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If you don’t feel that you have a lot of insight into your customers’ decisions, it may be because you don’t have it written down yet.

The solution: a customer journey map.

What is a customer journey?

A customer journey is a quick path for getting inside the minds of your customers. At its most basic, a customer journey map is a sequence of all the possible events that your customer goes through.

That journey takes an individual from their first interaction with your company until the completion of the transaction.

What is a customer journey map?

The goal of the customer journey map is really to get a holistic view of what the customer is going through from their point of view and really what it’s like for them on a personal level, that human level.

Kerry Bodine, Moz.com

You don’t know much about the customer journey until you can write it down. The map is where that happens. This map gives anyone who reads it instant access into what’s going on with a specific type of customer at any point.

By mapping out this journey, your company not only identifies the various aspects of its own sales funnel, but is then able to identify strengths and weaknesses along the way.

Best Practice #1: Set clear objectives for your map.

It starts with knowing why you’re making a customer journey map in the first place. Creating one for its own sake won’t yield any marketing benefits. But understanding your goals will help you use this map to generate all sorts of customer journey insights.

Your objectives should also be clear. What is it that you want the map to accomplish? Here are some sample questions for you to consider when choosing an objective:

  • Weak points: Can the map identify weak points in your sales funnel? Can you use insights from this customer journey map to identify areas where you install feedback systems to learn what’s going wrong?

  • Insights: What do you want to learn from this customer journey map? Where are customers getting hung up, and what might you have guessed wrong about your customers?

  • Challenges: Where does your customer most meet resistance along the customer journey? What don’t they like about your brand? What are their hangups?

Best Practice #2: Profile your personas and define your goals

How much do you know about your customers?

Only about 50% of companies report that they have a strategy for penetrating their key relationships. If you want a competitive advantage, it helps to learn just who your customers are.

Before you sit down and list all the touchpoints on your customer journey map, you’ll want to create a thorough customer persona. You may also see this all over the Internet, listed as a “buyer persona.”

There are a few ways to define your buyer persona:

  • Read through your analytics and get an idea of who’s already interacting with you.

  • Watch your competition. What sorts of personas are they appealing to? Do they make it obvious who they’re targeting?

Once you have a list of the demographics, needs, income, geography, and other details of your typical buyer, you’ll be able to construct a much more accurate customer journey map.

Best Practice #3: List out all the touchpoints.

A customer journey map lays out the various stages in which your customer might interact, including:

  • Awareness/acquisition: How is the customer finding you? Where is their first interaction with your brand?

  • Consideration: This is where the customer interacts with your content and considers whether to proceed with a purchase.

  • Purchase/Service: The point of the transaction. Does the customer buy? If not, do they first investigate by engaging your customer service?

  • Post-purchase: The purchase isn’t the end of the customer journey. Many companies follow up for feedback, loyalty bonuses, and look to convert the customer into a long-term follower.

You can split these individual touchpoints into different segments, but it’s important that each of these elements is present. You might also refer to old sales touch points—such as AIDA (attention, interest, desire, action) to construct a basic customer journey map.

You should also get detailed about your specific touchpoints, including all:

  • Landing pages

  • Social media platforms

  • Product pages

  • Calls to Action

If it all sounds overwhelming, refer to our article on managing a sales pipeline for your business.

Best Practice #3: Take the customer journey yourself.

Once you have a draft and the basic touchpoints mapped out, it’s time for you to put yourself in the shoes of a customer. That means approaching your company with fresh eyes.

As you test this journey, make sure that you keep a detailed list of notes of the positives and negatives you encounter along the way. You might even adopt the mindset of your buyer’s persona and try to approach things from their perspective. What sorts of concerns do they have? Does your customer journey actually address these concerns?

Make sure that you also take data-driven journeys. If you haven’t already, install analytics. The more you can install here, the better. Using resources to track email marketing, landing page traffic, and social media engagement will help you understand what the customer journey looks like not from your perspective, but theirs.

Best Practice #4: Perform A/B testing.

We had you set clear objectives for your map earlier because it’s essential that this map becomes more than just a document that you look at once. Use it to inform a variety of tests you run, especially when it comes to awareness, acquisition, and customer consideration.

A/B testing is the best way to measure your customers’ real feedback. By tracking the paths they do and don’t choose along your path, you’ll have answers to questions like your map’s weak points or unique customer challenges.

Best Practice #5: Continually implement any necessary changes.

The final step: action.

You have to make the changes to your customer journey that will have an impact on future customers. Remove the obstacles. Remove unnecessary steps. Add engagement points that they’re looking for.

The more you use A/B testing and data-driven insights to map your customer’s journey, the more insights you’ll gain into your customers. This will help you be a better seller—and a better business.

The post How to Create a Customer Journey Map: 5 Best Practices appeared first on Agile CRM Blog.

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The importance of branding has never been higher than it is today. In fact, studies have shown that Millennials actually view their brand preferences as being nearly as integral to their identity as they do religious preferences. That level of commitment and evaluation cannot be understated!

This can be both a daunting and exhilarating realization—branding can make or break your business.  As such, it is more than just important to effectively build a brand; it is unequivocally vital. If you want to retain consumers—and you do, because repeat customers make up approximately one-fourth of all online purchases—then stellar branding is irreplaceable.

From first impressions to internal consistency to long-term loyalists, strong branding benefits every facet of your business. Like most things, though, building a brand easier said than done, especially in an increasingly competitive and complex world that relies heavily on internet-based customer engagement.

So, how do you build a better brand? While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, there are some universal practices that can be applied to basically any type of business. Read on to discover our top seven practices to better branding!

Determine Your Brand’s Target Audience

Strong branding starts with specificity. You have to know who you’re building a brand for before you can start construction. The dream client, or buyer persona, may even pop into your imagination as you think about a target audience.

The challenge then becomes how to populate your target audience with that dream client. Thankfully, this is much easier in 2019 than it has been in the past. No longer do you have to rent a roadside billboard, decorate it with an outlandish advertisement, and cross your fingers for success. Instead, you can use technology and advanced market research to pinpoint the perfect audience for your business.

Once you have determined your brand’s target audience, you can begin to understand its mindset more clearly, form customer relationships, and create detailed, effective ads.

Research Brands within Your Industry Niche

Analyzing and learning from brands similar to your own is essential in building a successful brand. Not only can you imitate those who are excelling in the industry, but you can also avoid making the same mistakes that unsuccessful businesses have made. It’s truly a win-win!

It is important to note that brand research is not limited to the beginning stages of your development. Just as your business will evolve throughout its life, your branding will adapt as is grows and the market changes. Researching other brands that have kept up with the ever-changing trends in the marketplace is never a bad idea!

Outline the Key Qualities and Benefits Your Brand Offers

While this may sound like an activity you’d find in an adult coloring book, it is actually an exceptionally useful tool for clarifying your ideologies and identifying both your strengths and weaknesses. In fact, it could be said that this is a vital step toward building your brand. How can you build something without first establishing a foundation, after all?

As an added bonus, this is an activity that can serve the dual-purpose of team building. So, not only will you be explicitly categorizing the key qualities and benefits your brand offers—thereby giving you a base to build on and a defined set of positive elements to present to customers—but you’ll also be strengthening your most valuable brand asset: the people behind it!

Build a Brand Message and Elevator Pitch

The value of a positive first impression cannot be understated. In fact, a study in the UK showed that 36% of adults trust a well-dressed person better to do their job. The same holds true for brands—a customer’s initial encounter will stick with them and influence their perception of your business.

Having a defined brand message and concise, well-constructed elevator pitch is a lot like dressing your brand sharply. It ensures that potential customers get the right impression from the moment they first make contact.

Spread the Word about Your Brand

Brand recognition is a huge contributor to success, so it only makes sense that you’d need to prioritize spreading the word about your brand. While advertising can certainly contribute to brand awareness, word-of-mouth is one of the most effective ways to get the word out about your brand.

In fact, people are 90% more likely to trust a brand that is recommended by a friend and 28% identify word of mouth as the most influential factor in determining their affinity for a brand. In other words, getting the word out about your brand in an organic way is not just an effective technique, it is an absolutely vital one!

Integrate Your Brand into Every Aspect of Your Business

Your brand should encapsulate everything that your business is about. Think about it as the DNA of your company. If that DNA is missing from any aspect of your business, that aspect will suffer. Integrating your branding throughout ensures that each piece is functioning as part of the whole with focus and clarity!

Customer-relationship management (CRM) is another area where this practice can shine. Without customers, after all, there can be no business. Integrating your brand into these relationships and reinforcing what your company is all about can have a long-lasting impact on customer retention and brand loyalty. Plus, with intuitive automated software that can help you manage those relationships, integrating your brand is easier than ever.

Stay True to Your Brand Building

You’ve likely heard consistency is key a hundred times before, and it’s never more accurate than when talking about branding. Staying true to your brand building is integral in assuring that your customers feel confident in your business, your employees know exactly what the expectations are, and your company has that ever-important foundation on which to grow.

It is important to not confuse consistency with rigidity. Instead, think of consistency as establishing a well-defined set of principles and values. Your brand can remain loyal to these root characteristics as it expands and evolves to the changing world of business. You don’t have to compromise your branding in order to be flexible!

The post The Seven Best Practices to Better Branding appeared first on Agile CRM Blog.

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Customer support is critical to business and customer success. In fact, more and more companies are using it as a differentiating factor when trying to stand out in a crowded market. But even though it’s valued by customers, it’s not enough. They want answers immediately, and they want the option to help themselves. The best and most cost-effective, self-service method for customers is a knowledge base.

What is a knowledge base and why is it important?

A knowledge base is a centralized database of information that can be organized, stored and searched for future accessibility. Everyone, employees and customers alike, can use your knowledge base to help them find answers to any questions or concerns they might have regarding your product or service.

Knowledge bases include FAQs, troubleshooting guides, user manuals, product updates, how-to articles, and much more. And not only do that act as your 24/7 help desk, but when done right, they can free up your customer support reps’ time. So, instead of spending their time answering queries about minor problems, they can focus on solving more complex customer issues

Intrigued about creating a knowledge base for your business? Then, read below to find out how.

Best practices for leveraging a knowledge base

While creating a knowledge base isn’t rocket science, if overly simplified or created without a strategy, it can do more harm than good. So here are our top tips for creating a knowledge base that’s effective and efficient in boosting customer success and increasing customer satisfaction.

Create a template and stay consistent

Though it’s an obvious step, few businesses use a dedicated, standard format for their content. If you’re going to have multiple people contributing to your knowledge base, then you need a template so that everyone’s on the same page.

Plus, it looks neater and it’s easier for customers to navigate. If they’re surfing through articles, they’ll have an idea of what to expect. The last thing you want or need is to have a confusing knowledge base. Every piece within must align with your company’s brand style guide.

You can segment your content in one or more of the following ways:

  • By complexity
  • By topic
  • By audience
  • By product

Your first step for segmenting the content should be by topic. But, if there’s still a chance customers will feel overwhelmed, then segment further. Your goal here is to make your content easy to understand and answers easy to reach.

Here’s a way you can format your content:

  • Problem: Describe the problem that the customer is facing in detail. You don’t have to go overboard, but provide enough context so they know they’re in the right place.
  • Steps: In easy, understandable steps, describe how to reach the solution.
  • Solution: What should they see? Do they have to wait? If so, how long? Explain to customers how the solution should look. Don’t forget to include alternative steps in case they didn’t reach their solution.
  • Related topics: Is there a similar problem? Does this problem normally lead to another?

By having this template accessible to everyone in the company, all employees will be able to create an article that customers can comprehend.

Cover all the bases

You don’t want your knowledge base to have hardly any content. As far as customers are concerned, no content is better than halfhearted content. So, make sure that your knowledge base includes a range of various topics.

By covering a multitude of topics, you reduce the number of calls that your help desk must resolve because customers can find answers themselves in less time. This freed up time allows your customer service reps to focus on helping customers solve more complex problems.

However, covering all the bases should be your goal, not your first step. While providing customers with the information they need to solve their own problems is cost-effective and saves time, your first step should be prioritization.

Unless you hire an employee to upload content to your knowledge base, your employees won’t have enough time to flesh it out, at first. Instead, focus on uploading solutions to the most commonly-encountered issues customers face. Also, include solutions that are essential to customer success.

Once you’ve addressed the basic, yet important articles, then you can focus on expanding your content to tackle complex topics.

Collaborate with all departments

The main department which you’ll be getting topic ideas from is customer support. They typically interact with your customers daily. They know what your customers want. They know what’s bothering them the most. And they know the answers to related questions that normally arise when a customer has a specific problem.

However, if you’re trying to create an all-inclusive, self-service knowledge base for your customers, then you’ll need help from all teams.

No one knows how to solve an IT problem like the IT department. And no one knows the details of a product like the product management team. If you find that these questions come up more than once, it’s probable they will come up again. So, get someone from each department to write an article to help solve a problem in their department.

Keep the content simple

When you’ve been at your company awhile, you’re likely talking about and describing products at a higher comprehension level than your average customers. While this might work for internal communications, it can severely confuse and frustrate customers. This can lead to even more support queries, rendering your content useless and adding to your customer support team’s workload.

The purpose of your knowledge base is to allow customers to find the answers to their own questions, without calling customer support. So, you need your content to be easy to comprehend.

If you’re worried that your knowledge base might be overly complex, then use an editor. They’ll be able to edit your content in a way that makes it easy to digest.

Add visuals to your content

Written content is informative, and it’s easy to scan. But not everyone likes to read. Each individual absorbs information in their own way–some are visual learners while others are auditory learners, and so on.

So, give your customers a choice. Whether it’s screenshots or videos, customers love visual content. It’s engaging and gives their eyes a break from blocks of text. But, not all visual content can or should be used everywhere.

Videos can be used for:

  • Tips
  • How-to articles
  • Feature overviews
  • Tutorials
  • Thought leadership and educational topics

Video content is popular and tends to stick longer in customers’ minds than written content. However, it should be used wisely. And it definitely shouldn’t be the only content on a page. When deciding whether you should include a video in one of your articles, ask yourself these questions:

  • How time-sensitive is this topic?
  • Would my customers want an immediate answer?
  • What situation are they probably in to need help with this topic?
  • Is this a problem that would cause them to feel frustrated, confused, angry, or anxious?
  • Is the topic complex? Would words only confuse them more?

Don’t use a video if you think it’ll be ill-received. On the other hand, if your customers aren’t under immense stress and searching for a quick answer, then adding one can only serve to educate and help them even more.

You can also include screenshots in your content. Screenshots can decrease how long it takes for customers to find the answers they need.

Remember though, any visual content you decide to use isn’t a substitute for written content. Instead, it’s an enhancement of the content already there.

Analyze customer feedback and behavior

If there’s one thing you learn while in business, it’s that everything should be tested. And the same applies to your knowledge base.

There are a few ways to analyze your content. One is letting your customers provide feedback to you. Once you allow customers to give feedback on your content, you can gain insight into:

  • What’s working
  • What needs to be improved
  • What needs to be expanded

Not all customers will write a paragraph to you, explaining what the problem is. Some will, and you can use that information to determine what needs to be changed. Even if they don’t, a ‘Thumbs Down’ or ‘Not Helpful’ can let you know that there’s something incomplete about your content. Learn more about knowledge base content feedback.

Another way you can get valuable insight into your content is from help desk ticketing. Have the tickets for topics available on your knowledge base decreased? Are customers asking different questions about the same topic?

If customers are still reaching out to customer support to help them with a topic that’s already covered in the knowledge base, then you know that it’s time to expand and improve your content.

Heat maps are another invaluable tool to use when trying to see which articles generate the most engagement and which aren’t relevant to customers. With this insight at your disposal, you’ll be able to create a “Frequently Asked Questions” section that’s easily accessible to customers.

Keep it updated

One of the worst things you can do for your knowledge base is to neglect it. Customers trust you to have the answers that they need.

So, what do you think would happen if they follow your steps and nothing happens? Plus, you can imagine their reaction if they notice the content hasn’t been updated in years–they’ll see you as amateur at best. They’ll think that you don’t care about them enough to upload an accurate solution to their problem. And they might switch to one of your competitors whose knowledge base is updated and accurate.

To avoid losing customers because your knowledge base doesn’t meet expectations, you need to assign someone the task of reviewing and updating content on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. Also, any time you release a product update, someone should update related knowledge base articles.

Also, at least annually, have someone audit your content to ensure that:

  • Links are working.
  • Articles are following the same format.
  • Articles aren’t overly complex.
  • Content isn’t outdated.

By checking for these things, you’re showing your customers, even if they don’t notice it, that you care about them and strive to deliver the best customer experience possible.

Conclusion

A knowledge base isn’t hard to create, but that doesn’t mean it won’t require a lot of planning and strategizing to get it off the ground.

If you’re staying consistent with your formatting, using visuals when necessary, and covering topics that are important to your customers, then you’re well on your way to creating a good knowledge base.

By using these tips listed above, you’ll have a time-saving, cost-efficient, and empowering tool at your disposal that can increase customer success tenfold

Do you have any best practice tips that you’ve used to make your knowledge base effective? Post them in the comment section below!

The post Leveraging a knowledge base to boost customer success appeared first on Agile CRM Blog.

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Reducing employee turnover should be a priority for any business. According to experts, it can cost twice an employee’s salary to recruit, hire and train a replacement. Turnover can also damage morale among your remaining employees, decrease productivity and make it harder to acquire new talent.

According to Work Institute, one in four employees (42 million U.S. workers) left their jobs in 2018 to go work for another organization. But companies with a culture that strongly values learning and team comradery have 30-50% higher employee engagement and retention rates than those that don’t.

Show appreciation

77% of those employees who leave could be retained if companies implement a few proven strategies to reduce turnover.

The annual cost of employee churn is expected to reach $680 billion by 2020. Organizations must have a vested interest in increasing employee retention rates—for a variety of reasons.

In this article, we offer eight tips to reduce employee turnover and reveal why it’s important for your organization to make employee satisfaction a priority.

What is employee satisfaction?

Employee satisfaction rates evaluate how happy or content your employees are with their current jobs and work environment.

High employee satisfaction rates result in high employee retention, morale, engagement, and productivity—all of which significantly contribute to an organization’s financial performance.

Employee satisfaction and employee engagement

Although I’ve just touted the benefits of employee satisfaction, there are also a few potential pitfalls. Let’s play devil’s advocate for a moment. What if your employees are happy or content with their jobs because they get paid to do the bare minimum, which means they’re not actually adding value to the company?

These employees may be unlikely to leave because they are “very satisfied” with simply going through the motions every day and making a good living doing it. Your company is also unlikely to let them go because they are just good enough to meet baseline expectations. Unfortunately, a lack of employee engagement stifles the growth of your company.

Engaged employees, on the other hand, energize your organization with new ideas. They push the limits, think outside the box and drive growth and innovation. Therefore, it’s essential to not only focus on employee satisfaction but also employee engagement as a strategy to retain only the best and brightest within your organization. Plus, maintaining satisfied employees does wonders for your brand reputation management efforts as they will often promote your company to others.

The impact of high employee turnover

Not all turnover is bad. In any organization, there are some employees who are not adding value or simply aren’t a good fit for the company. When people like this leave, it’s a good thing.

However, when a company loses employees at a high rate or is losing high-value employees, turnover becomes an issue. Below are a few ways turnover can impact your company.

Lost revenue

Losing client-facing employees – such as salespeople and account managers – can put your company at risk of losing clients as well. If your employee had a close working relationship with the client, they might choose to follow the employee to their next company, leaving you in the lurch. Or, that relationship might be cut off, with no one picking up the slack, leaving the customer hanging and significantly damaging the customer experience.

Decreased morale

Turnover can also harm the morale among the employees who stay. Often, workers lose trust in the company’s management team if several employees leave in a short amount of time. Also, when an employee leaves, it may be necessary to ask their team members to cover the responsibilities of the departing employee. An increased workload may result in stress and further reduce employee morale.

Difficulty recruiting

Your HR team may have a more difficult time recruiting new talent if word gets out that your company has a high turnover rate. Losing all-star talent to other companies in your industry may also meaning losing your competitive advantage. Your company is only as good as the people who run it.

Decreased production

Whenever a veteran employee leaves your company, you’ll experience an unavoidable disruption in productivity. As noted, other employees may be pulled away from their regular responsibilities to fill in. Additionally, when you do find a replacement, he or she will likely need weeks, if not months of training before they begin the produce at the same level as the former employee. This costs the company additional resources, which start to pile up and amount to huge losses.

The loss of an experienced employee also comes with a loss of knowledge about how your company operates. Any new employee brought in to replace someone will likely make more mistakes in the beginning and therefore cost your organization more than the departing employee.

Top reasons for turnover

According to Work Institute’s 2018 Retention Report, 21% of employees leave due to a lack of career development opportunities. An additional 13% are unsatisfied with their work-life balance, and 11% of churn is caused by employee dissatisfaction with management’s behavior.

Other reasons experts claim employees leave their jobs include insufficient pay, lack of challenging work, and lack of recognition.

Tips to reduce employee turnover Be clear in the job description

Believe it or not, reducing turnover starts way before an employee’s first day on the job. Many organizations aren’t great at clearly setting pay and benefit expectations within their job postings; most don’t include a pay rate at all.

Yet, 37% of hiring decision makers believe retention rates would improve if new hires were more informed during the hiring process. Don’t be afraid to state upfront what the salary range is as well as the benefits offered with the position.

Hire top talent

Hiring the right people from the start goes a long way to reducing employee turnover. Vet candidates carefully through interviews, background checks, references, and skill assessments.

Consider not only their education and experience but also their soft skills. Do they play well with others? Are they fast learners? Do they have a positive attitude? Ensure that they will fit in with your company’s culture and mesh well with their co-workers and management team.

Invest in a better onboarding experience

Once someone accepts your job offer, the hard work isn’t over. Investing your resources into properly onboarding every new employee is vital. According to Gallup, only 12% of U.S. employees strongly agree that their company does a good job of this. That’s a problem.

Don’t bring a new face in and just let them fend for themselves. Show them around the place, make sure they’re set up on payroll and that they receive all of their benefits.

Ensure they understand all established processes around their role. Also, set clear expectations of what you expect from them for their first week, month or quarter and provide them with the tools they need to be succeed.

First impressions are incredibly important—they set the tone for the entire relationship between the company and the employee. So, make them count.

Pay appropriately

The number one reason people work is to make money—everyone needs a livelihood to survive. And while money is not always the top or only motivator for your employees, no one can argue its significance.

Employees who feel they are underpaid are far more likely to leave than those who think they are compensated fairly for their work. With that stated, if your budget is tight, you may have to get creative with your benefits package to make up for it.

You can also counterbalance lower pay with providing an encouraging work environment that focuses on positive reinforcement and motivation so that your employees feel inspired and have a desire to move the company forward.

Increased flexibility

Over 75% of workers would be more loyal to their organization if it offered flexible work options. Moreover, 77% of employees said they were more likely to accept a new job offer if they could telecommute at least some of the time.

To reduce turnover, consider the personal needs of your employees, offering more flexibility where it’s feasible and appropriate. Options include telecommuting, flexible schedules, job sharing, and on-site daycare.

Cultivate employee engagement

Above, we touched on the importance of employee engagement. Ways to increase workplace engagement include creating a rewarding work environment, treating employees with respect, providing opportunities for advancement and offering education and training.

We also suggest implementing a formal employee engagement program. This can include initiatives like employee volunteer events to build rapport among your team. You can also establish a matching gifts program where you match any donation an employee makes to a charity.

Companies with a culture that strongly values learning and team comradery have 30-50% higher employee engagement and retention rates than those that don’t.

Show appreciation

Another way to increase employee morale and reduce turnover is to recognize and reward employees for a job well done. Inject positive feedback into your organization by simply sending an email praising your team or an individual contributor after a successful project or closing a big sale.

Send your employees a monthly or quarterly email newsletter highlighting the achievements of your team or organization. Send a thank you note or a small gift to a stellar employee who goes above and beyond his or her responsibilities to help the company succeed. A little recognition goes a long way.

Offer opportunities for advancement

Outline clear career paths for your employees. Show them exactly where their job could take them and the steps to get there. Use annual reviews and quarterly check-ins as an opportunity to find out what path employees desire to take as well as what path would be most appropriate for their experience and skill set.

Also, have an open-door policy where employees are encouraged to come to the leadership team at any time throughout the year for career guidance.

Conclusion

High employee turnover hurts your company’s bottom line. By adopting the strategies outlined above, your company can retain more of its workers and avoid suffering a dip in productivity, morale, and revenue, which plague companies with high turnover rates.

Which one of these strategies will you adopt in your company this year? Let us know in the comments section below!

The post 8 tips to reduce employee turnover: Why it’s so important appeared first on Agile CRM Blog.

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Finding the perfect job candidate is no easy feat. On average, every corporate job opening attracts 250 resumes. Of those candidates, four to six are typically called in for an interview. But only one can walk away with the job. Talk about finding a needle in a haystack. A few interview tips can help.

It takes a lot of resources to find a new hire. Recruiters advertise on job sites, wade through seemingly endless resumes, conduct interviews, run background checks, call references, and more.

When it’s all said and done, the average cost-per-hire comes out to $4,129, and the average time it takes to fill an open position is 42 days, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) Human Capital Benchmarking Report.

But the costs don’t stop adding up there. Experts estimate the cost of onboarding an employee is about $240,000. That includes recruitment ads and staff time, relocation and training fees for replacement hires, the negative impact on team performance, the disruption to incomplete projects, and more.

Hiring the wrong person can put a sizable dent in your revenue. Making the right choice from the start is crucial. In this article, we offer some interview tips to help you find the perfect job candidate for your company’s open positions.

Key interview tips Assess your needs

Finding the perfect candidate starts with knowing exactly who you’re looking for. Work experience, education, and skills are all important. But great employees don’t simply perform a job; they should solve a critical business need.

Before you begin your search, identify what need the candidate will fill. Also, determine how your company will measure success in the position, as well as what common attributes your top performers possess. Think about your company culture and what kind of individual will fit in.

Approach your selection process with all these things in mind and be sure to include them within the job description to attract the right people to the role. This is one of the more important interview tips we’ll cover.

Take your time

I know what you’re thinking, “time is money.” However, if you hire the wrong candidate, it’ll cost you much more in the long run. You may feel a sense of urgency from your superiors or a hiring manager to quickly fill an open slot, but explain to your colleagues the high cost of making the wrong decision.

Slow the process down and take the time to screen your applicants properly. You may catch some heat in the short term, but everyone in the organization will be singing your praises once you have a stellar new employee onboarded and providing value to the company.

Top talent will deliver a much better customer experience, which will result in higher customer retention rates.

Pre-screen candidates over the phone

Interviews take time. Especially if you plan on having candidates meet with several members of your team. Instead of wasting your resources and the candidates’ time, jump on a quick call first to see if it’s worth having a full-blown interview.

Use the phone call to flush out any deal breakers. Explain the job duties as well as your organization’s culture. Also, ask them a few details about their work experience and salary expectations. If, after a brief phone call, someone still seems like a good candidate, invite them to meet in person.

Find the right candidate for the role, and their work will speak for itself, increasing customer satisfaction and boosting customer loyalty.

Have the interviewee “show” instead of just “tell”

Interview questions are the standard way to get to know someone and assess their level of compatibility with your organization. But when it comes to evaluating skill level, a lot of people fake it till they make it.

To ensure that you hire someone that can do the job well, as opposed to just hiring someone good at interviewing, have them complete an assignment that demonstrates their skills.

For example, if you’re hiring a salesperson, have the candidate do a mock sales call. Have a developer refactor some code. Ask a writer to draft a blog post. You get the idea. By having a candidate perform a task, you’ll get a much better understanding of what they’re truly capable of.

Avoid cliche interview questions

Whatever you do, for the love of everything holy, don’t ask the interviewee, “Why did you leave your last job?” Or even worse, “What’s your greatest weakness?”

Let me save you the trouble. They left their last job because it sucked. Perhaps it didn’t pay enough. Maybe their manager was a jerk. Or they may have even gotten fired. But they’ll never admit any of these things to you. Instead, they’ll likely formulate a politically correct answer that couldn’t be further from the truth.

And let’s be real, no one in their right mind is going to tell you their greatest weakness. Why? Because if you really knew it, you’d probably use it against them. Instead, what you’ll get is a well-rehearsed answer that magically transforms their “weakness” into a strength.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s discuss what kinds of questions you should ask in an interview to increase your chances of hiring the perfect candidate for the job.

Consider cultural fit

Someone could seem absolutely perfect on paper, but it’s just as important to ensure that they will fit well within the culture of your organization. If you are a group of visionaries that value cutting-edge ideas, you may not want to hire someone with a very conservative way of thinking.

Likewise, if your company has very traditional corporate values, a radical thinker may not be your cup of tea. At the same time, it’s also a bad idea to only hire people just like you. This is a surefire way to end up with a building full of like-minded people with no diversity.

To assess cultural fit, here are a few questions to ask:

  • Describe your ideal work environment or culture in which you would be the most productive and happy.
  • What are some characteristics of the best boss you’ve ever worked with?
  • Do you prefer working alone or as part of a team?
  • When you work with a team, describe the role that you are most likely to play on the team.
  • What motivates you to do your best work?

Look for candidates that speak passionately about the company’s mission. If doing good in the world is baked into the DNA of your organization, you’d be much better off hiring a candidate that has a documented history of giving back than someone who is merely looking for a job for financial reasons.

Listen to the candidate’s questions

At the end of the interview, you should ask the candidate if they have any questions. Pay close attention to what they ask as it can often offer more insight than the actual interview did. The questions asked can tell you whether or not the candidate researched your company before the interview and if they have a good understanding of your company, what you offer, and your company culture.

Think conversation, not interrogation

An interview is most effective as a conversation between two or more people. You want to get to know each person, not intimidate them. Make candidates feel comfortable, so they’ll relax and let their guard down.

If you’ve taken the time to read their resume, as opposed to just skimming it, you’ll be able to formulate some thoughtful questions about their background. After asking a question, give the candidate a moment for introspection, then listen carefully.

Don’t be too quick to fill gaps in the conversation. It is in these silent moments that the interviewee will often elaborate on their answers, offer additional examples or a different perspective on the question asked.

When a candidate sees that you aren’t simply going down a list of standard questions, they’ll feel more at ease, open up, and join the conversation.

Ask follow up questions

Don’t just settle for a candidate’s initial answer as they are often rehearsed. Ask why, how, or what questions. Why did they take that approach? How did they come to that decision? What did they learn from that situation?

The devil is in the details. Follow up questions allow you to get to the heart of each candidate.

Conclusion

Ultimately, you want a candidate that has a genuine desire to join your company because the company’s values are in alignment with their personal values. You also want someone whose skill set will help your organization to meet its business goals, as well as someone who will fit seamlessly into the company culture.

It’s hard to find, but when you do, you’ll end up with an employee that is more engaged, more productive and less likely to churn.

Which tip will you incorporate into your next round of interviews? Share it in the description box below!

The post Interview tips: How to find the perfect job candidate appeared first on Agile CRM Blog.

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There’s a Native American proverb that says, “Those who tell the stories rule the world.” Before humans developed systems for writing and reading, the only way to record our history was by passing down stories from generation to generation. Through storytelling in marketing, this tradition lives on.

Stories have been a key driver of change throughout human history – both for good and bad. Good storytelling can evoke emotion and serve as a compelling call-to-action.

According to the 2018 Nielsen Total Audience Report, nearly half an adult’s day in the U.S. is dedicated to consuming content. Marketing experts estimate that most Americans are exposed to around 4,000 to 10,000 ads each day.

Our brains begin to filter out these messages to avoid information overload. We ignore the ones we don’t have a personal interest in. The pieces of content that stand out and stand the test of time are those that tell a good story that the reader can relate to.

In this post, we’ll take a look at what storytelling in marketing is and how to use it to increase engagement and grow your business.

What is storytelling in marketing?

Storytelling in marketing refers to using fact or narrative to connect a brand to its prospects and customers, with a focus on linking a company’s core values with the values of its target audience. It helps you build trusting relationships.

Values are the character traits that define your company–your company identity. By focusing your marketing messages on your values, you’ll engage the customers who share those values.

Why is it effective?

Humans are hardwired to love stories.

Researchers in Spain have found that stories stimulate our brains and even change how we act in life. Your brain doesn’t make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life; in each case, the very same neurological regions are stimulated.

There’s a large overlap in the brain networks used to understand stories and the networks used to navigate interactions with others — specifically, interactions in which we attempt to understand the thoughts and feelings of others.

Scientists call this ability of the brain to create a map of the intentions of others “theory of mind.” Narratives told within a story offer a unique opportunity to engage this capacity, as we identify with the characters’ desires and pain points.

Marketers can leverage these aspects of the brain by thoughtfully using storytelling in marketing to evoke emotions from target audiences. Stories help create connection and curiosity about your brand. They can also help with your brand reputation efforts.

What makes a good story?

Companies tell stories every day. However, not many are truly good at it. Here are five key attributes of a great story:

  • Entertaining – If your story isn’t entertaining from the very beginning, you’re going to have a heck of a time keeping your audience’s attention. Good stories engage the audience and keep them excited about what will happen next.
  • Educational – A good story can serve as a learning opportunity for the listener/reader, sparking curiosity about a specific subject, or your company and products/services.
  • Universal – Your story has to be relatable. Otherwise, it won’t tap into the emotions of your audience. Think about how your story will tie into the experiences, dreams or hardships of your target customer.
  • Organized – Most stories follow a very specific framework. A hero has a problem, meets a guide who gives them a plan that calls them to action. The guide helps navigate the hero to success. There’s a reason why this framework is used over and over again. It works, particularly with storytelling in marketing.
  • Memorable – Good stories make ideas stick. Whether the story is inspirational, funny, or scandalous, providing information through stories helps your message stick in your audience’s mind.
3 components of an effective story
  1. Characters – Every story has at least one character. Someone needs to serve as the hero. The hero is the key to relating to the audience. If they can put themselves in the hero’s shoes, they’re more likely to be called to action. Case studies accomplish this very well.
  2. Conflict – The hero in the story must face a challenge. We all face various challenges and seeing your character struggle with one elicits emotion and empathy from the audience. Watching the hero overcome the challenge will feel like a victory to everyone listening.
  3. Resolution – All good stories must come to an end. But don’t leave the audience hanging. Offer a resolution that wraps up the story, puts it into context and leaves the audience with a call-to-action.
The 7 types of stories

In the book, “The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Write Stories,” Christopher Booker argues that all stories can be categorized into one of seven archetypes.

  1. Overcoming the Monster – An underdog story where the hero sets out to destroy an evil of some kind. Think David and Goliath. Or a new startup trying to compete in a cut-throat industry.
  2. Tragedy – A tragedy focuses on a villain, and the audience sees them plunge further into darkness before their destruction at the hands of the hero. In the context of storytelling for marketing, the villain could be an obstacle that a business simply can’t overcome.
  3. Comedy –  A light and funny story with a happy ending.
  4. Rebirth – A story of reinvention, such as revamping the technology solutions and apps you use to manage your business.
  5. The Voyage and Return – Transformation via travel and homecoming, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.
  6. The Quest –  A trip from point A to point B, à la Lord of the Rings.
  7. Rags to Riches – This is the classic Cinderella story of someone who comes from nothing and makes something of themselves. Again, like a small business using growth hacks and evolving into a powerhouse brand in their industry.
How can you make your brand’s stories more compelling?

Focus on people – While it may be tempting to wrap a story around your cool new product, resist. People don’t form emotional connections to products, but to other people. Find a way to incorporate a human element into your story, by highlighting how your product makes someone’s life better.

Stick to your core values – It’s tempting to try to craft stories around trending topics. However, your message will experience a deeper connection and greater longevity if you tell stories that align with your brand values.

Leverage data – Carefully placed data points can go a long way to make your story more impactful. Data can inform, optimize, and adapt your story, serving as a proof point for your big ideas, and making your storytelling more effective.

Retell the same story – To make a story stick, your audience must hear it several times, in a few different ways. Today, there are so many different marketing channels, including blogs, email, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. To make a real impact, tell your story over time, across channels, customizing it to the requirements of each one.

Listen closely – Good stories are everywhere. All you have to do is pay attention. What are your customers and prospects talking about? Engage in social listening. Find ways to leverage user-generated content in your stories for increased authenticity.

Make your customer the hero – In the book “Building a Storybrand,” Donald Miller reveals a critical mistake most companies make – positioning your company as the hero of your stories.

You are not the hero. The customer is the hero. This is the best way to engage the customer, by inviting them into the story.

Instead, your company should serve as a guide. You’re the Yoda to their Luke Skywalker. You help to guide them successfully through their challenges. This keeps the customer interested by letting them know what’s in it for them and how you can help them to achieve their goals.

Conclusion

Arguably, every great leader throughout history rose to his or her position thanks to the ability to tell a good story.

When it comes to brands, Apple is usually listed as one of the world’s most compelling storytellers. The company manages to take a complex industry like technology and make it accessible by showing how its products benefit its users through stellar storytelling in marketing.

In today’s competitive landscape, creating compelling narratives has never been more critical to marketers. With the growing variety of channels, formats, and mediums available, marketers have countless opportunities to use storytelling to make an emotional impact on their target audiences.

Successful brands differentiate themselves through storytelling. But the most elite brands focus less on telling their own stories, and more on inviting the customer into the story. By giving the customer a vision of a better life, acting as their guide, and helping them overcome challenges, you create significant brand loyalty.

What’s one way you can incorporate more storytelling into your marketing? Share it in the comments section below!

The post Storytelling in marketing: Mastering this emerging trend appeared first on Agile CRM Blog.

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According to Linkedin, 78% of salespeople engaged in social selling outsell their peers who aren’t doing it.

In the past, social media platforms were reserved for B2C companies, serving as a direct line of communication to consumers. Today, savvy B2B organizations understand the need to engage their customers where they are, which, these days, is increasingly on social media.

As companies struggle to gain and retain the attention of prospective customers, social selling has emerged as an effective tool for organizations challenged by growing competition on a global scale.

If your sales team doesn’t engage in social selling, your company is leaving money on the table.

In this post, we’ll define social selling, outline its benefits, and cover some best practices for implementation.

What is social selling?

Social selling, in a basic sense, it the act of salespeople leveraging social media to interact with prospects and customers, as well as growing a reputation as an authority in their respective industry.

Social selling is a lead generation technique. Salespeople can use it to answer prospect questions and send them relevant content on an ongoing basis until the prospect is ready to buy.

The use of social selling allows salespeople to provide value to prospects as opposed to interrupting their daily lives with cold calls and hard sells.

Why use social selling? 1. Social selling helps cultivate relationships

While we’re on the subject of cold calling, let’s be honest. No one likes it. No one likes to make cold calls (except perhaps the masochistic). No one likes to receive cold calls. And the fact is, cold calls aren’t the most effective sales technique.

A more effective strategy is social listening – using social media to uncover relevant conversations. It can help your sales team identify new leads that are already talking about your company, your products or services, your competitors or your industry.

Once you’ve identified the individuals that may be interested in your offering, reach out to them with useful information. This strategy can increase leads and reduce the amount of time your sales team spends researching accounts and contacts.

Key topics prospects post about their needs on social include their needs, challenges, goals, and pain points. With this powerful information, a salesperson can approach leads with a personalized message, as opposed to a cold one.

A study conducted by CSO Insights revealed 31 percent of B2B professionals believe social selling tools allow them to build deeper relationships with clients. By taking the time to listen, understand someone’s pain points, and provide a valuable solution, you cultivate more meaningful and sincere relationships with customers and prospects.

2. Your clients are already engaged in social buying

Buyers already use social media to research purchases and evaluate brands. IDC found that 75% of B2B buyers use contacts and information from social networks as a part of their purchasing process.

Your prospects are using social media to research vendors and determine whether they may be a good fit. This happens well before they ever make contact with a sales professional.

They may also be relying on referrals and recommendations from other professionals within their network, which helps them make smarter buying decisions.

In fact, Nielsen reports that 83% of potential customers trust brand and product recommendations from friends and family more than all other types of brand promotion. That’s free advertising and it’s hard to beat that.

If your sales team isn’t actively leveraging social selling, you’re far less likely to appear in the search results of prospects engaged in social buying. This results in missed sales opportunities for your company.

3. Your competitors are already using social selling

Social selling is hot among the world’s top salespeople, especially Millennials. A LinkedIn survey shows that 90% of top salespeople and 78% of all millennial sales professionals are using social selling tools.

Organizations not engaged in social selling will have a more difficult time recruiting top sales performers, especially Millennials. As a result, competitors in your industry using social selling are more likely to snag top talent, leaving you with a more amateur sales staff to get the job done.

What not to do

Before we get into the basics of how to use social selling, let’s talk a little bit about what not to do.

Social selling is not about spamming prospects on social media with a barrage of unsolicited posts, tags and direct messages. Not only is this strategy ineffective, but it can also be detrimental to your organization, resulting in a negative online reputation.

Social selling is not just a new way to gain prospective contacts. It’s an opportunity to build meaningful relationships, trust, and a positive brand reputation with prospective customers.

By actively listening, having discernment about the right time to join a conversation and thoughtfully presenting a solution to a prospect’s pain points, you can cultivate a lasting connection with your audience via social media.

The basics of social selling

Now that we’ve established what social selling is, what it isn’t, and why you should do it, let’s take a look at some best practices for implementing it.

1. Avoid automation

Automation has its place, but not when it comes to social selling. You can’t expect to make a meaningful connection by having your bots engage with prospects. Resist the urge to leverage automated social media liking and commenting tools and instead do the hard work yourself. After all, a primary objective of social selling is to present yourself as genuine, sincere, and trustworthy–a bot will certainly screw that up for you.

Social selling helps to build rapport. Nothing accomplishes this faster than talking to a live human being with genuine thoughts and feelings. Leave the automating to your marketing team.

2. Optimize your profiles

Your social media presence may be your first introduction to qualified buyers. Be sure to make this first impression count. B2B buyers are far more likely to engage on social media with a strong, professional-looking brand.

Does your profile show up when prospects are searching social media for products or services within your industry? If not, why? If so, what do your prospects see?

Log out and take a look at your social media profiles from a prospect’s point of view. Is your messaging, look and feel consistent across platforms? Do your profiles position you and your company as experts and authorities in your field?

If you answered no to any of these questions, take some time to tweak your profiles. Optimize them to showcase your organization in the best light possible, and as a valuable expert in your field.

3. Listen closely

The beauty of social listening is that your customers and prospects are willingly and publicly sharing information about what they want and need. All you have to do is pay attention and react.

Create a system for monitoring what people are saying about your company, competitors and your industry as a whole. This can be accomplished through social lists or streams using social listening tools.

Pay attention to things like complaints, recommendations, and requests. These types of posts offer salespeople the opportunity to swoop in and save the day with a relevant solution to the problem at hand.

4. Make a connection

Once you identify a good lead, do some research before reaching out. Do you have any mutual connections? If so, approach the shared contact and ask them to introduce you. Did you attend their alma mater? Do you share a love of fly fishing? Taking this approach is akin to dipping your feet in the world of account-based marketing. Learn more about account-based marketing.

Today, people share more information online than ever. Use that to your advantage by looking for common ground with your prospect and including that little tidbit in a personalized message.

This small piece of information can make your message stand out from your competition’s cold standard template.

5. Provide unique value

For social selling to work successfully, you must provide valuable insight to the right prospect at the right time.

Avoid the hard sell. Instead, talk about the value of your product or service and how it solves the specific problem the prospect faces.

Conclusion

If your company is new to social selling, it may require fundamental changes to your organizational philosophy, definition, and structure. However, when implemented properly, it can become a key driver of success.

Social selling can increase leads, create deeper relationships with customers and prospects, improve your lead conversion rate and result in shorter sales cycles, ultimately increasing your bottom line.

How do you plan to implement social selling into your overall sales strategy? Share your ideas in the comments below!

The post Beginner’s guide to social selling appeared first on Agile CRM Blog.

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Which is more important to you: acquiring new customers or retaining the ones you already have? Customer acquisition is an essential part of growing any business. We all know that. But customer retention is also critically important if you run a subscription-based business or have repeat customers.

So, they are both important. But how do you know which to focus more energy on when forming your growth strategy? The answer is complicated, subjective, and involves a variety of variables such as customer acquisition cost, your long-term business goals, your business model, and so on.

To answer this question, we must dig into the topic and shed some light on how each tactic can benefit or hurt your business.

Which is the right strategy for you?

Because this is a complex topic with many things to consider, we need to unpack each approach and gain a better understanding of how each strategy impacts your business today, and how it will impact your business in the future. Let’s dig in.

Customer acquisition: The basics

Let’s start with the obvious. You can’t run a successful business without acquiring new customers. This is particularly true for nascent startups and small, growing businesses.

Securing your first few customers can seem like a monumental challenge when you first start a new business. You must build a brand reputation, but that is quite difficult without any customers. You can advertise, but potential customers will be hesitant to trust your brand if you don’t have any customers yet.

Often, a company’s first customers will be existing contacts of the business and its stakeholders. As your customer base grows and you increase your brand awareness (increasingly through the use of social media), customer acquisition becomes exponentially easier.

How you approach your customer acquisition sales strategy depends largely on your business model and goals. But it’s an essential and necessary part of growing a business. Learn more about developing the right sales strategy for your business.

Customer acquisition: Potential pitfalls

We all agree that to grow your business you need to acquire new customers. However, many companies make the mistake of devoting too many resources to customer acquisition, and not enough to customer retention.

If you acquire a new customer but do not take the appropriate steps to ensure they are successful using your product or service, you’re likely to lose them quickly. It’s key to provide a world-class customer experience from the beginning. This reduces customer churn and increases customer satisfaction and renewal rates.

Keep in mind customer acquisition cost. According to Invesp, it costs five to ten times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.

So, when you acquire a new customer, that’s your chance to solidify their trust in your ability to support them and make them successful. If you sign a new customer and then leave them to fend for themselves, you’ll have dissatisfied customers who will likely leave you for a competitor.

When a new customer comes on board, ensure that you deliver a high-quality onboarding and training program to ensure their success. And ultimately, focus on any tactic you can implement that will increase customer satisfaction. Learn tips for maintaining world-class customer satisfaction levels.

Customer retention: The basics

Customer retention is an incredibly important but often overlooked variable in the success or failure of a business. Retaining existing customers is not as difficult as it seems. It all boils down to delivering a world-class customer experience and delighting your customers.

Here are some basic tips for retaining existing customers:

  • Start out on the right foot by ensuring new customers have everything they need to be successful from Day 1.
  • Produce content that solves common problems for your customer base. This will build trust and position you as an authority in your space.
  • Reach out to customers on a routine basis to check in and see how things are going, what they need that they don’t currently have, etc.
  • Keep customers informed of new developments, such as bug fixes, new products, personnel changes, forward-looking plans, etc.
  • Create a customer advisory board to give your customers a voice in the direction and evolution of your company.
  • Focus on solving customer support problems on the first attempt to minimize the effort they must devote to resolving an issue. A great way to do this is by using dedicated help desk groups.

That’s just a small list of the many things you can do to keep customers satisfied and loyal, so they stick around longer and provide a reliable, recurring revenue source. Learn more about effective customer retention strategies.

Customer retention: Benefits, not pitfalls

There are really no drawbacks to focusing on customer retention. And there are loads of statistics that back this up. For example:

Think about this: would you rather have 40 new clients each year that leave after that year, or 20 clients that stick with you for decades? The answer seems fairly obvious. New customers require way more administration and eat up more resources. Plus, they don’t provide any type of reliable revenue.

On the other hand, satisfied, loyal customers who stick with you over the long haul give you peace of mind and allow you to make more accurate revenue predictions. Plus, you can develop and nurture closer relationships with customers to build trust, which ensures they stay satisfied and loyal over the long term.

The future of successful business relies on maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction. And doing so results in higher levels of customer retention, creates brand advocates, and does wonders for your brand reputation management efforts.

Conclusion

So, what’s the bottom line here? Should you focus more on customer acquisition or customer retention to grow your business and maintain a competitive edge?

New businesses need to focus on customer acquisition to build a customer base. But once a new customer is acquired, customer retention becomes incredibly important.

Once you build a foundation of loyal, satisfied customers, that news will spread by word of mouth and prospects will start to look for you. Solidify yourself as a leader and authority in your space and consumers will seek you out.

Corporate Visions reports that around 80% of companies spend more than 70% of their [marketing] budget on demand generation efforts and less than 30% on customer retention initiatives.

I recommend turning that upside down and spending at least 50% of your marketing budget on tactics to retain customers. It’s the best long-term business growth strategy in nearly every case.

Do you have insights or anecdotes you’d like to share with our readers? Please post them in the comments section below!

The post Customer acquisition vs. customer retention: Which to prioritize? appeared first on Agile CRM Blog.

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Video content rules the internet. Think about it. When you’re scrolling through your Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook feeds, what jumps out at you? Today’s consumers love video content and video marketing is increasingly important to a company’s ability to engage new prospects and existing customers.

Video content is everywhere and continues to take social media platforms by storm, especially when it comes to digital marketing for commercial brands. In fact, according to Web Video Marketing Council, about 60% of brands are actively using social media videos as a part of their digital marketing strategy.

High-quality video marketing can boost your SEO results, offer you easier accessibility to your existing fans (and new ones), and increase your conversions and sales.

Moreover, utilizing video for your digital marketing strategy can significantly benefit your social media efforts—not only by increasing your follower base (though it certainly does that), but also by dramatically increasing your social media engagement rates.

Leveraging killer video content on your social media platforms gives your digital marketing efforts an edge. A video is more memorable, fosters stronger emotional connections, allows for higher accessibility, and helps you build stronger relationships with customers and prospects.

All of these factors increase engagement on your social channels and encourage social shares.

People enjoy consuming content that’s engaging, informative, and entertaining. If you master this, you can utilize video as a strategy for boosting social media engagement.

However, using video on your social channels to increase engagement isn’t as simple as posting a random video clip on your platforms—it requires strategy.

Below, we cover some important video marketing tips that can help you excel; when implemented and done properly, these can boost social media engagement levels to new heights.

Deliver high-quality video marketing content

The quality of your content directly affects your engagement levels.

So, to ensure you don’t have low levels, your video content must be compelling, captivating, creative, informative, inspiring, and entertaining. Also, it has to fit within your niche and be directed to your target audience for it to be effective.

Great video content tells a story to its viewers that they can relate to, utilizes a captivating and creative strategy, and is concise in its goal while remaining entertaining.

Your video content should be visually appealing. It also needs to stand out against the sea of video content that already exists on social media.

One way you can do this is by creating videos that focus on what differentiates your company from the competition and why that matters to your audience. Once you’re confident in your positioning, you can use humor or be witty to provide engage and connect with your audience in a way that your competitors can’t.

Before you post your video content to your social media feeds, ask yourself: “Does this provide value to my audience? Am I providing an inspiring, informative, and entertaining video that will set itself apart from the flood of other videos on social media?”

Know the right specs for your videos

This plays directly into your video quality, which, as previously discussed, plays into your social media engagement. If you’re posting video content, that—by all other standards—is great content but is low quality because of incorrect specs, you’re not going to get the social media engagement you’re after.

Every social media platform has different specs, dimensions, and ratios that you have to follow to create quality social media videos.

This doesn’t mean you need the most expensive equipment or studio-level tools, you just need to do your research and understand which specs are necessary for each platform.

Boost views and engagement with native videos

Before we dive into why this matters, allow us to explain what this means.

When you’re uploading a native video, you’re uploading your video content directly to each social media platform. In other words, you’re not adding it to YouTube or Vimeo and then linking it to your Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platforms.

Why does this matter?

Statistics show that native videos tend to have higher viewing and share rates than those that are linked via a platform like YouTube or Vimeo.

This is because many social media platforms—like Facebook—rank videos based on whether someone has watched a video (and for how long), but this is only the case if it’s a native video.

In fact, native videos earn about 530% more comments on Facebook and 477% higher share rates on Facebook than YouTube video links.

We know it sounds like a lot of work, but the ROI you’ll receive via engagement and potential sales will be worth it.

Consider text overlays (and captions) for the silent revolution

There’s a whole segment of viewers on social media channels that watch and consume video content with the sound turned off. So, if your video depends on someone listening to the audio, you’re losing out on engaging a large chunk of your audience.

Try to optimize your video content with text overlays, captions, or subtitles. Doing so not only provides a way for those with hearing disorders the ability to interact with your video, you’re also allowing those who have their volume off to engage with your video, which delivers a better customer experience.

Optimizing for silence is one of the best ways to guarantee you’re getting the engagement you’re after—aside from the fact that tons of social media channels will auto play videos without sound as users scroll.

Write great social copy to support your video content

It’s a huge accomplishment to post quality video content on your social media channels. But you can’t stop there and expect your engagement to skyrocket. You need to support that quality content with optimal social post copy.

Leaving your video content on your social channels without engaging post copy is a missed opportunity. Know what type of post copy makes sense for each platform—Twitter utilizes hashtags, Facebook lends itself to longer stories and shareable copy, Instagram utilizes emojis and hashtags, etc.

Using strategic, quality post copy (as well as other social media features) with your videos, based on social channel, ensures that you’re boosting your viewing and engagement rates.

Ensure your video lengths are social media friendly

Like with video specs, every social media platform has a different video length that works best for that specific channel. Knowing these and using them in your video creation is going to dramatically affect the quality of your video as well as the engagement and viewing rates of your post.

For example, Instagram videos typically perform best when they’re approximately 30 seconds long. However, Instagram stories perform best when they’re roughly 15 seconds long.

You need to consider your audience, the social platform, the video type and the expectations of that social channel when planning for the length of your video.

You also need to be sure that you’re putting your most appealing content in the first few frames of your video. Unfortunately, consumer attention spans are short, and if you don’t grab their attention within the first ten seconds, you’ll likely lose them.

According to Wordstream, 65% of people who watch the first three seconds of a video on Facebook will stick around for 10 seconds, and if you keep them for 10, about 45% of them will watch for almost 30 seconds!

Translation? Make sure your most captivating, engaging content is in the first few seconds of your video, so you can reel in views.

Don’t forget your call-to-action

Your video is intended to draw people in, attract new fans, and most importantly engage viewers. To do this, you need more than a beautifully executed video—you need one that has an immaculate and concise call-to-action (CTA).

Gently guiding your customer, existing or prospective, from your video to your call-to-action can be accomplished in several ways. Maybe it’s a direct link under your video. Perhaps it’s a text overlay with a nudge on what to do after the video. Or maybe it’s a part of the video content itself. For the best results, repeat the same CTA in different formats.

An example would be if your video is about a webinar you’re releasing. Include your “Sign Up Now” CTA in the post copy, then again in the text overlay, insert the link to your webinar in the comment section, and mention it a few times in the video content.

Whatever you decide, don’t forget the point of your video – to provide value to your audience and ultimately expand your reach and boost sales. Learn more about creating killer calls-to-action.

Use social media management tools to measure results

When targeted audiences are engaged, you’re doing something right. The underlying point of implementing videos in your marketing strategy is to reach an audience and engage them. If your target audience is showing interest in your product or solution, you’re on the right track.

However, you can’t gain this insight without the right tools in place. This requires the right social media management tools to track video engagement across all platforms. We recommend leveraging a single social media management tool that can cover all of your social media platforms and provide robust reporting and metrics around video engagement.

If your audience is engaged, you’ve already won half the battle. Now, in an effort to close deals, your marketing team can nurture them using a CRM tool with marketing and sales automation.

But for now, focus on increasing your social media engagement with the tips above. Then, before you know it, you’ll have more social media engagement than you’ve ever seen.

The post Video marketing: Tips for increasing social media engagement appeared first on Agile CRM Blog.

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Video content rules the internet. Think about it. When you’re scrolling through your Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook feeds, what jumps out at you? Today’s consumers love video content and video marketing is increasingly important to a company’s ability to engage new prospects and existing customers.

Video content is everywhere and continues to take social media platforms by storm, especially when it comes to digital marketing for commercial brands. In fact, according to Web Video Marketing Council, about 60% of brands are actively using social media videos as a part of their digital marketing strategy.

High-quality video marketing can boost your SEO results, offer you easier accessibility to your existing fans (and new ones), and increase your conversions and sales.

Moreover, utilizing video for your digital marketing strategy can significantly benefit your social media efforts—not only by increasing your follower base (though it certainly does that), but also by dramatically increasing your social media engagement rates.

Leveraging killer video content on your social media platforms gives your digital marketing efforts an edge. A video is more memorable, fosters stronger emotional connections, allows for higher accessibility, and helps you build stronger relationships with customers and prospects.

All of these factors increase engagement on your social channels and encourage social shares.

People enjoy consuming content that’s engaging, informative, and entertaining. If you master this, you can utilize video as a strategy for boosting social media engagement.

However, using video on your social channels to increase engagement isn’t as simple as posting a random video clip on your platforms—it requires strategy.

Below, we cover some important video marketing tips that can help you excel; when implemented and done properly, these can boost social media engagement levels to new heights.

Deliver high-quality video marketing content

The quality of your content directly affects your engagement levels.

So, to ensure you don’t have low levels, your video content must be compelling, captivating, creative, informative, inspiring, and entertaining. Also, it has to fit within your niche and be directed to your target audience for it to be effective.

Great video content tells a story to its viewers that they can relate to, utilizes a captivating and creative strategy, and is concise in its goal while remaining entertaining.

Your video content should be visually appealing. It also needs to stand out against the sea of video content that already exists on social media.

One way you can do this is by creating videos that focus on what differentiates your company from the competition and why that matters to your audience. Once you’re confident in your positioning, you can use humor or be witty to provide engage and connect with your audience in a way that your competitors can’t.

Before you post your video content to your social media feeds, ask yourself: “Does this provide value to my audience? Am I providing an inspiring, informative, and entertaining video that will set itself apart from the flood of other videos on social media?”

Know the right specs for your videos

This plays directly into your video quality, which, as previously discussed, plays into your social media engagement. If you’re posting video content, that—by all other standards—is great content but is low quality because of incorrect specs, you’re not going to get the social media engagement you’re after.

Every social media platform has different specs, dimensions, and ratios that you have to follow to create quality social media videos.

This doesn’t mean you need the most expensive equipment or studio-level tools, you just need to do your research and understand which specs are necessary for each platform.

Boost views and engagement with native videos

Before we dive into why this matters, allow us to explain what this means.

When you’re uploading a native video, you’re uploading your video content directly to each social media platform. In other words, you’re not adding it to YouTube or Vimeo and then linking it to your Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platforms.

Why does this matter?

Statistics show that native videos tend to have higher viewing and share rates than those that are linked via a platform like YouTube or Vimeo.

This is because many social media platforms—like Facebook—rank videos based on whether someone has watched a video (and for how long), but this is only the case if it’s a native video.

In fact, native videos earn about 530% more comments on Facebook and 477% higher share rates on Facebook than YouTube video links.

We know it sounds like a lot of work, but the ROI you’ll receive via engagement and potential sales will be worth it.

Consider text overlays (and captions) for the silent revolution

There’s a whole segment of viewers on social media channels that watch and consume video content with the sound turned off. So, if your video depends on someone listening to the audio, you’re losing out on engaging a large chunk of your audience.

Try to optimize your video content with text overlays, captions, or subtitles. Doing so not only provides a way for those with hearing disorders the ability to interact with your video, you’re also allowing those who have their volume off to engage with your video, which delivers a better customer experience.

Optimizing for silence is one of the best ways to guarantee you’re getting the engagement you’re after—aside from the fact that tons of social media channels will auto play videos without sound as users scroll.

Write great social copy to support your video content

It’s a huge accomplishment to post quality video content on your social media channels. But you can’t stop there and expect your engagement to skyrocket. You need to support that quality content with optimal social post copy.

Leaving your video content on your social channels without engaging post copy is a missed opportunity. Know what type of post copy makes sense for each platform—Twitter utilizes hashtags, Facebook lends itself to longer stories and shareable copy, Instagram utilizes emojis and hashtags, etc.

Using strategic, quality post copy (as well as other social media features) with your videos, based on social channel, ensures that you’re boosting your viewing and engagement rates.

Ensure your video lengths are social media friendly

Like with video specs, every social media platform has a different video length that works best for that specific channel. Knowing these and using them in your video creation is going to dramatically affect the quality of your video as well as the engagement and viewing rates of your post.

For example, Instagram videos typically perform best when they’re approximately 30 seconds long. However, Instagram stories perform best when they’re roughly 15 seconds long.

You need to consider your audience, the social platform, the video type and the expectations of that social channel when planning for the length of your video.

You also need to be sure that you’re putting your most appealing content in the first few frames of your video. Unfortunately, consumer attention spans are short, and if you don’t grab their attention within the first ten seconds, you’ll likely lose them.

According to Wordstream, 65% of people who watch the first three seconds of a video on Facebook will stick around for 10 seconds, and if you keep them for 10, about 45% of them will watch for almost 30 seconds!

Translation? Make sure your most captivating, engaging content is in the first few seconds of your video, so you can reel in views.

Don’t forget your call-to-action

Your video is intended to draw people in, attract new fans, and most importantly engage viewers. To do this, you need more than a beautifully executed video—you need one that has an immaculate and concise call-to-action (CTA).

Gently guiding your customer, existing or prospective, from your video to your call-to-action can be accomplished in several ways. Maybe it’s a direct link under your video. Perhaps it’s a text overlay with a nudge on what to do after the video. Or maybe it’s a part of the video content itself. For the best results, repeat the same CTA in different formats.

An example would be if your video is about a webinar you’re releasing. Include your “Sign Up Now” CTA in the post copy, then again in the text overlay, insert the link to your webinar in the comment section, and mention it a few times in the video content.

Whatever you decide, don’t forget the point of your video – to provide value to your audience and ultimately expand your reach and boost sales. Learn more about creating killer calls-to-action.

Use social media management tools to measure results

When targeted audiences are engaged, you’re doing something right. The underlying point of implementing videos in your marketing strategy is to reach an audience and engage them. If your target audience is showing interest in your product or solution, you’re on the right track.

However, you can’t gain this insight without the right tools in place. This requires the right social media management tools to track video engagement across all platforms. We recommend leveraging a single social media management tool that can cover all of your social media platforms and provide robust reporting and metrics around video engagement.

If your audience is engaged, you’ve already won half the battle. Now, in an effort to close deals, your marketing team can nurture them using a CRM tool with marketing and sales automation.

But for now, focus on increasing your social media engagement with the tips above. Then, before you know it, you’ll have more social media engagement than you’ve ever seen.

The post Video marketing: Tips for increasing social media engagement appeared first on Agile CRM Blog.

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