Category Archives: Customer Experience

“I Can’t Afford Digital Marketing!” We Believe you Can!

“Hubspot? Pardot? These guys are just too expensive!”

We hear this a lot, and we understand. We love working with both of them, but you may not be ready for the big guys of digital marketing. Don’t just give up…there are ways to make things happen if you’re a small to medium-sized business owner:

  1. Get your website priorities in order. The goal, of course, is to be so fully optimized that you’re on page 1 of organic search results. Is this going to happen for you? Well, it depends on so many factors. Just as with traditional marketing, there’s placement, competition and, what we believe to be most important, customer experience. You can have the most optimized site on the web but if customers can’t navigate to what they want, or have a pleasing buying experience, your competition is a click away.
    • We recently audited an online retailer for fine teas because they were losing customers during check out. While their selection was wonderful and their site was easy to navigate, their shopping cart had problems. Changing one mailing field created problems with the credit card verification, thus customers were becoming frustrated and leaving the site. Analytics showed most went to Amazon where the customer buying experience is fast and easy.
  2. The basic best practices for SEO still apply:
    • Do refresh your content regularly with keywords and phrases that you have researched and found to be what the customer is looking for.
      • The most compelling key phrase for your business may not have anyone searching for it. Unless you want to spend significant dollars on creating a category, find alternatives by doing your research.
      • Don’t overdo it. Keyword “stuffing” has a negative effect for search engines.
    • Quality links are better than the quantity of links you may have. One link from a highly trusted site can boost your rankings significantly. Competitive research, analysis, and using ethical link building (hint: don’t buy or pay for links) will provide you with the quality that Google is looking for.
      • One of our clients has #1 organic rankings for most of the prominent phrases in his industry. What was missing was the plural of these phrases – the competition was beating him out here. We refreshed page content and titles and, most importantly, found a few influential bloggers that linked over using the plural formats of his terms. Bingo, the site started gaining traction for those terms as well.
    • Use Webmaster Tools to understand how Google is seeing your site. This is especially important if you have bad links coming in. There are some very unscrupulous people out there that will send bad links to their competition to affect their rankings. If you think this is happening, find the bad links and disavow them. If you don’t, you may find yourself in a penalty situation.
  3. Mobile is here to stay. I won’t preach – since 2016, most sites are first found on a mobile device. If your site is not mobile friendly, you are losing customers on a minute to minute basis. And, Google’s algorithm rewards sites that are mobile-friendly. Just do it!

So, where do you start with digital marketing outreach? If you are a small to medium-sized business, you can start small and reap rewards:

  • Create some content that people will find compelling
  • Have customers sign up to receive this content
    • Now you have their email address
    • Use a small, free email service (Mailchimp, etc.)
  • Rinse and repeat.
  • TRACK in analytics.

It’s pretty simple, will bring more customers, and potentially pay for the big guys someday.

We can help! Talk with us…the first conversation is always free!

 

The Rising Tide that Lifts All Boats

Well, as much as I hate to say it. I’ve been around a long time. My first real “career” was in marketing automation at American Airlines back in the 80s. Helping travel companies grow their business using hard-wired computer terminals, later followed by PCs.

When we got into this Internet thing in the early 90s, we were all neophytes…taking a stab at things and seeing how it worked. Google wasn’t even around…the big players were AOL and the newcomer; Yahoo!. I was fortunate to be working for a company with vision that let us make our way by making good and bad choices and learning from them. The most successful online ventures at the time continued to focus on customer service as they grew their websites. Lands’ End carried its “Guaranteed. Period.” and strong customer service model to a successful online shopping experience. We had eAAsy SABRE running on the Compuserve and Prodigy networks, which morphed into Travelocity. In a similar way, we invoked the strong customer service model that helped our customers learn about the wild and wooly practices of booking travel.

With that history in my pocket and Google becoming the prominent search engine, I struggled to learn SEO and all its minutiae. As my boss at the time, Stephan Spencer used to say; “SEO is the rising tide that lifts all boats,” and this is still true. The technical side of SEO broadened to include things like link building, social media, and other best practices…culminating in the practice that’s now called Digital Marketing.

My point in this little trip down memory lane is that learning from mistakes can lead to success, and it’s a game of inches. Google can impose penalties on those online businesses that try to cut corners, but overcoming this using online marketing best practices can lead to stronger results. Spending thousands of dollars on firehose marketing campaigns that produce few results is a learning experience that can result in being receptive to (full circle for me!) marketing automation tools that drive ongoing customer relationships.

One of our clients, TVLiftCabinet.com sells those nifty TV Lift Cabinets that hide the TV when you don’t need it. Back in 2014 when we started working together, they were the target of some spammy links, and were put in penalty situation with Google. The process to fix this took several months of tedious work to identify the offending links and implement the process to disavow them. The result of all this work more than doubled TVLiftCabinet’s natural search traffic and revenue. Since that time, we’ve done some pretty creative things along with the day to day work of SEO, all within the ethical best practices of online marketing, to continue to grow their business.

Finding the solution for your business can be about learning the hard way or finding someone with the experience (and the mistakes under their belt) to lead you in the right direction. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune…and will save you money in the long run.

Talk with us…the first conversation is always free!

 

Customer Experience Lessons from the Un-Online

If you haven’t had a chance to look at customer experience (CX) research from the Temkin Group, it’s pretty fascinating. While it largely focuses on big brands and major industry sectors, there’s a lot of insight you can apply directly to your own business. You can grab a free copy of the 2016 Temkin Experience Ratings here, although you will have to register to download the report.smiley

Temkin starts with 10,000 U.S. consumers and asks them basic questions about interacting with 293 different companies. Questions like, “Were you able to accomplish what you wanted to do?” And “How easy was it to interact with this company?” And “How did you feel about these interactions?”

You can probably guess the worst performers: Internet service providers, TV service providers, health plans and car rental agencies. The report doesn’t pull any punches, and it names names.

But you might be surprised to see what industry seems to dominate. In fact, companies from this sector take the top three customer experience spots overall, four of the top seven, and ten of the top 22. Can you guess?

Supermarkets. Yeah, supermarkets!

Isn’t it interesting that perhaps the most un-online sector is apparently killing it in terms of customer experience? And it’s not a fluke: Other un-online sectors like fast food chains and retailers are next in the rankings.

Think about your own shopping habits: When was the last time a technical glitch caused you to stop your grocery shopping and leave the store without a purchase? Probably never. Yet online, this experience happens more than it should.

Or when was the last time you simply abandoned your cart while shopping in a physical store because you were confused, annoyed or disrupted by something the store did? Again, probably never. But online, it’s one of the biggest challenges businesses face.

We can take three things from all this:

  1. Clarity and ease of navigation are paramount to CX. Conversely, confusion and ambiguity destroy customer experience. Period.
  2. Everything needs to work. Technical glitches are becoming increasingly unforgivable.
  3. Customers aren’t expecting a life-changing experience. Instead, they have reasonable and pragmatic hopes for a simple, conventional and straightforward encounter. Start there.

Chances are, you’ve never thought that solid customer experience should aspire to be the next Publix or Aldi. But perhaps a look at the un-online is a good place to start.

Through this lens, does your customer experience measure up?