create that connection by getting to know your customer and his/her individual needs, interests and purchasing habits. It’s essential to segment your emails to customers based off of their previous engagement with your brand so each email that lands in his/her inbox feels personal and relevant.

Alright. Now that we have a big picture concept of customer retention through email marketing let’s put some wheels on it.

5 TYPES OF CUSTOMER RETENTION EMAILS

1. The Welcome Email: First impressions are everything. Knock their socks off with a hearty welcome and that special introductory offer code you promised. This is a great time to get your new customer jazzed about your brand. Encourage them to follow you on your social media channels which ensures top-of-mind awareness. It’s also a great time to inquire about their shopping preferences so you can send out those segmented emails down the road. Bronto quantifies that 33% of their marketing revenue comes from their welcome series!

2. The Post-Purchase Email: After your new customer makes their first purchase you can send a follow up email that includes insightful information about the product or service they purchased and include a link to live shipping information. A week or two down the road an email requesting a product review is a great way to follow up. Even if the review is somewhat negative the customer will feel valued knowing that his/her opinion matters to you and that sense of value may be the catalyst for future engagement with your brand.

3. The Friendly Reminder Email: When shopping online it’s commonplace to abandon your virtual cart and sometimes a gentle email “nudge” about an abandoned cart is all a customer needs to click and complete his/her purchase. Another friendly reminder that can keep your customer engaged with your brand is an email notifying them that their card is about to expire. It will communicate to your customer that you are looking out for their interests and it helps keep your brand top-of-mind.

4. The Loyalty Email: People love perks and are easily incentivized. (Think: Starbucks Rewards™) Having a loyalty program in place and keeping your customer up-to-date on his/her rewards status not only keeps you top-of-mind with your customer but incentivizes repeat business. A birthday gift in the form of an email discount or an email commemorating the anniversary of their affiliation with your brand and enclosed discount coupon are two more ways to encourage brand loyalty.

5. The Thumbs-Up! Email: Who doesn’t want a little praise now and then? An email reminding your customer just how awesome they really are and how thankful you are for their business can generate a profound sense of brand loyalty and promote customer retention. The Thanksgiving season is a great opportunity to send that email!

We’re all about staying top of mind for your clients, so if you’re ready to learn new ways to improve your customer retention through strategic email marketing and/or marketing automation, contact us! We would love to help you implement a strategy that not only helps improve your customer retention rate but saves you time and effort as well!

Or, sign up for our Cultivator Strategic Marketing Session where one of our marketing experts will lay out a complete plan that’s easy to implement and incorporates tactics for brand positioning to improve your customer retention rate.

Made in Minnesota – Signature Woods

Made in Minnesota – Signature Woods 900 600 WildFigAdmin

Photo courtesy of Signature Woods

Welcome to our new blog suitably titled Made in Minnesota where we will explore different Minnesota-based businesses and learn some helpful tips along the way! The blog format will be a Q&A, conversational style that allows you as the listener to lean in and get to know some great Minnesota business owners on a personal level. You will hear stories of big dreams turned reality, obstacles encountered and how they were overcome, things business owners would love to go back in time and change and fun little tidbits you wouldn’t otherwise be privy to! Sound like fun? Pull up a chair and get ready to meet Brad!

Brad and his wife, Lauren – owners of Signature Woods – are in the business of creating chic, exceptional-quality, reclaimed lumber products. They are located a half an hour south of the Twin Cities off I-35.

Photo courtesy of Signature Woods

Q. Hey Brad! Can you tell us a little bit about how Signature Woods got started?
A. Sure! I was in college for mechanical engineering and feeling unfulfilled in my major. I had the opportunity to salvage old barn wood for some projects I wanted to tackle and after taking down a whole barn I ended up with a surplus. I posted the surplus wood on Craigslist and couldn’t believe the response! One barn led to another and soon my girlfriend Lauren was on the rooftops, crowbar in hand, helping me salvage barn wood one piece at a time. After college Lauren and I married and started Signature Woods – our full-time business. Between Lauren’s eye for design and my business acumen we make a great team! At Signature Woods, we sell wall paneling and design and sell custom mantles and interior barn doors all from elegant, reclaimed wood.

Q. What do you love about the work you do?
A. I love processes. Even more than upcycling old wood I love the process of taking an idea and scaling and growing it into a revenue generator.

Q. Tell us about obstacles you’ve encountered as you’ve been growing your business.
A. Of course there are business obstacles but those I tackle in stride. The greater challenge for me is fighting the mental battle and processing the big questions, ‘Am I on the right track? Is there something I should be doing differently?…’

Q. How do you stay focused and address those hard questions?
A. I start each day with a strict morning routine. That’s crucial. I also have a goal board with pictures and revenue goals on the wall above my computer. Reflecting on my goals helps me keep perspective and stay focused.

Q. If you only had $500 to spend on growing your business where would you spend your money?
A. I would consider spending that money on Facebook and Google ads – investing in my online business presence. Both are fantastic tools for generating traffic and increasing brand exposure.

Q. Technology is revolutionizing how we all do business. What are some of your favorite apps or software tools?
A. One app I love is WooCommerce. In my opinion, it’s the best app for scaling an online retail business. Another great app is ShipStation. Learning the app is daunting at first but it’s tremendously helpful when it comes to shipping out our products to our customers! It really helps facilitate the shipment of packages of various sizes, shapes and weight.

Q. If you could start any business today what would you open?
A. I would love to start a financial education business. I see myself as an entrepreneur and investor and I’m passionate about educating kids and adults on how our financial choices today affect our lives tomorrow.

Photo courtesy of Signature Woods

Thanks for your time, Brad! We wish you continued success in your business endeavors at Signature Woods!

If you’d like to learn more about Signature Woods you can visit them online at www.signaturewoods.co

Made in Minnesota – Envision

Made in Minnesota – Envision 900 600 WildFigAdmin

Welcome to our new blog suitably titled Made in Minnesota where we will explore different Minnesota-based businesses and learn some helpful tips along the way! The blog format will be a Q&A, conversational style that allows you as the listener to lean in and get to know some great Minnesota business owners on a personal level. You will hear stories of big dreams turned reality, obstacles encountered and how they were overcome, things business owners would love to go back in time and change and fun little tidbits you wouldn’t otherwise be privy to! Sound like fun? Pull up a chair and get ready to meet Liz!

Our first Minnesota business owner that we’re going to introduce you to is Liz Zurek Beaudry, owner of Envision. Envision is a Minneapolis-based marketing company that specializes in brand strategy, digital marketing and culture.

 

Q. Hey Liz! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
A. Hi there! I’m Liz. I’m a wife to a commercial airline pilot and a mom of two boys. My husband and I knew we wanted to raise a family and both had health issues which led us to the adoption of our boys, now ages 7 & 9, from South Korea. The first couple years as a mom weren’t without their challenges as I had to learn how to shift back-and-forth between my new role as a mom and that of a business owner. To de-stress and help me refocus I love to run and do yoga. I also love spending time on my parents’ hobby farm and connecting to the wilderness.

Q. When did you purchase Envision?
A. I purchased Envision in 2007 – just before the economy tanked.

Q. You recently acquired a software platform called MDNA Cloud. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
A. MDNA helps companies identify their culture in order to help them build their brand and increase profit. It measures six dimensions of culture and five dimensions of employee engagement. Each employee learns how to integrate their purpose, passions and potential into the workplace. I have been using the software in my work since 2008 and purchased the software platform in March of this year. It’s a tremendous asset to each of our clients.

Q. What is the biggest obstacle you’ve encountered in your business and how did you tackle it?
A. I purchased Envision at the peak of the economic boom for a premium. When the economy tanked I had to learn how to cut costs. I lost my entire team. I became hyper-focused in my efforts to save Envision and really learned how to structure and operate a team. During that time we didn’t lose a single client and have been profitable every year!

Q. What do you love about running your business?
A. I love relationship-building and hearing stories from other people’s journeys. I also love when my clients are satisfied with the work we do. It’s always rewarding to hear that we “nailed” the project.

Q. If you could start your business all over again what is the number one thing you would do differently?
A. I wouldn’t go into debt to make it happen. I don’t like the burden of debt. It feels like a chain around my neck.

Q. Technology is revolutionizing how we all do business. What are some of your favorite apps or software tools you utilize within your business?
A. First of all let me start of by saying that I’m not techy so I’m always seeking out apps to help make this part of running a business easier. One of my favorite apps is Hubdoc. It syncs my receipts, pulls bills and statements into one place and requires no data entry. I’m also thankful for YNAB – fantastic budgeting software for both business and personal finances and MileIQ for tracking mileage.

Q. If you had only $500 to spend on your growing business where would you spend your money?
A. I would direct that money towards generating referral and repeat business. I would consider holding an event for current customers to promote customer retention.

Q. Alright, our last question is outside of the box. If you could start any business today what business would you open?
A. I would love to open an interior design business that specializes in SOHO spaces. Space has a tremendous impact on productivity. Another business that I think would be fun to start is a dog walking business. Dogs are always happy to go on a walk and you can give them back at the end of the day!

Customer Experience (CX): Customer Service, Reinvented

Customer Experience (CX): Customer Service, Reinvented 900 600 WildFigAdmin

The notion of customer service has been reinvented: Now, everyone’s talking about customer experience — or CX.

Customer Service Versus Customer Experience
The shift in perspective is pivotal: Customer service focuses on the provider, CX focuses on the receiver.

Customer service describes a limited sphere: specific activities in which company and customer interact. It begins at first contact, and ends when the prospect makes a purchase or stomps off in frustration.

CX Matters in the Digital Age
On the other hand, CX is all-encompassing. It’s a narrative of every step of the customer journey, from the first moment they become aware of a company to the relationship they have with the product after buying it. A customer can experience excellent customer service, but end up with a product that is junk, or just wrong for them, and that ultimately means a negative CX. Conversely, a customer could have a major snafu with a hotel reservation or a flawed product, but a thoughtfully executed CX will turn it into a positive outcome.

“Customer experience is defined by the experience customers have, remember and share,” writes best-selling business author Brian Solis. It lasts longer and matters more than customer service.

Improved CX a Universal Business Strategy
Focusing on the CX is a crucial trend in the world of business today. The American Marketing Association (AMA) cites a Forrester study stating more than 90% of senior executives describe improving CX as a “top strategic priority.” Similarly, 90% of North American firms surveyed in 2014 aspired to be “CX leaders” within the next three years, according to a study by the Temkin Group.

These are big ambitions. Why has CX become such a focal point?

“It’s been reported that customers will pay up to 25% more for a similar product if they believe they’re going to get an exceptional experience,” writes Solis. That’s a pretty good reason!

Additionally, technology has enabled companies to be connected and responsive for much more of the customer journey than previously. Emails and automation, social media and digital customer reviews have radically transformed the relationship between buyer and seller.

CX — a Lazer Focused Vision on Customer Perspective
Even more so than with customer service, the business intending to excel at CX has to really live its commitment to the cause. Lip service won’t be adequate: it’s necessary to become intimately acquainted with what customers really value, and apply people, passion and resources to upgrading their experience. CX can only be measured from the customer’s perspective, and it’s the sum of their experience throughout their relationship with the company. That might be five minutes at Subway, or a lifetime with a car insurance company.

Bottom line — CX is entirely dependent on customers’ emotional reactions for the totality of the customer journey. For this reason, companies have to embrace a holistic approach: every process, policy, technology and interaction which touches the customer matters, so they have to be designed to work together.

Achieving great CX demands total focus on the customer’s perspective, identifying what may be missing or broken. It also requires awareness of other players in the field, and beyond. You’re competing with their satisfaction in their lives as consumers as a whole. They’ve flown SouthWest Airlines, they’ve shopped at Zappo’s, they’ve hailed an Uber — all these experiences influence the standards they inhabit.

CX: Ambitious, and Necessary
Sound big? It is. Perfecting the customer experience is bound to be a process, not a destination, but the payoff in terms of loyalty and goodwill ensures that it’s a journey worth taking. If you want help defining or redefining your customer journey, give us a call; we’ll work with you to identify ways you can improve or develop your CX and, ultimately, improve your client retention rate. Or, click here to set up a time to meet with one of our automation experts to talk about other ways automation can improve your client retention!