Take a look around any city sidewalk, classroom, restaurant or waiting room, and you’ll see how prevalent technology has become in our society. In fact, according to a 2018 survey by Pew Research Center, just more than a quarter of consumers say they're "constantly online." But technology could never eclipse real human conversations and interactions, could it?
According to Daryl Plummer, managing VP at Gartner, that reality is just a few years away. Plummer believes that by 2020, artificial intelligence tech (such as chatbots) will dominate both our social and business cultures, heading up everything from customer service interactions to lead discovery conversations. And because bots will be trained to deliver targeted messages, have personality and incorporate hyperlocal nuances into conversations, people could find great joy in engaging with them. Before we know it, we could all be conversing more with bots than with our own spouses.
We can thank today’s information-fatigued consumers for innovative solutions such as this -- and, in part, for the growing popularity of account-based marketing. Rather than wasting time on mass marketing that fails to grab or keep targets' attention, ABM calls for marketers to tailor messages to specific personas or audiences -- ultimately personalizing the brand experience for users and generating more viable leads for the company.
And when paired with certain technology, ABM can be a real game changer for businesses, especially resource-strapped startups and time-starved entrepreneurs looking to tip the scales in their favor.
Related: Don't Let the Hype Around Account Based Marketing Confuse You
Making ABM work for your startup.It's the scaled-back, prospect-focused approach of ABM that's key to effectively engaging your targets and maximizing your team’s efficiency. Each success you have with a targeted account will offer you new insights, skills and tools that will help you expand your marketing efforts as your startup grows.
However, the true secret to ABM success is leveraging the right technologies to set your business apart from the others. The best emerging technologies will help you not only target and streamline your efforts, but also track and strengthen your engagement rates, saving you valuable time and money in the long run.
Some technologies are already known to pair well with ABM. For instance, digital footprints can aid in identifying your audience’s unique obstacles, and predictive intelligence solutions can help you anticipate target accounts' needs so you can perfectly time marketing messages. Furthermore, addressability and programmatic buying can enable you to target messaging to those with certain characteristics, such as job title.
But it's important to investigate less-common technologies and automation systems, too, until you’ve customized a tech package that fits your company’s unique audience, focus, needs and budget.
Related: 18 Marketing Trends to Watch in 2018
With your tech choices squared away, your next step is to incorporate them into your business plan. Here are some tips for making the conversion to ABM:
1. Don't be a one-trick pony.Since 2013, Amazon has been the king of curating product recommendations. You can thank its ultrapersonalized home pages, in part, for teaching targets to ignore email blasts and banner ads that don’t speak directly to them. That’s why ABM emphasizes seizing their attention through personalized messages and customized brand experiences.
There are really no limits to how creative you can get personalizing your brand message or user experience. But you’ll typically find that the more effort you put into customizing your outreach, the more engagement you’ll get in return -- a top benefit of ABM, according to 83 percent of marketers surveyed by Demandbase.
You might start out by building personalized landing pages on your company’s website for specific clients and target audiences. Customize these pages with images, text and special offers that fit the audience’s unique preferences, interests and needs. Then, monitor whether these pages draw users back to your site and which features they interact with the most, and adjust your efforts accordingly.
2. Take a course in social intelligence.What really sets ABM -- and potentially your brand -- apart is how you can make each account feel seen, heard, understood and appreciated. Doing so is vital to keeping your contacts satisfied. In fact, 84 percent of marketers told ITSMA that ABM has the highest return on investment of any marketing strategy or program, showing that ABM’s customer-driven approach is key for marketers in retaining and growing business relationships.
How do you learn all the nitty-gritty details about your contacts so you can craft messages that make a real impact? And how do you keep up with all the changes and challenges they experience over time? A great place to start is by subscribing to a public information service, such as Google Alerts, that allows you to customize search parameters, track company activity and receive alerts whenever changes occur.
To unveil more minute distinctions, interests and challenges, monitor your target account's online social activity on sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter (try the list-building feature). Each new tidbit of information will help you anticipate your contacts' evolving needs, reshape your marketing messages and boost your startup’s value in their eyes.
3. Look beyond sales.We all know that networking can be helpful in business. But when you’re working on a smaller scale, recognizing and capitalizing on business connections are frequently a pivotal part of building enduring relationships. It’s often that “we run with the same crowd, so let’s be friends” connection that pushes target accounts to choose your startup over your competitors.
Related: How to Reconfigure Your Sales Operations for Account-Based Selling
It’s important to remember that networking for your startup isn’t all up to sales, though. The rest of your team can make valuable connections that propel your business forward, too. In fact, a SiriusDecisions study found that when its clients cross-aligned their product, marketing and sales teams, they saw a 25 percent increase in revenue growth and a 56 percent increase in profitability.
The ideal way to uncover every valuable business connection your team may have is through the TeamLink feature on the LinkedIn Sales Navigator. With that information, you can then work your connections, get a dialogue going with potential customers and start building rapport that will hopefully lead to a sale.
Technology isn’t going anywhere. It’s infiltrating our social and business lives more and more every day. But that doesn’t mean you need to adopt every form of new technology just to get your brand noticed. Instead, focus your efforts on account-based marketing solutions and technology. It’s the surest way to build meaningful connections, increase marketing efficiency, stay on budget and put your startup on the road to success.
Referral marketing means utilizing customer loyalty and positive customer experiences to generate word-of-mouth promotion of your product or service.
Creating a Referral Program for your business is not only more effective than many forms of traditional advertising, but it’s also easy to do. Let Edgylabs break it down for you.
Firstly, who are you more likely to trust? An ad on social media or genuine advice from a friend?
If the answer isn’t the latter, I’d seriously recommend reevaluating your social circle. As humans, we value opinions from trusted sources that are expressed directly to us. As consumers, this fact remains true.
Companies regularly spend millions of dollars on extensive advertising campaigns. Yet, most of the time, these are not anywhere near as powerful as word of mouth recommendations, which can often be far cheaper for your business.
We have to remember that consumers are humans first and foremost. We trust our friends, we want to believe the hype, but only if it’s coming from someone we trust.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg recently commented that:
“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.”
Numerous studies show that Zuckerberg knows what he is talking about when it comes to referral marketing. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know.
Additionally, the results of a 2013 BCG survey revealed that 66% of more than 32,000 consumers in Europe and the U.S. consult friends and family before purchasing online.
CLICK TO TWEETWhat’s more is that half of the respondents also consult consumer opinions online. Respondents were also far more likely to look to other people than to consult the media or a company’s website.
If you know people, these figures will make perfect sense. These days, many consumers don’t know what to trust online or may become overwhelmed with too much choice.
For this reason, setting up a referral program could benefit your company greatly. Not only by bringing more customers to you, but also allowing your product or service to be brought to a wider audience.
Word-of-Mouth Referrals Can’t be Simply Bought; They Must be Earned.Before even thinking about setting up a referral program, you need to do some honest evaluating of your company.
I’ll cut to the chase: if the loyalty isn’t there, your referral program will crash and burn.
Ask yourself, have I done the groundwork? If the answer is yes, then your company should be offering an exceptional service that is worthy of repeat business from current clients and their referral. The product or service you offer should also be the best you believe it can be.
If you’re still unsure, here are some indicators which show your company is ready to set up a referral program.
Positive reviews online and messages from happy customers are go-ahead signs that your company is ready. If referrals are happening organically, without you having to try, this is a great sign that a referral program will be extremely beneficial.
However, before you jump on the bandwagon, take a step back and ask yourself one more question. The goal of referral marketing is to channel new customers to your business. But, is your business ready to handle this influx?
If you don’t think you’re ready to expand your customer base just yet, if you’re not offering top-notch customer service, if you’re unsure in any way, go back to the drawing board.
If your company has ticked all the boxes, congratulations! The foundations of customer service and loyalty are there. This means you’re ready to set up a referral program.
Know When to Introduce the Idea of Referrals
Introducing the idea of referrals at the wrong point in the sales cycle can zap your customer loyalty faster than you can say ‘incentive’.
If a customer is bombarded with spammy e-mails and notifications about your referral program as soon as they make a purchase, your business is going to seem insincere and pushy.
Making your customers feel like their only value to you is monetary is a recipe for disaster. Instead, you should allow them time to make their own mind up about your business.
If you have done your job, they are bound to see the full value of your product and service on their own. Holding off at first will really pay off in the long run.
Once customers have been given time to experience your exceptional customer service, it will help them make up their mind about your company before you ask them for a referral.
Figuring out the best time to ask customers is a tricky one and will be different for every business. At first, some experimentation may be necessary.
Try different times, for example. Try asking after a client’s second purchase, or ask clients who engage the most on your site.
If you are offering an app, you may want to consider introducing the referral opportunities after a number of downloads or sessions.
You should try out a few different approaches and take note of results. Once you get to know your client base, it will be easier to predict what methods will reap the most positive reactions when it comes to referral marketing.
Consider All Referral Marketing OptionsSure, e-mailing clients is possibly the most tried and tested method, but there are so many other options available to you.
You could reach out to online publications asking for them to review your products, you could ask podcasters to mention them, or even add a place where customers can leave comments or reviews to your site.
The possibilities are endless as long as there is a human element and the source is trusted.
Bloggers and Influencers on social media like Instagram, Snapchat, and Youtube can also offer referral options. It’s easy to find someone who has built up an audience who trusts their opinions. A simple Instagram selfie or including your product or service in a review can be a very powerful method of referral marketing.
Read More: B2C Influencer Marketing Trends for 2018
This can help your referral marketing campaign be much more targeted. As these influencers tend to know their audiences pretty well, it allows your brand message to spread more effectively.
Make Your Products and Product Experience Sharable
This leads us to another very valid point, although it mostly goes for companies offering a physical product.
If you are going down the social media route, you should consider making your packaging and ‘unboxing’ experience sharable. Adding a ‘wow’ factor to your product or making it photogenic will make more people want to share it online via social media.
A shareworthy experience also shows your customers that your company goes the extra mile to ensure they not only satisfied but delighted with their experience.
An example of this comes from Maybelline‘s recent lipstick campaign. They sent social media influencers and bloggers not only their “Colour Stay” collection of lipsticks but also an array of instagrammable foods like iced doughnuts and toffee apples to put the product to the test for their followers. It may seem a little gimmicky, but it’s also fun, memorable, and attention-grabbing.
Another top tip for making offers shareable is to add a personalized touch. Research by Extole found that “adding a picture of the advocate’s face to a referral increases the rate of conversion by more than 3%.”
Personal touches can communicate trustworthiness, which is a key element of referrals.
Obviously, different approaches are going to be more effective in different industries. However, no matter your product or service, considering how you could creatively make your product or service more shareable is definitely food for thought.
Make It Easy For Visitors And Customers To Refer Your BrandI can’t emphasize enough what a difference making things easy for customers can make.
As amazing as your product or service may be, chances are your customers’ lives don’t revolve around it. People are busy and don’t want to waste time going through complicated processes to make referrals.
Always make it as simple and accessible as possible for customers to share your products and refer your brand. Easy solutions to this could be adding a ‘share’ or ‘refer’ button to your site’s navigation. When it comes to referrals, social media is your best friend.
A Facebook post, Twitter tweet or Instagram selfie can now reach hundreds, if not thousands of friends in a matter of seconds. Another simple but effective tactic is adding social sharing badges to every product page.
You can reach a huge audience through a human filter, allowing sincerity and scope. It may also be a good idea to pre-populate the Twitter and Facebook messages so they don’t have to take the time to think of one.
Make it a Win-Win Situation
There’s nothing like the prospect of getting something for free that will motivate people to take action. Incentives can work wonders when it comes to enhancing your referral marketing program. You could have the best product and flawless customer service but people still need a push to take action.
Incentives can range from cash back or a discount on a future purchase, credits for future purchases, upgraded or free shipping, priority service, a complimentary trial of your service or product or even a personalized thank you. Make your customer feel valued by rewarding them for their efforts and you will be rewarded too.
You should keep in mind that specific motivating factors vary by industry and business type. For example, offering free shipping isn’t going to work if your company is offering a service. Discount codes, for example, will work very well for E-commerce shops.
Booking.com offer a clever referral program to customers who use the service to book a certain amount of hotels.
After making a number of bookings via this website, you get access to their exclusive ‘Genius Club’. This means you can see special offers that the regular user cannot.
In addition, if ‘Genius Club’ members share their experience, they receive further discounts. This not only encourages users to continue to use the service but also encourages them to recommend it to other potential customers in the form of people they know.
Clearly, a two-way referral program can offer double the benefits. Another example is Air BnB. This online accommodation service implemented a referral program in Europe that offers customers 25 euro worth of travel credit when they invite their friends via Facebook and an additional 15 euro travel credit when a friend completes a trip with Air BnB.
The impact of this is clear, thanks to referral marketing promotions like this, the company’s growth has doubled every year from 2012 to 2015 while also accommodating an estimated 100 million visitors in 2017.
When it comes to choosing which incentives to use in your referral program, only you will know what will work well for your audience. However, these industry-specific guidelines can be helpful in determining which direction you ideal incentive could lie in.
Is the Juice Worth the Squeeze?
There is no point in doing any of this without implementing a mechanism of tracking successful referrals and distribution of bonuses.
This will not only help your referral program to be more effective in the future but will prevent your company from potential loss due to unsuccessful incentives.
Most companies that need to manage referrals at this level use paid software like RewardStream or Referral SaaSquatch which can help some companies to manage referrals.
However, adding a question to the transaction process is another simple way to manage per-transaction referral bonuses.
Smaller companies may even be able to keep track of referrals on their own spreadsheet. It’s all about finding the most effective method for you.
Protect Yourself from Legal Risks
Referral programs are extremely valuable. However, if they are not carried out professionally, they can get messy. You should outline a concrete set of referral marketing standards.
Firstly, you should define the goal of your referral program. How is it going to represent your brand when it is being shared with others? Are there any content sponsored guidelines you should make customers aware of?
These should also clearly outline who is eligible to earn referral bonuses. It’s often a good idea to limit the number of referral bonuses that can be earned by an individual customer to avoid scams or exploitations.
You should also cover bases such as whether or not you will disallow participants from posting discounts on web deal sites. This information should be clearly stated on your website and also sent out via e-mail whenever a new referrer signs up to your program.
Referral Programs: a Defining Factor in your Company’s Growth
Referral programs have the potential to greatly increase not only your company’s loyalty base, but also your brand recognition, product sales, and, most importantly, the size of your customer base.
If used effectively, these referral programs are the perfect way to get your company’s name out there in a way that is simply not possible with more conventional forms of advertising.
Use social media and influencers to your advantage and, above all, listen to your customer’s and gauge their reactions to your program. Often the best way to start a referral program is through trial and error; begin with small customer sample sets and see what works best.
In time, you’ll eventually find the perfect balance that’s right for you.
What’s the most unconventional referral program you have ever come across?
For your digital marketing efforts to produce desired results, you need a strategy. And to stay relevant, you need to revisit that strategy from time to time.
Advertisement Four Digital Marketing Optimization Steps Every Brand Should Take NowAccording to Florida-based advertising and marketing company, MDG Advertising, there are four things every brand should do now to optimize their digital initiatives.
Revisit Which Social Networks You’re Engaging OnThe social media landscape is changing constantly, making it essential for marketers to evaluate the platforms and their popularity among users.
It’s even more important to be sure the platforms are popular among your target audience. For example if you’re targeting a young demographic, focusing on visual platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram is a great idea.
Clean Up Your Data and Secure it ProperlyData is the key factor determining the success of your digital marketing initiatives. But as many marketers focus on quantitative data, it becomes a challenge for them to leverage those numbers.
On top of that, hacks and cyberattacks pose a big threat to data protection.
Taking a close look at the quality of your data and how it’s being handled can help you improve performance and address consumer concerns.
Make Mobile Load Speed a Top PriorityOn platforms like mobile, digital marketers should ensure their pages are loaded within seconds. For this, you may consider downsizing pages.
Go All In On Marketing AttributionAssigning a proper value to each channel or touchpoint contributes significantly to marketing success. It enables a better understanding of online and offline interactions, facilitates better budget allocation and provides key insights. Yet, not many marketers are making the most of attribution.
As a digital marketer, you should invest in executing marketing attribution to reap great results.
To learn more about areas where you should prioritize this year, check out the infographic below:
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