A Real-World Marketers Guide to Creating Passionate Brand Subscribers
In the introduction to their book, Marketing Content: A Real-World Marketers Guide to Creating Passionate Brand Subscribers, Robert Rose and Joe Pulizzi make a very interesting point. They say - “The old lines of hierarchical relationships between business and consumer blur substantially. As consumers publish and share their opinions (both good and bad) with increasing ease, they become more persuasive than even the company’s voice itself.” And, we can’t help but agree.
Your customers indeed play a crucial role when it comes to your brand’s reputation. That’s mainly because the internet gives them space to exercise their right to ‘talk about you’ with others. They can speak in favor of you or spark controversial debates and discussions about your brand. If you relax at your end or disregard your customers and don’t build a relationship with them then, we daresay, your brand credibility will be at stake. You may not shut down overnight but your sales figures will surely get affected. Scary, right?
This is the very reason why, as a marketer, you shouldn’t focus singularly on reaching your revenue targets. In simpler words, your content marketing efforts should not be concentrated on the top, middle or bottom of the funnel alone. If you really want your existing customers to talk highly of you then you need to rethink your content marketing strategy and focus on them equally.
What do you notice? That there are not one but two funnels that are connected to each other? Excellent! Do you know why it’s so? If you’re done with your guesses, let’s see what the authors have to say about this. They believe that the funnel continues to be “useful beyond the customer stage”. In fact, according to them, “it can be used as an upsell of reinforcement mechanism...to build customer satisfaction...or even to develop a community to start building brand subscribers.”
Do you follow? Let us talk about it in detail.
As you know, a marketing funnel is crucial for your business since it shows what stage your prospects are at. It begins with them becoming aware of your brand and with time they move further down the funnel until they finally become your customers. But, that’s not where the brand-customer relationship ends. In fact, that is where it begins. This is why you see not one but two, connected funnels.
What the authors of the book are trying to convey is that you can’t neglect your customers. Even after they’ve ‘checked out’, you should value them. Only when they are impressed with your gestures of concern are they likely to stay loyal to you and buy from you again. Once you achieve the feat of converting a one-time customer to a repeat customer, only then you can turn them into your brand’s unofficially appointed brand ambassador. And, these are the people that Rose and Pulizzi call ‘passionate subscribers’.
This brings us to the next question. How do you create this army of passionate brand of subscribers?
#1 Turn to Social Media & Listen to Your Customer
Social listening is not about answering DMs, retweeting tweets or replying to tweets etc. It is about becoming a part of the conversation happening around your brand. It’s to do with interacting with a set of people who are your customers and are already engaging with your brand. When you listen to them you will realize that they are the ones providing you with powerful business insights. Are they loving your products and services? Do they wish to change something? What are their pain points? What challenges are they facing that you never anticipated? Overall, you get to know how they perceive you in comparison to your competitors and provide you with important data on how you should market, service and design your offers.
#2 Surprise, Irresistible Offers
Who doesn’t like getting free stuff?! From discount coupons, free trial of a newly launched feature or a product to exclusive event invites, each of these freebies will bring a smile to your customers’ faces! If you have customers who’re associated with your brand for a long time, you can surprise them with a loyalty discount program. A lot of retail brands use this to reward their repeat customers. After every purchase, a couple of points get added to their loyalty card, which they can reimburse at various points in time.
Surprising people with something they least expect is a heartwarming experience, more so if it’s your customer. Your gesture won’t go unappreciated. Who knows you may even get a shout-out for being so generous!
#3 Be Available on LIVE Chat
For one, it’s convenient (no more listening to obnoxious on-hold music and messages!) for your customers. It gives them immediate access to help or to report a problem. A study by Zendesk revealed that 92% customers feel satisfied when they use the live chat feature, compared to other communication options like voice (88%), email (85), web form (85%), and social media (Facebook 84%, Twitter 77%). If you’re already using the LIVE chat feature on your website, we hope you’re keeping the conversation as real as possible. You can learn how to be human in your interaction over chat support on this blog.
While you’re using the chat feature to sort your customers’ problems, you can also take it as an opportunity to upsell your products. Once the customer is engaged with you, you are in a near-perfect position to recommend additional purchases. You clinch another sale from a previous customer and voila! You have more business and happy customers!
#4 Follow Trends
Yes, it’s as simple as that! Follow what’s trending and you will be able to garner plenty of traction. By far, Google trends is one of the best ways of catching up with the world! You can learn what people are talking about on their blogs, videos, websites etc. You can also set up alerts on keywords to help you be a step ahead!
Just a few days back the ‘Laurel and Yanny’ sound clip was making everyone go crazy. Honestly, we got looped in too! So, we decided to take leverage of the madness and created a poll. Through the poll, we were able to advertise and remind our existing customers that can create a poll (other than quizzes and calculators) using Outgrow!
#5 You Can Place Your Bets on Blogging
The way you strategize blog content that corresponds to every buyer persona, similarly create posts for your existing customers. Unfortunately, most brands overlook how important this is and stop interacting with their customers once they close a sale. Honestly speaking, it’s sheer blasphemy! Just because they bought from you, doesn’t mean they will keep buying from you. Unless, you are Apple, of course!
One of the easiest ways producing blog posts is by referencing the FAQs section of your website. These are the legit questions your customers ask. Just pick them up and turn them into an engaging blog, an infographic, or a podcast. We ask you to explore different formats because not all customers are responsive to one content format. If there’s one more advice you should follow, it is to make your content shareable. This way your buyers play an active role of promoters as well. In other words, they remain in the customer-promoter-customer loop and by talking about you help you to pull new leads into your marketing funnel.
#6 Conduct Surveys
The worst thing a business can do is not seek feedback from their customers. We mean why is it so difficult? All it takes is creating a survey. If you’re struggling with finding a simple tool to help you, give our Outgrow app a shot.
By sending your customers a survey, you show that their voice matters to you. In turn, their responses will reveal what the general consensus is about your product and services. It is then that you can establish a contact and send a clear signal to the customers that you ‘care’ about their opinion and are acting upon their feedback. This would make them feel ‘important’ and the fact that it’s not the money you’re after but their satisfaction.
Be assured that it is THIS happy customer whose voice you heard will vouch for you and become your brand ambassador. Even if not, you will at least be able to understand what’s in between you and your success. You can tweak your product, train your employees to guarantee client satisfaction and also come up with fresh product ideas.
#7 Ask Your Customers to Share Their Story
Let’s come back to Rose-Pulizzi’s book once more. In the very first chapter itself, they tell their readers that the ‘ultimate goal should be to create a community of evangelists who are prepared to fight for your brand’. And, you can ask your army of ambassadors to really fight the battle for you by writing testimonials. That’s right. Brandish your flag of victory through your customers. In those testimonials, make sure your customers have highlighted how your product or services addressed their pain points. When your prospects see these wonderful testimonies by your existing customers, they will be motivated to approach you and perhaps even enter the bottom of your marketing funnel!
Lastly, as the two authors say, ‘measure success’. A paragraph from their foreword makes for a perfect explanation of this point. We couldn’t have put it any simpler than this. They say:
“Develop a process to measure the success of how you service your loyal subscribers. There are various ways to accomplish this; most depend on what the servicing is and for what community. For example, if it’s a sales-driven content marketing strategy, you measure lead lift according to setting up registrations for the content. Or, if it’s a customer service content market strategy, you could measure the decrease in customer service calls vs. the traffic in the engagement community.”
What do you folks think? We believe it’s never too late to have that one conversation (through your content marketing strategy) that can grow your ‘community’ of brand subscribers. However, at the same time, we agree with Rose and Pulizzi when they say ‘communities are fluid. They naturally grow, shrink, merge and disband.’ This is to say that you won’t always be able to keep the community number growing. Some people will walk away, some would stay for a bit, but if you continue with your efforts, at least, you will always have your true brand subscribers vouch for you. That in itself is an achievement and worth striving for!