All posts by Joanna Lord

About Joanna Lord

Joanna is the CMO at BigDoor. She is a lover of coffee, tech, startups and the visual web. She considers herself a growth marketer at heart and loves helping companies create and build beautiful brands. Follow Joanna on Twitter @joannalord.


A Quick Guide to Customer Journey Mapping

How many funnels have you made over the years? A dozen? Two dozen? More?! Same here. Funnels are what we do as marketers. You create funnels and you calculate your conversion rates from step to step, and there you have it. But what if I told you that funnels were the models of yesteryear? What if I told you…funnels just don’t cut it anymore?

BAM! Enter customer journey mapping. Fully-equipped with real customer data, behavioral stages, touch-points for interaction, cross-team resourcing, sentiment, and more. No more guessing what motivates customers to grow with your brand. Instead, uncover exact moments that help customers succeed, and allocate your efforts to encourage more of them.

Sound too good to be true? We think not! This quick guide to customer journey mapping with cover a number of important topics as it relates to providing the best customer experience. We’ll cover why they are important, what dimensions you should be exploring, the different visualization options, show off some examples, and then leave you with common challenges and how to overcome them. It’s a lot, so let’s get moving and jump right in!

What is a customer journey map?

A customer journey map is a framework that enables you to improve your customer experience. It documents the customer experience through their perspective, helping you best understand how customers are interacting with you now and helps you identify areas for improvement moving forward. Great customer journey maps are rooted in data-driven research, and visually represent the different phases your customers experience based on a variety of dimensions such as sentiment, goals, touch points, and more.

customer journey map definition

Instead of a traditional marketing funnel, many customer journey maps are not, in fact, linear. A customer can jump from one phase to another based on a number of factors. They will interact with some touch-points and miss others entirely. A marketer’s job is to understand the different moments of impact a customer could have when engaging with your brand and products, and then set those customers up to succeed through education, communication, and discovery.

This new approach to customer research is helping marketers everywhere better see the world through the customer’s eyes, which helps us serve them better. At BigDoor, we think this customer-centric approach to business is at the heart of reciprocal loyalty, and we are loving our adventures in customer journey mapping. Want to learn more? Here we go…

What is a customer journey map?

As mentioned above, traditional funnels tend to be very linear in nature. Because of that, they often feel very templated. We marketers have often inherited funnels when we take new jobs or new projects on. These funnels come with a number of assumptions about our customers, their needs, goals, and more. You know what is scary about that?

Every freaking thing. Truth.

A customer journey map is rooted in research and provides us the freedom to explore new “truths” about our customers. Since there is no “template,” they have to fit into they provide a great deal of freedom for us to explore. A customer journey map ultimately exists to improve the customer experience and these days that requires creativity. We need to revisit what we think we know, and really understand every touch point a customer has with our brands. This is at the heart of creating a better customer experience. But that’s not all customer journey maps are good for, here are a few others;

Customer journey maps help us develop the best product roadmap.
One of the biggest challenges a company faces is deciding what to build next. Most companies have lists of feature requests, bugs, new product ideas, new service opportunities, and more. Where do you invest? What gets bumped to the top? This is hard stuff.

tacks and map

When you map out how your customers explore your products, it becomes very evident where they are hung up and what they are missing. You literally start to see what they see, and from there you see the holes. It’s these “ah-ha” moments that should steer your product roadmaps. Don’t just build for the new ten thousand customers you hope to acquire, and don’t forget to build for your customers today. After all, 80% of your company’s future revenues come from just 20% of your current customers. To succeed in the future, you need to make educated next moves, and mapping the journey like this can help take out the guesswork.

Customer journey maps help us prioritize competing deliverables.
Similarly, these maps can help a company decide what should be the main business goal right now. Maybe it’s product enhancements? Maybe it’s improving your customer service team? Maybe it’s doubling down on documentation and education material? It’s through the mapping exercise that we can most clearly see the points of friction that face customers. This is low hanging fruit like you’ve never seen.

Rather than relying solely on your business intuition, you can navigate these tough prioritization decisions with real customer data, testimonials, feedback, and more. We’ve all been in those meetings where every team’s need is a P0 (aka “the most important thing ever), and the truth is that without the customer voice weighing in…that is actually the truth. But when you take the time to map our your customers’ hurdles, you can easily communicate cross team about what the business needs to be focusing on. It’s a win-win.

Who wouldn't prioritize rubber ducks?
Who wouldn’t prioritize rubber ducks?

Customer journey maps help us plan for hiring and team expansion.
This is a great additional benefit that many of us forget about. Once you know where your main points of friction are and you’ve prioritized the projects that will have the greatest impact, you can hire and expand teams accordingly. Too many organizations let resource bottlenecks alone determine what positions to open up, but what if you are investing in the wrong area? What if your limited resources are going to the wrong team to have the biggest impact on your customers — the very people keeping you in business in the first place!

Terrifying, right?! A great customer journey map will require a great deal of investigation into what is working, what isn’t working and what needs to happen to keep your customers engaged and invested in your brand. What better information than this to help steer you on how to grow your company to best serve them? Not much. It’s like customer data gold…if customer data gold existed.

Customer journey maps help us bring different teams together for a common goal: the customer experience.
It seems like an obvious one, but man is this hard. Like, really hard. We’ve all been there. We get caught up in the day to day. We have our own team goals – increase that count, hit that metric, drive that margin, and so on and so forth. But hold up; what about the customer experience? Wouldn’t is be great if the entire company has something to point to as the beacon of customer experience conversation?

The customer should be the #1 priority of everyone at your company.
The customer should be the #1 priority of everyone at your company.

It sure would, and that’s where the customer journey map comes in. These documents should be at the nucleus not of just one team, but the entire organization. They are as important and cross-team relevant as your company revenue goals and your customer personas. Everyone should be well-versed on what your customer is asking, what they need, how they feel at different points of the journey, and most importantly, what the company can be doing to deliver an exceptional experience. Putting these documents at the heart of the conversation helps every team work toward a common goal — and the best goal at that — the customer’s happiness.

What does a customer journey map include?

Let’s get into the nitty gritty of it all. As a reminder, there is no official template to point to based on your company’s goals the specific stages and dimensions of those stages may differ, but there are some best practices to look at when mapping out your customer’s journey. All in all, the visualization is less important than the information you include (although the more clearly you layout the info the better, obviously).

Here are some of our best practices when it comes to exploring customer dimensions in your customer journey map.

#1: Nail down your personas: Oh, personas. You’re so fun and so important. If you haven’t yet taken the time to identify your customer personas, you should start there. Here at BigDoor, we’re hoping to create a guide soon on how to tackle this important feat, but for now, here is a great resource to help you get started. Once you have personas built out, you can jump into mapping each persona’s own journey.

#2: Create customer stages: This is probably the most important piece for you to decide: what are the behavioral stages your customers go through when getting to know your product, service, and brand? What is the step-by-step experience for a customer? You can also include a non-customer stage in here if you’d like (which can be very useful in helping you move them into the customer bucket).

Some common customer stages include: discovery, research, explore, choose, purchase, and advocate. Don’t over-think these. Start simple. You will collect lots of data moving forward to help you refine these phases. Here is an example of what it could look like and also an example of what we use here at BigDoor.

customer behavior phases

Here at BigDoor we see our customers as having to discover us, then we usually see them move on to comparing us (both to competitors and to building internally) and then they move on to the sales cycle where they get to know the ins and outs of our products. During this consideration phases they move on to a commitment (contract signed), and from there our team of loyalty experts works to expand and build out partnerships that last. By outlining those phases we can begin to understand what customers need as they move through this journey.

#3: Know your customers’ goals: Although it may seem backwards, this customer journey map isn’t about your company’s goals; it’s about your customers’. Your map should identify these clearly by customer phase, and then you’re able to see what touch-points are needed to help support customers in reaching those goals. If they are seeking education about a product and you fail to have a education resource touchpoint, that is a mismatch. Your customer goals should be laid out clearly, because you can only accomplish your goals if your customers complete theirs.

Here, you can see the questions our customers have at each phase and how we back those out to a customer goal for each phase. This helps us better answer their needs with our touch-points.

customer goals by phase customer journey mapping

#4: Identify touch-points: During the stages, have you identified what are the different moments of interaction you have available to connect and engage your customers as they try to reach their goals? Think of this as your customer “needs” as they try to accomplish what they are hoping to accomplish. This includes moments that happen off site, onsite, through marketing, in person, and over the phone. Some of these touch-points are more critical than others (often called “moments of truth”) and the goal is to map these out and then work to create them more often in your favor.

Below, you see some examples of our customer touch-points we use at BigDoor, and you get a sense of just how many opportunities we have to reach our customers and help them succeed, no matter what phase they are in:

touchpoints for customer behavior phases

#5: Leverage data and time frames when possible: As mentioned above, a customer journey map is founded on real customer data. You should be surveying your customers, pulling from your customer analytics, and leveraging as much data as you can to identify your phases, touch-points, customer sentiment, etc. Another great thing to include when possible is the time frame; how long does each phase usually last? How long do some touch-points take to be effective ones (e.g. how long are your most successful customer calls)? The more specific you can get when mapping out the landscape, the more successful this data will be for you when making business decisions.

#6: List what teams are involves and how much effort is required: For each different phase, you will see gaps in what your customer needs are and what you have available for them. This will begin to highlight what you need to work on as a company. It is sometimes helpful to list out what teams are best suited to resolve these gaps and also what level of effort is required to resolve each gap. By doing this right in the journey map, your teammates can easily understand why you might prioritize action items over others moving forward.

Hopefully the above steps give you an idea of where to jump in when kicking off your first customer journey map. Remember – not all journey maps are the same. They will differ significantly based on your business model, your company structure, and your approach to it all.

The important part is to add as much real information as you can to best understand; what do customers need? How can you help them succeed? And where should you be investing more to provide a better customer experience? From there, the rest will fall into place as you get into it.

What challenges will you face?

Like any big cross-team project, customer journey maps will likely create a few challenges for you. Doing something for your company that is as important as customer journey mapping or personas or roadmaps always bring with them their own bag of challenges.


Let’s run through some of the common ones we’ve seen and address some tips for facing and overcoming those challenges.

This is not linear. No matter how much you want it to be, things won’t be as black and white, or as tidy as the funnels of yesteryear. So embrace the “all over the place” nature of a customer journey map, because that is where the magic happens.

Focus less on how pretty it is, and more on how valuable it is. Inevitably, someone from design will see this project and want to jump up in there. Suddenly, the conversation will turn to legends, color codes, formatting, and more. Avoid the rabbit whole that is visualizations and bring it back to the data. If you have valuable data, the visualization is just a vehicle for the valuable story.

Position your map as a living document, not one that’s set in stone. Don’t get caught up in making it perfect or exhaustive in nature. Start primitive and build from there. This is not meant to be something you do and never touch again. You will update as you collect more information and as your business grows. Position it as such and you’ll see much more buy in from other teams looking to weigh in as it evolves.

Lets wrap this party up

So there you have it – a quick guide to customer journey mapping. I know we covered a lot today, but hopefully this gives you a place to get started. The truth is, a project like this can be very intimating. I remember avoiding maps and personas for the longest time as past companies — afraid I wasn’t qualified or that I’d screw up and ruin our business in the meantime. But tackling these big internal resources can be the most important work we do as marketers and product marketers.

guy walking across the line

In addition to the steps and suggestions above, I thought it would be great to include some of our favorite customer journey mapping resources here so you can check them out. If you have others, feel free to leave them in the comments.

10 Tips for Creating a Customer Journey Map –
Improving UX with Customer Journey Mapping –
CX Journey Mapping Toolkit –

Good luck with your mapping, and let us know how it goes. *high five* #yougotthis


What Makes A Brand?

What a question. It’s a tough one. Funny enough, a lot of us out there are tasked with building a brand, and I would argue that we are spending a lot of our time on the wrong priorities. As a result, brand marketing is getting a bad rap, and we are failing to help our companies stand out in the right ways.

Here at BigDoor, we talk a lot about the importance of building a brand when you are trying to grow customer loyalty, so we thought it would be worth outlining exact what a brand isn’t, what a brand is, and tips to get you there. Let’s jump on in!

A brand isn’t…

All too often, marketers rely on pieces of the brand to “be” the brand. We focus our time on things like the logo, brand colors, byline, etc., when those alone do not make a brand. These features are the tangible execution of a brand. They change over time, and evolve as the brand grows. They may help us represent ourselves in a crowded room, but they are not what differentiates us. not a brand Today more than ever before, we need to pay attention to the many pieces of our brand, but pay the bulk of our attention to the sum of those parts and the underlying foundation to these pieces. So what the heck goes into that foundation? We’ve got ya covered.

A brand is…

Rather than focusing on tangible pieces of a brand, it’s critical to look at and invest in the bigger picture. The “bigger picture” includes your company’s perspective in the market, the philosophy you take towards your product, your tone/voice, your company’s story or history, and your actions. These are really what drives your brand. this is a brandWhen it comes to building a brand, there are some tangible steps you can take to get down to what really matters. It’s all about identifying what your brand is promising, how you communicate that promise to the market, how you deliver on the promise, and how your promise grows over time. Here’s a bit more on these four steps:

1. Take a stand

What is your company passionate about? This passion lies at the heart of your brand. Here at BigDoor, we believe in reciprocal loyalty, which is the belief that companies should be as loyal to customers as they hope customers are loyal to them. Because we’re so passionate about reciprocal loyalty, we put it at the heart of what drives our brand. You’ll see our tangible assets (like our byline, website, etc.) reflect this in the coming weeks, but we plan on having reciprocal loyalty at the core of everything we push out. It’s a promise we are making to the market: that we will help educate brands on this philosophy, but more importantly, that our products will help them do this for their customers.

It’s crucial to take a stand as a company, and it’s a promise or differentiator that is the foundation for everything you do with your brand. Your team, your products, and your assets should all magnetically tie back to this promise.

2. Shout your promise from the rooftops

Once you know what your brand’s promise is, shout it from the rooftops! Take your resources, budget, and channels, and leverage them for brand story sharing. You can’t simply push out a big promise and hope the market shares it around on your behalf.

A great example of spreading a company philosophy and mission is HubSpot’s Culture Code deck. Company culture videos, like this one from Epipheo (a video studio agency out of Portland), spread a message to the masses in a meaningful way. Communicating your promise in a beautiful, effective way is what enables you to begin to build your tribe of brand advocates. Delight them by providing them with content that is shareable and effectively relays your brand’s promise.

3. Don’t just talk; do

After you’ve promised people something, it’s important to deliver on that promise. Your brand is very much dependent on following through, whether it’s shown through great products, great service, great customer communications, or otherwise. You must make sure that brand promise is consistently delivered so it’s believed; only then will it be shared on your behalf. Brand advocates need to know they are sharing a brand that they can trust, and delivery is where that trust is solidified. No great logo or byline can outweigh the importance of doing what your company promised it would do for its users.

4. Revisit and evolve

A great brand evolves with the company. While that foundational core promise will likely always be there in some iteration, great brands can grow as their markets shift. Revisiting how you are promising something to a market and tweaking as needed is a vital part of building a brand.

Nothing is static when it comes to a great brand. For the brand to last decades, it must resonate with new audiences, yet always come back to that “moment of passion” that resonates with the brand’s promise. It’s a fine balance, but when executed well, it’s nearly impossible to disrupt when it comes to building brand loyalty.

Four steps to follow when you get started with building your brand.
Four steps to follow when you get started with building your brand.

These four combined make a brand when done well. While the tangible executions of this brand may change as the market does or the years pass, your “real brand” is rooted in the promise you make and continue to deliver on over time.

Think of your brand as an intangible selling point that exists in people’s hearts. A great gut check to do to test this is asking yourself, “Does my brand hold water if I don’t show the logo, say the byline, or visit the website/store?” If I said to someone, “What is BigDoor to you?” whatever they come back with tells me if we’ve done our job right. That’s when you know you have a brand that can stand on it’s own.

In conclusion

To stand out in the vast sea of competition, our brands need to truly impress. We can’t just be flashy or have a memorable logo; we need to stand for something that drives people to support us. To put it simply: the more successful your brand, the easier it will be to build loyalty around that brand. A successful brand takes a great deal of intention when building, and hopefully this post pointed out some places for you to start when kicking off brand conversations.

I’d love to hear what else you think makes an amazing brand. We have some great posts coming out soon on how to measure the growth of a brand, and a fun post on what our favorites brands are worth (you are going to be floored!) But in the meantime, let’s hear your tips — what have your favorite brands done amazing well when they built their brand? What is a brand to you?


5 Tips to Improve Customer Communications

Customer.customer.customer. It’s front of mind and at the heart of what marketers focus on day in and day out. Building a brand and a company would mean very little if you weren’t benefiting someone (hopefully many people) along the way. The last few years have brought customer-centric marketing strategy to the forefront, and the BigDoor team couldn’t be happier.

Every day, we think, “How can we help companies connect and appreciate their customers?” We believe so strongly in reciprocal loyalty that we spend our days building a technology centered around brands giving back to their customers (it’s isn’t all work, btw…the other day we had fun with dots!).

Something that sticks out time and time again is the challenge brands face when trying to communicate with their customers. Customer conversations aren’t easy ones, and they require specific strategies to be successful. People have different needs, they are in different cities, and are facing different challenges – but all of them are turning to you, hoping you can communicate effectively and help them.

Talk about a challenge. #hardstuff

So what can companies be doing? What can we focus on to make sure we are communicating effectively with our customers? Well…lots of things, actually. Let’s run through a few!

1. Make it relevant. We communicate when we have something we need to say. Seems straight-forward enough. The problem is that what we say doesn’t always translate into relevance for our customers. What do they need to know? What problems are they facing? What value can you be adding them? To keep the conversation two-way, marketers can’t just be communicating only what we want to say, but instead flip that upside down to focus on what our customers need to hear.  Customer relevancy is critical in seeding brand loyalty. As people interact with your brand, they need to feel like you are speaking directly at them to build affinity toward you.

2. Listen actively. This is a tough one. Confession: I’ve not always been a great listener. THERE I SAID IT! [facepalm] In fact, it took years of beating my head against a wall before I realized I wasn’t listening well enough to be effective. Talking at people is easy; talking with people is hard.

Practicing the art of active listening is key to hitting the latter. What does that look like? Surveying customers is a great start. Jumping offline and talking with your customers in person so you can really hear (and see!) what they are saying is even better. You need to be using all of the customer analytics available to you to really understand the challenges facing your customers. Only then can you both (a) solve for them, but perhaps even more importantly, (b) communicate that you’ve solved for them.

Dropbox sends a beautiful and valuable mailer asking for my feedback so they can proactively improve my experience.

3. Get comfortable with your emotions. Ewwwwww emotions. Cooties central. I hear ya. But jump on board, friends. As marketers, we need to acknowledge that the issues our customers face when interacting with our products and company cause them to feel a certain way. We assume their reactions are what we should be communicating toward, but how they react and how they feel are often two very different things.

Redbull uses Twitter to communicate with customers on an emotional level rather than a product-driven one.
Redbull uses Twitter to communicate with customers on an emotional level rather than a product-driven one.

The best customer communications get at the heart of a feeling. Maybe a customer isn’t logging into your product, but what are they feeling? Are they overwhelmed by the complexities? Are they afraid of setting something up wrong? Are they too busy to jump in and get started? Spend time figuring out how can you communicate and help your customers based on how they are feeling…not just on how they are acting.

4. Anticipate the next issue.  It’s easy to get caught up in the now. Marketing communications can feel incredibly reactive a great deal of the time. The trick to improving your relationship with customers is to anticipate the next issue they might have, and to speak to them in advance. For example, if your site was down don’t send an email to say you’re sorry for the outage, anticipate that this may have caused them purchasing issues, or product problems, and provide them opportunities to report those for updates.

BigDoor has adopted a similar philosophy when it comes to communicating with our partners. Anytime we perform maintenance or upgrade our product, we proactively communicate with our partners to let them know in case they see any changes on their side. Our Director of Product Management, Jason McCue, is diligent about putting the customer first with his communication strategy. It helps us anticipate issues and better serve our clients.

By communicating to customers that you are thinking about how things might affect them, it shows that you are keeping their concerns front and center.

5. Quick and simple. Let’s keep it quick and simple, friends. I’m a talker. Like for real. Chit chatting all the time…except for when I work on customer communications. There is a time and place for the very transparent, thorough letter to customers, but that is not the norm. Customer communications, for the most part, should be focused on a singular message; they should be quick to read and simple to consume.

The craft of writing effective, quick, and simple communications is a topic worthy of it’s own post, but in the meantime, try to keep it in mind. Saving your customers time is just another way of saying, “I am keeping your needs in mind.” So when you put together your next email, post, or communication campaign, for the goodness of it…keep it quick and simple.

Julep mailer keeps their mailers quick and simple. Easy to digest & act upon.

So there you have it; some practical ways to start improving your communications today! Down the road, we will cover the tools of the trade (wait, I can do more than just send emails?! Yes, it’s true!) Until then, we hope you have some success with these tips.

If you have other tricks you’ve picked up over the years on how to really get through and help customers, we’d love to hear them below in the comments!

Tactics for Building Loyal Brand Advocates

Last week, I was lucky enough to go to SearchLove down in San Diego and present on how marketers can build brand loyalty and brand advocates. It was a great show, with a ton of great speakers and insights. Below is a quick summary of my presentation, and the full deck for those who want to check it out.

We will be exploring how to build brand loyalty and evangelists in more detail over the coming weeks, but this is a great top-level checklist to help you get started. Enjoy!

Tip #1: Get good at cohort marketing. Today’s marketer needs to understand how to slice and dice their audience and customer segments. I talked through different dimensions to consider, and how sequencing those dimensions to build cohorts can help you more effectively meet the users’ needs.

Specific tactics include ideas like directing users to register for a community and fill out profiles (which BigDoor’s loyalty program can help with), building retargeting audiences, etc. 

Tip #2: Appeal to internal and external motivations. Too often we, as marketers, build branding campaigns, but don’t give enough attention to how we want the customer or user to feel when they digest the campaign. In the slide deck, I stress the importance of appealing to both internal motivations (who does the person aspire to be? how can the campaign help them identify and grow into that aspirational character?) and external motivations (how does the person want to be perceived outwardly? what persona are they playing into when it comes to their social circles?). By identifying the “feeling” you are hoping the campaign delivers, you can better align the campaign with your brand values for maximum impact.

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 2.08.35 PM

Specific tactics include surveying customers and employees to hear what words come to mind for your current brand, [doing a brand explore], and making sure those adjectives and values are listed in your campaign specs so no campaign strays too far from your goal message.

Tip #3: Design for the masses. Design is increasingly becoming a huge factor in what resonates with an audience and what doesn’t. When I’m asked, “Who is the first person you’d hire for your marketing team?” I always say, “An amazing designer.” Designers bring the brand to life. Your campaigns need to rise above the noise, and a beautiful, simple, effective design can do that.

Specific tactics include testing new design themes out first, passing around design pieces internally for team feedback, delighting your viewers with unexpected innovations, and making the design easily digestible and shareable to the masses.

Tip #4: Advocacy requires passionate stories. There is a misconception in brand marketing that if a user or customer has a great experience with your brand, they are  likely to advocate on your behalf. News flash: it takes more than that. While customer experience is key, delivering an exceptional one is now the new standard. There needs to be a brilliant story attached to that experience to encourage advocacy. Marketers need to be shaping those stories and wrapping them in their campaigns so happy users and customers can advocate something more than just a good experience review.

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 2.15.53 PM

Specific tactics include shaping stories internally with customer advisory boards or you community leaders, wrapping those stories in beautiful design, and amplifying them on social media platforms with advertising dollars. Another great tip is to take the responses to your campaigns and use them to seed your next campaign. It creates a flywheel effect that can be very powerful.

Tip #5: Hit a whole new level of vulnerability. It’s no secret that transparency goes a long way in our hyper-connected, conversational ecosystem. Today’s companies need to be willing to pull back the current and be vulnerable – both about their strengths and their weaknesses. Building a brand takes multiple moments of shared trust along a user’s lifecycle, and trust is built on the back of authenticity and vulnerability.

Specific tactics include showing off your product roadmap publicly and owning up to missed deadlines, showing off your customer service rating on the site somewhere, and blogging about the wins and losses of your everyday operation.

Tip #6: Appreciate early and often. Rewarding users for their activity and time investment is at the heart of building loyalty, and taking the time to say thank you seeds a reciprocal relationship. Companies that do this early in the lifecycle tend to seed loyalty sooner, which helps at every phase of the funnel. 

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 2.16.50 PM

Specific tactics include launching loyalty programs and/or campaigns (feel free to contact us to learn more about our product options), building customer appreciation strategies, creating influencer relationship programs, and more. If you have someone supporting your brand, you should be asking yourself how you can give back and say thank you.

Tip #7: Track that sh*t.  Let’s not beat around the bush about it – measuring brand loyalty is hard. Measuring brand advocacy is just as challenging. Are things shifting for the better, or are you losing ground? In my deck, I talk through some basic advice (like tracking for the goal metric, not trying to capture overall “engagement”), and I talk through some commonly accepted models for tracking loyalty.

Specific tactics include nailing down what the specific campaign aims to increase, setting up tracking, running retrospectives after the campaign ends, and adjusting the measurement model as needed.

Tip #8: Multi-channel it up. Mobile. It’s a thing. What is your brand doing to make sure your users and consumers are experiencing multiple touchpoints across their many devices during the phases of of the customer journey? I talk through some companies building brand loyalty well and how they’ve used mobile to target users differently, adding to their overall success.

Specific tactics include putting a team and resources into your mobile and local strategy, rethinking what “value” means on these devices, and starting with your best brand assets when considering your value add cross-device.

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 2.17.30 PM

Tip #9: Evangelize internally. This one is so important, and sadly, so many marketers forget about it. If you want to succeed in building brand loyalty and brand advocacy, it will need to be a company-wide initiative. That means the marketing team needs to be working cross-department to keep the user’s experience front of mind. We need to be reporting out where we are and where we want to be with our brands, and openly discussing the necessary steps to build an even better brand.

Specific tactics include building a cross-department team (retention, customer success, growth, or otherwise) that is focused on understand your customers and building loyalty, reporting out company wide metrics, and getting the buy-in from the leadership team to help push brand loyalty initiatives through.

Tip #10: Enable them to market on your behalf. This is so critical. You’ve put in so much time to build a loyal audience; now how can you leverage them to share your brand on your behalf? How can you empower them to introduce your brand (with their endorsement) to their social circles? I talk through a few different ways to leverage your advocates to grow your business.

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 2.18.06 PM

Specific tactics include launching a referral program (BigDoor has a great social loyalty campaign product to do this easily; ping us if you want to hear more), making your content easily shareable, rewarding advocacy, and more.

Those are my big tips on how to build loyal brand advocates. The deck also shows off some great brand examples of companies doing all of this well, and lists out specific tactics for you to try.

Again, I’d like to thank the Distilled team for letting me head down to San Diego and talk loyalty. It was a theme that came up in a number of the presentations given over the two-day conference. There is no doubt that brand marketing will become more and more a part of our every day job. No matter what marketing channel you play in, we all need to be asking ourselves: how can we help build brand loyalty and create a community of advocates? Those companies that invest early will be at a huge advantage moving forward.

Do you have tips on how to nurture advocacy and build loyalty? Let’s here them in the comments below!



What Trust Signals Matter Today?

Marketers understand the importance of trust. It’s a big deal. Consumers are wandering the web looking for peace of mind as they take chances on products and services. It’s no longer just advantageous to be delivering on trust signals; it’s the expectation.

But what trust signals matter today? What should we be testing on our homepages and product funnels? It’s true that what used to work might not carry the same amount of weight as it once did. Consumers have changed, and so have their requirements around what trust looks like on a website. Let’s explore.

Back in the day

In years past, the list of trust signals were pretty standard. Websites needed to invest in some, hopefully all, of the following:

  • Well-written copy
  • Easy-to-navigate page layout
  • Clear and polished brand design – logo, byline, etc.
  • Contact info present and persistent throughout the site (phone number and/or email)
  • Counts (this could include number of customers, clients, number of an event accomplished, etc. Getting numbers up that were increasing consistently was certainly appreciated.)
  • Case studies and downloadable documents supporting our work
  • Logos of those who were using you and loving you

That was a great start. That could get you through. But not anymore.

I like to think the consumer has evolved past 1-800 numbers and carousels of logos. That doesn’t mean you scrap the list above altogether; it just means that, as marketers, we are expected to deliver more. The bar around trust signals has been raised.

Now what?

If I have to sum up today’s expectation around trust in one word, it would be: people. It might seem obvious, but in today’s hyper-connected world, consumers are seeking out other consumers more than ever.

This has manifested itself in some trust signals that we might not immediately think of, depending on our business model. Here are a few to consider:

Social count buttons and widgets: Yup, ’tis the time. It’s time for you to embrace the different buttons and widgets the platforms have given us. Many marketers are still trying to keep this only on their blogs or community pages, but it’s time for the full site roll out. Whether it is social buttons (around how many people “like” your company page, or how many people tweeted out a big content piece), or the actual Facepile widget – get it up there. Test these widgets on your product tours and across your resource sections. Don’t be afraid to go bold here, because those social signals are some of the strongest trust triggers available to us.

Faces: Get them up. Wherever you can. Before, it was enough to get up logos of the clients you work with, and maybe a name and title. Now, we should all be giving more real estate to the faces of the people endorsing us. In addition to getting up a picture of the testimonial giver, you should test it on bigger, fun formats. Should you get a full-length picture of them? Should you get a picture of them at their own desk? How can you best represent the person who is endorsing you? The sky is the limit here.

Wistia does a great job of showing off happy customers through candid images of those customers using video to grow their company.
Wistia does a great job of showing off happy customers through candid images of those customers using video to grow their company.

Stories: We are still riding the story revolution. Consumers want to read more than boring case studies; they want stories with flavor. It’s time for marketers to deliver beautiful stories around the clients we’ve worked with, and deliver everything that entails: great images, great data, great feedback, and something more sensational than, “We worked with them and here is what it looked like.” Jump  outside of your comfort zone and rethink how you present those customer stories on your site.

Pictures and visuals: I believe in the power of a beautiful picture. I believe in it so much that I would go as far as to say that today’s consumer absolutely sees your picture/visual choices as a trust signal. Are you still using stock images? Are you using iconic representations that fall short? Give your consumers something to love. Give them an image they comment on, share, or simply visit often. Build trust by reminding them you are putting time into their experience. Visuals are a great way to do this.

Instead of just logos, Squarespace shows off the big brands using their platform through images of the beautiful sites they've built.
Instead of just logos, Squarespace shows off the big brands using their platform through images of the beautiful sites they’ve built.

Your team: This is one of my favorites. Back in the day, we covered our About pages with leadership photos and company timelines (in fact, if you look at our current site, that is very much the case), and we owe our consumers more (expect a BigDoor redesign soon!). We owe them the faces of our team, and the reasons why they work here. We owe them bios and words that describe the culture of the company they are investing in. Seeding trust with a consumer now includes pulling back the curtain on who is building what they are buying.

Instead of a boring About section, Pinterest uses team images and stories to explain why they believe in what they are doing.
Instead of a boring About section, Pinterest uses team images and stories to explain why they believe in what they are doing.

Whoa, that’s a lot of stuff

It might seem like a tall order, but customers expect these trust signals as the new standard. Today, trust between brands and consumers is built on social proof, people, stories, and visuals. Marketers need to be testing how these are laced throughout their sites, and start investing in optimizing them with the same zeal they do their purchase funnels.

Building brand loyalty is a big deal, and the first step in that is establishing trust between that brand and consumer. Hopefully this gives you some ideas on what to test next. I’d love to hear what other trust signals you guys are exploring these days. How are you capturing the attention/trust of consumers on your sites?