If you have any kind of working customer relationship management (CRM) system, odds are much of your marketing effort is going toward your database of both customers and prospects. But did you know you can also use your email database to improve your marketing? You should be able to consistently improve your promotions over time — and I’ve aimed to boil that process down to just three steps: “S.O.S.”
That stands for: Survey, Optimize and Smooth.
If you haven’t used broadcast email messages to actively solicit feedback and make tangible changes to your marketing strategy, the following will give you the right ideas for testing and improving your ongoing email ROI. Let’s get started:
Simply put, survey your database to glean what they like and don’t like about your products or service. Use your marketing software to ask your database if your product or service is living up to their expectations. Ask your previous buyers questions, such as:
- Did they get what they wanted out of their purchase from you?
- What were they hoping to gain in buying your goods or service?
- How did they benefit from what they purchased?
- What features helped the most and which ones the least and why?
I’ve spoken at length about using customer feedback to improve marketing — and I’ve even given away some of my own surveys in some of my past email marketing interviews — and the fundamentals apply to nearly any business.
Poke and prod to get the information you want. Ask about the good and the bad (and be prepared for both). At the end of your poll, ask for an overall rating from 1 to 10. Just remember to offer a small premium to encourage people to fill out your poll and include an exit option for those who have purchased but haven’t used what they bought from you.
Then, once you’ve compiled your information, act on it. If your survey returns speak glowingly of your product or services, then determine the specific aspects of your product that were most useful, or determine what differentiated you as a “better option” in the mind of the buyer.
If the feedback you get is just so-so, look harder at your data and see where you can improve your database marketing to retool your product or your positioning. Find needs that still aren’t met and meet them; find common frustrations and solve them.
Further, if a majority of your customers are noticeably deriving a different benefit than the ones you’re selling, optimize your approach to make that benefit the focus of your marketing.
The point of a survey is not to validate your existing ideas, but to learn something new and meaningful about your customers so that you can create better split-tests, and adjust your current offers to convert at higher levels (whether a “conversion” means more phone calls or more e-commerce sales, it makes no difference).
The information you’ll get from your survey will let you see what’s most important to your database as well as how your marketing is framing your product. Use that data to optimize your marketing.
If there’s a disconnect between what you’re selling and why your customers are buying, take the benefits that are important to your customers and apply them to every aspect of your marketing. That can range from simply tweaking your headlines or subject lines to changing the name of your product.
Another way to use your survey data to optimize your product and marketing is to add testimonials to your website or marketing materials. Focus on those who derived the most from the biggest benefit your product offers and position their testimonial so that it speaks explicitly to the core benefit you’re offering.
Finally, don’t forget to articulate those most desirable benefits in your broadcast as well, so those new opt-ins can plainly see how your product or service can benefit them. The goal, whether you’re aiming at existing customers or new prospects, is to create a value proposition that will propel your customers all the way from conversion to transaction.
It’s important to note that the “value proposition” and “most important benefit” are not concepts that you invent; they are insights that you learn from the voice and buying behavior of your customer. Surveys and feedback should always be able to serve an important role in bolstering your “benefit language” in email and landing page copy (for further reading about how to turn customer feedback into higher email ROI, check out this previous Marketing Land article about creating profitable email auto-responders).
Now that you’ve optimized your marketing and your product positioning, smooth out the rest of your conversion process. Use InfusionSoft, GetResponse, Aweber, or just about any other marketing software to reach out to those customers who clicked but didn’t buy and find out what went wrong.
Ask what held them back from buying. Was it something about the product or the price? Did something happen during the purchase process? Are there too many steps in your conversion funnel? What prevented you from taking action? How could we have been more helpful?
In addition, go back and ask your buyers what they didn’t like about your buying process and if there was anything that almost made them not buy.
The answers you get will show you the points of friction in your buying process. Smooth out and eliminate those points of friction and turn those lookers into buyers.
But don’t stop there. Remember that, unlike the poll answers from your buyers, these prospective customers are telling you exactly why they didn’t buy your product. Put that information to work.
Take the objections you hear the most and apply them to your marketing and your autoresponders or your broadcast messages. Use your website copy and emails to overcome those objections and show how what you sell can help solve their concerns or objections.
Note that, when I say “apply the objections you hear the most,” I mean it. For example, if you sell a training system for XYZ Software and the most common objection you hear is “Software like that is too complex for me,” turn that into a sales angle. That’s as easy as including a line in your marketing email that says, “A lot of people think that putting XYZ Software to work in their business is too complicated, but our XYZ Software Training Course makes it easier than ever.”
Address and overcome their objections, smooth the friction points in your conversion process and turn the objection into a selling proposition.
Traditionally, “S.O.S.” was a code for distress. However, if you apply it to your database marketing by Surveying your customers’ opinions, Optimizing your message based on that feedback, and using the information you get from both buyers and prospects alike to Smooth out the bumps in your funnel process, S.O.S. can be your company’s code for “Strengthening Our Sales.”
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