6 tips to boost your customer referrals

Businesses invest a lot into marketing efforts that bring in new customers, but what are you doing to increase your customer referrals?

With more than 2.4 million brand-related conversations happening in the U.S., consumers are obviously already talking about their experiences with brands, for better or for worse.

Customer referrals are when existing customers introduce their family, friends and contacts to become new customers with your company.

After all, consumers view other consumers as about 14 percent more credible than a brand itself (or its employees).

If you’re providing great customer experiences with your products and/or services, then word-of-mouth customer referrals should be happening naturally. However, investing effort into encouraging referrals will only build on that.

The following are six tips to help you boost your customer referrals and grow your business.

Create a customer loyalty program

Your most loyal customers are the most likely to refer others to your business. You can embrace and nourish this with a customer loyalty rewards program, which is a marketing approach that recognizes and rewards customers who purchase or engage with a brand in some way on a recurring basis. 

As part of your progam, you would give out points, perks, free products and coupons, even graduating customers to higher levels of loyalty the more they buy if you want. However you structure it, the overall goal is to encourage the customer to become a more regular consumer or (even better) a brand promoter. Customers who are so loyal that they are actively promoting your brand are exactly what you want.

You also can have a very simple referral program (as opposed to a full customer loyalty rewards program), where your customer refers a friend in exchange for an incentive. And that’s it. Just think about what works best for your brand.

Check out our five tips to successfully promote your loyalty rewards program, and see our six tips to grow to create brand loyalty for your business.

Exceed expectations

While seemingly a general tip, delighting your customers during every step of their customer experience with your brand can play into your overall customer referrals.

Take the time to audit what your true customer experience is like for a brand new customer. Consider:

  • How easy your website is to navigate?
  • Is it easy to contact your business with questions?
  • How thorough and responsive is your customer service?
  • Is there a clear path for purchasing?
  • Are you offering a quality product or service?
  • What if there needs to be a refund or return?
  • How do you follow up after the purchase is complete?

The happier your customers are, the more they’ll tell others about your brand. And always remember that you never want any customer to be a “one and done.” Think through how you can keep bringing them back.

Make referrals easy

Your customers are busy people. The harder it is to effectively refer another to your business (especially in exchange for a perk or discount), the less likely that the customer referral will happen. (Even with an incentive offered.)

You can offer email templates for them to send, links to easy-to-fill-out web forms or fliers with QR codes that direct to an informative landing page. The sky’s the limit.

Just make sure to identify the best method that works for your customers and communicate it clearly.

Identify and target customer referral opportunities

If you’re interested in identifying key customers who are worth their weight in customer referral gold (rather than asking for referrals blindly and aimlessly), it’s helpful to start with a little research.

LinkedIn can be a great assist with this. At its most basic level, you can identify your customer, his or her company and other networked connections. 

By doing this, not only can you limit your targeting to the potential referrals that will have the biggest ROI (return on investment), but you can “do the work” within your ask by letting the customer know who and/or what you’re hoping to connect with.

Flip any negative reviews

Negative online reviews are a reality for every business and something that you already should have a plan for to monitor and address.

However, what’s important to remember is that every negative review is simply an opportunity to make that customer happy and hopefully that follow-up service not only converts them into a happy customer but a loyal customer who tells others about your brand.

Check out our 11 tips to best respond to negative reviews.

Offer different methods of customer referrals

Word-of-mouth referrals aren’t the only way your customers can help spread the word about your brand. 

Make sure that you’re encouraging a variety of ways that your customers can “refer,” including (but not limited to):

  • Writing a review
  • Submitting a customer testimonial
  • Serving as a case study

Of course, if you’re asking your customers for referrals of any kind, be respectful if they’re saying no or not acting on it yet. Space out your requests and continue to give different methods. No one reacts well to pushiness, and you’ll never know when it happens to be the right suggestion at the right time for the right customer.

In conclusion

Customer referrals are powerful. Take the time to ensure that you’re doing everything possible throughout your brand’s customer journey to delight and encourage your customers to spread the word.

As you begin evaluating customer referral opportunities, consider optimizing your digital marketing process, which includes automation, audience segmentation and enhanced email marketing capabilities, to name a few. DailyStory can help. Schedule your free demo with us today.

10 tips to improve your brand’s online reputation

If you’re not keeping tabs on your brand’s online reputation, you could be shooting yourself (or at least your brand) in the foot.

An online reputation comprises various strategies to shape the world’s perception of your brand online. If handled correctly, you’re able to build brand trust and impact consumers’ purchasing decisions in a positive way. In other words, a good online reputation supports your bottom line.

Think of it as your brand’s first impression for potential customers. 

In fact, consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before trusting a business, while about 79 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

If you’re not on top of how your brand is perceived online, you could be losing out on customers and sales.

The following are 10 tips to improve your brand’s online reputation and put your best foot forward.

Start with an audit

Before anything else, you need to understand where your brand’s online reputation stands right now.

Thoroughly review all online reviews, and while this can feel overwhelming with so many potential places for customers to review you, keep it simple by beginning with the top four review platforms where consumers typically do their research on you:

  • Google
  • Yelp
  • TripAdvisor
  • Facebook

If you’re in a specialized industry that has an industry-specific platform for reviews, include that as well. For example, home-improvement brands will want to keep an eye on HomeAdvisor.

Of course, we encourage you to also Google your brand to see where else it might be popping up, just to cover all your bases.

Once you’ve compiled all the review platforms and reviews, double-check that all business contact details, location information and operational hours are up to date. 

Then, look at what customers are saying. What is the ratio of positive-to-negative reviews? Are there far more positive than negative? If you have multiple locations, is one location standing out in a positive or negative way? Have you responded to all reviews? 

Really assess where your brand is at perception-wise. Knowledge is power, and this information will fuel your online reputation strategies moving forward.

Keep in mind that you can set up Google Alerts to inform you of brand mentions online and more.

Decide on a review strategy and start replying

Now that you know where your customers are reviewing you and what they’re saying, it’s time to implement a review strategy for all relevant review platforms.

Perhaps you set a weekly time to regularly check for any new reviews. This would be the minimum effort we would recommend. If possible, turn on notifications wherever you can so that you can reply to all new reviews as soon as possible.

In fact, about 53 percent of customers expect businesses to respond to their online review within seven days.

You should respond to every review regardless of whether it’s positive, negative or neutral. And timeliness is a factor to be aware of. You’ll want to thank customers for positive reviews, but you definitely don’t want to leave a negative review festering without some sort of response.

Not sure what to say when it’s negative? Always view it as an opportunity to deliver amazing customer service and turn that experience for that customer around. (It’s definitely not the time or place to argue with the customer.) See our 11 tips to best respond to negative reviews.

Encourage happy customers to review you

Unfortunately, a customer is about 21 percent more likely to leave a negative review after a negative experience than a positive review after a positive review.

You must consistently work against that tendency by asking your happy and satisfied customers to share their experiences online. There are numerous ways to do this. Here are just a handful of ideas:

  • Offer incentives, discounts or cash rewards for customers who write reviews.
  • Send email follow-ups to customers requesting a review with a link to make it easy.
  • Have your employees remind happy customers to review you and explain the benefit that positive reviews have for your business.

Monitor all relevant social media platforms

Of course, you can’t properly manage your online reputation without a thorough plan involving social media.

First, consider all the platforms where your brand has a presence (an account, in other words). Then, think about any platforms that might be used by your customers, where they can post about you regardless of whether you have an account or not.

For example, if you only have accounts on Facebook and Instagram, that doesn’t mean that your customers aren’t tweeting about you (for better or worse) on Twitter.

You’ll need to embrace social listening, which is not just about monitoring what is being said about a business, brand, person or topic on social media. It’s also about acting on it. This can involve engaging with commenters or even adjusting brand strategy.

Learn more about social listening and how it’s different from social media crowdsourcing.

Prioritize your SEO tactics

Search engines can be a huge source of organic traffic to your website, but they also serve as research vehicles for consumers to learn more about businesses, products, services and so on.

So, your SEO (search engine optimization) strategy must be on point.

Ideally, you not only want to rank for the keywords that would help drive consumers to potentially purchase from you. You also want to rank for branded keywords that reflect your online reputation for consumers. In other words, you want your brand’s positive mentions ranking above any potential negative mentions.

And remember that blogging regularly showcases your expertise that will only benefit your online reputation, especially in search engine results.

Dive deeper into what you can do with our 12 SEO marketing tips for beginners. You also can level up your SEO skills with these 10 free online SEO courses.

Develop a public relations strategy

Earned media definitely can improve your online reputation, but it can take a little extra effort. 

The extra effort involves a public relations strategy, which is all about promoting your brand’s inclusion in related articles, TV segments and more in the press.

Earned media is not to be confused with paid advertising. But leveraging press releases and connecting with local media outlets and reporters could lead to your brand earning some new coverage over time.

Work with influencers who have great online reputations

In the simplest sense, an influencer is anyone with a digital following (or audience) on a social media platform (but not necessarily) whom you’d like to attract.

The purpose of influencer marketing involves increasing brand awareness, targeting new and niche audiences and increasing impressions and reach.

This makes it a great vehicle to improve your online reputation because you’re leveraging the trust consumers have for an influence to boost your brand.

Check out our seven tips to know before starting your first influencer marketing campaign.

Monitor customer service complaints

Even though online reviews can take a lot of your focus, don’t forget about the complaints that are being given to your company directly.

How these complaints are handled can often impact resulting online reviews, though.

Depending on the size of your business, you may need a tool, such as Invoca, to help you stay on top of a high volume of call center or customer service department interactions.

Understanding what complaints are coming in can help you fix anything that isn’t working as expected as well (and prevent future complaints).

Keep track of your competitors

While it’s important to understand your own online reputation, you can take the next step by understanding that of your competitors.

Are they receiving mostly positive or mostly negative reviews? Are they responding to them? How are they responding? What are their customers saying about them?

Find out more about what a competitive analysis is and how you can start yours, as well as 16 tools to make your competitive analysis easier.

Commit to resolve recurring issues

At the core of successful online reputation management is the commitment to resolve any recurring issues to improve your brand’s buyer experience.

Consider the information (positive and negative) that you receive from customers as a critical piece to this commitment. If you keep your customers happy, you’ll prevent many negative online reviews from even happening.

It’s no easy task, but your responsiveness will serve your business beyond just your online reputation. Think about it: How many potential customers simply disappear because of a less-than-ideal experience and never return, whether they made a purchase or not? It’s important to get ahead of the issues and continually innovate what your brand can do better.

As you begin exploring your brand’s online reputation, consider optimizing your digital marketing process, which includes automation, audience segmentation and enhanced email marketing capabilities, to name a few. DailyStory can help. Schedule your free demo with us today.

8 ways to improve customer responsiveness

Your business can either thrive or barely survive based on your customer responsiveness in this fast-moving digital world.

How long does it take your team members to respond to a question from a customer or potential customer?

Simple answer: The longer it takes, the worse it is for your business.

Customer responsiveness is all about how quickly your business can respond to a query on any platform (social media, email and otherwise). On the flip side, it’s also about how quickly you can resolve an issue.

About 32 percent of customers expect a response from social media customer support within 30 minutes of reaching out, according to a survey, while 42 percent of consumers anticipate a response within 60 minutes.

Successful customer responsiveness leads to more sales and repeat customers who can ultimately become loyal brand ambassadors. Repeat customers are actually accountable for about 40 percent of an average business’s annual revenue. You definitely want your customers to come back.

The following are eight ways you can improve the customer responsiveness of your business.

Audit your current customer responsiveness

It’s important to assess the current state of your customer responsiveness and identify any areas in need of improvement.

You may want to test it yourself by sending an email from an anonymous account, asking an acquaintance to directly message on different social media platforms, etc.

The key is that you repeatedly test and document what is working to your expectations and what’s not.

You can’t fully improve or fix your customer responsiveness until you understand and identify the problems that need to be fixed.

Determine a customer response system

Every business is different, but it’s important to not only prioritize customer responsiveness but have a system for your team to address it.

For example, perhaps you know that most questions come through email, occasionally through your Facebook page inbox and very sparingly through your brand’s Twitter account (whether direct message or otherwise). You should then ensure that your team has time daily to respond to emails. For Facebook and Twitter, you confirm that your team receives notifications whenever there is a mention or message that needs to be addressed.

The more platforms your company is on (including Yelp and Google My Business), the more complex your customer responsiveness system may need to be. But it’s worth putting in the time and effort to think through what works best to achieve your improvement goals.

Keep in mind that the regular updating and maintenance of your knowledge base is critical to best serving your customers and keeping your team members all on the same page.

Embrace social media

Social media isn’t just a place where customers and potential customers can send your business direct messages. It’s also a place where queries can come in various types, depending on the platform.

On Facebook, for instance, a user can send you a direct message, comment on your post, tag you in another post or comment thread and even just mention you while not tagging you at all. While privacy settings may restrict what you can respond to or even see, it’s worth paying attention. Otherwise, you’re likely to miss something. 

Instagram, Twitter, YouTube—there are so many ways users could be engaging with you and asking you specific questions. For example, only 3 percent of Twitter users tag a brand to ask for help, while about 37 percent of tweets mentioning brands are customer-service related.

Of course, regular searches for your brand name (and common misspellings) on various platforms can help identify the posts where you’re not tagged.

We recommend using a social media management tool in order to pool the monitoring all into one place. Some businesses might also outsource social media in order to stay on top of all the dynamics.

Consider tech-based solutions

Customer responsiveness and service have long been considered a manpowered service, where you have to hire more and more employees to do it right as a business. But there are a number of technology-based solutions out there that could work for your brand.

These solutions can include chat software where automated responses handle the most common and basic customer questions. Find out more about chatbots.

Invest in a quality customer service team

Chatbots can’t do it all. It’s imperative to hire and invest in a responsive customer service team, even if that’s only one person.

No matter the size, you must have the right people with the right skills working for you and representing your brand. Regular training to continue to develop and improve those skills also is necessary.

Strive for:

  • Knowledge, where a customer-service representative understands your products and/or services well enough to address the questions that pop up.
  • Excellent communication, where a representative engages with any type of customer or potential customer in a positive, supportive way.
  • Patience, where a representative does not get flustered or short with the customer or potential customer no matter what.

Explore CRM programs

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. In the simplest terms, a CRM program uses your data to build a relationship with your customers.

The right CRM program will help give you useful insights about your customers and their needs, as well as streamline customer service between different teams within your business (such as sales and customer service) so that your customer gets a consistent experience with your brand. 

They’ll also often track pending and completed tasks by customer, so that you have an idea of what’s been done and what might still need to be done.

Get personal in your messaging

The further you can get from generic answers and messaging, the better. About 96 percent of marketers say that personalized messages and replies improve the brand-customer relationship.

To be more personal, use:

  • The customer’s name
  • A more informal, conversational and friendly tone
  • The customer’s native language

Strive for 24/7 customer support

This can be especially challenging for small businesses, especially if the only employee is you. (There is such a thing as work-life balance that every business owner should embrace to some degree.)

Options to be more responsive 24/7 include outsourcing your customer service, providing an easy-to-find and easy-to-understand FAQ section on your website and/or using live chatbot features that can then kick up more complex questions to a human. 

In fact, chatbots have come a long way. About 41 percent of customers now expect live chat on your website.

Dive deeper into conversational marketing and the value of engaging customers in real time.

In conclusion

Ultimately, customers want to feel important. Take the time to understand what your business is doing well and what can be improved to offer the best possible customer responsiveness. The more you can put yourself in your customer’s shoes, the better.

Looking to level up your digital marketing process as you improve your customer responsiveness? Consider DailyStory, which features automation, audience segmentation and more. Schedule your free demo with us today.