Why in 2014 your Marketing Automation Strategy should include Customer Testimonials?

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Marketing Automation is all about management and tracking of the lead generation funnel as it progresses through the various stages from being just a target audience, to becoming a contact list, to becoming a hot lead, all the way to converting to become a paying customer.

The backbone of an effective marketing automation is a solid content strategy. If you don’t have credible content to feed to your marketing channels, it is just bare bones of marketing messages being spammed out. Ranks very low on visitor engagement, leading to bad return of investment reflected in the various metrics like high bounce rate, low conversion rate, etc, etc.  

Customer Content aka Customer Testimonials ranks on top in the content strategy because it is the kind of content that can be interesting to the audience, but at the same time delivers your marketing message. Boom. Kills both the birds in one shot. And they are wildly persuasive as a sales enabler.  Nothing is more welcoming on your home page than the broad smile of a customer vouching for you.

(Want to see how some of today’s trendsetter companies are using testimonials from their star customers as an opener on their home page ?  Best Examples of Customer Testimonials on the Home Page)

Now how do you get this customer out there on your home pages and landing pads ? And do that not just as a one-time accomplishment, but on an ongoing basis so that you have your best and freshest customers onstage in front of your audience on a daily basis. That’s where a need for Testimonials Automation comes in.

There are many challenges here. I can think of at-least 8 Challenges or Pain Points 

1. Do you know who your happy customers are? There is a difference between someone who is using your services/product, and someone who is willing to vouch publicly for you. So you need to go through your list of customers (aka customer-base) and short-list those that you feel might vouch for you. What if that customer turns back and says you sucked!  Most people assume their customer is happy if they have not heard back from them with a complaint, which is a big mistake. So, you will need some kind of a regular feedback mechanism to gauge the temperature of the customer at any point in time. So you need a shortlist based on the pre-qualification and pre-validation.

2. Are you the best person to approach this customer? Being the marketing person, high chance that you don’t have any relationship whatsoever with the customer and hence they would not respond to you. The best person to be the face is obviously the sales/business dev/account manager or even the customer success specialist, who would have an ongoing relationship with the customer contact. So you need to synergise with the sales or customer success teams in approaching the customer.

3. Is there a right timing? Do you approach the customer on a need basis? (just-in-time) OR do you have a process where you are continuously qualifying and recruiting references? What is the right timing? What if they say NO/come-back-later?  Is there a linkage to an Issue tracking process?  Is there a template/script that the sales/success person could use? So you need to define some guidelines.

4. Is there scope for reviews/iterations? – Do you take whatever the customer says? Do you think they will know the message you want to drive? In addition, depending on the size of the customer, they might have their own review process/dos-don’ts.  So you need to factor in the fact that there will be iterations.

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5. What about Approvals/Legal stuff? – you want to make sure that you have the right approval text/proof that the customer has approved the usage of the testimonial in its form. You don’t want to be caught off-guard if someone comes back to you at a later stage saying you have published something without consent. Not unlikely when people keep changing on either side. So you need to get your legal guys involved.

6. The Repository – You would need a common place to store it, so that it is easy to manage updates and searches. Either a file system or a database. Most CRM systems have some place holders. There are specialized Customer Reference Systems that are more comprehensive. So you need a repository.

7. How quickly can you publish it? – You need to be able to update your website with new set of testimonials, as and when they are available (within minutes, not weeks) OR even on a need basis as and when you have a new campaign. Otherwise it is a lost opportunity. Similarly there may be a need to pull out some on urgent basis. E.g. that customers is now facing some challenges and not exactly in the smiling mood. Keeping the website updated with the freshest and best testimonials is one of the biggest challenges. So, you need to make sure your content and website teams are able to handle it.

8. Can you do this every single day? – Testimonials are only as good as their freshness. Because it has to be relevant to today’s audience and carry today’s selling message. Your visitors and prospects are smarter than you think. They can tell a stale sandwich on that display isle from quite a distance. Also, you need to be able to demonstrate that a good% of your customers are happy at any point. This means that you need a process that can do 1-7 above and churn testimonials on a continuous basis, as you are growing your customer-base.

And I am sure there are other challenges that I might have missed.  Please feel free to add your experience via the comments.

Summary: Marketing Automation does not work without a regular feed of good Content. Customer testimonials are awesome content because they can keep the audience engaged, yet deliver your marketing message at the same time. Therefore it is imperative that you include them as #1 in your content strategy. And you need to put together a streamlined process so that it is something that works on a freaking daily basis, and makes your selling awesome on a daily basis. 

Over to you. Please share us your  experiences by commenting. thanks.

by Anupam Bonanthaya

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Anupam Bonanthaya is an experienced Customer Success Marketer and the Founder of CustomerRivet – The Social Proof Marketing Experts

Rivet.ly – Hosted Our-Customers Page

Get More Leads and More Conversions by Optimizing the use of Testimonials, Success Stories, Case Studies, Videos, Reviews, Customer Photos, Tweets, or any other Social Proof, in your Marketing.

Ask for a Demo today to see how it can help “Transform Your Customer Success Marketing”. OR Contact Anupam Bonanthaya via LinkedIn

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Related Articles:

1. Content Marketing Without Marketing Automation: It Just Doesn’t Make Sense (by Randy Shattuck)

2. Thinking About Using Marketing Automation? Remember Content! (by J-P De Clerck)

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2 thoughts on “Why in 2014 your Marketing Automation Strategy should include Customer Testimonials?

  1. […] Why in 2014 your Marketing Automation Strategy should include Customer Testimonials? […]

  2. […] If you are already doing this, you might be interested in this article.  Why in 2014 your Marketing Automation Strategy should include Customer Testimonials? […]

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