What Makes B2B Content Remarkable for Buyers?

It’s no secret. Everyone knows the biggest problem B2B content marketing faces today. Well, actually several give B2B marketers fits.

Which one am I talking about?

Making B2B content engage and actually drive more leads. How bleak does the situation look?

Not good. Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report surveyed 3,714 B2B marketers from around the globe. The report defines “effective” as “accomplishing your overall objectives.” CMI asked B2B marketers to rate themselves. Shockingly, just 30% of B2B marketers rate themselves as “effective”. And that was down 21.05% from 38% in 2014.

And Heinz Marketing quotes IDG Connect as saying “86% of buyers say content is neither useful, relevant, nor aligned with needs of people in the buying decision.” That makes B2B buyers information-rich and knowledge-poor.

The natural question to ask then becomes, “If marketers’ typical approach to B2B content doesn’t work, what does?”

I’ve been on a personal quest to find out over the past several months. Let me explain some of the top elements of lead-generating B2B content.

Show Your Buyer Why They Need to Change Their Behavior

CEB Group research published at Harvard Business Review shows exactly what buyers want. They feel they must learn something new about their business and have a compelling reason to change their present behavior.

This explains why you can craft useful, interesting, and in-depth information, yet still not generate the leads you want. You have to make more of the right content based on your knowledge of your buyer and their industry and problems.

SaleCycle actually had the stomach to admit on Econsultancy that 80% of its B2B content failed.

They were creating lots of content, but most of it wasn’t about topics that interested their prospects. Content that taught prospects facts, stats, and best practices about sales worked. Client stories worked too. However, their content about careers and company culture, though useful, absolutely bombed by comparison.

So, SaleCycle learned that lots of in-depth content doesn’t necessarily work. But they found what did through their analytics.

Include Emotion in Your B2B Content

You hear it all the time: B2B buyers are intelligent, sophisticated people. They only need the facts. True with some aspects of marketing (especially white papers).

But remember, they’re human beings and have emotions too.

What does research say about emotions in the B2B buying process? They play a far larger role than you think. Check it out:

B2B buyers make highly emotional decisions. (Image Source)

In fact, Kapost goes so far as to claim emotions matter more to buyers than logic and reason.

Are they completely outlandish in their claim?

Joint research among CEB Marketing Leadership Council, Motista, and Google also found:

“Not only did the B2B brands drive more emotional connections than B2C brands, but they weren’t even close. Of the hundreds of B2C brands that Motista has studied, most have emotional connections with between 10% and 40% of consumers. Meanwhile, of the nine B2B brands we studied, seven surpassed the 50% mark. On average, B2B customers are significantly more emotionally connected to their vendors and service providers than consumers.”

Why would this be?

Think about it, well, logically. With many purchases, B2B buyers find themselves in an intensely emotional situation.

They spend a lot of money on their purchases. At least several other people get in on the decision, so they want to look good. Make a bad decision, and they’ll lose an abundance of credibility and respect, and possibly their job. They want to go with the safe option, the one practically guaranteed to give them good results.

Consumers, on the other hand, generally make small purchases that don’t put a big dent in their budget. If the purchase doesn’t work out, they get angry, and often can get their money back. A few family members might be upset too.

But, it’s just a little money. And they have plenty of competing choices to choose from. So for many consumer purchases, it’s not a big deal to make a bad decision.

Possibly the greatest example of emotional marketing in B2B is IBM’s famous slogan from the 1980s:

“No one ever got fired for buying IBM.”

Why did it work so well? With so much at stake for B2B buyers when buying computer hardware back then, they wanted to make a safe decision. No one wanted to lose their job, or a lot of respect, for going with an unknown competitor.

So, the slogan appealed powerfully to buyers’ desire for safety, security, and predictability. Like Apple today, IBM was the dominant tech company of the 1980s.

And of Course…B2B Buyers Use Logic Too

While buyers use more emotion in their decision than consumers, they also have to line up all the facts. But most B2B content doesn’t give them what they want in this respect either:

“66% of technology buyers feel that digital content needs to be more aligned with organizational objectives and relevant to the decision making process.” – IDG Connect survey

How do you do this? It’s a simple process, but it isn’t easy. Skilled marketers learn the questions B2B buyers ask throughout the sales cycle. They answer those questions with content.

Does that sound anything like what your sales team does? If they’re good at what they do, your sales team should already know these questions and answers. So, it’s just a matter of having a productive conversation with sales.

But, not all marketing and sales teams have positive relationships. If you don’t have access to this data, you have a number of tactics you can use to get it:

  • Ask sales if you can silently observe a few of their phone calls
  • Talk with customers you recently acquired because you know they love you now (you could offer a reward to the customer that’s chosen)
  • Check out B2B software review websites like G2 Crowd
  • Watch your competitors’ content, and especially the pieces that get the most social shares
  • Review your own analytics as you gather data, focusing in particular on how many buyers took your desired next step, which could be done easily with the Kissmetrics funnel report
  • Find and follow industry websites and thought leaders and watch the hot topics
  • Follow your buyers on Twitter and LinkedIn to see what they talk about
  • Do a Twitter advanced search using some of the keywords your buyer might use, and see what questions come up
  • Search and follow the most relevant topics to your buyer on Quora

In my opinion, talking to sales, listening to their conversations, or talking directly with customers gives you the fastest and most useful results. When that’s not possible, you’ll have to research multiple sources online and construct the sales cycle from scratch.

The Amount of Trust Buyers Give Your Content Depends on Its Source

How your buyer comes into contact with your content directly affects the amount of trust they give it. If they stumble across a blog post or get the exact same content from your sales team, they place a far different level of trust in it.

Look at how much buyers trust content, depending on the source it comes from:

trusted-information-sourcesB2B buyers still trust recommendations from their peers more than anything else. (Image Source)

So if you pay any attention, you probably hear non-stop about “influencer marketing.” According to these stats, since buyers trust peer, colleagues, and independent content most, influencer marketing is a worthwhile approach.

It’s not just another fad destined to go away. For what it’s worth, B2B buyers’ minds have worked this way for decades. Count on getting your content into their peers’ hands as a valuable marketing tactic for many years to come.

Buyers, Including Millennials, Want Their Content in a Certain Format

You may have heard about 2016 being “the year of video marketing.” Snapchat, Instagram, and even Pinterest also get touted as the next biggest channels for B2B marketers. Periscope even gets some attention.

The real question: should you even spend any of your time working on channel strategies?

According to research from The Economist, no. Both veteran and young professionals still prefer plain ol’ text:

professionals-prefer-text-articlesMost business professionals still prefer text content over any other format. (Image Source)

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have any video in your B2B marketing strategy. I’m not saying that.

But, if you drive yourself mad because you don’t have a podcast, webinar, video, infographic or whatever, relax. B2B buyers don’t need anything fancy schmancy.

Just give them new and compelling information that gives them the business case for change.

Each Content Type Has an Ideal Place in Your Sales Cycle

You have such a massive mix of content to choose from. Blog posts, white papers, case studies, newsletters, videos, infographics…

What should you create, and where should you target it in the buy cycle? Eccolo Media surveyed B2B buyers firsthand to find out. And here’s what they found:

content-types-in-sales-cycleWhere the most common types of content work best in the sales cycle. (Image Source)

Basically, content works well before the sales cycle even begins, and best during the early and middle sales cycle.

To gather the data, Eccolo Media surveyed more than 100 B2B marketers. 33% were influencers while 67% were decision makers ranging in age from 20 to over 60, and holding positions from manager to vice president at all sizes of companies.

And they also give some interesting data you don’t see on the above chart: 80% of survey respondents thought it was “important” or “very important” to get content on an ongoing basis after their purchase.

Eccolo Media found B2B buyers want these types of content post-purchase:

  • 36% want “thought leadership” content
  • 30% would like technical support and updates
  • 25% love new product info
  • 9% find customer stories useful

Define What Content Marketing Success Looks Like

To find out what buyers want, you have to define what success means to you. Once you know that, then you can determine whether you’ve given buyers what they want (or not).

Now, all kinds of debate exists as to how you know you’ve succeeded. Some say MQLs. Others SQLs. Others look at follower counts, likes, and shares.

And then you even hear about brand new metrics like “return visitor rate (RVR).” Which should you trust?

I personally like two indicators:

  1. The number of buyers who take the next step (whatever that is) you ask for in your content gives you a good indicator of what you will see in your final conversion goal (MQLs, SQLs, sales, revenue)
  2. Looking at the correlation between increases in your key metrics and changes in your revenue or profit. For example, when you see an increase in prospects who try a demo following a white paper, you notice a jump in revenue too.

And I like these because it’s so difficult to get B2B buyers to take the “next step,” regardless of what that is. B2B marketing expert Ardath Albee looks at that action as a sign of commitment, which is hard to get from B2B buyers.

Address the Fear of Loss

Should you focus on benefits or fear?

Many B2B marketers today would say you should sell benefits. And it’s not wrong to sprinkle benefits throughout your content marketing.

However, if you want action, you should focus on avoiding pain. Legendary marketer Dan Kennedy says:

“When you understand that people are more likely to act to avoid pain than to get gain, you’ll understand how incredibly powerful this first formula is.”

With this quote, he speaks in relation to his PAS (problem-agitate-solve) marketing formula. If you click the link above, you can learn about the formula in great detail.

The gist is:

  1. Start your copy with the prospect’s problem
  2. Agitate the problem by describing all the emotions they feel
  3. Talk about the solution you have for them

You’ll see more action when you focus on fear of loss instead of only highlighting benefits in your copy and content.

Sales Should Actively Reach Out to Prospects with Case Studies

You’ve heard the stat: 60% – 70% of B2B content just sits around, collecting digital dust. How do you make a cohesive, usable system that produces qualified leads with that?

Well, you can start with case studies. Because out of all content types, 84% of 319 execs surveyed at companies with $1 billion or more in revenues say they would respond positively when vendors initially reach out with sales emails that include case studies (more than any other content type).

You can see the full data below:

exec-response-sales-outreach-content-typeWhat execs trust most when your sales team reaches out to them with content. (Image Source)

With case studies, the closer the focus customer’s success story matches your prospect’s situation, the higher the response rate.

Don’t have case studies matching the prospects you want to attract? Time to write some. Your sales team knows many customers that succeeded. Offer your sales team $1,000 for the customer that you end up profiling. You’ll get more suggestions than you need.

Now You Can Stop Wasting Your Time and Do More of What Works

Over the next few years, I think we’ll see more B2B content marketers finding success. Everyone rushed to join the craze so fast, thinking content would be a quick fix to all their marketing ailments.

But now, with reality becoming clear, many will have to evaluate what works, and what doesn’t. And with this research in hand, you can stop wasting time and money and beat your competitors to high-ROI prospects.

About the Author: Dan Stelter, “The B2B Lead Gen Guy,” crafts persuasive content that makes attracting qualified leads effortless for B2B service, software, and tech companies. Learn how you can avoid 7 humiliating B2B content mistakes that frustrate buyers when you download your free special report.

Omni-Channel Marketing: A New Approach to Keyword Research

For many marketers, performing keyword research is a pretty standard procedure. What has primarily changed over time are the tools used to source key search queries and determine the quality and intent behind those keywords.

While the approach to research remains largely the same, the landscape in which consumers search and move toward a purchase has changed. The path from search to purchase is no longer as linear as it once was and consumers generally don’t follow clear paths anymore. Your approaches to keyword research and deployment of marketing content need to adjust for this omni-channel era.

In this article, I’ll define what this new path looks like, how you can adjust your strategy to be more visible to your ideal customers, and how targeted keyword research and optimization can lead to a dramatic improvement in engagement and retention.

What is Omni-Channel?

onmi-channel-graphicCustomers are now engaging brands across multiple channels at the same time. (Image Source)

Up to this point, there have been a few different channel strategies for businesses, mainly offline businesses, but they’re applicable to online retailers as well:

  1. Multi-Channel – This is a common channel strategy in which a business uses more than one form of media for advertising. For example: a car dealership may have a Facebook page and also send out direct mailers. Those are multiple media channels for outreach and engagement.
  2. Online to Offline – This channel strategy consists of online media outlets driving traffic specifically to an offline, brick and mortar business.
  3. Cross-Channel – This channel strategy involves an experience that starts in one channel and is then carried over into another. A few good examples of this would be locating a product in a print catalog and ordering it online, or searching for a restaurant online and clicking the phone number to call in an order that will be completed via carry-out.

So what about omni-channel? This strategy involves using multiple visible channels which support one another in a single merged experience with the customer or prospect. The lines between channels blur as the brand and the customer engage across multiple mediums.

For example: A customer pulls up your website to research an item while they’re in your brick and mortar store. They search for other information online, which leads them to a blog post you wrote to address a specific pain point. A rep emails the customer some info on the product and they later order the product on your website or through your Facebook store integration.

It’s important to understand the omni-channel approach because it has transformed the way customers shop nowadays. 75% of shoppers who find helpful information alongside local retail info are more likely to visit those businesses. Likewise, over 70% of smartphone users research while shopping to help them make more informed decisions.

Search Intent Across Multiple Channels

Search isn’t the same creature it used to be. Today, search overlaps a variety of other channels as the results fill up with social media pages, local listings, videos, images, location-specific data, and more.

While many marketers take a blanket approach to keyword research, many of those channels have their own search variations. Marketers mistakenly think the research they apply to search optimization also applies to social media and other channels.

The truth is that the user’s search experience varies greatly based on the platform and intent. Not only do you have behavioral differences across the channels (short queries on Twitter vs. multi-keyword queries on Facebook or YouTube), but there are also big differences in a standard search query vs. a conversational search in social media.

consumers-search-for-local-informationSearch habits change throughout the purchasing process. (Image Source)

When researching keywords for the optimization of those individual channels, it’s important to consider user intent for each channel, as well as the user’s position in the buying cycle and whether or not they’re searching for local information.

Keyword Research for Omni-Channel

When you’re conducting keyword research for organic search and content optimization, you’re typically trying to determine the search volume and relevancy of keywords. For paid advertising, you’ll also want to gauge how competitive a term is.

Conducting keyword research for social and other channels as part of an omni-channel strategy is a bit more involved. When I perform research for omni-channel efforts, I have a lot of points to look at including:

  • Popular and trending topics across various social channels
  • Search and query frequency on a given channel
  • The market interest for products and services
  • The demand for specific search queries or conversational searches
  • User intent; the “why” behind their searches
  • Specific points of engagement around important keywords

Here’s how you can perform this research on a few popular social channels:

Facebook Keyword Research

facebook-roasted-coffee-keyword-researchUse Facebook’s search function to research key phrases for your audience.

Consumers often turn to social channels like Facebook to see what other people are saying about a product, topic, trend, or brand. Keyword research on Facebook can provide a lot of insight when you’re mapping out your optimization and marketing strategy:

  • The frequency of public topics around a keyword
  • What kind of content is most-often shared and discussed
  • How discussions change based on location
  • How well the results align with the search intent
  • Trending topics and hashtags
  • Other keyword trends to expand your research

From an omni-channel perspective, think about how your potential customers might be using Facebook to find information about your brand and your products or services. Build your keyword list and start researching with the Facebook search function.

This will help you refine and locate more keywords, and from there, you can optimize your profile and plan the use of specific keywords within targeted public posts and content shares.

Twitter Keyword Research

twitter-advanced-search-screenshot-september-2016Twitter’s advanced search can show you the keywords your audience is using most frequently.

Keyword research on Twitter is similar to Facebook. I recommend using the Advanced Search feature.

This gives you more opportunities to narrow your targeting by date, location, and broad or exact match phrasing. The goal on Twitter is the same as on Facebook: you’re looking for topic and keyword frequency, post and discussion intent, trending and relevant hashtags, and any opportunities to expand keywords.

Considering the brevity of Twitter posts, you’re less likely to see long tail search phrases being used. Instead, your audience is more likely to use shorter, topical words to find discussions, brand names, and product names.

Like Facebook, this presents the opportunity to take the most relevant keywords you discover and work them into your posting strategy in order to get relevant content in front of the consumer.

YouTube Keyword Research

google-adwords-display-plannerCombine YouTube searches with the Display Planner tool to research popular search queries.

YouTube used to have its own keyword tool, but that was shuttered in 2015 as Google favored the use of Adwords Display Planner. This makes keyword research a little more complex for YouTube than other social channels, but it also provides a lot more data. If you use the AdWords Planner for any other type of keyword research, then you should be familiar with the process.

Log in to Google AdWords and select the Display Planner under “Tools.” From there, you can enter any search phrases you think your customers would be interested in and AdWords will display individual targeting ideas along with impressions and some basic demographics.

Enter the keywords you develop into YouTube’s search and examine the types of content that show up in the top results. You’ll be able to piece together opportunities to create new content for those search phrases as well as optimize any existing videos you have to improve their visibility with the new search phrases.

Just remember to make sure that you’re always matching the search intent of the user.

Omni-Channel Marketing Thrives on Content

buzzsumo-pro-content-researchBuzzSumo uncovers the most engaging content around a keyword or topic.

Omni-channel marketing doesn’t target customers who are set on a purchase and are ready to place their order or head into the store. This kind of keyword research and optimization is meant to attract and educate the customers who are actively engaging you through multiple channels and researching information to help them make a purchase decision.

For that reason, I always try to produce and position content that is most beneficial and relevant to the keywords I discovered during the research phase.

To ensure that I’m consistently providing the best content, one tool I like to use is BuzzSumo. While the research process is predominantly manual for digging into topics and discussions on social, BuzzSumo automates things as you search for content.

Plug in your keywords or relevant search queries, and BuzzSumo will display content to match – specifically the content that has received the most shares and engagement. You can use those results to craft your own content or curate those posts and share them publicly using targeted keywords across various channels.

This way, no matter where your prospective customers are in the sales funnel – either online or in your store – they’ll find your content and your high-value content shares, regardless of the channel in which they search.

Conclusion

Focused keyword research across multiple channels allows you to leverage public content to keep it in front of your audience, increasing the likelihood that they’ll find you when they research purchasing options.

More importantly, optimizing your content with keywords across multiple channels will capture the attention of the user. If a prospective customer finds your content through means other than search, then the relevant keywords will stand out and encourage them to start engaging you through multiple channels as they enter your funnel.

Keyword research isn’t just for organic search anymore. Use this information to improve your omni-channel visibility, attract new customers, and keep your current prospects engaged through to the conversion.

What’s your take on omni-channel marketing and the optimization of social channels? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

About the Author: Aaron Agius is an experienced search, content and social marketer. He has worked with some of the world’s largest and most recognized brands to build their online presence. See more from Aaron at Louder Online, their Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

How to Persuade SaaS Customers When They Hate All Your Pricing Options

Your pricing options suck.

At least that’s what some of your consumers think.

They like your products. But the pricing packages aren’t meeting their expectations.

Customers may enjoy one feature, but it isn’t included in a specific package. Or maybe they admire the pricing but prefer different benefits.

“Pricing is a moving target and found should view it as an ongoing product discovery process. Pricing should be re-evaluated regularly,” says Tomasz Tunguz, a venture capitalist at Redpoint Ventures.

So, what do you do when customers like your product but not your pricing? Check out the four strategies below.

1. Determine Your Most Valuable Benefits

Experts believe “30% of the thousands of pricing decisions companies make every year fail to deliver the best price.” Business managers don’t always match the right price to the right services.

What your team deems valuable isn’t important. You want to know what buyers love about your products.

That’s where data can help. Gather data to identify which benefits your customers enjoy the most.

Monitor customer feedback, product usage, and user behavior. Discover which benefits make your product worth buying.

Once you find the desired benefits, talk about them from the customer’s perspective. Speak their language.

Peep Laja, the founder of ConversionXL, writes:

“Your value proposition needs to be in the language of the customer. It should join the conversation that is already going on in the customer’s mind. In order to do that you need to know the language your customers use to describe your offering and how they benefit from it.”

Here’s an example from Intercom. The team highlights product features in simple, short sentences. It communicates what the platform can do and how it’s beneficial to the customer.

intercom-acquire-pricing-page

Sell consumers on what they like most. Continue to emphasize your SaaS product solutions.

2. Educate Consumers About Undesirable Features

Research shows that “75% of B2B buyers rely more on content to research and make B2B purchasing decisions.”

Content gives your consumers the opportunity to learn about your products. And the information can be easily shared with a team of decision-makers.

Brigg Patten, a business and tech writer, says, “Educating your customer is a vital part of the sales process for any business, and is important in relationship building. Customers have more confidence that your solution is the best for their particular needs when you take the time to ensure they are well-educated.”

Therefore, when customers dislike certain pricing options due to product features, it’s time to educate them about the possibilities.

Show consumers how particular features can benefit their businesses. Give them real-life examples that their team can relate to.

For instance, if your SaaS sells subscription billing software, demonstrate why multiple payment methods matter. Produce content showing how their customers want options to pay by credit card, ACH, and PayPal.

When educating your customers, decide how you will convey the message. The medium is just as important as the message itself.

Collect data on which method your consumers prefer. You can send a simple email survey asking for their preferences.

Content formats range from eBooks to webinars to blog posts. Select the one that works for a majority of your users. Your team also may consider doing more than one option.

Below is an example from Asana. Did you know you could create editorial calendars on the platform? The team shows you how through on-demand guides.

asana-editorial-calendar

Some customers don’t dislike your features. They just don’t see the benefits. Educate your consumers.

3. Seriously Go Above & Beyond Expectations

Humans love routine. Some drink coffee at the same time each day. Sit at the same desk. And even watch the same TV shows every week.

It becomes a habit. Those patterns mold us to not expect anything new. It’s not that we don’t want to experience something different. We just don’t look for it.

To shake your customers out of the SaaS buying routine, go beyond their expectations. Give customers something extra for choosing a specific pricing option.

“People like bonuses. They help build positive emotions around your brand. They make customers feel happy and appreciated. As a result, the customers will strongly connect these positive emotions to your brand and the chances are you won’t be forgotten,” writes Damian Winkowski, former new business developer at PayLane.

For instance, if all your competitors are offering extra storage space for new customers, then provide your buyers with extra storage space and one-month of unlimited access to a customer success manager.

It’s all about doing things differently to grab your audience’s attention. Customers aren’t excited by the same-old sales tactics. They desire a little extra in order for you to secure their business.

SignupLab, a sales CRM and customer success dashboard, rewards people who found them on Product Hunt. They offer interested buyers a 30% discount on their first subscription period.

So, if any consumers really liked their product but hated the pricing options, this discount may convince them to at least give SignupLab a chance.

signup-lab-pay-for-converted-customers

Add a bonus benefit to your pricing packages. It will give your consumers another reason to choose you over the competition.

4. Emphasize Value With Social Proof

Psychology plays an integral role in sales.

Analysts have found that people buy based on emotions. Consumers purchase because their sad, happy, or even upset.

Moreover, purchases may involve not only internal perceptions but also external pressures. This means we buy items due to our environment.

This is helpful information for your sales team. You can show customers how other clients are benefitting from particular pricing packages.

Social proof makes pricing options irrelevant for some buyers. Because if they see top brands using your services, consumers will feel the need to be part of the pack no matter the circumstances.

So, offer social proof to your customers. Let them hear stories from your most successful clients.

“We tend to imagine ourselves in other people’s shoes when we read or hear a story. This is why stories are so persuasive and often more trustworthy than statistics or general trends. Individual examples stick with us because we can relate to them,” states Ed Hallen, co-founder of Klaviyo.

To build trust, SumoMe includes their client logos on its pricing page. These images solidify that many satisfied customers look beyond pricing packages.

sumome-social-proof

Studies also reveal that “70% of consumers say they look at product reviews before making a purchase.” Plus, product reviews are 12x more trusted than product descriptions.

Solicit honest feedback from your customers. And then post those comments on your website. Those reviews will persuade prospective buyers and display your brand’s transparency.

Consumers aren’t completely pleased with your pricing options. Use social proof to convert them.

Upgrade Your Pricing Options

Customers want your product. But your pricing options aren’t meeting their expectations.

Offer the most valuable benefits in your product packages. Educate customers about features they don’t initially like. And boost your product’s worth by adding verifiable social proof.

Persuade your customers. Upgrade your pricing options.

About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.

How to Persuade SaaS Customers When They Hate All Your Pricing Options

Your pricing options suck.

At least that’s what some of your consumers think.

They like your products. But the pricing packages aren’t meeting their expectations.

Customers may enjoy one feature, but it isn’t included in a specific package. Or maybe they admire the pricing but prefer different benefits.

“Pricing is a moving target and found should view it as an ongoing product discovery process. Pricing should be re-evaluated regularly,” says Tomasz Tunguz, a venture capitalist at Redpoint Ventures.

So, what do you do when customers like your product but not your pricing? Check out the four strategies below.

1. Determine Your Most Valuable Benefits

Experts believe “30% of the thousands of pricing decisions companies make every year fail to deliver the best price.” Business managers don’t always match the right price to the right services.

What your team deems valuable isn’t important. You want to know what buyers love about your products.

That’s where data can help. Gather data to identify which benefits your customers enjoy the most.

Monitor customer feedback, product usage, and user behavior. Discover which benefits make your product worth buying.

Once you find the desired benefits, talk about them from the customer’s perspective. Speak their language.

Peep Laja, the founder of ConversionXL, writes:

“Your value proposition needs to be in the language of the customer. It should join the conversation that is already going on in the customer’s mind. In order to do that you need to know the language your customers use to describe your offering and how they benefit from it.”

Here’s an example from Intercom. The team highlights product features in simple, short sentences. It communicates what the platform can do and how it’s beneficial to the customer.

intercom-acquire-pricing-page

Sell consumers on what they like most. Continue to emphasize your SaaS product solutions.

2. Educate Consumers About Undesirable Features

Research shows that “75% of B2B buyers rely more on content to research and make B2B purchasing decisions.”

Content gives your consumers the opportunity to learn about your products. And the information can be easily shared with a team of decision-makers.

Brigg Patten, a business and tech writer, says, “Educating your customer is a vital part of the sales process for any business, and is important in relationship building. Customers have more confidence that your solution is the best for their particular needs when you take the time to ensure they are well-educated.”

Therefore, when customers dislike certain pricing options due to product features, it’s time to educate them about the possibilities.

Show consumers how particular features can benefit their businesses. Give them real-life examples that their team can relate to.

For instance, if your SaaS sells subscription billing software, demonstrate why multiple payment methods matter. Produce content showing how their customers want options to pay by credit card, ACH, and PayPal.

When educating your customers, decide how you will convey the message. The medium is just as important as the message itself.

Collect data on which method your consumers prefer. You can send a simple email survey asking for their preferences.

Content formats range from eBooks to webinars to blog posts. Select the one that works for a majority of your users. Your team also may consider doing more than one option.

Below is an example from Asana. Did you know you could create editorial calendars on the platform? The team shows you how through on-demand guides.

asana-editorial-calendar

Some customers don’t dislike your features. They just don’t see the benefits. Educate your consumers.

3. Seriously Go Above & Beyond Expectations

Humans love routine. Some drink coffee at the same time each day. Sit at the same desk. And even watch the same TV shows every week.

It becomes a habit. Those patterns mold us to not expect anything new. It’s not that we don’t want to experience something different. We just don’t look for it.

To shake your customers out of the SaaS buying routine, go beyond their expectations. Give customers something extra for choosing a specific pricing option.

“People like bonuses. They help build positive emotions around your brand. They make customers feel happy and appreciated. As a result, the customers will strongly connect these positive emotions to your brand and the chances are you won’t be forgotten,” writes Damian Winkowski, former new business developer at PayLane.

For instance, if all your competitors are offering extra storage space for new customers, then provide your buyers with extra storage space and one-month of unlimited access to a customer success manager.

It’s all about doing things differently to grab your audience’s attention. Customers aren’t excited by the same-old sales tactics. They desire a little extra in order for you to secure their business.

SignupLab, a sales CRM and customer success dashboard, rewards people who found them on Product Hunt. They offer interested buyers a 30% discount on their first subscription period.

So, if any consumers really liked their product but hated the pricing options, this discount may convince them to at least give SignupLab a chance.

signup-lab-pay-for-converted-customers

Add a bonus benefit to your pricing packages. It will give your consumers another reason to choose you over the competition.

4. Emphasize Value With Social Proof

Psychology plays an integral role in sales.

Analysts have found that people buy based on emotions. Consumers purchase because their sad, happy, or even upset.

Moreover, purchases may involve not only internal perceptions but also external pressures. This means we buy items due to our environment.

This is helpful information for your sales team. You can show customers how other clients are benefitting from particular pricing packages.

Social proof makes pricing options irrelevant for some buyers. Because if they see top brands using your services, consumers will feel the need to be part of the pack no matter the circumstances.

So, offer social proof to your customers. Let them hear stories from your most successful clients.

“We tend to imagine ourselves in other people’s shoes when we read or hear a story. This is why stories are so persuasive and often more trustworthy than statistics or general trends. Individual examples stick with us because we can relate to them,” states Ed Hallen, co-founder of Klaviyo.

To build trust, SumoMe includes their client logos on its pricing page. These images solidify that many satisfied customers look beyond pricing packages.

sumome-social-proof

Studies also reveal that “70% of consumers say they look at product reviews before making a purchase.” Plus, product reviews are 12x more trusted than product descriptions.

Solicit honest feedback from your customers. And then post those comments on your website. Those reviews will persuade prospective buyers and display your brand’s transparency.

Consumers aren’t completely pleased with your pricing options. Use social proof to convert them.

Upgrade Your Pricing Options

Customers want your product. But your pricing options aren’t meeting their expectations.

Offer the most valuable benefits in your product packages. Educate customers about features they don’t initially like. And boost your product’s worth by adding verifiable social proof.

Persuade your customers. Upgrade your pricing options.

About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.

The Little-Known Segmentation Issue that’s Directly Affecting Your Brand’s Relevance

For marketers, the quest for branding that matters to consumers has always been about how to achieve deeper relevance. The more relevant a brand is in a customer’s life, the more they’ll begin to look for ways to integrate it into their lifestyle.

Of course, many point to segmentation as the easiest and fastest way to achieve that kind of relevance.

But what if you could go even further?

According to a cross-site study by Optimove, going beyond simple segmentation – down to pure granularity, causes a distinctive and measurable campaign uplift. Optimove measured this by presenting different offers to smaller groups of consumers who had similar attributes. They found by going more and more granular, they were able to generate greater and greater lift within their respective campaigns.

Luck’s Got Nothing to Do With It

lucky-fish

LuckyFish, a developer of casino games powered by social networking, created over 100 player personas as part of their relevance campaign

In one such campaign for a set of casino games built on the power of social networking, they were able to segment to over 100 individual player personas. Imagine having that kind of deep detail about your customers or players. As a result, they were able to send the right messages to the right players at the right time, through the customers’ preferred channels.

So what were the results? A 65% increase in conversion rates, a 15% increase in the number of paying players and a 40% increase in the volume of player payments to name a few. As part of the larger study, they looked at this kind of granularity with over 30 million customers across 2,000 campaigns – measuring the uplift of the average campaign in groups of all sizes.

group-sizeThe smaller the segment, the higher the value per customer

The results speak for themselves. The smaller the group, the higher the lift. In this case, the smallest-sized group saw an average increase of $3.2 per customer. When you start sending segmented campaigns to targeted groups of 100,000 customer or more, the monetary uplift drops to a measly $0.1.

Many Small Campaigns Perform Better than One Concentrated One

Another note of the study is that, overall, many small campaigns targeted to a group of customers has a much greater effect on revenues than the all-too-common strategy of throwing an ad at the wall and hoping some of it sticks.

segmentation-rowthHyper-focused segmentation yields even greater results

Now the question then becomes, “why don’t more campaigns do this?” and that’s because there’s some risk involved. As with every strategy, there are exceptions to the rules and things to watch out for – namely, volatility.

Because these groups are so small and hyper-focused, there can be a lot of different outcomes for one message no matter what you’re testing. You can account for much of these differences by chalking it up to a small sample size. The revenues and customer relationship building obtained as a result are far too lucrative to not test granularity in your own campaigns.

How Do You Like Your Coffee?

cup-of-coffee-beansWhat customers say they want, and what they really want, are two completely different things

In his famous TED talk on the powers of segmentation, Choice, Happiness and Spaghetti Sauce, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the customer preference of coffee. If you asked most people what kind of coffee they like, they’ll tell you “a dark, rich, hearty roast”. But if you give them that type of coffee, they’d likely rate it as a 60 on a scale from 0-100.

Now, break down that population into their precise coffee preferences and make coffee for them according to their actual tastes – the score would go up to 78/100. Gladwell notes, “the difference between coffee at 60 and coffee at 78 is the difference between coffee that makes you wince and coffee that makes you deliriously happy.”

Is the end result here implying that we shouldn’t trust our customers? Not at all! But it does mean that we shouldn’t hesitate to find out what they really want from our product – and not just rely on what we think they want.

Getting Started with Granular Segmentation

So now that you know the potential of granular segmentation, how do you do it?

The first step is to look at your existing campaign channels – are you running PPC ads? Doing social media marketing?  Blog posts? Landing pages? All of the above? Good. Make a note of where your best traffic is coming from right now – and even if it’s all of those places, that’s perfectly fine.

Next, imagine your prospect has just saw your campaign ad. Map out all the possible ways your prospects can interact with it. For instance, they could:

  • View
  • Click
  • Share
  • Call
  • Add to Favorites/Bookmarks
  • Link
  • Download
  • Comment
  • Buy
  • Rate
  • Review

Now, sort these according to the type of campaign channel. For example, people using social media are more likely to share, view and click, while people on a landing page are more likely to download, click, add to favorites, or even call for more information.

Once you’re sorted, it’s time to organize these labels so that your analytics (and the people behind them) can make sense of it all. UTM identifiers are great for this purpose. Here’s how to set those up in Kissmetrics.  You can use event tracking to see who clicked on buttons on your landing pages or social media campaigns, for instance.  Some of these steps, like calling or adding to bookmarks, need to be handled manually (some stats programs will tell you if someone accessed your page via a bookmark), but the goal here is to see who’s interacting with your pages and how.

If you want to segment your ad campaign, you can build custom audiences in Google Adwords in a few simple steps, including segmenting them by conversions, transactions, time of day, device used and more. Although these are all technical “granularizations” and the ones I mentioned above are more qualitative, having this kind of precision in defining and better understanding your audience is vital to giving them what they truly want, and making them deliriously happy.

Getting to Deliriously Happy

Our goal as marketers is to get customers on the deliriously happy end of the spectrum. Granularity may seem like an awful lot of segmentation just to reach a handful of people. But being able to chunk the process down again and again means you’re reaching those people with the kind of relevance that broader campaigns simply can’t match – and that’s where you’ll come out ahead. If you’ve ever hoped a customer might think “it’s like they KNOW me!” – granular segmentation is your answer.

Remember that by segmenting campaigns with this kind of laser-focused attention, you’re not only increasing conversions but building relationships with your customers using the kind of personalization they crave. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Now It’s Your Turn

Do you micro-segment your customers and your offers to them? What have your results been like so far? Do you find that customers are more receptive to offers, or is it just too much effort for lackluster and volatile results? We want to know what you think, so share your thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!

The Lazy Marketer’s Guide to Customer Acquisition

There are a billion emails sent every day by MailChimp alone.

There are over two million blog posts published each day.

Average page length has become a staggering ~2000 words, which based on average writing times, can easily take up to four hours (or half a workday) for a single post.

The sheer volume of marketing activities is rising to a nearly unsustainable point.

Not to mention, your calendar’s already full. Strapped and spread thin.

Today, doing more just isn’t possible.

But being better is.

Here’s how a seemingly lazy approach to the demands of marketers everywhere can help you double down on quality to excel.

Start by Doing the Right Things, Not Doing Things Right

A few years ago, digital agency Seer put together an excellent research Guide to Pinterest.

Towards the bottom, after all the fun tips, tactics and hacks for marketers to use, comes the analytics section.

One of the striking things you’ll see when staring at their work long enough (beyond those impossible-to-see images where you have to cross your eyes to make the foreground picture separate from the background) is a symbiotic relationship.

The more engagement (as in repins, clicks and likes) something gets, the more impressions (reach) it gets too.

This finding, while seemingly basic and obvious at first, appears on other social platforms as well.

Analyzing your top performing content updates on Facebook for example will show the same correlation between the posts with highest Engagement, also have the highest Reach.

reach-engagement-facebook

When you look at how these individual posts stack up over time, you’ll again see that when Engagement (measured by Reactions, Comments and Shares) spikes, so does Reach.

facebook-analytics-reach

This is no accident of course. Social algorithms are specifically designed to reward engagement as a quality signal. More ‘Likes’ on your funny cat meme tells EdgeRank that other people are enjoying what you’re doing, and more should be able to view it too.

Those individual interactions act similar to how quality backlinks act as votes for pages to rank higher in search engines too.

A literal Quality Score used in AdWords dictates what you effectively pay. Which means a higher Quality Score, enables lower CPCs. Which in turn should lower your Cost per Conversion. And raise your ROI.

The principle of leverage is clearly seen in this example, where you can quickly (like in a few days) take popular keyphrases from one Ad Group with notoriously low quality scores…

adwords-cost-converted-click-quality-score

… spin them off into their own dedicated Ad Groups with brand spanking new ads and landing pages to match, and watch how the new results eclipse the previous ones.

adwords-ad-groups

This AdWords example (like the social ones before it) are similar because they all share something in common.

Specifically, an economic principle founded over a century ago.

In the late 1800s, an Italian economist was tending garden when a sudden realization occurred to him.

The yield from his peapods resembled other distribution ratios he was recently studying, including distribution of income and land in his home of Italy.

His Cours d’économie politique paper was published at the University of Lausanne in 1896, going on to inspire what would become known as the Pareto Principle.

The infamous 80/20 principle may have become skewed in recent years (to more like 99/1% in some cases), but the basic theory still holds.

And when applied to digital marketing, it’s clear that certain activities can give you outsized returns.

Drucker said, “Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things”.

That means prior to focusing on ways to improve efficiency and scale, start with making sure you’re doing the activities (whether we’re talking the type of social posts, quality backlinks, or AdWords fundamentals) that will provide leverage; generating the most significant returns with the least amount of effort.

Automate to Increase Results While Reducing Costs

86% of people flat out ignore banner ads on most websites.

While the number of people using ad blockers (which eliminates all browser ads altogether) has skyrocketed in the last few years, shooting up to almost 200 million in the last year.

Some companies, like Apple, are trying to bake ad-blocking features into their software from the get-go to help consumers deal with the onslaught of clutter.

limit-ad-tracking-iosImage Source

But why?

Why are so many intent on not just turning a blind eye, but going out of their way to make sure they never see another ad?

We could sit here and throw around some statistics about how consumers have never seen more ads in their lifetime than today. And they’d all be true.

But here’s the other reason.

It’s because these ads suck.

Not technically. The creative might be great. They ticked all the boxes. They’re hitting all the popular ad networks. They’re following the checklist of good ad campaigns over the last few years (or longer).

The problem is that in many cases, these ads are completely irrelevant to the people seeing them.

In other words, they’re being efficient but not effective. And unsurprisingly, these ads inevitably fall on deaf ears.

Again, the solution isn’t more ads, but better ones. Through personalization and automation.

Using automated ad platforms that personalize each message not only shaves off some time typically required for creating so many different creative campaigns, but also boost results over the standard junk people are clamoring to avoid.

A perfect, simple example includes Facebook Dynamic Product ads, which works similarly to other popular retargeting or remarketing methods. They target people on their network who recently viewed individual products on your site, with well-timed ads being pulled from a database or product catalog.

Image Source

It’s seamless, targeted, and timed to perfection. And the results speak for themselves.

The party line straight from Facebook boasts that The Honest Company saw a “34% increase in click through rates and a 38% reduction in cost per purchase” from these ads.

facebook-sponsored-ad-structureImage Source

Beyond ads, email is another popular channel whose performance continues to decline.

The reason should be obvious now. Too. Many. Damn. Emails.

MailChimp by themselves sends a billion every single day. Which isn’t necessarily the hard part according to an excellent Wired piece. The hard part is making sure those emails get delivered successfully.

Email service providers like Gmail have begun using sophisticated methods such as machine learning to either redirect your basic email blasts to a separate Promotions inbox (where they go to die a lonely unread death), or quickly flag them as spam (and again, don’t allow them to get through to the people you’ve intended to receive them).

More emails only compounds this problem. Again you need better ones. Specifically the kind only available through automation.

The Aberdeen Group reports that personalized emails improve click through rates 14% and conversion rates 10%. Jupiter Research says more relevant emails results in 18x more revenue.

Not to mention, Gartner says companies using marketing automation can also see a 15% cost savings on creative production.

These, it seems, are good stats. By fairly reputable sources evidently.

Automating key events, whether that’s customer onboarding or client follow up or checkout cart abandonment, is a simple way to get more done with less.

The automated relevancy and timing increases results. While the use of automation helps cut down on required staff or complicated manual methods that barely scratch the surface of potential tools like HubSpot might deliver.

email campaign cadence

Strategically Add Labor to a Well Oiled Machine

There’s a lot of debate around the performance yield of A players vs. B players.

The exact definitions are muddied but the picture is clear: most organizations can’t carry deadweight (no matter which letter grade we’re talking).

Good people, while absolutely necessary and critical to the success of any organization, are (a) hard to come by and (b) expensive.

Beyond the difficulties in hiring them, their compensation (deservedly so) typically follows that same 80/20 (or 99/1) relationship examined earlier.

What exactly makes A players, A players, is tough to define. But they’re essentially alchemists; possessing this rare combination of incredible vision, creative ingenuity and the raw intensity to get a lot of valuable shit done when there’s no map or rulebook to follow.

They blaze their own trail and figure things out on the fly that usually turn out correct.

The ambition is to have a team full of these A players. The reality is that yours probably won’t.

And that’s OK.

The key is to find people who can potentially become A players one day, and help them get there by giving them a clear process to follow.

Franchising sounds like entrepreneurial purgatory for most. However formal processes result in more revenue and innovative companies are still systematic.

So after toiling away for long enough, E-mything your business to work the system is the best approach to create a business built to sell.

Because typically hiring young, relatively inexperienced, or overseas people is the antithesis of quality. The reason this approach typically fails is because they’re thrown in the deep end, expected to figure things out when they lack the context of experience.

For example, many companies hire external writers to help share the workload. But problems quickly happen when you expect them to immediately understand your style, tone, and subject matter.

MailChimp created an entire website devoted to helping writers overcome that challenge.

mailchimp-voice-tone

Even a simple outline of the categories, messaging examples and specific personas each should target is a huge head start over what most people have.

category-messaging-primary-persona

The great news is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel either. You just need to cobble together and amplify based on your preferences.

Start with Unbounce’s step-by-step campaign guide.

Download Headline Hacks and use their ready-made headline templates to create a spreadsheet for writers so they don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time.

headline-hacks

‘Franchising’ as E-Myth refers to it allows you to document how you want things to look, and employ more, (relatively) inexpensive labor to scale your productivity and results. When done correctly, you can even have people tackle technical subjects even with a complete lack of experience.

For example:

Canonicalization typically refers to duplicate content issues, which can impact SEO by splitting authority across several different domains (instead of consolidating it into a single URL to maximize that page’s potential value).

Simply reading that last sentence probably made your brain hurt. Besides being a mind-numbingly boring topic, fixing canonicalization errors can get slightly technical if you have to edit HTML directly.

canonical-tag-wordpress

yoast-no-index-nofollow

Processing these potential scenarios gives ambitious, diligent people – despite a lack of skill or experience – the ability to help ‘punch above their weight class’. Mindfully adding these people can help you scale results significantly faster.

Conclusion

Marketing output has never been higher.

There’s never been more people, publishing, creating, producing and distributing more things.

It’s evolving at a breakneck pace; one that’s becoming increasingly unsustainable for most who’re already overwhelmed and stretched thin.

One counter intuitive solution to do less, but do it better.

Start by focusing on making sure that you’re doing the right things, and not just ticking boxes off your to-do list.

Once you’re going down the right path, use automation to help increase the yield or results you’ll see from your efforts.

And when ready, then (and only then) add additional labor on top of an already defined process to scale productivity.

About the Author: Brad Smith is a founding partner at Codeless Interactive, a digital agency specializing in creating personalized customer experiences. Brad’s blog also features more marketing thoughts, opinions and the occasional insight.

Recovering Lost Customers (and Revenue) with Kissmetrics

BI Intelligence estimates that $4 trillion dollars worth of merchandise is abandoned in online shopping carts.

$4 trillion dollars!

that-is-a-lot-of-money-dr-evil

That $4 trillion dollars either winds up with offline retailers or just flat out never gets spent.

And we know that shopping cart abandonment is a big problem with e-commerce retailers. Almost every online shopper has at some point put a product in their cart only to never return to complete the purchase.

Given this large amount of money left on the table, it seems to me that most e-commerce marketers would be wise to spend their time working to optimize their shopping cart process (each funnel performance differs, of course) for customers.

One of the better, more reliable ways to improve a e-commerce funnel is by remarketing to those abandon customers. And fortunately, if you’re a Kissmetrics customer there’s a pretty easy way to do it. Here’s how.

Using People Search to Find Cart Abandoners

The Kissmetrics People Search is one of our best tools. It allows you to find anyone on your site who fit a specified criteria. So, maybe if you’re a SaaS marketer you want to find the people who signed up but haven’t used a feature yet.

Or maybe an e-commerce marketer wants to find the people that have put an item in their cart but haven’t proceeded to purchasing. Here’s how to find those people.

The first step is to choose to find the people who did these events in order. We’ll stick with the last 7 days as our date range.

kissmetrics-people-search-all-of-these-in-order

Next we’ll add a condition by finding the people that have added a product to their cart:

added-product-to-cart-people-search

We’ll add another condition by looking for people that have not purchased. So this essentially tells People Search to find the people that have added a product to their cart but haven’t purchased.

has-not-done-purchase-people-search

We want to see when people last added a product to their cart (we don’t want to send emails to people who just added a product). To do this we’ll add a column to this data by looking at when people last added an item to their cart.

ecommerce-people-search-setup

The last step is to run the report and get our list of people:

people-search-results-export-kissmetrics

We’ll get a few anonymous IDs (those that aren’t email addresses) from people that haven’t been identified yet. Once they register for an account or purchase, they’ll be identified and all previous activity under that anonymous ID will merge with their new identity (which is an email address).

From here we can export this data to a CSV or export the list to MailChimp. Anonymous IDs will not be transferred to MailChimp (for obvious reasons). In MailChimp we can send an email reminding customers that they still have items left in their cart.

We can also utilize CRM retargeting in an attempt to get customers back on the site.

Lastly, we can click on each email address or ID to see each person’s latest activity.

What You’ll Need to Get This Data

This is all possible in Kissmetrics, but before you can can get this type of data you’ll need to have a couple things in place:

  • You’ll need to properly set-up events and properties. There are some things that work out of the box in Kissmetrics, but for any custom events and properties you’ll need help from a developer. We do have Click to Track which can help tremendously in setting up events.
  • You’ll have to identify people by email address. Any other form of identification (ie username) won’t return a list of email addresses. People Search will only return a list of however you’re identifying people, and most of our customers identify people by their email address.

Conclusion

This is just one way we built Kissmetrics to help you optimize your marketing. If you’d like to learn more about how Kissmetrics can help, check out our industry pages. We have one for SaaS, e-commerce, and agencies.

Questions? Leave them in the comments.

About the Author: Zach Bulygo (Twitter) is the Blog Manager for Kissmetrics.