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Posted by David in Interesting

Six secrets to driving referral sales for your business

Referrals (AKA word of mouth marketing) are one of the most proven ways to drive your business’s sales. Did you know, for example, that a customer is four times more likely to carry out a transaction when referred to that product or service by a friend?

Combine this with the fact that referral leads cost far less to generate than virtually any of the alternatives and the benefits of driving referral sales for your business really speak for themselves.

But what if you’re unsure how to get referrals for your business? Worry not – we’ve got you covered…

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

Implement a referral programme

Referral programmes are popular for a reason: they work. It’s why you’ll see all the big brands, from Uber to PayPal, regularly utilising this strategy to continue growing their audience.

The basics are straightforward: provide an incentive for referring that benefits both you and the customer. Whether that’s an exclusive discount or free delivery with each successful referral, identify an incentive that drives engagement with a cheap overhead cost.

Keep the referral process as simple as possible. Think of an easy-to-remember discount code or create a mobile-friendly link that can be copied and shared with the touch of a button. By doing so, you’re presenting referrals as a real win-win for your customer – maximum reward for minimum effort.

Encourage on all platforms

Your customers don’t only spend time in one place. So, to get the most out of your referral scheme, be sure to encourage its use across all of your social platforms.

Look deeper into the nuances of your audience on each platform – do you reach a different demographic on Facebook than you do on Twitter, for example?

If so, look to tailor the incentive offered based on these findings. After all, the best way to get referrals is to offer value to the referrer – so the more this incentive can be tailored to a consumer’s desires, the more likely they are to refer.

Act on all customer feedback

To get referrals, you’ll need to prove you’re worth referring.

To do this, look to go above and beyond customer expectations. But what do customers expect from your brand? Well, this is where customer feedback comes into play.

With state-of-the-art software available to help you create and distribute customer surveys, you can send these out to existing customers to better gauge what you’re doing right and what you could be doing better.

To make the process worthwhile, ensure you’re acting on this feedback, regardless of whether it’s positive or otherwise. By working with your customers in this way, you’ll begin to align your brand with their values, meaning they’re more likely to refer you to their peers.

Stay in touch with past buyers

Where are your referrals coming from? Past buyers, of course.

So, look to invest in each and every relationship your business builds. This often means establishing contact long after the customer’s initial purchase. This way, you can keep them engaged for longer, meaning they’re more likely to think of your brand when referring a friend or family member.

Create a community around your customer base that shares the core values of your brand. Do this by upping your post-sale communications to nurture one-off sales into longer-term relationships.

It’s important to understand that there’s a fine line between nurturing a customer relationship and being a nuisance. So, make sure you’re always offering some kind of value whenever you reach out to your customer – whether that’s through useful and informative content or special offers, for example.

Keep customers sweet with high-quality content

Speaking of content, when done correctly, your content can be one of the most useful referral marketing tools in your arsenal.

But how do you use content to dive referrals? Well, you want to start by ensuring that it’s high-quality. To drive engagement, you need to provide genuine value to the reader, so build your content around your audience’s needs.

With your high-quality content created and distributed, encourage customers to share it – this is where your referrals will come from. Assuming you’ve hit the nail on the head when it comes to relevance and value, the only thing left to do is nudge your customers in the right direction by making sharing as simple as possible.

Something as simple as an easy referral link will do the trick here, so look to include a ‘share this now’ link on all of your distributed content.

Leverage customer service for referrals

The quality of your customer service plays a major role in your customers’ experience of your brand, meaning one key way to get referrals is by ensuring your customer service is top-notch.

To do this, look to remain responsive and authentic. Address customer queries not only as quickly as possible, but also in a way that’s sympathetic and understanding with regards to their issue. Try to go above and beyond, always emphasising how valued the customer is regardless of how big or small their problem may be.

In short, the recipe for a successful customer service process is simple: be helpful and be respectful. Do this correctly and you’ll find customers are more than willing to make a big song and dance of their buying experience and your brand as a whole.

Driving referral sales for your business is all about creating brand advocates from your existing audience. To do this, look to properly nurture customer relationships to create a community your customers can proudly identify with.

At Six Circles, we know a thing or two about building a thriving community of engaged customers. Get in touch with us today and book a free online demo of our community engagement platform.

Posted by David in Interesting

Six elements of an event signup page primed to convert

So, you’re managing to drive traffic to your event signup page. Great work, but what’s next?

Well, if this traffic is failing to convert into genuine signups, it’s probably time to reassess the optimisation of your event page. After all, it can take a lot of time, effort and money to drive users to your site – so losing conversion opportunities due to a poorly constructed landing page is the ultimate cardinal sin of any event marketer.

Luckily, we’re here to save the day, sharing six key elements of an event signup page that’s primed to convert visitors every time.

Attendees at an event
Image by Headway on Unsplash

Date, time and location details

Sure, this one seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget the basics sometimes. With this in mind, start by ensuring the fundamentals – the date, time and location of your event – are clearly presented on your event page.

The user shouldn’t have to work to find this information. On the contrary, they should be able to find these basic details from a single glance at your event page. Look to create a flawless user experience by considering your page design, ensuring fundamental event information is displayed clearly towards the top of your landing page and is readily distinguishable from the rest of your page content.

An eye-catching headline

Once you’ve got users landing on your event page, the next step is to keep visitors on your event page. After all, the longer a user spends on your page, the more likely they are to convert.

So, how do you keep your visitor’s attention? An eye-catching headline, of course! For best results, take the time to get to know your audience: what demographic do they fall into, what are their interests, and why are they considering your event?

This allows you to become more direct in your headline and, in turn, increases your likelihood of capturing the user’s attention. Use second-person pronouns to speak directly to the visitor, taking time to carefully consider your headline style and language choices based on your audience research.

A comprehensive event summary

Remember that the purpose of your event page is to drive conversions, meaning every piece of content on your page should provide real value that encourages signups.

Try to avoid the use of filler content wherever possible. Remain sharp and to-the-point, asking yourself if each line is providing the user with new and important information about your event. If it isn’t, consider whether you’re using your word count to maximum effect.

This event summary should also look to tie your brand and event together. After all, you want attendees to associate your event with your brand in order to expand your customer base and better establish your brand as a key name in your sector. Ensure all content is in line with your brand voice as well as your visual branding across your on-page content and page design.

A clear incentive to convert

What makes your event so special? Why should anyone care? How will attendees benefit from signing up?

These are all questions that should be answered when presenting the user with a clear incentive to convert. If you’ve carried out your audience research, this should be a whole lot easier – as it’s likely you already have a solid understanding of what your attendees are looking to get from your event.

Either way, make sure you’re making a big ol’ song and dance out of any unique selling point (USP) your event boasts. Whether it’s a noteworthy guest speaker or access to exclusive material, make it crystal clear that your event is not one to be missed.

An irresistible call-to-action

With your visitor hooked, it’s now time to reel them in – and no bait works better than an irresistible call-to-action (CTA).

The recipe for a killer CTA is simple: keep it short and effective. To do this, communicate clearly and directly with the user, using strong imperatives such as ‘sign up now’ or ‘register today’. Of course, clicking this button should take the user to the most logical conversion point – whether that’s an event registration form or ticket purchasing platform.

Be sure to consider your page layout and design here, too. As the final driving force pushing the user towards a conversion, a CTA button should stand out against the rest of your content and should be positioned in a strategic place on the page.

A user-friendly signup form

After all that hard work, it’d be a real shame for your conversion to fall through at the last crucial moment.

So, be sure to create an event registration form that’s quick and easy to use. Look to collect the bare necessities when it comes to user info (think name, address and contact details). The reasoning here is simple – the quicker the form is to complete, the more likely the user is to complete it.

Make sure you haven’t forgotten about mobile users here, either. Forms should be adapted to function and display seamlessly on both desktop and mobile to guarantee a smooth user experience.

By optimising your event page with these key elements, you can engage users at each stage of the sales funnel. Those in the informational stage will be able to quickly acquire basic event info, while those closer to converting will be spurred on by your comprehensive, targeted content and strong CTAs.

Integrating these elements into your landing page is a sure-fire way to bolster conversion rates and see more signups than ever before. To learn more about how Six Circles can help you streamline your event marketing, get in touch with us today to book your free online demo of our community engagement platform.

Posted by David in Interesting

Six easy steps to your brand’s customer persona

Understanding your brand’s audience is business 101. After all, your customers are the ultimate driving force behind your success – so knowing how best to engage them is paramount to the sustainable growth of your business.

With this in mind, more and more brands are turning to the creation of customer personas to better understand their customers’ behaviours and interests. By doing so, businesses are able to ensure they communicate more effectively with their audience, improving consumer-brand relations while driving engagement and, ultimately, conversions.

Man brainstorming ideas with sticky notes
Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

But how do you create a buyer persona for your brand? It may sound like a daunting task, but it’s not as hard as you might think – with the right know-how and some simple yet smart application, a deeper understanding of your customer base is just six steps away.

Look at the data

To ensure an accurate and effective consumer persona, your profile needs to be based on hard data.

Remember that your persona won’t necessarily be the same as your target audience, and it’s important to be able to differentiate between the two from the off. To put it simply, your target audience are the customers you’d like to engage, while your consumer persona represents the customers who are already engaging with your brand.

While, in an ideal world, these two might perfectly align (and in these instances, you should pat yourself on the back for a super-focused marketing strategy!), this won’t always be the case. As such, ensure you don’t let your target audience influence the way in which your buyer persona is constructed – instead, let the data do the talking.

Start with the basics

Begin by gathering the basic data on your typical user – age and gender are good places to start here.

Of course, it’s highly unlikely that your audience will exclusively fall into one demographic, so look to build the foundations of your persona on the most dominant user or customer type. This doesn’t mean the others should be ignored – on the contrary, this data can form the basis of a new consumer persona further down the line.

Dig a little deeper

With the basic information collected, look to dig deeper into your data to build a more comprehensive profile – think bounce rates, user interests, new vs returning users, landing pages and average pages per session here.

By doing this, you’ll begin to better understand your customers’ behaviour patterns, helping your persona to evolve from one based purely on objective characteristics. This will come together to create an overview of your typical user based on how they interact with your site and, as we’ll explore now, what they’re looking to achieve.

Identify the goal

Use the data you’ve collected to inform common customer goals – what is the user’s intent when browsing your site?

Having hard data to hand is all well and good, but, without an understanding of how this data translates to user objectives, you’re barely scratching the surface when it comes to getting to know your audience. So, spend time thinking about what this data actually represents, and build a more detailed persona around your findings.

For example, let’s say a business owner runs a popular interior design company with a website that ranks well organically. Following her basic data gathering, she has concluded that her audience is predominantly female and in the 25-34-year-old age bracket. After delving into the browsing activity of these users, she can see they average around 6 pages per session and generally browse on mobile rather than desktop. So what?

Well, this actually tells us a whole lot about user intent. From the data above, we can build a persona built on assumptions but rooted in evidence. The fact that the user is browsing multiple pages per session, for example, may suggest the user doesn’t yet have a clear indication of the product they want and they’re in the navigational rather than transactional stage of the sales funnel.

This can be taken further still when looking at landing pages and user interests. By studying where your users are finding your site and even utilising Google Analytics’ handy user interests tool to see where else they’re browsing, you’ll be able to better gauge your user’s intent. In this way, you can come to understand why your users are here and what they’re looking for.

Personify the persona

Get creative and personify your buyer persona by assigning characteristics and attributes based on the data gathered.

To do this successfully, think outside the box to build a fictional character around your data. By adding this human element to your data, you’re reminded that your audience consists of real life buyers as opposed to numbers on a screen. This helps you to better tailor your strategies for maximum engagement.

Returning to the data collected by our interior design business owner, for example, we could create a persona we’ll call Susie. As Susie is aged between 25 and 34 and browsing interior design related topics, we can conclude that Susie is likely a first-time home owner. Since she’s browsing on her phone for an average of 6 pages per session, it’s likely she’s looking for interior inspiration rather than a specific product – and perhaps pushed for time as a result of being a first-time mother. Already, you can begin to see how a little creative interpretation of data can go a long way.

Apply to your strategy

With your consumer persona complete, it’s time to start tailoring your marketing strategies accordingly.

Remember: the point of creating a buyer persona is to better understand your audience, helping you adapt your marketing strategies to meet their unique needs. So, use your persona to highlight what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong, adapting as necessary.

Ask yourself what problems your fictional persona is likely to face and create content that resolves these problems. Alternatively, consider whether your fictional persona would positively engage with your existing brand voice and content style. If not, your brand voice might need some more work.

Creating a buyer persona is a fun and creative way to understand your customers in a new light. With the right application, this persona can help you build an authentic and focused brand identity that meets the wants and needs of your audience. With this weapon in your marketing arsenal, engagement is a done deal.

Now you know your audience that little bit better, it’s time to build a thriving community of engaged customers. Get in touch with us today to book your free online demo of our community engagement platform.

Posted by David in Interesting

Six irresistible lead magnet ideas for your brand’s website

Whatever lead generation means to your business, this meaningful micro conversion is a universal stepping stone to success.

B2C brands categorise leads as would-be customers who’ve joined their mailing list or added products to their cart but haven’t yet converted. B2B businesses, on the other hand, might count theirs in the form of users who’ve requested a free trial of their service or made an initial enquiry but not yet signed on the proverbial dotted line.

We know leads are crucial for any business, but driving them isn’t always a breeze. Today, we’re helping commercially minded brands on the hunt for hot leads to find their winning lead magnet.

Woman holding lightbulb in her hand
Photo by fotografierende on Unsplash

What is a lead magnet?

First things first: a lead magnet is an incentive offered to users of your website who have the potential to become customers of your brand. This lead magnet generally takes the form of a reward (or bait) given in exchange for the lead’s contact information.

With these all-important contact details secured, the lead can be added to your mailing list and thus enter the conversion funnel.

The lead magnet or bait can take many shapes – and the right bait to use will depend entirely on the nature and expertise of your business. To help you find an irresistible lure that makes sense for your brand, we’re sharing a selection of the most popular lead magnet examples used by businesses all over the world across all sectors.

Content bait

The promise of ‘free’ content is an enticing offer indeed, as long as the inherent value of this content is made clear to users at the point when it’s offered. From informational how-to guides, white papers and infographics to persuasive case studies and time-saving checklists and cheat sheets, the possibilities are virtually endless when using content as your lead magnet.

Just make sure to emphasise exactly how your content will add value for prospective leads so they’re able to hand over their contact details in exchange for content they can be confident will deliver tangible results.

Tool bait

As far as lead magnets go, there are few incentives more powerful than a custom interactive tool that will solve a real-world problem or streamline an everyday process. Offering leads access to tools you’ve either built yourself or commissioned will create that feeling of exclusivity that so often converts users into leads.

Wondering what custom tools you could create for your brand? Popular ideas include online calculators for finance websites, outfit planners for fashion brands and interactive maps for travel companies. Consider what value you have to offer your customers and contemplate how that value can be distilled into a nifty digital tool.

Trial bait

For businesses offering software as a service or gaming brands looking to lure in players for their latest release, trials and demos offer the perfect tasting menu ahead of the main course that is your product or service.

As such, so-called trial bait serves as an effective lead magnet that offers clear value to users as well as giving them a teaser of your full product or service, increasing the likelihood of a conversion in the long run.

Webinar bait

The value of knowledge-sharing can’t be overestimated. Beyond value-adding written content (such as the white papers and case studies mentioned above), there’s also the ever popular webinar which gives your business an opportunity to impart wisdom through the medium of video – ideal for users who prefer to consume their content in visual formats.

With an original concept for your webinar, combined with a sincere promise of tangible benefits for viewers, your webinar will serve as a powerful piece of laid bait sure to see users signing up in exchange for newfound knowledge on a relevant topic.

Competition bait

There’s nothing quite like a competition to get the blood pumping among your brand community. The chance of winning a coveted prize should be more than sufficient when it comes to incentivising users to provide their email addresses in exchange for the prospect of the prize in question.

Better yet, with an increased likelihood of virality (with entrants often sharing competition details with friends and family, particularly if this is among the criteria for entry), choosing a competition for your lead magnet can mean a big boost to brand exposure.

Special offer bait

From percentage discounts and coupons to exclusive freebies for subscribers, there are special offers galore you can use to tempt your audience into joining your all-important mailing list – after which you’ll have their consent to share countless other limited-time offers in a bid to drive sales.

Taking advantage of the sense of urgency is key here – so make sure to stress the limited time window for which your offer will be available, and ensure your call-to-action uses suitably urgent language (such as ‘here’ and ‘now’). With the right offer, the right positioning and the right call-to-action, you’ll have a lead magnet that’s near impossible to ignore.

With these lead magnet ideas in your marketing arsenal, you can help your brand become an irresistible prospect in the eyes of would-be customers or clients.

This is made infinitely easier with the help of our purpose-built community engagement platform, complete with all the essential tools you’ll need to attract leads. Get your free online demo today right here.

Posted by David in Interesting

Six reasons to try automated email marketing for your business

Email marketing is a powerful tool in the digital marketer’s arsenal, promising a raft of commercial benefits for brands able to commit the time and effort necessary to make this data-driven art form work – and even those who aren’t. Thanks to the advent of email marketing automation, you can reap the benefits without having to invest the resources you previously would’ve done. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Apple Mail app with email notifications
Photo by Torsten Dettlaff from Pexels

Our brand is built on a mission to help other brands find and nurture an engaged community of customers and advocates – and email marketing is primed for supporting this kind of community-building activity.

We’re making a case for automation in today’s post, as we explore just a handful of the numerous perks that come with taking an automated approach to your email marketing activity.

Time savings

Rather than having to scramble each month to find time between meetings and before weekends to pull together short-notice email marketing campaigns, adopting an automated approach gives you the power to plan, create and launch a single email workflow that will run seamlessly in the background – triggering sequential emails as and when predetermined conditions are met. This way, you can protect your time while also ensuring consistent levels of care and quality across each of your emails.

Audience segmentation

Your mailing list is a valuable asset that can be used to drive engagement and, ultimately, conversions – whatever they may mean to your brand. It shouldn’t, however, be treated as a static list of identical users – especially considering the raw power of audience segmentation. By launching an automated email campaign, you can gradually segment your mailing list based on browsing and buying behaviours – among countless other criteria – to slowly but surely build a multifaceted database of users and really come to know the people you call customers.

Tailored messaging

With this superior audience segmentation, you can sculpt the messaging used in your email marketing campaigns to treat each and every lead in a tailored way. Whether you’re trying to convert newsletter signups into product sales or engage unresponsive contacts, the data provided as a result of your audience segmentation will make truly personalised lead-warming possible.

Customer re-engagement

One of many examples of this tailored messaging is the opportunity to re-engage customers who haven’t purchased in a given period of time. With a campaign focused solely on persuading past customers to convert again, such as a cart abandonment email triggered at the moment a user leaves your site without buying, you can minimise customer drop-off and do everything in your power to see customer journeys through to completion.

Increased customer lifetime value

By encouraging inactive and first-time customers to convert again, you can steadily improve your business’s customer lifetime value – i.e. the amount each customer is worth to your business over their entire relationship with your brand. Many businesses inadvertently treat their customers as disposable once they’ve secured that all-important first sale from a new lead. With automated email marketing, you can nurture every first-time customer into a loyal repeat customer who will be worth significantly more to your brand in the long term.

Data measurement and implementation

Last but by no means least, the data measurement benefits of automating your email marketing campaigns simply can’t be overlooked. Every marketing channel available to you should be considered an opportunity to gather and review data, with resulting actions informed by these data insights. With each automated campaign you launch comes a fresh batch of customer behaviour data ready to be analysed – and from this analysis comes your next great campaign. Rinse and repeat.

With so many reasons to launch your first automated email marketing campaign, now’s the time to start. Our state-of-the-art community engagement platform is the perfect companion to your email marketing activity, with the ability to integrate with user-friendly email marketing software favourite, Mailchimp. Get your free online demo of our platform today to take your community building to the next level.

Posted by David in Interesting

Six tried and tested ways to build brand loyalty online

Sales are the name of the game for any business operating online, or anywhere else for that matter – and while acquiring new customers is a vital part of the revenue generation process, building enduring brand loyalty is where there’s real money to be made.

Driving referral sales, amplifying brand recognition and transforming would-be one-off customers into devoted brand advocates, loyalty marketing delivers numerous benefits for brands looking to find and nurture their tribe.

Woman using laptop and holding credit card
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Loyalty is a hard-won reward that’s essential to growing your own engaged brand community. Today, we’re taking some of the toil out of this pursuit by showing you how and where to start when it comes to building lasting brand loyalty online.

Invest in a memorable brand image

Your brand’s identity should be as multifaceted as your own personal identity, and your brand image (which includes but is by no means limited to your logo) should strive to express this complex identity in a largely visual way. History’s most iconic brands are recognisable from a hundred yards away, having permeated the public consciousness to the point that they’ve transcended mere business status.

It’s easier said than done, but do what you can to distance yourself from your brand and ask yourself whether your brand imagery would catch your eye on the street, in a lineup, on a busy supermarket shelf and in a crowded social media feed. If your branding doesn’t pass this test, it’s time to invest in an upgrade.

Ensure brand consistency across all channels

In order for a brand to be memorable, it needs to be consistent. If your brand takes a different shape every time a user is exposed to it, the user may very well not even make the connection. To breed this familiarity, ensure that your brand imagery, voice and wider identity are cohesive across all of your digital platforms – from your website and blog area to your social media accounts, email marketing activity and any other conceivable marketing materials you distribute.

As your audience gets to know you, trust will develop and your chances of securing that all-important first-time sale will skyrocket. Beyond that, though, and more importantly, remaining consistent in your ethos, principles and messaging will allow you to build the trust needed to drive not only one-off sales but long-term customer loyalty, as you demonstrate over time that your brand is trustworthy and dependable.

Align your brand with industry influencers

You’ll be no stranger to the weighty influence celebrities and industry experts can have on consumer buying behaviour. Of course, it’s possible to build a devoted customer base the organic way, but there are also benefits to fast-tracking this brand loyalty with the help of a relevant influencer’s endorsement.

Identify a public figure trusted and adored by members of your potential customer pool and make it your personal mission to align your brand with this almighty influencer. Whether you interview this industry icon for your blog, bag an influencer-made video review of your product or service, or launch a mutually beneficial partnership, anything you can do to earn the seal of approval from your influencer of choice will see your brand benefit from this flattering affiliation.

Make customer service a top priority

Customer service is the faithful sidekick to your product or service, and ever-increasing customer expectations mean that providing 360-degree customer support is now all but a necessity. This omnipresent customer service should begin the moment a user first engages with your brand online and should continue long after they’ve made their first purchase.

To foster loyalty between customers and your brand, your customer service function needs to seamlessly guide them through their shopping experience, which means responding to any and all customer queries in a timely, approachable and comprehensive manner. By continually giving your customers the right answers in the right way at the right time, you can begin to build a reputation for reliability – and reliability breeds loyalty.

Harness honest audience feedback

As recipients of your product and the customer service that accompanies it, your customers are the most qualified to judge where and how this product and service can be improved. A trusted brand encourages any and all feedback and views this feedback as a welcome opportunity to adjust and improve. Done right, this process is a circular one that repeats endlessly in the knowledge that there is and will always be further room for improvement.

Market research tools such as polls provide a simple yet effective means of generating honest customer feedback on various aspects of your product (e.g. quality, cost and efficacy) and service (e.g. response and delivery times, payment options and rep knowledge). By asking the big questions, you can gather valuable data that can be used to shape a better business and, in turn, better customer relations.

Keep your promises to your customers

Value is an inherently intangible concept, but absolutely vital for any brand to be deserving of a loyal customer base. Across your website content, social media communications and wider brand messaging, you make a promise of value to your customers – and in order to amass loyal repeat customers (as opposed to disposable one-offs), your brand must strive to fulfil this promise for each and every customer.

From promising a 24-hour turnaround and all user queries to promising free, 48-hour delivery on all customer orders, businesses make all kinds of promises to their customers – but the brands who enjoy loyal, lucrative and enduring relationships with their customer bases achieve this accolade by only making promises they have no doubt they can keep.

Our loyal clients choose our platform for the luxury of having state-of-the-art community-building tools at their fingertips. This is our promise to brands in search of their own devoted tribe. To get started growing your community today, simply request a free online demo of the Six Circles platform now.

Posted by David in Uncategorized

European Regional Development Fund

The GX Project is led by NewcastleGateshead Initiative, and supported by the Innovation Super Network. GX provides a range of opportunities to North-East SMEs and scaleups before, during and after the Great Exhibition of the North. GX supported Six Circles to develop a white labelled community platform with a grant of £2,800. GX is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Posted by David in Interesting

Six cardinal customer service sins

Customer service is an essential aspect of running a retail business – a key ingredient with the power to make or break the flavour of your brand. An innovative, high-quality, competitively priced product can be completely undermined by a subpar customer service function – and if it’s your mission to bring such a product to the masses, one non-negotiable item on the agenda is ensuring your customer experience is up to scratch.

Customer service rep on headset call
Photo by Proxyclick Visitor Management System on Unsplash

At Six Circles, we’ve developed a cutting-edge community engagement platform that’s designed to effortlessly complement your customer service function – with tools galore to manage, engage and grow your brand’s audience online.

First, though, it’s time to master the foundations of customer relationship management, as we share a handful of unforgivable sins committed by companies in various sectors across the globe.

Setting a negative tone

The laws of communication with customers are highly nuanced, and it’s all too easy to slip into a visibly negative tone when countering negative feedback or frustrated comments from your customer base. Negative language – which covers anything defensive, dismissive or condescending – paints a picture of a brand unwilling to hear the likely constructive feedback being offered by those best qualified to comment.

Don’t think of these exchanges as a battle – think of them as an opportunity to court and persuade your customers. Simply reframing the experience will make it infinitely easier to strike the right chord with members of your community.

Neglecting basic etiquette

Manners cost nothing but are worth everything, as they say. This is undeniably true of customer service, as poor etiquette has the potential to end previously profitable relationships – while first-class customer service is the key to loyal, enduring custom. There’s more to this than the obvious hellos, thank-yous and goodbyes, but it goes without saying that these basics should be a firm fixture of your customer service script.

Use your customer’s name in every exchange to make it abundantly clear that they’re a valued customer rather than a box to be checked. Express gratitude when a customer provides useful insights into how your product or service could be further improved. Ask if there’s anything else you can help with. Go the extra mile with each customer encounter.

Refusing to say sorry

There’s a natural aversion to apologies among customer and client-facing businesses, fuelled by a fear that apologising means admitting failure and relinquishing all power. We’re not suggesting assuming blame for every minute hiccup a customer has experienced as part of shopping with you – we’re merely urging you to own up to genuine mistakes and approach conversations about these mistakes in a polite and transparent way.

Acknowledging a frustrated customer’s feelings (rather than dismissing or belittling them) is a crucial first step towards smoothing over situations where your business is undeniably at fault. A defective product or problematic shipping process can leave a customer relationship on the rocks – and an unsatisfying response from customer service could well be the final straw. Maintain some perspective and hold your hands up when the situation calls for humility.

Keeping it impersonal

No customer wants to feel as though they’re communicating with a mindless bot. Every customer service experience should feel genuine and personal and tailored to the given customer’s unique query or complaint. This means every response you provide should be relevant and useful, rather than feeling as though it’s been ripped right out of the catch-all customer service handbook.

Get customers on side right away by mirroring their tone to communicate that you’re on the same page – ensuring your language and energy are appropriate for the nature of the exchange. By all means, follow a basic customer service script structure in terms of carefully and politely guiding the customer to an acceptable resolution – but if the customer ever feels like you’re phoning it in, you’ve done something wrong.

Regurgitating industry jargon

Many customers feel alienated by industry jargon – not least because it has the potential to read as patronising by customers who aren’t in the loop. As well as unnecessary shop talk, though, there’s also the customer service jargon that, when overused, will convince customers you’re less than invested in their query. Don’t “apologise for the inconvenience” when a simple “sorry” will do.

Speak plainly. Time is of the essence from both parties’ perspectives, and resolving a customer’s query quickly involves getting straight to the point and leaving the industry noise in the company boardroom where it belongs.

Leaving them hanging

While we’re on the subject of time, we don’t want to miss an opportunity to stress the importance of acknowledging questions and complaints in a timely manner. ‘Ghosting’ your community is a recipe for dead-end customer relationships – and the truth is that, in many cases, all a customer needs to feel heard in the immediate sense is an initial holding message letting them know their query is being looked into.

If you need to buy the time to investigate their issue in more depth, by all means buy that time. After your initial contact, calendar reminders will serve you well when it comes to touching base and providing updates. As long as a customer knows their query is a priority for you, you’ll find they’re happy to wait patiently for the resolution they need.

With your customer service function on point, you’re ready to use these newfound skills to build a thriving community of happy and engaged customers. Get in touch now to book your free online demo of our community engagement platform.

Posted by David in Interesting

Six simple rules for writing your brand origin story

Businesses sell products or services – brands sell stories. Sure, they sell products or services, too, but every sale a fully fledged brand makes is built on an authentic, believable brand narrative that compels their customers to invest in them.

Whether you know it or not, your brand already has an origin story – the sequence of events and series of critical decisions that needed to happen to get you and your business where you are today. To truly embrace this origin story, it helps to get it down on paper, so to speak.

Typewriter on a desk
Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

At Six Circles, our origin story is a tale of helping businesses and organisations of all shapes and sizes access the tools they need to manage, engage and grow. Now, let’s turn the tables and break down some golden rules for writing your own brand origin story so that you can wear this badge with pride.

Tell the truth

If honesty wasn’t already on your agenda, rest assured the benefits of being up-front are numerous.

Besides the fact that users can spot an overbaked origin story a mile off, it’s also true that consumers place a great deal of value on straight-talking brands who are honest about the hard road they’ve travelled to get to where they are now, and don’t retroactively construct an ethos that paints a prettier picture than the unadulterated truth.

Embrace past failures

As part of accepting the authentic beginnings of your brand comes embracing the aspects of your origin story you might prefer to forget – the failures that paved the way for success.

Whether that involves reflecting on regretful decisions at pivotal moments in your brand’s timeline or missed opportunities you wish you’d seized when you had the chance, taking stock of any setbacks and repackaging them as learning experiences is a crucial part of writing an endearing origin story.

Get personal

Relatability is essential to writing a brand origin story that resonates with your community. To make sure yours is relatable in all the right ways, kick the corporate spiel to the curb and focus on the message you want to convey (as opposed to becoming overly wrapped up in the polished language you use to convey that message).

Speak directly, informally (if appropriate) and in the first person to communicate the personal journey that led you to build your brand, rather than treating your brand origin story like yet another piece of purely commercial content.

Speak your customer’s language

Having built a brand, you’ll be more than familiar with the nuances of your typical customer when it comes to their likes, dislikes, buying motivations, communication preferences and more. These aspects of your existing user persona will serve you well as you nail down the language you’ll need to use to charm and entice them.

If your customers abhor being talked down to above all else, communicate your story in a respectful way. Similarly, if you know their environmental values influence their buying behaviour, make it abundantly clear the part that your own environmental values played in your brand’s journey.

Keep it simple

Just as you might find it impossible to persevere with books that are overly complex and convoluted, so too will your customers struggle to wade through a brand origin story that’s all self-important rhetoric and no substance.

While remembering to tailor your messaging to your customer persona, keep your language clear and straightforward and avoid gilding the lily in any way. Your brand’s origin story is sufficient in itself and needs no distracting embellishments that might take away from the spirit of your company manifesto.

Find common ground

Let’s loop back to the idea of relatability before we wrap this up. As well as speaking to your audience in a relatable way that acknowledges their personality and communication preferences, it’s also crucial to ensure the content of your origin story is likely to resonate with them.

If your brand was conceived to solve an age-old consumer problem, tie this sense of purpose into your origin story to let customers know their convenience is your primary concern. If your professional mission is to innovate your marketplace, make an essential daily routine that little bit quicker or easier, or turn a passion project into an income stream, be as transparent about these motivations as possible to establish common ground with your community and earn their emotional investment in your brand.

Communities are built on powerful brand stories. It all starts with your origins – but after that, it’s over to our state-of-the-art community engagement platform to help you convert loyal customers into committed community members. Request your free online demo of our platform today to take the first step towards a brand community to call your own.

Posted by David in Interesting

Six persuasive special offer ideas for your customers

It won’t always be peak season. Your business’s sales function won’t always be a perpetual motion machine. Your product or service offering won’t always be an easy sell. Understanding the peaks and troughs that come with owning a business is key to knowing how to capitalise on the upward spikes and prepare for the leaner months.

At Six Circles, we’re champions of community building and the sustainable business benefits that come with it – and today’s post is all about sustainable sales tactics.

Man using laptop and holding credit card
Photo by rupixen.com on Unsplash

Special offers are a simple yet highly effective tool to have in your marketing arsenal ahead of off-peak periods for your business. Serving as an irresistible incentive for on-the-fence prospective customers and would-be repeat customers alike, the right offer can seal the deal any month of the year. Here, we’re laying out your options to help you find the right offer for your brand.

New customer offers

During proactive sales drives, onboarding new customers is generally priority number one. Incentivising prospective customers who are as yet unconvinced of the benefits of your product or service isn’t always an easy sell, though. The key is to create a sense of urgency, illustrating that, of all the times they could choose to invest their money in your brand, now is the most opportune time imaginable.

Try introducing an offer aimed exclusively at sweetening the deal when it comes to becoming a first-time customer. Whether it’s a percentage discount off their first order, a welcome freebie that comes with their first purchase or a one-time offer of free delivery regardless of their basket value, find a lure that leaves them in no doubt now is the time to join your customer base.

Customer retention offers

Every business will inevitably face its fair share of customer churn – but that’s not to say you should go down without a fight. Businesses offering pay-monthly services or subscriptions will be more than familiar with customer cancellations, but many of these attempts to break away from your business can be quashed with the help of the right customer retention offer.

Persuading a disenchanted customer of yours to stay won’t always be possible, especially if problems relating to your product or customer service are the cause of this disenchantment. However, if their reasons for leaving are financially motivated, it’s well worth offering a single-use voucher or limited-time product or service discount in the hopes that this show of good faith is reciprocated.

Email subscriber offers

A large and engaged mailing list is an extremely valuable asset for any business, particularly ecommerce brands whose customers often convert directly via monthly email marketing campaigns. As such, anything you can do to grow your subscriber base over time is a highly worthwhile endeavour – but potential subscribers sometimes need a little buttering up before they’re willing to hand over their all-important email address.

Wherever your email signup form appears across your company website, you can preface this form with a snippet of persuasive copy explaining the benefits of being a subscriber. Beyond this, though, you can further boost signup rates with a tailored offer that only comes as a reward for signing on the dotted line, so to speak.

Consider an exclusive voucher code that’ll be sent to their email address immediately upon subscribing – entitling them to free shipping, or 10% off their next order, or a limited edition add-on product, to name just a few of the possible options. Whatever the offer, the key is to make joining your mailing list the barrier to entry.

Limited-time offers

Whether it’s your summer sale extravaganza, Black Friday through Cyber Monday or the pre-Christmas rush, there’s nothing like a seasonal sale to get carts filled and orders made. There’s an undeniable sense of urgency that surrounds limited-time customer offers – and you can reap the benefits of a timely promotion at any time of year with an offer that’s tailored to the needs and interests of your audience.

Aside from the aforementioned peak seasons experienced by ecommerce businesses across the globe, there are countless other opportunities for you to make sure time is on your side, commercially speaking. You may want to build a limited-time discount or sitewide sale around an upcoming national holiday, current event or company anniversary, for example. The secret to success is giving your valued customers a timely heads-up and taking a liberal approach to sending countdown emails ahead of the big day.

Referral offers

The ultimate goal for virtually any business is to reach a point where new customers are constantly onboarding themselves and your outbound sales function is effective but ultimately unnecessary. Your best chance of reaching this coveted state of self-perpetuating sales is to launch a referral offer wherein existing customers benefit from converting their friends, family and acquaintances into new customers.

Particularly effective for businesses using a pay-monthly product or service model, referral programmes generally take the form of a discount or freebie offered to brand advocates who are sufficiently happy with your product or service that they’ll extol its virtues to their inner circle. Often, the new customer is also rewarded for climbing aboard – making offers like these a win-win-win situation, with all parties benefiting from this successful word of mouth advertising.

Loyalty offers

Loyalty is a virtue that businesses should be rewarding, particularly when it comes to long-standing customer relationships the likes of which your company couldn’t do without. Loyalty offers take various forms but can be reduced to the same sentiment: here’s a token of thanks for your continued custom.

Whether you give long-term customers an exclusive discount the next time they shop with you, give them access to a beta test of your new online feature, send a free gift to their shipping address or treat them to an online voucher they can redeem at their convenience, the key is to find a fitting reward they’re guaranteed to appreciate. There’s also the option to launch your own loyalty card scheme so that customers can actively earn loyalty points to spend as they wish (but, crucially, with your business).

It’s our company mission to help businesses connect with their communities. While offers are an undeniably valuable asset when it comes to converting prospective customers and rewarding loyalty, they’re just one piece of the community engagement puzzle. For everything else, there’s our state-of-the-art platform – get your free online demo by contacting our team today.

Testimonials

“Since incorporating the Six Circles software to further grow our network, we have seen a vast increase in new members and interaction and we are attributing both to the ease of the site’s functionality.

For us, our marketing is now tailored more specifically and effectively due to the inclusion of useful analytics which allow us to form a better understanding of what our members really want.

We would wholly recommend Six Circles to organisations wanting to offer their consumers a platform to meet others, voice their opinions, publish industry news and receive an inclusive and enjoyable customer experience.”

The Mussel Club