How to storify every customer success in 5-mins without costing you a penny ?

Do you “storify” each and every of your customer successes ? Why ? Why Not ?

Lets see why it is important to write a customer success story for every customer. And what is the #1 challenge and how to address it ?

How to write a customer success story for every customer, do it in 5-mins and without costing a penny !  Sounds unreal ? Read on…

 

A. Why is a customer success story important ?

Because it is A-1 Marketing content. The research by Marketing Sherpa lists customer success stories among the top 3 in terms of effectiveness.

customer_success_stories_are_high_on_effectiveness

Also read my earlier detailed article on Why Customer Success Story is a #1 Kickass Marketing Content ?


 

B. What is the #1 challenge that is stopping you ?

Lets accept it. It is lot of work !

No wonder the research done by Marketing Sherpa ranks case studies (aka customer success stories) way below in the ease of creating content index.

 

customer_success_stories_are_high_on_effort

 

Yes. Creating a customer success story needs a lot of effort, takes time and costs a lot of money !!

It easily takes a few weeks to many months to get a publishable story ready.

Cost-wise it costs anywhere from $1,000-5,000 depending on how long is the story. Videos are much more expensive costing $5,000-$10,000.

 


 

C. How to make it easy on ourselves ?

Now that we know the value of a customer success story. How can we make it easy to do a story without having to wait for weeks/months and do it without breaking the bank.

Now without disappointing my writer and agency friends –

The idea is not to say that you don’t need a writer agency to create a professional story, but to show how easy it is to write a basic story. Of-course, having an expert writer on-board definitely has its plus in terms of professionalism.

So the idea is to do the basic story with all customers. And you can always do a step-up on some of those stories to add more meat and professionalism to the story depending on the availability of time, resources and on-need basis.

 


 

D. Use this simple template

We spent a lot of time going through many many different examples of well written stories, and if we had to come up with a blue-print of a story – It would be the one you see below –

blueprint of a customer success story

We bucketed the different components into 3 buckets – low hanging , must-haves and nice-to-haves.


 

1. Add logo, images and introduction (low hanging)

Start with the low hanging fruits. It is easy to find the company’s logo, and a brief introduction about the company from their website. It is also easy to find the appropriate photo from among the existing public photos of the company by just using google image search.

It is also easy to plug-in the solution part.

 


 

2. Add challenges and benefits (must haves)

Any story should have these 3 must-have sections.

i. Benefits

and

ii. Challenges

and

iii. Title of the story

You need to work this backwards. Start with benefits first.

The core of the benefits should be in-line with the benefits of the product or service you are trying to sell. You could add additional benefits as per the customer’s scenario.

The challenges would be opposite of the benefits. Think of the challenges and benefits as a BEFORE and AFTER scenario, with the solution being that magic wand.

The title of the story would be 1 line summary of the story. “How xxx company accomplished yyy with help from zzz company’s expertise”.

Of-course, the best person to provide inputs here would be the Sales or Customer Success person.

Tip:

1. I  would suggest would be to have a standard list of benefits and challenges, and then pick the ones that are relevant to this customer case. Now rephrase it by adding the customer specifics  to personalize it to this specific customer situation.

2. Use the rule of three. 3-benefits + 3-challenges.

 


 

3. Add testimonials and metrics  (nice to haves)

If you can manage to get a testimonial or quote from the customer, it is awesome because it adds more credibility to the story. If you manage to get the quote, then including a photo of the person would be super awesome. Typically people do not hesitate if you say that you want to include their photo along with the testimonial.

Metrics are much more tricky.

But if you are in a SaaS business then you have access to the operations data and metrics, and it makes it a lot easier to state the facts. And you already have it with you is a Big win !

 


 

4. Make it engaging, not boring.

How ?

After reading through 1000’s of stories – one thing i can say for sure is that i hate to read through texty stories. It is so damn boring !! Now imagine the same if not a worse feeling by your to-be-customer who is supposed to get “convinced” after reading these stories  🙂

You can make it more engaging by a simple trick – By having more images than text.

There are numerous studies that show how we engage more with images versus text. Apparently human brain processes visuals 60,000 X faster than text. (source: The power of visual storytelling – Ekaterina Walter)

A recent study by SHIFT shows how tweets with images are 5X more engaging than the ones with just text. This is very relevant here because twitter is a platform for instant gratification. You get it or not. There is no second chance. No-one searches for old tweets.

Engagement_of_images_versus_text

(Source: Jan 2014 Twitter Engagement Study: Photo vs. Text – by SHIFT)

From the customer success story perspective – this means cut down on the text and have more visuals. Even if you want to provide the details break it down to bullet points.

Someone will read through 4 pages of boring text is a myth. Does not happen in today’s world. If you need more than 1 page to convey the story then something is missing ?

Moreover it is relatively easier to get images than content for text.

You can use any of the following – customer head shots, workplace/factory/product photos shared publicly by customers, screenshots of your product-in-use, charts, and more – you can get very creative here 😉


 

5. Quicker email approvals

Once you have the story drafted pop it into an email and send it to your customer for approval.

Try to keep it simple, and minimal on legal jargon so that there is less scope for delays and rejections.

Below is a standard email text for the approval.


Dear Jane Doe,

Thank you for being an amazing customer. We have put together a short write-up about your success. Please review and let us know if you would want to add anything more ? 

We would like to use this in our marketing communications and it would be nice if you could read through the below text and provide your consent.

ABC would like to distribute these materials. This includes posting them on and making them available for download through the ABC Web site and social media sites. In addition, ABC would like to use portions of these materials, including your corporate logo and quotes attributed to your employees, in ABC marketing materials.

Please confirm that XYZ approves by responding to this email saying that you approve.

Thanks & rgds

John Doe, XXX Company


(disclaimer – I am not a legal expert. In case of any doubt please consult your legal person for the right verbiage as per your industry, country and company risk profile. But the idea is to keep it simple such that people don’t have to run to their legal department to decipher what the hell you want them to sign on)

Tip: It would work best if the sales or customer success person sends it out, and follows it up with a phone call. Of-course. 


 

You are done !

Now that you have customer success story – there begins the most exciting part – promoting them !

Always remember customer success stories are #1 as a marketing content – do a favor to yourself and your customer by NOT piling them somewhere in the corner.

Paint the town red by promoting them everywhere.

Check out this earlier post by me on 25 Ways to use your Stories in Marketing

Now over to you. What has been your experience ?

Do you have other tips to make story writing easy, yet powerful ?


 

Rivet.ly (http://rivet.ly)  is an “intelligent marketing hub” for your customer success stories and social proof content. In addition to helping you automatically manage your ‘our-customers’ tab, It also helps you to put together a story using any kind of customer proof point, using cool templates. Rivet.ly helps you to spend more time with your customers, while helping create and promote their stories. 

If you are interested in an “exclusive” private beta – contact Anupam


 

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8 Reasons Why Customer Success Story is #1 Kickass Marketing Content

Customer Success Stories are a “special” kind of content, and it is unlike any other kind of content. I can think of 8 reasons for it being kickass special and why it is (and should be) the #1 marketing content.

When i say customer success story –  i am referring to all kinds of customer/social proof content – case studies, stories, videos, testimonials, customer names, logos, reviews, ROI studies, audio/podcast, and everything in between.

8 Reasons Why Customer Success Stories are number 1 marketing content

8 Reasons that make Customer Success Stories #1.

Lets start with the most obvious

1. It is 10X more expensive than other content.

It is not just the cost of interviewing and writing, but the overall cost involved in acquiring the customer and making them happy in the 1st place. Add to it the cost of writing the story and finally publishing the end product.

It costs much much more than any other piece of content in terms of the effort, resources, money, time and people involved.

measure-ROI-customer-testimonials

If we go with the market dynamics which says cost is directly proportional to the value of a product/service, then customer success stories ought to be at #1.

50-80 % of a typical customer reference/advocacy program budget is spent on content creation alone (source: Customer Reference Forum)


Doesn’t just this say it all ?

Not convinced yet ? 🙂

Lets see if the other 7 reasons can convince you …


2. It is the 2nd most effective tactic in content marketing.

65% of B2B users feel that case studies are very effective as a content marketing tactic. Whereas 70% felt that the same for in-person events. This is huge to know – how users see customer success stories as comparable to in-person physical events in terms of being an effective tool.

effectiveness_of_customer_success_stories_in_content_marketing

(Source: 2014 B2B Content Marketing Trends—Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs)


3. It is among the top ‘must-haves’ for any B2B website.

Case-Studies (at #3) and testimonials/client list (at #5) are on top of the top-10 things that users feel are a must-have in any B2B website. It is right below important things like pricing (at #1) and technical support (at#2).

customer_success_stories_is_must-have_in_B2B_website

(Source: 2014 B2B Web Usability Report | Huff/KoMarketing)

In-fact, the same survey says that case-studies are #1 when it comes to what users feel as “lacking” or needs improvement today., which is something to think hard about.

customer_success_stories_testimonials_lacking_in_B2B_website

(Source: 2014 B2B Web Usability Report | Huff/KoMarketing)


4.  It helps influence the buyer decision early-on, and that is “super important” today.

By now we all know enough about how buyer decisions are being taken early-on in the buying cycle . More than 57% of buying decision is taken even before talking to the company sales.

Purchase_decision_early_on_in_sales_cycle

(source: The Digital Evolution in B2B Marketing 2012 – CEB/Google )

And this is a 2012 figure. The figures being quoted in recent discussions is upwards of 70% !

Here is a huge opportunity for marketing to help tilt the scale, and positive voices from existing customers can play a big influence.

Testimonials and Case Studies are the most influential content types both in the awareness stage and the evaluation stage

customer_success_stories_most_influential_early_stage_content

(source: 3 Keys to B2B Success 2013 – Hawkeyee.com)

Promoting and advocating your customer success stories through various channels is a sure shot way to get there.

Marketing should amplify and promote customer successes to help win in the early discovery and engage stages of customer life-cycle. Waiting for the sales team stage would be too late. (source: Tip The Balance From Reference Customers To Advocates – Forrester/Influitive)


5. It is among the top ‘must-haves’ for any Landing Page.

Any landing page or marketing copy without a customer/social proof is seen by users as just marketing fluff due to the 1-sided nature. Experts recommend social/customer proof as one of the must-haves in any page whose end objective is conversion/lead generation.

anatomy-perfect-landing-page_testimonials

(Source: Anatomy of Perfect Landing Page – NiceLandingPage.com/Unbounce)

And adding customer/social proof increases credibility, thus improving conversion drastically as proved by all the experts. unanimously.

34%_increase_in_conversion_with_customer_testimonials

(source: Social Proof Tips to Boost Landing Page Conversions – Aschottmuller/Unbounce/Visual Optimizer)

Adding social proof helps increase landing page conversion between 5-500% (source: Unbounce, CrazyEgg, Kissmetrics, Optimizely, Visual Optimizer, Kickoff Labs, Hubspot, and other marketing optimization experts)


6. It has an extended shelf life.

Typically a detailed story like a case study has a life of 2-years at the minimum. Many stories stay relevant for a longer period of time and hence can be used for more than 2-years.  Shorter proof points like testimonials and logos have an indefinite life span.

46% of companies said they use customer success content for up-to 2 years. 43% said they could use it infinitely !

high_shelf_life_of_customer_success_stories

 (source: 2012 InEvidence Global Customer Reference Survey)

Which means you can re-use it like crazy. This is very important given the fact that producing enough good quality content is the #1. challenge for marketeers today.

producing_good_content_is_a_challenge_1

(Source: B2B Content Marketing Spotlight Report Nov-2014 – Technology Marketing Group LinkedIn/BrightTalk/IDG)


7. It can be added to other content to make them do more selling.

The #1. end goal of any content marketing initiative is lead generation.

customer_success_stories_check_all_boxes_against_content_marketing_objectives

(Source: B2B Content Marketing Spotlight Report Nov-2014 – Technology Marketing Group LinkedIn/BrightTalk/IDG)

Adding customer success proof in the form of customer names/logos, testimonials, proven benefits metric, story snippets, videos, etc into other content like best-practices articles, blog articles, whitepapers, discussion forum topics, ebooks, etc not only makes the content more interesting with real-life examples, but also adds a dab of marketing into them – thus helping you get more traffic to your website, more conversions and leads into your marketing funnel.

In-fact it helps check almost all the boxes against the content marketing goals.

As an example – An awesome example of using it in the blog would be this one

quicksprout_neil_patel_blog_testimonials_1

(source: Quicksprout/Neil Patel Blog)


8. It is valuable in all stages of the buying cycle.

Many people still believe that customer success stories are only needed in the last 2 stages –  i.e vendor comparison, and sales closure stages. This is incorrect.

The below research shows that it is in-fact useful in all the 4 stages. And it is the “most helpful” content in the stage-2 (understanding the problem) and stage-3 (Identify solution, consider vendors) in comparison with all other types of content.

 Customer_success_stories_for_all_stages_in_sales_cycle

(Source: B2B Tech Buyers – Which Assets Are Most Influential, and When? – MarketingCharts/Eccolo Media)


Conclusion:  You need-to believe in your Customer Success Stories.

Irrespective of any of the following –

You believe in Customer Success or not.

You believe in Advocate Marketing or not.

You believe in Content Marketing or not.

You believe in Digital Marketing or not.

You believe in being Online or not.

You do need-to believe in your Customer Success Stories.

Why ?

Because it is the most effective marketing content out there, without any doubt !

So what are you doing about your Customer Stories ?

How Not To – Stop Short of Being Awesome – with your Customer Success

 How Not To – Stop Short of Being Awesome – with your Customer Success
(Image credits – changinglivesonline)

   

The just concluded Dreamforce 2014 was one of the eagerly waited events for the B2B subscription economy. And it had Customer Success written all over it. There is no question about the fact that paying attention to customer success is a must-do for any company to become successful in the subscription economy.

   

But Customer Success is not a new concept. It has existed every since the existence of doing business. What is new though is the availability of data and visibility on a real-time basis, to know if the customer is engaging with your product/services. Thus giving us the golden opportunity to work with the customer and ensure that they are successful. That’s a big deal.

   

I am a big fan of Lincoln Murphy. Lincoln is one of the most popular faces of SaaS and Customer Success. He talks in detail about what is customer success, and the  20 things you can do to ensure customer success. I would add an important step post making your customer a success. I would recommend you to “write home about your customer success” .

   

Yes. Document your Customer Success Story !

   

It can be a long copy or just a short one. Either ways, I would go to the extent of saying that every customer success should be followed by a customer success story. Yes. It is a big deal to to have a successful customer, and it is definitely worth writing home about it for the following 3 reasons:

   

3 Big Reasons for having a Customer Success Story

   

1. Customer success story helps you to showcase credibility and Social Proof.

Social Proof is big deal. It is one of the top must-haves that a buyer looks for before thinking about doing business with you.  It is an awesome marketing opportunity.

   

2. Customer success story helps you to celebrate and showcase your customer.

It is an opportunity to thank and promote the people at the customer side who made it possible.

   

3. Customer success story helps to recognize and motivate your teams.

It is an opportunity to thank and promote the people at your end that made it possible.

   

Net-Net – Customer success story helps you to multiply your customer success.

By promoting each of your customer’s success you are creating an opportunity to create many more such customer successes. Therefore do not forget to document your customer success stories, and do promote them internally, as well as externally.

Also see my earlier article on writing and promoting success stories –  How to Convert your (Ordinary) Case Studies & Customer Success Stories into a Selling Machine (w/ 5 Examples)

What has been your experience ? Please share by commenting