Categories
Business Performance Digital Marketer+ Personal Development

Does it make the boat go faster?

This article is part of a series entitled Digital Marketer+. The series is aimed at marketers already working in the digital marketplace, but also to others looking for new ways to promote or build their business online.

The intention of the series is to take a second look at what you’re currently doing and approach it from a different perspective. It will include tips, best practice, case studies and a fair amount of opinion. Not just my own, I’d love your input too. If you have any great ideas or experience, please do share it, as I’m keen to become a better digital marketer too.

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We are creatures of habit. We get comfort from routine. We struggle with change.

Generalisations, yes, but you can’t deny you’ve noticed those traits in yourself at times.

We do some things, because we did it yesterday. And the day before. We find it easier to carry on doing it that way, rather than analyse what we’re doing and change direction. Who has time to do that anyway?

Then there’s safety. It’s, of course, in our best interests not to take risks or rock the boat, better to toe the line and do it the way you’ve been told to do it, the way we’ve always done it.

Unfortunately, all that does is lead to disappointment, to average, to bland, to a loss of contention.

Albert Einstein was describing insanity when he said it was “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”, but he could have equally been referring to our unwavering routines.

Interestingly, I’ve not mentioned anything about work yet, as this could as easily apply to any aspect of our lives – relationships, sports, health and yes, our jobs.

I’ll leave the relationship advice to others, so let’s focus on our work and career. How to break the pattern? How do we change things for the better?

Work

Hopefully you have objectives (no? Okay, that’s task no.1, top priority), so you know what you supposed to be achieving.

Take a look at them. Now look at your recent output and your current task list. Be honest, are you working on the right stuff?

“Will it make the boat go faster?” was a guiding principle of Sir Peter Blake, who led his crew to the 1995 America’s Cup win. Before undertaking any activity they would ask themselves this simple, yet powerful question. If the answer was no, it wasn’t worth doing.

Look at your task list again and ask yourself the question. If it’s not making your boat go faster, why are you doing it?

Career

What are your career goals? Do you want progression, status, money, perhaps greater challenges or enriching experiences? Your goals can be varied and many.

Stop and reflect on this – is my current job helping me achieve what I want?

Or in other words, is it making my boat go faster?

The routine and inertia in our careers can be worse than in the tasks we undertake. The risk is certainly greater. We have responsibilities, such as families and mortgages to consider and the fear of the unknown, or of making the wrong decision.

Change

If you answered NO to either (or both) the work or career question then you need to make a change. This doesn’t need to be something dramatic. It could be something small, like stopping certain tasks (who reads that report anyway??) or doing something in a different, more useful or effective way.

It could just be to clarify purpose, to re-examine objectives or goals.

Or of course, it could be a rip off the plaster moment.  A big change. Something that fundamentally alters the way you work. In your current company or somewhere else.

As a friend is wont to say: “Fortune favours the bold”.

This is not the easiest route. The road less travelled is not always the safest. It might not work, but is it at least worth trying? What if it’s better than you could imagine?

If in a few years you reflect back, what will your journey have looked like? If you do things exactly the same way as you’ve always done, then you already know what the path looks like, the same as the one you’ve just trod. If today you decide to step off onto the grass, imagine where it might take you.

Categories
Business Performance Customer Experience Digital Marketer+

8 Steps to Fixing your Customer Experience

This article is part of a series entitled Digital Marketer+. The series is aimed at marketers already working in the digital marketplace, but also to others looking for new ways to promote or build their business online.

The intention of the series is to take a second look at what you’re currently doing and approach it from a different perspective. It will include tips, best practice, case studies and a fair amount of opinion. Not just my own, I’d love your input too. If you have any great ideas or experience, please do share it, as I’m keen to become a better digital marketer too.

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The customer service department is unlikely to be the first port of call for a marketer looking to improve their performance. However, if you want to make a significant difference to your website’s performance, its worth walking over and saying hello.

Whilst your outbound marketing – TV, display advertising, video, etc. – might be more exciting at first glance, it’s the information collected by Customer Services that is arguably more valuable to your business.

Customer Service is the coal face of your business – the closest your online business comes to your paying customer. Any questions, enquiries, returns or complaints go through these guys. It’s not the easiest job, or the most glamorous and the pay rarely reflects the hassle that comes with it. It’s often neglected or ignored by other parts of the company.

So why should you be interested?

Because there’s gold in there, that’s why. Every record from contact with a customer holds information to make your product better. It’s not always obvious; sometimes you have to look beyond the words the customer uses to identify the real problem. Reviewing the contact records will reveal technical problems with your site (broken pages / processes), inaccurate / outdated information (i.e. pricing), poor site copy / instructions, clumsy user interfaces and new product ideas.

Still wondering what this has got to do with you?

Even if you work in any organisation in which the Marketing department is only responsible for promotional activity, you have to make this your business or at the very least bring it to the attention of someone that can do something about it.

If you want to become a more complete marketer you need to think about the whole business; how you can make it better and how you can improve the brand experience of your customers. That makes customer service your business, even if it doesn’t state it on your job description.

8 Steps to fix it

  1. Speak to your Customer Service reps. What are the common problems / complaints they face? What would they change about the website? (why don’t they get asked this question more often when they face the problems every day??)
  2. Review the customer records yourself. Get a feel for what is wrong and what could be improved. Remember to read between the lines
  3. Draw up a list of all the issues you uncover and identify their potential solutions
  4. Establish the frequency of common complaints / issues. This will aid you in determining priorities later. Add this info to the list
  5. Flag each item as either ‘Technical’ or ‘Non-technical’. Technical items will need IT development work. Non-technical issues could include things like re-writing the on-page instructions, changing button labels, writing help guides or re-examining the positioning and promises in your advertising.
  6. If your list is long you’ll need to prioritise all the items to determine which need to be addressed first. It’s important to be realistic when you request these changes. A very long list may be delayed until sufficient resources are available. Breaking it into smaller chunks will improve the chances of the important things getting done.
  7. If you have a very busy IT department you’ll need to make a case for your changes to be made. The best way – and hardest to argue against – is to put financial figures against them. What are you losing each month due to these problems? What is the revenue opportunity by fixing them? Consider the best metric to use. Do you know the actual financial loss? Or could you use an average basket value? Or lifetime value?
  8. For the non-technical changes, the responsibility probably lies with you / the Marketing department. Think about the best way to fix the issue – will a screencast help? A FAQ? Or do you need to feed the info into the discussions about your next advertising creative?

Whatever solutions you implement make sure you continue to work with the Customer Service department and monitor the impact. Have your changes improved the situation? If not, continue to press on – what else can you do?

Things are rarely perfect in life, so never assume your work is done. Keep monitoring, keeping testing, keep improving.

One benefit you’ll find from fixing some or all of the problems will be the new found friends you’ll make in the Customer Service department. They’ll appreciate you making their life a little easier, which may well come in handy a littler later.

So what’s the outcome of this endeavour? Are you a better marketer?

Without a doubt. You’ve just hit on all Big Three Goals of business. In fixing the problems you increased your customer satisfaction. This lead to an increase in revenue from your happy customers (not forgetting the friends they recommended you to). You also lowered your costs – you now convert and retain more of your visitors, so there is less wastage on your advertising and fewer hours are needed in supporting your product (or at the very least you can put it to better use).

Well done. Not bad work from going to say hello.

Other posts in this series:

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Over the course of this series, we’ll be looking at a wide range of things for you to try in your marketing, including behavioural re-targeting, smarter customer service, social media monitoring, conversion rate optimisation, mobile marketing, and creating linkbait to boost search performance. Please feel free to add your comments and join the conversation.

Or if you’d like to contribute to the series by writing a guest blog post, please get in touch to share your idea for consideration.

Categories
Business Performance Digital Marketer+ Personal Development

Know your Objective

This article is the first in a series entitled Digital Marketer+. The series is aimed at marketers already working in the digital marketplace, but also to others looking for new ways to promote or build their business online.

The intention of the series is to take a second look at what you’re currently doing and approach it from a different perspective. It will include tips, best practice, case studies and a fair amount of opinion. Not just my own, I’d love your input too. If you have any great ideas or experience, please do share it, as I’m keen to become a better digital marketer too.

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Know your objective

There are probably far more exciting things to talk about to kick-off this series, but it’s important we start here, with Objectives. We need to know where we’re going, before we can work out how to get there.

Ask yourself this – do you know why you’re crafting that email newsletter today? Or why your display adverts are using that creative? Why that particular wording in the press release? Or why you’re monitoring mentions of your brand in Twitter?

If you don’t knowwhy are you doing it?

How much of what you’re doing today, is because you did it yesterday, and last week and because the person who trained you said you should do it that way?

The key to being a better digital marketer – or any marketer or business person for that matter – is to know what you’re trying to achieve and why. Only then can you unleash the creative beast inside you and deliver the outstanding results you want.

Tip: As toddlers we drive our parents mad, asking them “Why? Why? Why?” to everything. It’s a habit we grow out of as we get older. Try it again today, question others, and question yourself. But don’t just blunder on regardless.

There are three areas I’d recommend you consider:

Business Objectives

What are the objectives of your business? This is crucial to know. Each employee, each department, will have their own objectives, but they should all serve the objectives of the business.

Jim Sterne, in his book ‘Social Media Metrics’, says there are only three true business goals:

  1. Raise Revenue
  2. Lower Costs
  3. Increase Customer Satisfaction

According to Sterne, “If the work you do does not result in an improvement to one or more of these Big Three Goals, then you are wasting your time, wasting money, spinning your wheels, alienating your customers and not helping the organization”.

If you’re not sure of your company’s goals go ask your boss. If he/she is not sure either, maybe you need to go find a new boss too.

Project Objectives

Moving to a more tactical level, let’s look at what you’re trying to achieve from your own work, using a few examples:

  • Customer email newsletter: what is its purpose? It’s notoriously difficult to achieve high open rates on B2B newsletters, mainly because most are full of promotions to get the customer to spend more money. But is that your objective? Should it be? Or should it be about providing additional value to the customer and developing a longer term, more profitable relationship?
  • Campaign landing page: You have all your campaign ducks in a row…display ads, pay-per-click (PPC), email, facebook ads, video pre-rolls…all pushing potential customers through to your landing page(s). What do you want them to do when they get there? Purchase? Register? Vote? Follow? If you have a clear objective in mind, you’ll know what goes on the landing page – and what doesn’t. Just getting traffic to come in and dumping them on your homepage, hoping they’ll do something positive is not really a viable – or successful – strategy.
  • Social media monitoring: you’re ahead of the curve; you’re monitoring mentions of your brand in social media. Great. Why are you doing it? Watching out for negative comments is the most likely answer; protecting your company’s reputation. There are so many opportunities here, its important to be clear on what you want to get out of it. Yes, there is reputation management, but consider customer service, ideas for new product development, relationship building, sentiment on advertising campaigns and yes, in the right situation, a revenue opportunity.

Whatever the project, start by asking what do I want to achieve, swiftly followed by how will I measure it. Key to your objectives will be knowing when you’ve achieved them.

Personal Objectives

It’s not all about the company (unless you happen to own it). Think about your own objectives too. What do you want to get out of your work? Is this the best company and the right position for you to achieve what you want to do?

I consider myself fortunate that I work for company that has a culture of innovation and experimentation. It enables me to be creative, to test new products and ideas and recognises there is no harm in failing a few times along the path to success.

This works nicely for me. I deliver results for the company, while building my skills and experiencee, which in turn makes me more valuable to my current employer (and those in the future).

Have a think and write down what it is you want to be doing now in your role and again the same for 5 years time. Then think about how you’re going to get there. Will working for your current employer enable you to do that? If so, what do you need to learn and what experience do you want to gain?

And if its not the right company, well, even in this climate there are other jobs available that may suit you better. Follow this series and hopefully you’ll pick up some ideas that will boost your current performance and give you something to help you stand out from the crowd at your next interview.

So there you go, the beginning of your journey to becoming a better digital marketer. It all starts with the objectives. You have some thinking to do now. You’re at Point A and need to work out what Point B looks like. Then comes the fun part of making the journey.

Other posts in this series: