How to Stress Less About Referrals

How to Stress Less About Referrals - Duct Tape Marketing

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You already know the value of a referral in building retention, value and loyalty to your brand. And those referrals help you grow your customer base at a much lower cost than waiting for customers to discover you.

The numbers make the case: Cold calls result in a 3% or less appointment success rate, where having a referral boosts your success to 40% or more. Think of the time and shoe leather you save by working mainly from referrals.

But what’s the best way to get them?

There are two ways: word-of-mouth referrals or marketing automation – having a program in place that can reach out to your customers automatically. Word-of-mouth is highly valuable but can take more time, commitment and effort. Marketing automation can be expensive, but it’s more practical and takes some stress off your sales team. The good news is the two methods are strong co-workers.

How marketing automation fuels word-of-mouth referrals

The tried-and-true value of word-of-mouth referrals is undeniable: In 2014, a Small Business Trends survey showed that 85% of small businesses say their customers learned about them through someone they know. And about 62% of small businesses consider word of mouth the most effective marketing strategy, says a report by InfusionSoft.

And technology has changed the way it works: Social media is the new word-of-mouth marketing. It’s today’s virtual water cooler. Ambassador shares the example of the recent Netflix series Making a Murderer, which at one point drove 8.46 million Twitter impressions and 412 unique tweets per hour, ultimately making it one of the most popular series that the online streaming service has offered to date.

People are interested and influenced by what other people are talking about, with 46% of people turning to social media when planning to make a purchase. That’s where marketing automation comes in.

It can help build the buzz, joining technology with the old-fashioned power of word-of-mouth referrals. And marketers and businesses are catching on: EmailMonday says about 11 times more B2B organizations are using marketing automation than they did in 2011. About 69% use marketing automation for customer acquisition and 50% for customer retention.

The value of marketing automation is undeniable, too. Capterra says 91% of those using marketing automation see the platform as “very important” to their marketing success, and businesses that use the tool see a 451% boost in qualified leads.

Ways to put marketing automation to work

So how does it work? Essentially, marketing automation is software that enhances your marketing plan by making it more target-rich and effective across various channels, such as email. It can generate leads by gleaning data about your prospects’ activities and interests, helping you direct the right content into the right channels, R2Integrated says. That gets people talking about you, and keeps them connected with more meaningful content.

Socedo, which helps clients find leads through analyzing social media data, uses a number of marketing automation tools itself to analyze and improve its own content, optimize success on click-throughs, and improve email communications and social media reach.

Marketing automation software also can determine who your top advocates are. That helps you to stop wasting time with people who aren’t interested in your product or service and instead stay focused on potential buyers and clients. A general email blast to your entire contact list won’t be as effective as targeting the users who you know have an interest.

Additionally, software tools like those offered by Ambassador allow you to build a campaign with custom rewards to encourage referrals – a top way to get your message shared. Among the highly connected millennial generation, 95% say they’d like an incentive, such as discounts or cash rewards, to share a product through email or social media channels.

Don’t forget the follow-up

You also should have a strong plan for following up with prospects. ActiveCampaign says to start with a sort of mission statement – a description of the kind of experience you want your contact to have. Then consider what result specifically you’d like the follow-up to provide, such as greater sales or increased referrals. These and other goals will help direct your automated follow-up plan.

Also, as R2Integrated notes, it’s important to remember that marketing automation shouldn’t run on autopilot. Authentic personal experience (not just “personalized” experience) and engagement will always be the core of making strong connections with your customers, so it requires some creative thinking and strategizing.

The good news is now you have many more tools to make that happen.

Aseem BadshahAseem Badshah, Founder & CEO of Socedo. Socedo helps sales and marketing professionals leverage social media to discover leads and build relationships more effectively.

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.

Using Marketing Automation Tools to Boost Your Customer Referral Program

Using Marketing Automation Tools to Boost Your Customer Referral Program - Duct Tape Marketing

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The benefits of referral marketing have been recognized for a long time. Compared to traditional advertising, a positive referral from a happy customer is one of the most valuable forms of marketing. People pay twice as much attention to recommendations from friends and family members than any other source, according to the Wharton Business School. On top that, a referred customer is 16 percent more valuable over a lifetime than any other form of customer.

Earning positive referrals requires more than providing a valuable service or product, although that’s certainly a key requirement. It’s important to automate the process and empower customers to make recommendations. When marketing automation works, it boosts efficiency, lessens your workload and helps generate new customers.

A happy customer needs only a little nudge to share their experience with their network, and automating the process allows you to focus on whatever your company does best. Utilizing marketing automation tools — whether it’s on social media, emails or websites — is critical for the long-term success of your company.

The numbers on marketing automation speak for themselves:

  • Companies using automation for email marketing earn twice as many leads as those that don’t.
  • 75 percent of companies using marketing automation see a return on investment in a year.
  • Companies using marketing automation increased sales by an average of 34 percent.
  • 91 percent of those using marketing automation say it is “very important” to the success of their program.
Using Marketing Automation Tools to Boost Your Customer Referral Program - Duct Tape Marketing

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Develop Your Strategy

Marketing automation tools come in all forms and typically aren’t free. Before you decide which tools to use, it’s best to determine your strategy. Doing otherwise is could lead to negative results. Far too often, marketers try every tool at their disposal without thinking about what will actually work with their customers.

The name “automation” sounds like something mechanical and impersonal, but the most effective strategies feel highly personalized to customers.

Implementing marketing automation for referrals is destined to fail if your leads are weak from the start. Think of existing leads as money in the bank and marketing automation as a way to grow that money. If there’s no money to begin with, it’s impossible to see any growth.

A good automation strategy recognizes ripe opportunities and builds upon them. Like a plant, leads need to be nurtured and cultivated. An abundance of spammy, impersonal messages can stunt any growth.

To begin, think about your goals. Do you want to generate new leads? Or do you want to convert existing leads into loyal customers? Maybe it’s something else entirely. No matter what it is, it’s good to take a close look at your absolute best customers. This close circle is the most valuable because they’re more likely to spread the word and make recommendations from friends.

Choose Your Tools

Marketing automation is a fast-growing industry that’s been valued at approximately $1.62 billion annually. With this fast growth comes a number of tools for businesses to use. Some of the most popular include Hubspot, Infusionsoft, and Marketo. The merits of these tools are debated endlessly, with many people touting their own reasons for one being superior to the other.

The tools are varied, but many of them come down to social media, email marketing and websites. Here are some examples of what marketing automation can do for each platform. Many of these tools are interconnected:

Social media

Social media can be a time sink that takes up too much of the day, but it’s important because social media is typically the face of your company. Social media should always have a personal touch, yet automation can help round out your social media strategy and save lots of time.

Social media can be a time sink that takes up too much of the day, but it’s important because social media is typically the face of your company. Social media should always have a personal touch, yet automation can help round out your social media strategy and save lots of time.

For example, your automation can help new website posts go directly to social media or allow you to easily curate content. Some companies use automation for customer service queries, but this strategy sometimes backfires when companies accidentally pester customers with useless information. It’s important not to be over reliant on automation. Social media works best when there’s a sense of immediacy instead of a series of static, long-planned posts that were scheduled to post automatically.

Email marketing

Marketing automation has its roots in email marketing, so the possibilities are robust. For starters, lists can be formed automatically. The most active users or long-dormant users can be welcomed with a new email. Or a new email can be used to upsell a recent customer and you won’t have to lift a finger.

The possibilities are vast, yet it’s possible for automation to run amok. Nobody likes being bombarded with emails, so you should weigh the importance of each communication.

Your website

The success of your website relies on traffic from social media and email marketing. It’s possible to cater dynamic content based on a person’s viewing habits, geographic location, and so on. Offers can be targeted to viewers that fulfill certain criteria.

Regardless of what strategy you adopt and what tools you use, it’s critical to always test what you’re doing. Extensive testing can turn a doomed campaign into a successful one by stamping out flaws. Failing to adequately test can turn away loyal customers. Always test your strategies, either by running the plan by others or segmenting your audience into a small test group. It’s worth the effort.

Sara LandrumSarah Landrum is a marketing specialist and the founder of Punched Clocks, a career blog focusing on happiness and success in life and at work. Follow Sarah on social media for more great tips! You can find her tweeting @SarahLandrum

WordPress Plays a Key Role in Improving Reviews and Ratings

WordPress Plays a Key Role in Improving Reviews and Ratings - Duct Tape Marketing

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Blogging is a great way to let your inner author awaken. The best part about blogging is that you don’t have to stick to a set of topics or even a theme. Even if you own a food blog, you can create a post or two about travelling. WordPress is one of the leading websites in the blogosphere and there are more than a few reasons why. It has a huge user base and the bloggers on WordPress are far from being dormant. They comprise of an active lot who have healthy reviews on your content, with feedback that is often welcome.

One of the key features of WordPress is that it has an array of plugins at its disposal. Plugins are basically extensions of other websites or services which can enhance the experience on your blog. There is a directory of plugins to choose from for every feature that WordPress offers. From social media,

WordPress Plays a Key Role in Improving Reviews and Ratings - Duct Tape Marketing

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forums, polls to review and rating plugins, there are thousands of compatible plugins that even a novice can incorporate in their blog. For developers, WordPress even allows you to create plugins, adding even more versatility. If you use the review and ratings plugin feature that is pre-coded, you will even have access to review alerts and ultimately be able to analyse your work in a more productive and positive manner.

The user interface on WordPress is uniquely easy to use and understand. It has been designed with care and precision, specifically keeping the ease of use in mind. WordPress lets you focus on what matters the most- your content. Its motto of being simplistic allows you to get your content (and thoughts) publishes with minimal hassles. It can be personalised for what represents your blog the best- be it a travel blog, a business website or a blog that is completely personal.

The five best WordPress plugins are the ones that add the most to your blog’s personality. While some are basic plugins that are good for any kind of blog, there will be some plugins which are more customised for your requirements. Some of the generic plugins which every blog should consider having are:

  1. WordPress SEO, by Yoast. If you have a blog that doesn’t come up on web searches, your viewership will dwindle. Ensure that your website is visible to those who are looking for content similar to what you gave to offer.
  2. Widget Logic is a plugin that functions in tandem with the widgets you have on the blog. This will give you the choice to decide which widget appears on what part of the blog or a page on your blog.
  3. Google Libraries will help you to save bandwidth by substituting JavaScript libraries on from your local server with the CDN that Google has.
  4. The Author Post Ratings plugin is different from other review plugins, in the sense that it allows the author to rate the posts and features that feedback on the website. It is a light plugin and ideal for those who want to control how the reviews are published on the site.
  5. Broken Link checker plugin is a life saver for SEO. The dreaded 404 error message can spell doom for a fledgling or successful blog since these are dead links that lead nowhere. This plugin will help rectify such broken links and save you the embarrassment.
WordPress Plays a Key Role in Improving Reviews and Ratings - Duct Tape Marketing

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Feedback is what drives any writer or blogger to create better things in future. WordPress makes it as easy as installing a plugin (if you want something specific) or you can even choose the option from their built-in settings. Also, Feedback forms can be incorporated into the top, middle or bottom of your post or a particular page. The freedom to place, position and use these forms adds to the how easy it is to use WordPress.

You can also get feedback from built-in comments’ feed on your posts which can be moderated and tweaked. Depending on what kind of feedback you want displayed on your blog, WordPress allows you to filter and block spam comments before they appear on your website. This will help you to implement a regulation system to filter fake reviews that only aim to generate negativity on your blog. The easy notification bar alerts you of any comment that features on your blog. You have the freedom to choose what details of the commenter will show on the blog and can even disapprove of a comment that you feel is unworthy of being featured online.

WordPress has become the leader in hosting blogs and providing domains for those who wish to have a personal website for their blog. Its gigantic user base, ease of access, simplicity and customizability make it one of the finest ways to let the world know you and your thoughts.

JoelJoel Cordle is CEO of review leap and a digital marketer. He is serious about his online presence. He likes to be active in social media market so he always keeps himself updated about the strategies used for presence. As he enjoys reading and writing about marketing and online reputation, his hobby is to write different blogs about reviews, ratings, negative feedback, review alerts etc. He is a good advisor and he keeps suggesting people about how one can develop his online personality.