What’s coming in 2021? Five marketing trends that will shape the year

It goes without saying that 2020 was not a normal year, for marketing or anything else. Widespread disruption has impacted and changed every industry, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Thankfully, as we head into 2021, we are able to get a clearer image of what is happening in the marketing industry and what we can expect from the year to come. In this article, I look at five predictions for marketing trends in 2021.

1) Agility

Though we have a clearer view of what to expect moving forwards, one thing that 2020 has taught us is that we can never assume we know for sure what tomorrow will bring. Change is always inevitable, and the changes that 2020 have brought will not be going away in 2021. Agility and the ability to respond quickly to a changing business environment will be more important that ever in determining how well your business is able to navigate this changing landscape and take advantage of the opportunities it will present.

2) Remote service

One of the lingering impacts of the pandemic response will be a much wider use of remote services, whether that be telecommuting, video conferencing, or home delivery of goods. While it was necessity that introduced a wider market to remote services, their convenience and ease of use will retain that market, meaning that utilising new channels to reach customers will be an essential part of the coming year.

3) Tracking results

As home services increase, ad spend from companies will shift towards promoting ecommerce and remote service options. For marketers, this will mean even greater focus on being able to track and measure specific results. Ecommerce brings with it the ability to truly follow the customer’s journey from beginning to end, making it possible to optimise every aspect of your marketing in ways that are difficult to achieve with other sales channels.

4) Trust and security

In a changing world, customers want to know that their interactions with businesses will be stable, predictable and safe. Customers in 2021 will be more insistent than ever on reliable products, great customer service and frictionless interaction with your business. Take the time and effort this year to make sure that every part of your customer’s journey is optimised to present the best experience possible and your customers will reward you for it.

5) Sincerity

Calls for increased inclusion and a fairer society ran throughout 2020, and will continue to do so into next year. Companies across the world have reacted to these sentiments, but in too many cases these were seen by customers as transparent attempts to capitalise on the issues. In 2021, it will be important not just to say that your company cares about the issues facing your customers, but to show that you are genuinely taking action to help deal with those issues.

John Rowbottom Design and Marketing look forward to helping you with all of your marketing needs in the year to come. To find out what we can do to help your business, visit us online at JRDM.com.au.

Seasons greeting to all our customers – the JRDM blog will return with new content on January 6th 2021.

The Best Policy – Honesty in Content Marketing

Though it might run contrary to traditional views of marketing, honesty in your content marketing is an essential part of creating content that will work for your audience. Building faith in your product and your business, honest content marketing will help you create better and more productive relationships with your customers. In todays article, I look at four ways that honest communication creates better content.

1) Genuine passion matters

This is a point I’ve raised before, but it has particular relevance to the topic and it’s always worth re-stating. Your customers know what matters to them, and they care about the problems that your product solves. That means they can tell almost instantly if you don’t have passion for what you are discussing in your content marketing. Content needs to come from subjects you care about. Don’t try to fake an interest in something just because you think it’s the latest hot topic. If you don’t care about the topic, either avoid it, or tap someone who does care about it to create content around the topic for you.

2) Nobody wants to be lied to

A good relationship with your customers is something that takes time and effort to build, and it can be undone in an instant if they find out that you have lied to them or obscured information. If you know that there will be an issue that will change something you have already promoted, whether that’s changes in services, reductions in product lines or changes in pricing, be honest with your customers, apologise and let them know what is happening. Honesty up front can help prevent serious damage to your reputation down the line.

3) Admit who you’re not for

No product or service on this planet is right for everyone. You’ve already narrowed down your market by identifying the demographics and customer profiles that match who buys your product. You can further hone your market by being honest about what your product does and doesn’t do, and which problems it can’t solve as well as what it can. Admitting this up-front might narrow your customer base, but it also means you reduce the risk of alienating customers who would be unsatisfied with your product. A customer who knows one product isn’t right for them might come back later if you add a product that meets their needs; a disappointed customer is probably lost to you forever.

4) Own your issues

Just as no product is for everyone, it’s also true that no product is perfect. In all probability, however good they are, it’s likely that your products and services have some areas they’re weak in. Again, being honest about these points means that you avoid potential customer disappointment, and providing a roadmap for when you might overcome those issues means that your customers know what they can expect from you in the future.

Honesty about the reality of your business doesn’t just mean better customer relations; it also helps you stand apart from your competitors in a crowded market and build a reputation as a company that consumers can trust.

If you want to build customer relations that will drive your business forwards, John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help. Visit us at jrdm.com.au to see what we can do for you.

5 ways to build better customer relationships

The most important asset that a company can develop is a positive and understanding relationship with its customers. Understanding your customers means that you understand their needs, where to reach them, and what messaging will be most effective, saving you time, effort and money when it comes to creating your marketing campaigns. In today’s article, I look at five ways you can improve your understanding of your customer base and build better relations.

1) Talk to your customers

This is a simple point, but it can’t be overstated enough. Talking to your customers about their experiences and their needs is the best and simplest way to improve your understanding of them. Nobody knows more about what your customers want than they do.

To get the best results from your customer contact, you need to have a plan for what you want to achieve. Ideally, you should choose one or two key points you want to get more information on, and ask questions specifically addressing those points. Without focus, you’ll be limited to a very generic understanding of your customers, which is of limited use in improving the customer experience. Take care, as well, to try to remove biased or leading questions; you want the real and honest opinions of your customers, not something influenced by what you might want to hear.

2) Take advantage of analytics

This isn’t the first or last time that I’ll praise the usefulness of analytics on this blog. Every website owner has access to vast troves of information on how their customers use and interact with their website. Analytics can show you what your customer like, whet they don’t, what pages are attracting the most views and what content is working for your audience. All of this is vital information, and something you should always take advantage of. Use analytics to see where you can improve your sites user interface to draw more attention to the pages you want to see more traffic on, what content to focus on developing, and what your customers most want from your business.

3) Know your customer’s interests

It might not seem important to know what your customers are interested in beyond the scope of your business, but there are definite advantages that you can take from knowing the other habits and interests of your customers. Understanding what your customers engage with gives you an understanding of their values and their drives, and is an incredible mine of opportunities for content marketing or cross-promotional campaigns. Being able to talk with your customers about the things that matter to them makes it easier to capture their interest, and positions you as an organisation they are more likely to trust.

4) Take personas further

Customer personas that are only based on simple demographic data such as age and gender are of some use, but personas can be taken much further. If you have followed the advice in this article, you should have a much deeper understanding of your customers, incorporating information on how they use your product, how they use your website, their attitudes towards your company, their purchasing habits, and their interests beyond your business. All of this is information that should shape how you interact with your customers. Once you have it, use it, and incorporate it into customer personas that more closely capture the types of customers you have.

5) Understand the customer journey

Mapping the customer journey lets you understand exactly what is needed to turn a customer from a prospect to a closed sale. That journey might be simple or complex, but the only way you will understand it, and how to improve it, is to take the time to map it out. Look at each step in the journey and consider what you can do to reduce resistance, improve the customer experience, and provide better service. An improved customer journey will increase your sales volume and create happier, more loyal customer from your leads.

If you want to build an in-depth understanding of your customer base, John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help. Visit us online at jrdm.com.au and find out what we can do for your business.

Five ways to fight shopping cart abandonment

If you have managed to successfully get a customer to make the journey from a curious prospect to filling in your shopping cart, the last thing you want is for them to abandon their purchase. But over 80% of potential customers that make it to your shopping cart will abandon the cart before finishing the transaction. In today’s post, I look at five techniques you can use to reduce shopping cart abandonment and increase sales.

1. Use a progress indicator

Nobody likes to spend a lot of time at the checkout, whether it’s in the real world or online. A progress bar offers a quick visual indicator of where a customer is in the checkout process, and how much work they have ahead of them to complete the sale.

When putting a progress indicator together, remember that the key is to make the process look as simple as possible. Try to keep the number of steps in the indicator to a minimum. Nobody wants to see that they’re at step two of an eight-step process.

2. Keep it simple

I’ve said the same thing again and again about forms, but I’ll say it again here. The more fields you add to a form, the fewer people will complete it. That’s as true for a checkout process as it is for anything else. Avoid asking for any information that you do not need to complete the sale. If you can get away with only asking for the customer’s name, address, email and credit card information, resist the urge to ask for anything else. At this stage, it’s more important to make the sale than it is to gather unnecessary data.

3. Allow guest purchases

Like my last point, nobody wants to fill in a form that they don’t have to. If a customer has to register an account with you before making a purchase, that means filling in another form. That means taking more time and giving over more data to you before they can make their purchase. Offering ‘guest purchases’ without the need to make an account with you will make it quicker and easier for customers to make their transaction.

4. Remove surprises

One of the biggest reasons that customers will click away from a sale is encountering an unexpected cost. Sales taxes, shipping and other fees can all add onto the cost of an item, and nobody likes to see their purchase suddenly jump up in price at the last minute. Try to make all costs associated with a product clear before the item is added to the cart. Consider offering free shipping, or if that isn’t possible, offer a shipping calculator on the product listing so that customers can check costs themselves before proceeding with the purchase.

5. Speed up your site

The other big time sink for customers, aside from long forms, is the speed and responsiveness of your site. If customers have to sit looking at a blank screen or a spinning progress icon for more than a moment, they will be tempted to click away. It is well worth looking at methods of optimising your website, reducing the size of images, ensuring that data is correctly cached, and making sure that your site’s backend is working efficiently.

Some shopping cart abandonment is inevitable, but the tips above will help your business to avoid as much as possible. If you want to start building a sales process that will work for you, John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help. Get in touch to find out what we can do for your business.

Collecting better customer feedback

To create better marketing campaigns, to improve customer service, and to grow your business, you need to understand your customers. Customer feedback is the best way to learn about what they want, but getting good quality information can often be tricky. In this article, I look at five methods you can use to get quality feedback from your customers.

1. Surveys

Surveys allow you to get in-depth information about a customer’s experience, potentially getting you a lot of useful data. Tools like SurveyMonkey and GetFeedback make setting up and directing users to your surveys simple. As with anything that involves a customer filling out a form, be cautious about the length of any surveys you set up. Like all forms, every additional step means that fewer people will complete the survey, so it’s best to make sure you are limiting your questions to the ones you need the most.

2. Online feedback

Online feedback options make it easy for your customer to come to you with any thoughts or suggestions that they might have. This type of feedback is ideal for catching any issues that a customer is experiencing that aren’t serious enough for them to make a formal complaint. Having a customer feedback option on your page that is easily accessible (without being obtrusive) will let you capture useful information on your sites UX, your sales processes and the general customer experience that can help you pinpoint ways to improve and streamline your operations.

3. Live chat

Live chat is a one-on-one conversation with a customer that has a problem they need to be solved, and so is a great resource to mine to discover more about the needs of your customers. Be especially aware of trends over time; if several customers using your live chat have the same issue, you can be sure that your wider customer base does too.

4. User activity

There are some issues that most customers won’t report – things like site navigation, page content and poorly optimised checkout systems. Rather than complain, most customers will simply click away, leaving you with problems you know nothing about. This is where analytics come into play, letting you look at the ways your customers behave on your site. Analytics tools such as KISSMetrics or Google Analytics will reveal the ways your customers use your site, letting you know when people bounce from a page after a few seconds, or when people abandon your checkout process, letting you focus on improving problem areas of your site.

5. Social media

Monitoring social media – both on and off your official pages – will help you to understand the wider conversation around your business. Tools such as Hootsuite or Google Alerts can be used to alert you whenever someone mentions your business online, so that you can keep an eye on what is being said about you.

One advantage to social media is that opinions will be candid, especially when people post on platforms other than your official page. The raw feedback can be valuable, but bear in mind that any major complaints will need to be addressed to prevent any possible damage to your reputation.

Regularly gathering information is the best way to keep on top of your business and to continuously develop it to better serve the needs of your customers. John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can help you gather the feedback you need to capitalise on your opportunities. To get started, book an appointment at jrdm.com.au.

Dealing with customer complaints on social media

No matter what business you are in, and no matter how hard you work to perfect your customer service, sooner or later every business will have to deal with a customer complaint. Social media has made it easier for businesses and customers to communicate than ever before, but it also means that any customer complaints become a very visible part of your business’ online presence. This means it’s more important than ever to have a strategy in place to deal with your customer’s complaints and make sure they come to a satisfactory outcome. Today, I’m going to look at the best steps to take to deal with customer issues on social media.

1. Respond quickly

When dealing with customer complaints, time is of the essence. Nothing says ‘poor customer service’ like a visible complaint that hasn’t been dealt with for days, or, God forbid, weeks. Ideally, you should try to respond to customer complaints within one hour of the complaint being posted. That doesn’t mean that you need to sit at your desk, constantly monitoring your social media feeds; tools like Hootsuite or Google Alerts can be set up to send you an alert when your business is mentioned, letting you know when to take action.

2. Listen to their issues

The first thing a customer with a complaint wants is to be heard. Take the time to listen to their concerns and to try to understand their position. In some cases, a customer wants nothing more than to vent, and demonstrating that you have understood their concerns will go a long way to helping them to feel you care about their position.

It’s also important to not waste the opportunity that a customer complaint can give you to help improve your processes. Companies can spend a lot of money in trying to solicit customer feedback to improve their processes – in that sense, a customer complaint can be a golden opportunity to look at ways to improve the customer experience.

3. Take the discussion away from social media

Dealing with a customer’s complaint is a complex process. The issue could escalate, the customer may well be angry or upset, and fixing the issue could require private information. For all these reasons, any discussion of the customer’s issue should be done through private channels – emails, direct messages, phone calls – rather than as public posts. Move the issue to private communication as soon as possible, and keep it there until the issue is resolved.

4. Deal with the issue

Once you have fully understood the customer’s problem, you can work on providing a solution that will address their issue. First, you should apologise for whatever problem the customer has undergone, focussing on the apology and an explanation for why it occurred. Then work to provide a solution that will help the customer, whether that be a refund, a future credit, or work done to fix the issue they are experiencing. This may well include offering service beyond that which they originally asked for, but the return on your investment will be worth it if it satisfies the customer.

5. Change the feedback

Once you have successfully dealt with the customer’s issue, ask if they would be happy to change their feedback, either by changing their review or leaving a positive comment following on from their compliant. Most customers will be happy to do this if their problem has been solved, and them doing so will carry a lot of weight with other customers.

Whether the customer does or doesn’t leave a positive comment, you should still follow up on the thread, politely thanking them for their feedback and stating that you are happy you could deal with their concerns. Need help managing your business’ social media presence? John Rowbottom Design and Marketing can provide social media management services tailored to meet your needs. For more information, visit jrdm.com.au and book an appointment today.