Enhance Your Digital B2B Strategy to Attract More Buyers

Is your company one of the many investing more marketing dollars in digital channels these days? If so, your organization is following the trend to sagely engage customers where they “live,” i.e., the spaces they frequent when looking for information on products and services. In fact, 82 percent of marketers responding to a Regalix survey say they plan to spend more than 50 percent of their 2015 budgets on digital.

This is all well and good as long as digital channels are leveraged to deploy strategies and programs that will lead to positive differentiation for brands.

How can you be assured that you’re truly on the right path—to increased revenue—with your B2B digital marketing strategy?

Website, search, email and social continue to dominate—but are they best for your business? The answer will follow from a thorough understanding of the buying journey for your particular audience. Once you deploy technologies—in your contact center—and elsewhere in your company (think sales and marketing) to capture and analyze customer data, e.g., behaviors, preferences and the like, you will have the insights you need to deliver the right content across the right channels.

Be assured, first of all, that employing a multichannel strategy that speaks to individual preferences is a necessity in this day and age where consumers wield the power in B2B—and B2C—interactions. So, you’ve got that right. Second, support for the old standby offline channels, e.g., events, phone and direct mail, will keep you in good stead with a majority of customers as well. Third, if you’re integrating old and new channels to meet your marketing objectives, you’ve hit the trifecta for marketing wins.

See how your digital marketing strategy aligns with the market: The Regalix report confirmed that company websites are the top digital channel for B2B marketers, with 81 percent of the CXOs and senior marketers surveyed rating their sites effective in helping to accomplish marketing goals. Email ranks second, with 71 percent of respondents calling it effective. Search engine optimization came in third with 54 percent verifying its effectiveness. Social, in fourth place at 41 percent, was slated for increased spend in 2015 by 54 percent of respondents.

Of course, channel selection becomes a moot point if the messages being delivered are of little value or relevance to your key targets. With websites identified as the most effective marketing channel, website content naturally comes in first as the most effective content asset; 76 percent of marketers call it “indispensable.”

To strengthen this marketing asset to attract and convert more buyers, try some of these ideas:

  • Connect to consumers in a deeply human way. A unique, personalized story will help to diminish the Web barrier between you and your audience. Perhaps surprisingly, this calls for you to step back and think of your brand in terms of moments in your customers’ lives. Think about times when your brand may have made a special appearance in their homes or communities and use them as touch points.
  • Use customer testimonials to invoke your brand story. Identify the consumer need that inspired your client to reach out to your business, and how your products and services were used to address the need. Be sure to root your story in reality—and that the message is consistent with your brand voice across content assets and channels.
  • Interview subject matter experts to gather shareable material that will add precision, depth and expertise to your content. Craft the interview to address your customers’ needs. For example, consider whether your audience wants greater objectivity regarding your offerings or wants to put a face to your story, i.e., get to know you better.

Webcasts and online videos can also borrow from these tips to great effect, especially now that 65 percent of marketers say they plan to increase spend on these content assets.

Stay abreast of where your competitors are focusing their marketing efforts so you can quickly counter them with your own initiatives—to ensure that customers beat a path to your door. Your enhanced digital strategy will guarantee that they receive a warm welcome when they arrive, ready to do business with your brand.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

Social Media Platforms Pave the Way for Improved Digital Customer Care

Have you heard the story about the passenger on JetBlue whose seat-back TV screen wasn’t working? Clearly disappointed (though not angry), he tweeted the view of a static screen and said it was his first complaint about his favorite airline.

In minutes, JetBlue had tweeted back: “Oh no! That’s not what we like to hear!” And in less than a half-hour, the once-unhappy passenger had received a credit for the non-working TV, and tweeted his delight at the excellent customer service.

Social media customer service, or social care, has become a reality that no business can afford to ignore. With more people spending more time on social media, it’s quickly becoming a preferred method of communication. The number of tweets targeted at brands is also increasing, which clearly means it’s time for businesses to direct their attention to this new method of customer service.

Twitter, in particular, wants to become a more formal customer service channel for your business. Earlier this year, it announced two new tools to help businesses provide better service on its platform, including easier transitions from public tweets to private messages, and a new feature called Customer Feedback, which lets people privately share their opinions with a business after a service interaction.

The ease of use, combined with the proven success rate—companies that use Twitter as a social care channel are seeing a 19 percent increase in customer satisfaction!—should be all the encouragement you need to give it a try. And it won’t be hard to beat the competition: Twitter customer service data shows that, as of February 2015, 38 percent of customers’ tweets receive no response at all from the company.

Although the majority of customer service interactions are on Twitter, Facebook isn’t far behind. Facebook, too, recently added new features for managing customer communications, including the ability for people and businesses to exchange private messages, and a way for marketers to organize customer comments on a page.

Social care encompasses more than just solving problems—it creates stronger connections with your customers. That’s what superior customer service is all about.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

The Three Legged Stool: Marketing, Sales and Customer Care

Running a successful business is no easy task. As much as we wish there was, there is no magic formula for success. There is, however, a well-proven strategy that today’s most successful companies use to achieve optimal results. Dubbed the “three legged stool,” this strategy involves marketing, sales and customer care working together toward a collective goal.

All too often marketing, sales, and customer care departments work in silos, rarely ever communicating or working with one another to create a better customer experience to drive sales. These three departments, however, are very much intertwined and rely on one another to succeed.

Think about it; the marketing team does the job of spreading brand awareness and attracting customers through a variety of channels. Once customers are in the funnel, sales then steps in and converts those leads into paying customers. And finally, the customer care department makes sure that the customer remains happy with the product or service.

While each department has its own set of duties, they all play an important role in onboarding new customers and retaining existing customers. In other words, if one leg of the stool is broken, it creates an unbalanced business strategy. Because of this, it’s important that all three departments successfully and effectively communicate and collaborate.

Collaborative technology is a key component to helping these departments work together. The right technology will enable each department to collect and share important customer data—such as a customer’s history, background, goals and previous contacts with the company—in one single, easy-to-use place.

You can’t expect to see success when your three most important departments aren’t working together. If you haven’t already, consider implementing collaborative technology that allows these departments to seamlessly communicate and share data.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

 

Want to Improve Your Marketing Strategy? Start With Customer Care

Do you want to improve your marketing strategy, but you feel like you have exhausted all options? While it might not seem completely obvious to some, marketing and customer care go hand-in-hand. In fact, when you improve your customer care, you improve your marketing as well.

Just consider that today’s customers are dialing toll free numbers as comfortably as they are using live chat options on the Web, and sometimes texting with brands. What’s more, they are  constantly browsing through online review sites such as Yelp and Google Reviews as well as and sharing their experiences with brands via social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

According to research from Moz, online reviews impact 67.7 percent of respondents’ purchasing decisions. What’s more, more than half of the respondents (54.7 percent) admitted that online reviews are an important part of their decision-making process.

Additional research from Invesp found that 81 percent of respondents admitted that recommendations and posts from family and friends directly impacted their buying decisions.

So what does this mean for companies?

With buyers first turning to online forums and review sites to research brands, it’s important that they aren’t bombarded with poor customer service reviews. After all, several bad reviews can leave a horrible first impression on customers and force them into your competitors’ hands.

In order to decrease the number of poor online reviews and increase the number of great reviews, companies must deliver superior customer care—which marketing can’t do without the help of its customer care department.

As we’ve demonstrated above, customer care and marketing inevitably intersect. If you’re struggling to improve your marketing strategy, take a look at some of the online reviews of your business. If they don’t paint your business in the greatest light, then consider teaming up with your customer care department to find ways to improve customer sentiment.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

Improve Employee Engagement With Social Media Integration

Today’s digitally savvy customers are dialing back on 1-800 numbers and increasing their use of social media when contacting brands. More and more customers are opting to communicate with brands via social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, as opposed to traditional channels.

In fact, research from McKinsey shows that 30 percent of social media users prefer social care. In particular, the percentage of people who have used Twitter for customer service leapt nearly 70 percent, from 22 to 37 percent from 2013-14.

To take advantage of the popularity of social media, more companies are launching employee advocacy programs, which entail the promotion of an organization by its staff members. According to Altimeter Group’s “The 2015 State of Social Business Report” interest in employee advocacy has grown 191 percent since 2013, with 45 percent of respondents naming it a top external objective.

So what exactly is an employee advocacy program and how does it work? Essentially, it’s a program that is meant to generate positive awareness about a brand through social media. Designated brand advocates will discuss their positive experiences at work with their social media followers. For example, they might post a picture of a company outing to give customers a look into their company’s culture.

There are tons of benefits to launching an employee advocacy program. From a marketing perspective, companies experience an uptick in social media exposure. Oftentimes, employees have a much wider and diverse social media following, which means they are able to expose your brand to customers that you might not have the opportunity to reach before.

What’s more, these programs help attract and retain new customers as well as build trust. As past studies have shown, customers are more likely to trust product or service recommendations from friends, family or peers rather than a company itself. In addition, when customers have meaningful interactions with employees, a level or trust is formed.

Perhaps the most valuable benefit employee advocacy programs afford businesses is employee engagement. That’s right; employee advocacy programs don’t just benefit marketing, they also benefit the customer care department as well.

Giving employees the opportunity to advocate on behalf of your brand demonstrates to them that you trust them and think of them as invaluable members of your brand. In turn, employees are more likely to feel engaged and loyal to the brand. And when employees are more engaged they deliver better customer care. What’s more, employee advocacy programs encourage internal communication and collaboration, both of which keep employees highly engaged within your business.

While launching an employee advocacy program is a big undertaking—after all, there are a lot of steps to choosing the right employees and building out clear guidelines and goals—it can help your business improve its digital presence and increase employee engagement.  It’s a win-win situation for both customers and your bottom line. So what are you waiting for?

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

Communicating With Customers is More Than a Two-Way Street

In the past, when a consumer had a question he or she would simply dial an 800 number and speak to a company representative. While the phone is still the preferred method of communication for most, today’s consumers are using a wide variety of channels to communicate with brands.

According to 24/7’s Customer Engagement Index, which surveys more than 3,500 consumers from the US, UK and Australia in 2015, 95 percent of survey respondents use at least three channels (and or devices) to engage with customer care. Furthermore, 82 percent said that they use of to five channels.

The research also found that 64 percent of customer care journeys start on a company’s website, which is followed by phone call (23 percent) and mobile app (5 percent). With consumers using a variety of channels to reach brands, it’s important that businesses have a solid multichannel customer care strategy.

A successful multichannel customer care strategy is one that enables consumers to easily and seamlessly communicate with a brand via any channel they choose, whether it’s live chat, social media or email. For example, a consumer should be able to start an inquiry using one channel and end it using another without experiencing any glitches along the way.

Implementing an effective multichannel customer care strategy in which each channel works seamlessly together can be difficult. After all, there are a lot of working parts that need to be perfectly in sync.

That’s why contact centers should consider investing in a multichannel solution that will integrate all communication via voice, text, email, live agent and mobile application in a single platform to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Communicating with customers is no longer a two-way street. Make sure that you’re catering to consumers’ communication preferences by offering a seamlessly multichannel experience.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

 

Customer Care: The Next Big Marketing Channel

As a business owner, you already know that customer care is critical to integrated marketing. After all, Communicators must tactfully reply to social media customer care quandaries. What’s more, great customer care boosts the reputations of companies, thereby, heightening the credibility and visibility of marketing campaigns.

But recently, customer care has been recognized as a full-fledged marketing channel. Thanks to the emergence of the various different customer care channels—such as email, live chat, social media, etc.—the customer care department is now a hub for marketing opportunity.

Below are various ways in which customer care is becoming the next big marketing channel:

  • Upsell/Cross sell: Let’s say a consumer inquires on social media or live chat about a particular product or feature. The Communicator servicing the ticket has the power to either upsell or cross sell the customer on additional products and/or features that would fit his or her particular needs.
  • Word of mouth: When a customer has an outstanding customer experience with a Communicator, he or she is likely to spread the word to his or her friends, family and peers. Essentially, this individual is spreading brand awareness about the company without ever coming across any marketing messages.
  • Brand management: Your brand’s reputation is paramount to its success and revenue. The customer care department is often the first point of contact for many customers. Therefore, Communicators play a major role in your brand management and reputation.

The lines between marketing and customer care will continue to blur as more digital channels are introduced. Above are just some of the examples of ways in which customer care can assert itself as a viable marketing channel to drive sales and improve a company’s bottom line.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

Twitter Soars to New Customer Care Heights

From social media to mobile apps, today’s consumers use a multitude of platforms and devices to communicate with brands and shop for products. In fact, most customers across a myriad of industries use multiple channels to communicate with brands.

According to research from PwC, 86 percent of global respondents and 65 percent of US-based respondents polled currently shop across at least two channels, while 25 percent of global respondents and 21 percent of US respondents are using four or five channels to shop.

With customers using anywhere from two to four channels to make purchases and communicate with brands, it’s becoming increasingly critical for businesses to employ a multichannel customer care strategy. This is especially true for social media, as its being leveraged more to manage customer care needs.

According to a separate study from Nielsen, nearly half of U.S. consumers use social media to ask questions, report satisfaction, or to complain. To meet the growing expectations for social media customer care efforts, many social media platforms are rolling out new products and features to help businesses deliver better customer care.

Twitter, for example, is working on a variety of tools that will help businesses better use its platform for customer care. For instance, the platform is working on a few features that will better prioritize requests for assistance that come through the platform.

While it’s great news that social media platforms like Twitter are developing features that will better address customer care, companies shouldn’t solely rely on social media to communicate with their customers. After all, today’s customers are using multiple channels.

As such, businesses should create a sophisticated multichannel customer care strategy that includes a variety of channels—such as live agent support, social media, live web chat—to increase overall engagement and satisfaction.

P.S. Speaking of Twitter…check us out, click here!

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

Can Expressing Corporate Social and Environmental Views Gain Customer Engagement?

In the past when a consumer was looking for a product or service, he or she tended to focus solely on price and quality. Today’s consumers, however, now have added something else to their decision -making list; corporate social responsibility (CSR).

CSR is a business practice in which a company participates in initiatives that benefit society. There are many ways for businesses to build CSR into their existing business plan. For example, businesses can implement practices that reduce their carbon footprint or practice social responsibility by donating to national and local charities.

While price and quality are still important, consumers are really looking for a business that displays social responsibility. In fact, a recent Nielsen study revealed that 66 percent of consumers are willing to pay extra for products and services that come from companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact.

If your business is already participating in CSR, then you might consider leveraging integrated marketing solutions to better communicate your efforts to your audience. Not only will this help establish trust, but it will also add extra value to your marketing campaigns that will put you a step ahead of your competitors.

Below are a few examples of how you can communicate your CSR efforts to your audience:

  • Email marketing: There’s no better way to communicate with your customers than through the digital channels that they use most often. With email marketing, you can keep your customers updated on your charitable duties. For example, include a section in your enewsletter that’s dedicated to educating your audience about your CSR happenings.
  • Website/Landing Pages: Why not create a landing page that discusses your CSR efforts in which you can direct your customers? This way when a potential customer visits your website’s homepage they can be directed to a landing page that thoroughly discusses your CSR efforts.

Indeed, consumers care more about knowing your business’s values so it’s up to you to communicate exactly those are effectively. Read more about this notion in my recent blog post titled “Consumers Value Relationship Over Product Innovation.”

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

 

Social Care: An Emerging Contact Center Imperative

The main objective of a customer care strategy is to effectively support and communicate with your target audience to solve problems and build long-lasting relationships. Therefore, it is critical that contact centers leverage emerging trends in the customer care space to provide the highest quality and most accessible customer support.

Today, social media has emerged as a communication channel in which nearly everyone uses in one capacity or another—just consider the compelling statistics. According to research from Pew Internet, 74% of online adults use social networking sites, as of January 2014.

While the majority of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter users are active on social networking sites to keep up with friends and family, many of them are leveraging these social networks for customer care. According to a study from Parature 35 percent of the 1,000 consumers surveyed said they’ve asked a customer care questions via social media.

What’s more, in the past social media was a nice-to-have communication channel, however, it’s now turned into a must-have customer care channel. According to a different supporting study from HubSpot, when asked what social media presence they expect for a brand, the majority of consumers said they expect brands to be active on at least three to four social channels.

As the statistics show above, social media will continue to be a channel in which consumers use to communicate with brands. That being said, it’s crucial for your business to provide effective social care to establish your business as a customer care leader in your respective industry.

To avoid falling behind make social media care a priority for your business that is if you haven’t already. In doing so, you’ll be able to reach more consumers and ensure your brand remains on the cutting edge of customer care.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.