Why “conversations” are the low-hanging fruit of any customer journey

customer-journey

By Brooke B. Sellas, {grow} Contributing Columnist

When marketers think about the customer journey, they typically have used the well-known AIDA model:

  • A = attract
  • I = interest
  • D = desire
  • A = action

This model seems helpful as it provides focus on each area of the customer journey.

However, I think there’s a different way of looking at the customer journey. And surprise, surprise, it involves conversations.

The Basic Customer Journey

For now, let’s stick with AIDA. I have a few criticisms of this model.

For starters, there’s nothing that occurs after an action takes place. And as marketers, we know how important customer retention and loyalty is.

In fact, the majority of actions taken by users on social media when it comes to reaching out to a brand involve experience (aka they’ve already interacted with your brand) and for customer service issues (aka they’re already a customer).

customer journey

Source: Sprout Social

That means that on social media, nearly 96 percent of people contact a brand beyond AIDA, assuming they’re already a customer.

Most would-be customers don’t reach out to brands on social media “just because.” And even when they do, brands are doing a poor job with responsiveness.

For instance, 40 percent of consumers said they expect brands to respond within the first hour of connecting through social media, while 79 percent expect a response in the first 24 hours.

The biggest thing missing when brands manage the customer journey? Conversations.

Conversations and the Customer Journey

Thinking of social media and the critical conversations on those channels, let’s create a new AIDA model. You’ve probably heard the term “conversational marketing” — and that’s at the heart of this model.

Think of conversational marketing as having real-time conversations with your would-be or actual customers. It’s that simple. (you do this, right?!)

This the model we’ve developed at B Squared Media:

b squared media

The model is still pretty simple. Each part of the customer journey allows for conversations between you and your would-be (or actual) customers. And if we think about customer experience, that’s what sets the superior brands apart.

Everyone knows when they’re dealing with a customer-centric brand. It shows. You can feel it.

Sure, you can go really deep and crazy with customer experience, but you can also focus on conversations. Conversations are the ignored, low-hanging fruit of almost every business.

Let’s take a deep dive into each area.

ATTRACT

Every relationship begins with attraction.

Whether it’s content marketing on your website, on your social channels, or through advertising, this is where you’re drawing potential customers in. And trust me, if your content is good, they’re going to be leaving comments (or complaints!).

Questions to ponder …

  • What kinds of conversations are coming your way in the attraction phase?
  • What is the overall sentiment (positive, neutral, negative) of those mentions?
  • Are you responding to every mention? Why or why not?
  • How fast are you responding? Is it fast enough?

It all starts here. Content comes first but it should be followed by conversation if it’s good.

Remember, as Mark Schaefer says, content is only valuable if it moves. You’ll know this by gauging the response you get on social and other sites.

CONVERT

Once you add someone to your list or they join your community, how do you keep their interest? I/Interest = C/Convert.

For starters, you should have more content that’s only for your subscribers. You can see it’s listed in the image as things like,

  • Personalized emails
  • Exclusive/Premium content
  • Coupons and offers

Think of each piece of content as the start of a conversation. And again, if the conversation is interesting, you’ll see a response.

Now, this may happen on social — like in a members-only group — or off social, like through email or maybe even a membership site. You don’t have to get all fancy.

One of the biggest success stories Mark and I have seen is through Dana Malstaff and her BossMom Facebook Group. The key is to make her customers feel truly valued through free content — CONVERSATION — in her Facebook Group.

dana-bossmom-community-life-cycle

The conversations that happen here give Dana and her team insight into creating more content that moves, ideas for development, and she’s even figured out how to monetize her Facebook Group.

That’s a truly inspiring ‘CONVERT’ example!

CLOSE

Just like Dana, you’re going to want to monetize your community at some point. We all have to turn leads into customers. Or maybe your sales team does that for you.

I am the entire sales team at my company. Disclaimer: I absolutely love sales! You may not.

However, sales are just like marketing in that conversations are crucial in this part of the customer journey.

My conversational workflows are very simple. I have templates for all of my sales follow-up and input everything into my CRM (Nimble CRM, which also happens to be great for social selling).

For example, I follow up three times and each template has specific conversational goals. If I don’t hear back, I move on. That’s what works for me but you’ll have to find your own sales sweet spot.

Essentially, it boils down to three things:

  • Are you interested? (I’ve already qualified them)
  • When do you want to start?
  • OR, what’s the hold-up?

Some companies even have bots that do the pre-qualifying for them. They’ll even set up the pitch meeting! Check out Drift if that’s something you think you’d like a robot to do for you.

DELIGHT

Finally, my favorite part. Truth be told, I think nearly any brand should be able to easily get through A, C & C.

D is where most people fail … and where there’s the most opportunity.

How are you delighting your customers?

If we refer back to the ‘why consumers message a brand on social media’ image, we know that 60% of social media users will be telling you how you’re doing. Are you paying attention? Are you responding to those mentions?

What we typically see is that this falls into two categories:

  • No, we are not paying attention to these mentions about an experience or customer service.
  • Yes, we are paying attention to mentions about an experience or customer service BUT only when they’re positive.

Obviously, “no” is bad. Very bad. Don’t be bad. In fact, my question to you is this: why are you using social media if you aren’t doing the absolute basic most 101 thing, which is responding to every mention?

Yes is better but still pretty awful. When people complain, they are giving you insight into EXACTLY what they want. They are telling you EXACTLY what is wrong with your product/service/brand.

This is the stuff that big brands pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for, and here your customers are offering it up for FREE.

Just by listening to these conversations with our social listening tool, we’ve uncovered technical bugs, website issues, and product failures. All of these were fixed fairly easily and quickly and lead to DELIGHT. We use social listening to inform our Customer Care strategies, which also inform our loyalty programs and help us work with advocates and influencers.

The conversations in this part of the customer journey are dripping with insights. Swoon-worthy, real-world, actionable insights!

I’ll let you in on a little secret. All of the marketing buzzwords (influencers! loyalty! revenue!) live inside of customer care efforts and for some reason, most brands are completely overlooking this part of the journey.

Where Will You Take The Customer Journey Conversation?

Finally, I think we all have a little homework. Where will you take the conversation after reading this?

If you’re new to this, start with A. If you’re somewhere in the middle, focus on the Cs. And if you’re doing alright, be honest with yourself about your customer care efforts. How can you improve the conversation there?

My advice would be for ALL of us to focus on D. Think about it: when you have super customer retention, it eases the front of the customer journey. You don’t have to try as hard or often. You don’t have to spend as much to attract because your loyal customers and advocates are doing it for you.

Hmmm. Maybe D should be first! Something to ponder … 😉

Brooke-b-Sellas-businesses-grow

Brooke B. Sellas is the Founder  & CEO of B Squared Media, an award-winning done-for-you social media management, advertising, and customer care agency. She’s also Mark Schaefer’s Co-host on the top-rated Marketing Companion Podcast. Brooke’s marketing mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout on Twitter!

 

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