Building Trust for Online Referral Marketing Campaigns

Building Trust for Online Referral Marketing Campaigns - Duct Tape Marketing

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Running an online business can be difficult and expensive; you have to worry about managing ad campaigns and monitoring your budget. If this is not done properly, your business could fail. Having a referral marketing program is a great way to reduce marketing costs and increase the profitability of your business. Referral marketing involves your customers telling their friends and family how much they enjoyed your service. Not only does this gain exposure for your business, but it also inspires trust, which increases the likelihood of generating more sales. This article will teach you how to do referral marketing.

Why Referrals?

When a potential customer visits your website for the first time, they likely have no idea who you are or how dependable your business is. This lack of trust makes them hesitant to buy from you. But people trust the opinions of those they respect, such as friends and family members. When a customer refers their friends to you, the referral is going to trust you more than if they had found your website on their own. But nobody will refer their friends to you unless you inspire trust and respect.

Professional Website

Your website is the first impression potential clients have of you and your business. If your customers don’t think you put much effort into it, they will likely believe you handle all areas of your business carelessly. Having a professional website inspires trust and credibility, which will increase your sales and referrals. You must have a clean design and quickly fix any broken links. Sometimes, setting up a professional website requires training and experience; it is also time-consuming. If you don’t know how to do it yourself, it’s vital to have a professional web designer; this ensures your website is professional and inviting.

Managing Bad Reviews

It does not matter how great your product or service is, every company gets bad reviews on occasion. Bad reviews don’t matter as much as how you handle them. Many companies make the mistake of trying to hide their negative reviews, which is a mistake. Trying to cover up negative comments makes it seem you have something to hide; this is damaging to your reputation and will result in losing the trust of potential customers.

Instead, use bad reviews to improve your reputation and inspire trust and credibility. Respond to each negative review with complete openness and honesty. If you made a mistake, be honest and admit it. But vow to do better in the future. Being open about your flaws, mistakes, and shortcomings will show your customers that you have nothing to hide, thus inspiring trust.

Branding

If you want to be truly successful, you need to be more than remembered; you need to become a household name, which is accomplished with a successful branding strategy. This means your company, product, and mission statement become one in the mind of your customers. If you want to successfully brand your product or service, it is vital you provide quality service and live up to a powerful mission statement. Don’t expect branding to be done overnight; it is a long-term process. But when done properly, it gives you a major competitive advantage over others in your industry.

Building Trust for Online Referral Marketing Campaigns - Duct Tape Marketing

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Offer Gifts

Many companies make the mistake of only considering how they can get their customers to hand over their money, which is a critical mistake. Internet users are bombarded with advertisements every day, and if you only come at them with more ads, they will tune you out. You will lose their trust, business, and referrals. If you want to avoid this, offer your loyal customers small, unannounced gifts. This is not charity; it’s an investment. Receiving gifts will make your customers like and trust you, and the gifts don’t have to be expensive. In fact, you can simply offer gift cards or store credit. If you want to give more valuable gifts away, you can do a monthly drawing. By offering gifts to your customers, they will feel appreciated and valued.

Relationship building

Relationship building is another way to build and inspire trust. Some companies make the mistake of selling to each customer once and letting them walk away, but doing this is leaving money on the table. A customer who buys from you is demonstrating they are interested in your product or service, which means they will likely buy from you again. However, you can’t sit around and hope they will come to your website again. You need to actively remarket to them. This can be achieved by emailing them special offers and promotions. Now, it’s important to never come across too strong in your emails. You want to frame the conversation as you doing them a favor, which can be done by offering discount and loyalty rewards.

Trust Building Overtime

You must know how to build trust, which is not all or nothing; it’s a process that grows over time. But it is also fragile, and while it can take some time to build, it can be destroyed in a second. Therefore, it is vital to be open and transparent in all communications with your customers; never lie or be dishonest. Always be truthful whenever answering questions, and never lie or exaggerate the benefits of a product to get a sale. While doing so can work for a short time, people will eventually catch on, and your trust will be forever damaged.

Final Thoughts

While there are many important factors to the success of your business, none are as important as earning the trust of your customers, without which you lose referrals and the potential to grow and expand. When you lose trust, your business will likely fail. But trust can be built and maintained with a proper plan. Always be open, honest, and transparent in all your interactions; make it a part of your mission statement. Build relationships with your customers, and do everything you can to make them happy and feel valued. While this might seem difficult and overwhelming, it can be simplified by remembering to treat your customers as you would want a business to treat you.

Sarah SmithSarah Smith is a blogger is currently learning about marketing, using the internet. Aside from working on her own business, she likes to use social media and read travel books. Find her at Twitter.

Growth Could Kill Your Company!

growth

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When Alina Martin took over her father’s small company in 2007 it had been ticking along, growing slowly for several years. The company, Danatec, sold paper-based course materials for corporate trainers to use in safety training of employees. Martin could see that online learning had potential. Her father wasn’t convinced, nor were her salespeople. How could you possibly call something training if the trainer wasn’t in the room with the person being trained? Martin persevered. It took a couple of years of experimentation before it really took off, but once it did, things went crazy! Growth tripled in three years and was running at 27% when I spoke to her.

Sounds like a dream situation, but many companies that grow quickly eventually crash and burn. The skills and practices that created their success just can’t sustain it.  

So what goes wrong in these growth situations? Let’s consider the 3P Profit Formula™: Promise + People + Processes = Profits. Often as companies grow they struggle with all three Ps.

Promise

The promise is your brand, and, as the recent Volkswagen scandal showed us, it can be destroyed quickly if a company isn’t living up to the standards its customers expect. But with fast growth, that promise can be diluted. Sometimes growth companies lose focus: they want so much to keep growing that they take on clients that they shouldn’t or expand into new lines of business that are not good fit for their customers.

Sometimes they do the opposite, and hyper-focus on the formula that made them successful. But as the world around them changes, they may be unable to adapt to the new reality. Kodak was a classic case of this. They actually developed the first digital camera, but buried the idea, fearing that I would hurt their film business. That decision cost the company its life.

Others become arrogant; the fast growth convinces them that their customers will always be there.  But as they grow, the customer focus that won that business in the first place can slip, priming customers to fall into the open arms of a competitor.  

People

Your business success is influenced by many different types of people: prospects, customers, employees, funders, suppliers, distributors and even the public at large. As you grow, all of these relationships can be strained.

Despite Danatec’s clear success, Martin found that some staff were still resistant to the changes. Most people dislike change, so how do you get their buy in? Sometimes even company owners resist change: if something has been working well enough, why should they risk doing things differently?

It is crucial to involve your employees right from the start of the growth management process, so they will have a sense of buy-in and commitment to the new vision. Being open and honest with your staff will help. Remember when your 4-year old kept asking why, why, why? It’s not just kids who want to know why; we all do. If we understand the reason for something, we are more likely to accept it. Martin says that any employee is allowed to question a decision, but she expects them to have an alternative answer and explanation of why they think it would be better.

Growth also strains employees physically. Typically they’ll be working long hours while the company struggles to hire and train enough staff. It can be frustrating when overworked colleagues are late answering questions or getting their part of a process done on time. This pressure often sucks companies into hiring the wrong people, just to get more bodies on staff. But bad co-workers can be even worse for morale than overwork. There may start to be problems with staff turnover if staff feel that they are no longer the close-knit, supportive team they once were.

Suppliers may have trouble keeping up with a high-growth company’s needs. Customers don’t care that it’s the supplier’s fault that you couldn’t get their product to them on time. They’ll be upset with you, not the supplier. Distributors or franchisees can also hurt your reputation.  It’s tempting to seize your moment of popularity to keep on growing without doing proper screening or training of these partners.   But think about it: when you go to your local McDonalds and get bad service you blame the McDonalds company, not the local franchise owner.

Process

When I called Martin for our scheduled interview, nobody answered the phone. Nor did it go to voice mail. Over a year and a half, calls for tech support jumped from about 10 calls a day to 100. There just weren’t enough people to answer all the calls. The order entry process also needed to be totally rebuilt because it simply wasn’t scalable.

As Martin put it, “things break” when you grow that quickly.  “When you are growing,” she notes, “you are continually reinventing the process.”

As hard as it can be to find the time, when your company is growing quickly you must regularly check to make sure you’re still meeting your promise to your customers, you’ve got the right people in place, and that your processes are keeping up with the sales.

 

authorTema Frank is a customer experience & digital marketing  pioneer. She launched her first website in 1995 and in 2001 founded Web Mystery Shoppers, one of the world’s first companies to do remote usability testing of websites and web-related customer service.  Her podcast, Frank Reactions, focuses on customer experience in the digital era. Listen to it at http://frankreactions.com , on  iTunes or Stitcher. Tema has helped Bank of America, the Government of Alberta, the Royal Bank of Canada, and many small organizations improve their online & offline customer experience & marketing.  She’d love to meet you on Twitter @temafrank or by email.