How the coronavirus is affecting the digital advertising

A crisis is a moment when the proper drivers and doers differ from the less good ones. We see that these days also in the matter of Corona. And we also see it in the area of ​​digital marketing.

At SwaCash, we currently receive inquiries from companies every day who want to start communicating digitally. It should be quick, in extreme cases, within a few days. It shouldn’t cost that much either, crisis, you understand. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and poor quality should be “authentic.” This argumentation is then congruent with the idea that Mercedes could build more miserable cars because they would be “authentic.”

On the one hand, these inquiries show that the last ones are now waking up and realizing that “digital” has become a necessary marketing discipline. On the other hand, they show that very many believe that this branch cannot be cost-intensive if ordinary people run blogs, produce high-quality videos, or stream live.

Digital marketing costs are not the same as investments.

One thing is overlooked: whether influencers, bloggers, podcasters or brands, companies, companies – they all reap what they have sown over the years. These days, as many are becoming digital to digital in one fell swoop, those who have been dealing with the subject for a long time are doing easier to easy.

Therefore, the cost view needs a different perspective. Of course, it costs almost nothing to stream live with a mobile phone via Youtube. But those who do this with long ranges have been trying out for years, have built a community, and put a lot of brainwash into the technical structure and formats. This cannot be caught up in a few days.

These years of trying out apply to all areas of digital marketing. Because whoever is active here, for whom digital is not another world, but everyday life, develops a different feeling for what is possible – and what is not.

Worst case Adidas vs. Best case zoom

An excellent example of this is the comparison of the crisis communication from Adidas and Zoom. Adidas, it initially seemed, did not want to pay the rent for its stores due to the Corona crisis. Then it was about a deferral; then, only non-private landlords should be affected. It takes days for a real statement to appear. This was hidden on the corporate homepage, which is not intended for consumers, is static, and difficult to read; it was signed with “Your Adidas Team.”

In all seriousness, this text was also published as a newspaper advertisement. Anyone who believes in 2020 that they can overcome such a crisis with print ads has not yet reached the current millennium.

And in the meantime, people vomited on the group’s already mediocre well-run social media accounts, mostly without contradiction, only with some delay did some in the comments notice the reference to the statement on that corporate site.

This image of the rental parasite will cling to Adidas for years and will harm it.

Quite a different zoom.

With the video conference provider, huge security gaps were revealed within three months, given the dramatic growth from 20 million to 100 million daily users.

However, Zoom already has a greater sense of digital communication due to the industry. CEO Eric Yuan spoke up on the company blog quite quickly (or, let’s face it, his communications department on his behalf).

The text is almost five times as long as Adidas’ counterpart and contains clear measures that have already been implemented and others that are still being implemented. An update with further tests followed a week later.  Every week, Yuan also answers questions from interested parties via a webinar. This is how communication works in the digital age.

Even on a small scale: digital experience pays off

Even the smallest ramifications of the economy show that those who have at least laid a foundation for digital communication in the days of Corona fare better, for example, in the catering industry. Several good restaurants gave up their concepts for delivery or pick-up menus due to a lack of interest. Others, who used Facebook and Instagram at least as you do as a restaurateur, experienced from the first day that their guests kept them in line – if you could communicate to them that there are new offers.

At this point, some are even developing new business models. Several yoga and Pilates studios offer courses via zoom – including a view of the trainers at the participants and correction of their posture.

The Cologne-based Einerner “Neobiota” is experimenting with surprise wine packages, which may soon be available as a subscription. Other restaurants open up access to their suppliers and sell boxes of food that average consumers cannot get – a small disruption of their business model.

All of this arises from an underlying feeling for how communication works on the web and how your customers think, what values ​​they expect from their service providers and what can be tried out.

What is missing: creativity

Like Adidas, many brands seem to lack the feeling for the wishes and the value system of their target groups. In a nutshell, everything is currently doing the same thing: TV spots with chubby piano music and the message that we will all do it together and that the brand sees itself as part of this community.

Do not you believe it? Is it too generalized? Then take a look at this collage:

Few companies are currently thinking ahead—an example: the Canadian fast-food chain Mary Brown’s. Instead of merely booking advertising, she concluded a no-paid content deal with a Canadian publishing chain. For two weeks, the paid content barriers fell with the house media, sponsored by Mary Brown’s. Advertising thus becomes an added value, the brand an enabler and not an advertiser who stands in the way of the reader.

And, yes, I am shocked that German publishers are not trying to sell exactly that as an innovative advertising format …

Or Samsung and the online magazine Dezeen: The two launched a competition to make useful things out of packages that may be arriving more frequently than usual.

It is a mystery to me that non-commercial institutions develop more creative ideas than the big names in the advertising and brand world. An excellent example of this is Alba Berlin. With its daily sports lesson for children, the sports club landed a massive hit with up to 1.5 million singles.

The Dyson Foundation, on the other hand, helps parents in the home office with experiments that the offspring can do at home.

For me, it is a mystery why no brand engaged a single musician and called courtyard neighborhoods to apply for a performance by this musician – of course, including the live stream of the concert.

Why don’t companies now produce videos in which their experts, such as natural scientists, business people, or engineers, act as temporary teachers? I think a lot of parents would enjoy this.

  1. Strategy. Now.

However, I am also afraid that if you want to do something digital quickly, you will only be able to succeed to a limited extent. It would be more essential to think long term. We will return to normal at some point. And then even the digital third world country, Bosnia, will have become a bit more digital. Contact less payment will become everyday life; the desire to try out new platforms like Zoom will increase, online retailing will become daily life even in the food sector.

And that’s why now it is less time to do something quickly on the Internet again. Instead, all those companies that have so far neglected digital should first do their strategic homework and get ready for everyday life. Because one thing is sure: the time after Corona will be longer than the time during Corona.

Sales planning: a comprehensive guide

The determination of sales is one of the essential tools for decision-makers in companies. The sales forecast is the dominant size in the budget and ultimately decisive for the question: How many sales must for which cost budget achieved? Only those who know this can plan realistically, set high goals, and successfully manage a company.

But making realistic forecasts is not an easy task.

In this guide, we explain in detail how you can be sure that your sales planning and sales forecasts are as accurate as possible.

The revenues (including revenue) refers to the sum of all goods sold by a company. All funds and claims that arise from the sale of products or services are included in the turnover. It shows how much money a company has made.

Calculate sales: how does it work?

The formula for calculating sales is straightforward: you simply add up all the income. So everything you bill others and goes to your account or checkout. The result is sales, also called revenue.

What are the sales forecasts?

Sales forecasts are used to predict the sales that individual sales employees, teams, or companies are likely to achieve in a certain period. They help with planning, setting goals, and controlling economic success. They also serve for reporting to the company management as well as members of the board and/or shareholders.

Profit and break-even point

The turnover should not be confused with the profit:

The sales tell you how much money you take without asking how much you have spent. 

 You get the profit if you deduct all of your costs from sales.

The break-even point is particularly relevant in connection with sales and profits. It denotes the point at which purchases and costs are the same. If it is exceeded, there are profits; if it is undershot, there are losses. The break-even point is, therefore, also called profit threshold or benefit threshold.

The break-even point gives you the answer to the question: How much turnover does my company have to generate to cover the fixed costs?

Why are sales forecasts so crucial in your sales planning?

A key advantage of sales forecasts is that they can help identify potential problems relatively early. And that is fundamental to your success because the sooner you learn about a problem, the more likely you are to choke it. For example, sales managers need to find out at an early stage if their employees are having trouble meeting their quotas.

The sooner they become aware that, for example, one of their competitors is threatening to entice their customers away with generous discounts, or that they should revise their new remuneration model because it hurts the motivation of their employees, the better.

Revenue forecasts are also needed to make various decisions – from hiring new employees to resource management to planning goals and budgets.

For example, if your forecast predicts a 26 percent increase in sales opportunities, it would be conceivable to hire additional staff to meet increasing demand. Conversely, it would make sense to temporarily put any recruitment measures on hold should a decline become apparent.

Such a forecast may also suggest investing more in marketing campaigns and/or training your employees on customer acquisition to reverse the negative trend promptly.

Sales planning is a motivation tool

Based on sales forecasts, you can check the progress of your team weekly and compare it with your planning so that you and your team always have an overview of the current status. For employees who have a performance improvement plan in place, it is even a good idea to record their progress daily to prevent them from falling behind.

As mentioned earlier, you should do everything you can to make accurate forecasts. However, this does not mean that you have done something wrong if your assessment ultimately does not fully match your results. In fact, slight deviations are to be expected; after all, you cannot see clearly.

It only becomes problematic when there are apparent discrepancies. But as long as your sales planning is based on reliable data and you choose the right method (see below), your forecasts will provide you with reliable data on how you can effectively grow your business.

Create a sales forecast: Requirements for realistic sales planning

To create accurate sales forecasts, you need the following:

  • Sales targets (at team and employee level)
  • These serve as an objective yardstick for the neutral assessment of the performance of your employees.
  • Clearly defined, documented sales process
  • To be able to predict the likelihood of business deals realistically, all salespeople must follow the same process and a fixed sequence of steps.
  • Uniform definitions of the lifecycle phases that your contacts go through
  • The admission criteria for your individual lifecycle phases (e.g. potential customers, leads, opportunities, customers) must be clearly defined.
  • A CRM system
  • To be able to make accurate predictions about the probability of business deals, CRM is required, in which the individual interactions with contacts can be correctly understood.
  • Shared responsibility
  • If sales reps don’t meet their quota, you should try to get to the root cause.
  • Are your employees not motivated enough, or are they missing something important in the sales process?
  • Are there any blockages?
  • If the situation occurs more frequently, you should examine the set goals to see whether they are realistic at all and adjust them if necessary.

Important factors that influence sales forecasts and sales planning

There are several factors to consider when making sales forecasts.

1) Internal factors

  • HR decisions
  • If you lose employees and cannot replace them quickly enough, you should expect corresponding losses in sales in your next forecast. Conversely, you should be able to plan a significant increase after you have expanded your sales team by a few employees.
  • Policy changes
  • Note that changes such as the introduction of a new compensation model can affect the performance of your sales staff.
  • For example, if you introduce that your salespeople are deprived of commission if customers drop out within the first four months after closing, your sales will temporarily decrease. Because your employees will then only sell to customers whose requirements your products fit perfectly. In the long term, however, this measure will significantly reduce your churn rate so that you can expect an increase again about a quarter later.
  • If you stipulate that your sales staff can only grant discounts until mid-month, the closing rate will be significantly higher in the first two weeks of a month and then fall below the previous value in the remaining two weeks.
  • Responsibility changes
  • When sales reps move to another area, it understandably takes a little while for them to get used to their new area of ​​responsibility, and their pipelines are slowly filling up.
  • In this case, a temporary decline in the completion rate would be expected. But if you have planned the change well, it should recover quickly.

2) External factors

  • competition
  • Companies do not operate in a vacuum, so the successes and failures of their competitors can also have an impact on their results.
  • If one of your competitors offers generous discounts, you may have to catch up to prevent customers from migrating. Conversely, the demand for your products will likely increase if one of your competitors disappears from the market.
  • Economic situation
  • The better the financial situation, the more willing buyers are to invest. If the case is terrible, on the other hand, you have to expect a longer sales cycle because buyers weigh their investments more carefully.
  • Market developments
  • The behavior of your customers can affect the demand for your products. For example, companies that specialize in advising hotels should always be aware of the current trends in the tourism industry.
  • Industry developments
  • This applies, for instance, to complementary products, i.e., products that are in demand because they complement each other. If the price of one product falls, the need for the other increases. An excellent example of this would be computers and software.
  • Changes in the law
  • Since changes in the law can have an impact on the demand for your products, you may also have to take them into account in your forecasts.
  • Product changes
  • If you introduce a new function, a new pricing model, or additional products or services, this will probably have a positive effect on your sales – in the form of a higher average order volume, a streamlining of the sales cycle, or an increase in business transactions.
  • Seasonal factors
  • Depending on who your customers are, they may buy more at certain times of the year so that you may have generally stronger and weaker quarters.

Sales planning: Excel and other tools help

There is various (fee-based) software for sales planning, but Excel can already be a solid start here. Because the numerous templates that are often offered free of charge on the Internet can be of particular service to start-ups and freelancers when starting their sales planning.

For most templates, the sales planning tables are already part of a comprehensive financial plan that includes additional items such as taxes, profits, marketing expenses, and more. This also gives you an overview of costs and revenues that goes beyond sales planning.

Especially when you are at the beginning of your financial planning, the advantages of ready-made formats and tools are obvious: You can start right away without having to worry about the structure of the sales plan and then step through the individual items step by step to let. You just have to fill it out. 

What may still be possible independently in sales planning becomes significantly more demanding when it is integrated into a larger financial plan. Finished formats help you – and since they provide different calculation models, the right format for your business model may already be included.

So our tip is that you look for a template for sales planning that you can work into. Excel may be sufficient for smaller companies, but with larger and more comprehensive financial plans, it may be worth switching to one of the software that offers more options and is usually more intuitive to use.

Sales planning and forecasting methods

  1. Forecasts based on the progress in the sales process
  2. Forecasts based on the average length of your sales cycle
  3. Forecasts based on empirical values
  4. Forecasts based on comparative data
  5. Predictions based on various factors
  6. Predictions based on custom variables

All of these methods offer different advantages, and which approach is appropriate in a particular case depends on various factors.

1) Forecasts based on the progress in the sales process

With this method, you calculate your forecast sales based on the likelihood that contacts will become customers in a certain phase.

The following applies: The further customers have progressed in their purchase decision process, the higher the likelihood that it will be concluded.

If you assume that the purchase is 100 percent, you could weight the agreement of the first analysis interview with 10 percent and planned product presentations with 30 percent.

To forecast your sales for a certain period – be it a month, a quarter, or a year – multiply the potential order volumes for all contacts in your pipelines by the respective probability of completion and then add all the results.

With a potential order volume of EUR 1,000 and a probability of completion of 40 percent, this results in a forecast turnover of EUR 400.

In this way, forecasts can be created quite easily and quickly, but they are also correspondingly inaccurate. Because here it is ignored how long contacts have been in your pipelines.

In this way, all contacts with the same closing date are weighted equally – regardless of whether the first contact was made a week ago or three months ago. So you should be able to rely on your salespeople keeping their pipelines up to date, which is not always realistic.

Another disadvantage of this method is that current internal company developments are not taken into account. If, for example, you make changes to the communication with contacts, products, or your sales process, this can also change the likelihood of completion that previously applied to the individual phases of your sales process.

You also need extensive data on the interactions with your contacts to determine these probabilities. Otherwise, your forecast is more of a guess.

2) Forecasts based on the average length of your sales cycle

With this method, too, you base your calculations on the probability of completion. In this case, however, you determine this based on how much time has passed since the first contact about the average length of your sales cycle.

If your sales cycle is an average of six months long, the probability of closing contacts that have been in your pipelines for three months would be around 55 percent using this method.

One of the advantages of this method is that you leave out the subjective assessment of your sales staff, which automatically makes your forecasts more objective. Because you don’t calculate the likelihood of completion based on the progress of the sales process, it doesn’t matter if salespeople in some cases accidentally move on to the next step too early.

It is also no problem with this method to include several sales cycles of different lengths. Depending on how you won leads, it can take a long time for you to make a decision. This can take around six months for typical inbound leads, perhaps only one month for leads who have been recommended for your product and eight months for leads that have become aware of you at trade fairs. To take this into account, all you have to do is make sure to categorize your contacts by sales cycle length.

It’s important to be able to track exactly when and how leads were added to your sales reps’ pipelines.

Here it is advisable to use a CRM system that can be integrated with your marketing software so that all interactions are logged automatically. Otherwise, your sales reps will have to manually document each step they take, which would take an enormous amount of time.

3) Forecasts based on empirical values

You can also simply ask your sales staff for their assessment.

This has the advantage that you take into account the experience of your sales staff – and they know their customers best. However, caution is required here. On the one hand, the sales staff could be a bit too optimistic, and on the other hand, you have no way of understanding their assessments.

Because you would have to have been involved in the entire sales process, i.e., in every phone call, meeting, or all written communication.

Therefore, this method is mainly useful in cases where there is little or no data, for example, for young companies or after the introduction of a new product.

4) Forecasts based on comparative data

If you need a rough forecast as quickly as possible, you can simply see what sales you generated in the same year (month, quarter, or year) in the past year and then assume that you will generate at least the same sales this year.

So if your team had generated monthly recurring sales (MRR) of 80,000 euros last year in October, your forecast for October this year would be at least 80,000 euros.

To make this forecast somewhat more reliable, you could also take into account sales growth. So if your turnover increases by an average of six to eight euros per month, you would cautiously forecast a turnover of 84,800 euros for November.

However, this method has some shortcomings. For one thingexternal factors, such as the economic situation, are not taken into account, so that your forecast would be void if industry-wide sales were to fall in November.

On the other hand, you automatically assume that there is a constant demand for your products, but this does not necessarily have to be the case. In summary, it can be said that this method only works as long as no unexpected event occurs, and the market is not saturated in the foreseeable future.

Therefore, it is best to use comparative period data only as an approximate measure and not as a direct basis for forecasts.

5) Predictions based on various factors

To get reliable forecasts, it is advisable to consider several factors at the same time, including comparative data, the average length of the sales cycle, the probability of closing based on the progress in the sales process, and also the performance of your individual sales staff.

Here is a simplified example to illustrate this: You have two sales employees, both of whom are currently serving one customer. Employee A has arranged a meeting with her customer’s purchasing manager for Friday, and employee B has just had a meeting in which he presented a product to his customer.

Also, in case A, the progress in the sales process, the relatively large potential order volume, and the number of days remaining until the end of the quarter result in a probability of 40 percent. The forecast turnover is 9,600 euros.

Employee B is still at the beginning of the sales process, and the order volume is lower in his case, but his completion rate is relatively high. This results in a closing rate of 40 percent for him, and sales of 6,800 euros can be expected.

Now you only have to add these two numbers – EUR 16,400 – and you already know what sales you can expect in the next quarter.

Of all the methods mentioned here, this usually gives the most accurate result. The downside is that you need a top-notch analytics tool with rich features, and that can be a problem for companies on a budget. And even if you have an excellent tool, this will only help you if your sales staff document the progress of their contacts conscientiously. Otherwise, your data will not be reliable, nor will your forecasts.

6) Predictions based on user-defined variables

With this method, too, you base your calculations on completion probabilities, but in this case, they are calculated based on user-defined variables. This means that you can also take factors such as the completion rates of your individual sales employees and the respective potential order volumes into account. Again, it is advisable to use appropriate software, since the manual effort would be (too) large. 

If your sales team typically completes deals in a range between $ 5,000 and $ 8,000 over 60 days, then you could increase the likelihood that all of the current deals in your team’s pipeline that fall into that sales category will also close during that period be brought up as very high. You can then use this data to create a monthly or quarterly forecast. 

And as always, your forecasts are only as accurate as of the data on which they are based. It is, therefore, crucial that your sales staff document all interactions in your CRM system. Otherwise, your forecasts will lose significance.

A CRM not only helps you to keep an overview of your current sales and sales goals. You can also automatically log all information about contacting potential customers (emails, calls, social media interactions) – exactly the data you need to determine the likelihood of business deals as accurate as possible.

This is how artificial intelligence saves content marketing from destruction

Marketers have created a monster that is about to destroy content marketing as we know it. 

And do you know what’s worse? Almost all marketers use content marketing. Yet less than half of B2B marketers feel that their efforts are paying off. We now have a unique chance to take countermeasures.

According to Seth Godin, content marketing is the only marketing approach that we still have. If that is true, we should take this opportunity.

Fortunately, there is an artificial intelligence that can potentially save content marketing from extinction. We have to want it.

Live chats, streaming services, voice assistants, and contactless payment options – which new technologies do consumers want?

Now you probably hope that thanks to this artificial intelligence, you can get rid of the most time-consuming tasks, such as writing.

Not so fast.

High-quality content cannot yet be fully automated. Artificial intelligence can, however, be used to support this.

Some chatbots are already smart enough to collect data that is relevant to us, faster than we could ever do.

GrowthBot, for example, communicates with over a dozen systems and APIs and is already used by over 12,000 marketers.

Yes, artificial intelligence can indeed write entire blog articles independently. There are quite a few such articles. You may have read an article that was written using AI without knowing it.

Associated Press is already using AI to create articles in the sports and finance sectors that contain a lot of statistics.

Engadget put together a million words and a few rules to create a “blogbot” that wrote a complete, if somewhat dry, announcement.

 With their systems for text generation, providers such as retresco offer the option of automating the depiction of a Bundesliga game:

During the break, the home team was in the fairway and booked a strong lead. The first successful action after the change of sides was Kostic, who scored in the 64th minute to make it 2-0 for Frankfurt.

Not so surprising that a machine wrote it, isn’t it?

As far as coherence and creativity are concerned, this is probably the most that AI can do. However, these current restrictions could be an advantage, because too much content doesn’t work either.

What matters is quality. High-quality content provides readers with a unique experience. High-quality content meets your goals and those of the reader. High-quality content stands out.

“The volume of content plays an important role. Companies have to produce a lot of content in various forms and for different channels. However, the quality must not be left behind. To prevail in the flood of information, content has to stand out. “

– Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute

Can AI create content that really stands out from the rest? Not until now. However, AI can help research, edit, and manage so you can optimize your content marketing.

Do you remember Karl Klammer, the paper clip that got on everyone’s nerves ? This paper clip may not have been particularly smart or useful, but it was already announcing a future for content marketing , as Vedant Misra, founder of Kemvi, a machine learning company, imagined:

“Machines help us to produce content. They suggest content elements that we can use when creating content. The author still has the last word, but the generation of ideas and the production process are becoming increasingly automated. Similar to Karl Klammer, the Microsoft Office Assistant, but with a much larger brain. “

While this idea has not yet been fully implemented, the matter is taking shape and could end up being the lifeboat that prevents us from being lost in the flood of content.

AI-powered tools can examine trends and give you clues as to what content your readers would like to read. And these tools can make read suggestions to readers based on their behavior or a host of other data.

But are these tools also able to write entirely new, captivating articles? Yes. Take Atomic AI, for example.

When this intelligent program has enough target audience data for an item (or email, etc.), it calculates readability and provides you with custom, predictive recommendations in real-time.

But of course, that is only the first step. AI is much better at interpreting data than people are.

AI-based platforms derive behavioral patterns from a series of data entries; it would take us years to organize and evaluate.

And that’s not all. These platforms can even show you how to use this knowledge best.

“By analyzing hundreds of data points for a single user (including location, demographics, device, website behavior, etc.), AI can display the right offerings and content.”

Then when you have the perfect personalized content, an intelligent system can give you advice on when, where, and how often you should publish the content to achieve the highest possible effect.

Then everything starts from the beginning with intelligent recommendations on which topics your target group is interested in. These recommendations are based on how users interact with your content.

However, the use of AI is not only limited to the creation of rousing blog posts.

In a study by Evergage and Researchscape International, 70 percent of the companies surveyed said that personalization is the most important of all channels in email marketing.

Fortunately, AI makes it easy to personalize email content based on the topics subscribers are interested in.

In this way, you can ensure that your emails are read.

The user experience and conversion rates can also benefit from intelligent personalization.

With the help of an AI-based platform, you can offer users the entire content and optimal products in every phase. This increases the likelihood of conversion, and the churn rate decreases.

This means that artificial intelligence has the potential to free us from harmful content. This is not to say that we, as content marketers had done everything completely wrong. But maybe we meant it a little too well.

We have created too much content with too small intelligence and are now being presented with the invoice. Consumers have shown us that they expect high quality. And relevant content. You want the perfect solution at the ideal time.

You want engaging content marketing.

Additional help in creating content that stands out from the crowd comes in handy. And AI is the most promising tool because it expands our natural abilities.

Artificial intelligence cannot replace content marketers but supports us in our work.

12 ways to be recommended by customers

Consumers like to talk about their experiences with companies – and this raises the question of what you can do to ensure that your company scores positively in these conversations.

When consumers face a buying decision, 83% of them rely on the opinion of family and friends. In this light, it doesn’t seem particularly smart to rely solely on marketing activities to attract interested parties.

It is essential to use the proven effect of word of mouth for yourself. Therefore, many companies use customer referral programs to encourage more customers to recommend their brands, which in turn leads to more qualified potential customers. Because they naturally trust people, they already know more than they would ever imagine your ads. This is an inexpensive way of acquiring customers for your company.

1. Use LinkedIn

With a little preparation, you are more likely to get recommendations than if you simply ask for it.

When you approach a customer, you should already have a name or company that you want to contact in mind. So your customers don’t have to worry about it. Practical help is the extended search for people from LinkedIn. This makes it easy to find second-degree contacts that your customers can introduce to you.

To do this, click on the search bar at the top of the page and select “People” from the dropdown menu. Now you can filter your search for second-degree contacts or additional information such as industry, job title, keywords and location. This gives you a list of potential referral opportunities from which you can select suitable candidates and suggest them to your customers.

2. Look for opportunities for the positive feedback

The best recommendations come from situations where customers have seen the value you can offer them.

You probably wouldn’t ask your boss for a raise if you didn’t meet your monthly targets. For the same reason, it is not advisable (or effective) to ask a customer for a recommendation after disappointing their expectations.

You have the best chance of success if you keep your customers up to date with the results they achieve with your products or services. Satisfied customers are happy to recommend your brand. It starts with a successful onboarding process that gives customers a clear idea of ​​what they can expect at what time and what is required for it.

Then try to combine the request for a recommendation with positive customer experiences.

If you have just been able to tell your customer that your products or services will help them generate higher monthly earnings – ask them directly to recommend your company.

What if you couldn’t reach all the key figures that you had jointly defined for the quarter? Then wait with your request for a better time.

3. Provide a template

Don’t forget that your customers are probably busy (that’s why they work with you, right?).

So instead of making your request for a recommendation and hoping that your customers will eventually find time, be proactive and do some of the work for them.

You can get the ball rolling with an email template like the following example:

[Addressee],

I may have mentioned that I’ve been working with [your name] for a few months. We had talked about some of the issues we shared with [your name] before, and it occurred to me that I should introduce you two to each other. So …

[Addressee], that is [your name with the URL of your LinkedIn profile].

[Your name], that is [addressee, with the URL of a LinkedIn profile].

I’ll leave the rest to you.

See you soon.

If your customer is not convinced of the idea, do not push them further.

4. Respond to positive feedback

In order for you to get more recommendations, you have to prove to be recommended.

To ensure that you really meet the requirements and expectations of your existing customers (better: surpass them), you should absolutely get feedback and react to it regularly.

SurveyMonkey is software for online surveys. It allows you to easily create and distribute customer satisfaction surveys – so you always know what you are doing well and where there is room for improvement.

Before starting a survey, think carefully about how and where you want to position it. After all, you want to get honest and accurate answers. So write useful questions for the survey and choose the right survey type that fits your needs.

5. Spread your content and resources

According to the Google study on the “Zero Moment of Truth”, consumers deal with an average of ten content elements before making a purchase decision. This means that most of your customers used many of the resources that you put together so painstakingly before they become your customers.

This shows how important it is to strategically disseminate this content so that it can attract qualified prospects. And since your potential customers are already using your offered content, you can use a simple link such as “Share with a friend” in the automated emails about your offers or on your thank-you pages to ensure that your content is disseminated among potential customers.

By making it as easy as possible for your customers to pass on their resources to their qualified contacts, even before the deal is closed, you are always one step ahead.

6. Offer potential advocates different options

If you encounter resistance when asking for customer recommendations, first distance yourself and allow your customers time. It is not so important for you to know the reason for the rejection, and you should respect the “no”.

After a while, however, you could approach customers with another proposal to gain them as advocates without them specifically recommending your brand to anyone. Instead, you could write a review, make yourself available for a case study, or write a testimonial.

This means less effort for customers but can still help your company generate more potential leads. And a respectful relationship with customers is not jeopardized. Ask them what they would easily share and try to put their positive feedback on your website or social media.

7. Set up a customer loyalty program

It will probably be your most loyal customers who recommend your company most often and most likely. By setting up a program that rewards you for your loyalty and recommendations, you can show your gratitude and appreciation to exactly these customers.

Such a system can be point-based, but can also simply consist of free premium membership. No matter how you design the program in detail, make sure that your customers feel valued. You will then be more inclined to support you.

8. Consider your customers’ values

Before you ask them for a recommendation, find out what is important to your customers. Then you can adapt your incentive or thank you accordingly and convey to the customers what positive effects their recommendation could have.

An example: Your customers use your product for charity projects or are involved in private or professional work as an advocate for a good cause. In that case, you could offer a donation on behalf of customers as a thank you for a recommendation. Small gestures like this show your customers that you have more than just a business relationship – a partnership.

9. Exceed expectations

Word of mouth is the most effective way to get recommendations for your business. In essence, however, it only works with loyal customers, and you have to earn them.

For your customers (or potential customers) to rave about your service and like to talk about it, you have to inspire them.

Pull a leg out for your customers. Not only by sharing their goals with them, but also by sharing their content on social media, quoting them on your blog, and proving to be an essential resource for you. If you succeed, your customers will automatically spread their positive opinions about your brand.

10. Set up a customer referral program

An official customer referral program is a great way for businesses to be proactive in generating recommendations. Such a program also shows that you are convinced of your products and services as well as of your team, and this will not remain hidden from your customers.

Also, such a program provides a clear structure for recommendations, which removes obstacles for customers and thus encourages them to recommend your company to their networks.

11. Recommend other companies

Conversely, if you ask your customers to recommend your company, they may expect the same from you. By offering to recommend other companies to your customers, you create an equivalent exchange.

But be careful: if you pass your customers on to other companies, your reputation and good relationships are at stake. So you need to be sure that you only recommend companies that you can be sure that they will deliver what they promise.

12. Offer incentives

Hardly anyone likes to work without getting something in return.

If your customers go to the trouble of finding suitable contacts for a recommendation in their networks, you should reward them for it.

Your customers deserve a thank you for helping you connect with qualified leads. For example, it could be a voucher for Starbucks or Amazon, a free subscription for a month, or just plain cash.

One way to create such incentives is through formal referral agreements. These can be a good source of new leads for your company as they create a system that rewards influential customers.

Referral agreements

What is a referral agreement?

A referral agreement is a contract between a company and a third party that the company agrees to reward the third party for successfully recruiting new leads. Both sides are suitable on terms that are acceptable to them and officially sign the agreement. This is an ongoing relationship from which both the company and the third party can benefit.

What should be included in a referral agreement?

When you set up a referral agreement, you should include the following elements in your template:

  1. A heading that contains the name of your company and the respective third party and the date of the agreement. The usual legal formalities.
  2. A description of the relationship between the parties involved, with the company as the owner of the capital and the third party as an external “service provider”.
  3. The definition and requirements for the mediated contacts. Do you have to become a customer, or does the agreement already apply to the status as a lead? Recommendations do not necessarily have to lead to new customers, so it is important to note when the agreement comes into effect.
  4. A description of how the external party is remunerated. This can be about a fixed amount per lead, or the quality of a lead can determine it. In some cases, the reward is only paid when the leads become customers.
  5. Conditions for the premium payment, such as whether there is a certain period in which the payment must be made. If mediated leads must first become customers before the premium is paid, it is important to note the period in which the conversion to the customer must take place. If brokered leads become customers within this period, the agreement applies, and a premium is paid.
  6. Does the agreement apply to repeated conversions if a previously referred customer buys from the company again? If you pay premiums in such cases, you may be able to motivate your partners to mediate leads of higher quality.
  7. Whether the agreement is exclusive or not. If you don’t want your customers to have similar agreements with other companies, you should record that.
  8. A confidentiality or confidentiality clause. This can prevent the parties involved from disclosing confidential information while the agreement is valid. This can also act as protection for intellectual property that may be compromised under such agreements.

When should a referral agreement be used?

An Amazon coupon as a reward for finding new leads is probably not a sufficient basis for a referral agreement. This should be reserved for large customers or accounts and cases in which the parties involved significant exchange amounts of money. Then an official agreement creates collateral and ensures that the relationship is mutually beneficial.

11 strategies for positive customer reviews for your company

Customers’ buying decisions are influenced by many factors.

We all know that: we ask friends and acquaintances whether we should buy something or not. Maybe they have a recommendation – or a warning. And of course, we thoroughly research the various options on the Internet.

Online shopping is quick and so smooth that contact with sales staff is no longer necessary. The Internet practically takes on the role of the sales staff. And that has a significant impact on whether a customer buys from you or not.

Your company’s most effective marketers and salespeople aren’t necessarily employees of your company – they’re your existing customers. 

Customers have less and less trust in companies. HubSpot Research was able to show that customers trust recommendations from friends and family rather than the marketing and advertising campaigns of brands and companies. According to a study by BrightLocal, 85% of consumers believe online reviews as much as personal recommendations, if no one from the social environment has a tip at hand – making them the most trustworthy and credible “advertising” there is.

According to HubSpot Research, 60% of consumers rate customer reviews as “trustworthy” or “very trustworthy.” So if a company manages to collect a lot of positive reviews, the chances are that customers will choose to buy from that company.

The BrightLocal study mentioned earlier also found that positive customer reviews gave 73% of consumers greater confidence in a company, and 57% of customers visit a company’s website after reading positive reviews. For companies to not only survive in today’s highly competitive market, which is primarily determined by online sales but also to grow, they need satisfied customers who disseminate positive reviews so that other consumers visit the company’s website.

Fortunately, customers are usually more than happy to help: 68% of the 74% of customers who asked for feedback was willing to do so, according to BrightLocal. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers a favor – you just have to ask them, and they’ll most likely be happy to help.

So how do you get your customers to write the positive reviews that help you get more deals? How can you ensure that your customers are so satisfied that they also respond to the request for a review? In this article, you will learn which strategies you can use to get positive customer reviews.

1) Provide different review options

Make sure potential customers can learn about your business before they visit your website, no matter where they start researching online before making a purchase.

There are some third-party websites that consumers like to visit to learn about a company or product:

1. Yelp

BrightLocal found that consumers in the United States considered Yelp and Facebook to be the most trusted sources of customer reviews. But you should also register your company for target groups from other countries and always keep the entry up to date. For information on how to take over a business listing  (or add your business if it’s brand new), see Yelp for Owners.

Don’t forget to check what feedback you get from this profile regularly. Responsive owners are highlighted by their average response time and response rate, and this can be an argument for readers to become customers with you.

2. Facebook

You should also use your company’s Facebook page so that potential customers can find you and learn more about you without leaving their social network. This platform also rewards responsiveness, so it is best to have an employee responsible for keeping an eye on all incoming messages on the channels that you want to optimize for customer acquisition.

3. Google

Also, use Google My Business to register your company in the world’s largest search engine. This is how potential customers can find you when they search for information on Google or use Google Maps. (This is particularly important for companies that are not only active on the Internet but have “real” branches and therefore want to attract walk-in customers.) Reviews are also written on Google.

4. Amazon

If you are an Amazon seller, you should, of course, also claim and adapt your Amazon page. 

Amazon displays a variety of search results for different searches. Make sure that your Amazon page conveys the history of your company correctly, as you can see it on your website. If a buyer finds your brand through an Amazon search, your page should include product details, testimonials, and reviews.

5. Yellow pages

In the “Yellow Pages,” many will think of the useful old direct mail items and a tome made of wafer-thin recycled paper, depending on where they live. But far from it, the yellow pages are also available as a digital business directory across World.

Companies can set up a start entry there free of charge, which receives an increased ranking in the hit list with their branch in your location for three months. After three months, this “starter bonus” is reduced (it can be extended against payment), but the entry remains.

If there are rating websites specific to your industry, you should also use them. Examples are TripAdvisor for travel and hotels, G2 Crowd, GetApp and Capterra in the software industry or gastronomy for restaurants. Make sure that your contact information, a link to your website, business hours, and offers can also be found on these more specific websites.

2. Optimize content

Satisfied – or dissatisfied – customers can write reviews on third-party websites without being asked.

It should also be easy for customers to leave reviews when they visit your site.

Optimize your website, blog articles, online profiles, and emails so that customers can quickly and easily find a way to write a review:

  • Set up widgets to direct visitors to your YelpFacebook, and Amazon sites to read and write reviews.
  • Optimize your website for mobile devices  – this is important for visitors who come to your website while they are active on their smartphone in social networks or searching the Internet.
  • When emailing customers for a review, be brief.

3. Create incentives

Time is valuable. Not just yours, but also that of your customers. Therefore, you should give them a reason for a review.

Even if a lot of customers would probably write you a review without receiving anything in return … it won’t hurt if you offer them an incentive. This can be a discount code or a voucher code, participation in a competition with even better prices, or gift cards for coffee, online shopping, or even plain cash. 

4. Ask at the right moment

You get the best reviews if you ask customers at the appropriate point in their purchase process.

It depends on the right time: if you ask at the wrong moment, a customer may write a negative review, which may read hundreds of potential customers who are considering whether or not to buy from you.

Ask your customers for a review if they just had a positive experience with your brand, for example:

  • after experiencing or reporting success with your product or service
  • when you buy or order something again
  • after tagging your brand in a social media post
  • if they are visiting your website (again) and find out about other products or services
  • if they have recommended your company to other customers through a referral program

These are just a few examples of situations that can give you information about your customers’ satisfaction. And in such moments, customers would most likely write a positive review.

In this Etsy example, customers are asked a month after they buy something there if they want to leave a review. In this case, it was gifted for a hen party, and there was enough time in a month to find out if the product was a success.

However, this period would be too long for other products or services. The Lyft taxi app usually sends a request to rate the experience immediately after the end of a journey. And the language learning app Duolingo asks for a rating in the app store after users have completed a lesson or reached a milestone.

5. To meet the customers

Don’t email your customers asking them to write a positive review on Yelp.

Your request should show customers the exact way to the platform they should choose for a review. So if you ask for a customer review in an email, add a link that will take customers directly to where they can post that review. If you would like reviews for your Facebook page, you could send the request via Messenger. If it is unavoidable to ask for a review via another platform, integrate the desired platform as well as possible: Link to your Yelp page in your email signature or write to customers who have something on your Amazon site bought a follow-up email.

This request for a review comes from a seller on Amazon – along with a few tips on how to get the most out of the recently purchased product:

6. Get started with open questions

Don’t fall straight into the house and ask for a customer review.

Better start a conversation. The best way to do this is with an open question.

“How satisfied are you with the product?” Or “Would you like to order the product again?” Or “How did you find contact with customer service?” – with such questions, you get the conversation going and can better assess how satisfied the customers are before you ask them for a review.

And that has two advantages:

  • You get helpful feedback from your customers.
  • You don’t accidentally ask for a review before you learn that customers have had a negative experience with your company.

With open questions, you collect customer feedback and can also make sure that customers are satisfied before prompting them to write a review. Of course, negative reviews cannot be completely avoided. However, if there are customers that you need to help with a problem first, focus on that before asking for an evaluation of your business.

7. Answer all reviews – even the negative ones 

Mistakes can happen to anyone, and sometimes they cause customers to leave a devastating one-star rating on your website, on Facebook, or Yelp.

Take the time to think carefully about such an assessment. Do not be defensive, but try to find a solution. If you work in customer service, this is the right way – your company can benefit in the long term.

The Harvard Business Review found that companies that respond negatively to reviews online actually get better reviews overall. Not only is human being wrong, so are your customers. Sensitive, empathetic customer service hits a nerve with customers and leads to a slight increase in overall ratings – and especially positive ones.

8. Share existing positive customer reviews

When you get the first positive reviews from your customers, use the momentum, and share this feedback so that other customers may do the same.

On Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Glassdoor, and many other review sites, owners (and website visitors) can rate reviews as helpful. Well-rated reviews are shown higher up on the website and are therefore read by more visitors. Therefore, you should regularly rate positive reviews as helpful so that the best is always displayed on your company’s page.

You can also share positive reviews on your brand’s social media channels to reach your target audience. Or share positive Facebook reviews in a post on your page or positive design reviews as quotes for Instagram for your followers.

Social proof is an effective marketing tactic – when customers see other people like you share reviews; they are more likely to do the same. So not only should you ask for new customer reviews, but you should also ensure that the positive reviews you receive are disseminated through the different channels of your brand.

9. Give customers a positive review

If you want to get customers to write a review, go ahead and write a review about the customers.

Depending on the industry or product, this is not always possible, but in many cases, you can motivate customers to return the favor.

If your product or service is suitable for evaluating customer profiles – as is the case with Uber and Airbnb, for example – leave a positive rating so that the customers do the same. Of course, you don’t have to do this for uncomfortable customers, but if you want to get more reviews, it often helps to take the first step.

Another great option is to recommend your customers on LinkedIn. If you work in customer support and deal with certain customers over a long period, you can give a recommendation or support on LinkedIn. Both are extremely helpful for your branding and could lead you to reciprocate and leave a positive review for your company. And if customers thank you for the recommendation, you can politely ask them to write a review on another platform.

Customer: Thank you for recommending me on LinkedIn! I appreciate that.

Account manager: You’re welcome! I have enjoyed working with you over the past few months, and I just wanted others to know what your ace in web design is. I hope you enjoyed working with me, too – and if so, I’d be happy to review our product on G2 Crowd.

This strategy is particularly recommended if you have built a real relationship with a customer over a long period. If a practically unknown person arbitrarily recommends customers on LinkedIn, this can easily seem scary and will not result in these customers making recommendations on their part.

10. Ask customers personally

If you work as a Customer Success Manager or hold a leading position in customer care and were able to establish a close relationship with your customers, you can ask your customers to write a review in a personal conversation.

A good opportunity, for example, is when you go out to dinner with a customer or invite him to an event at your company. Have a casual chat and add a question to ask if your product or service has worked. (Ideally, you already know from your regular conversations whether the customers are successful or not – and then ask those who you know have achieved their goals.)

If your customers are satisfied, tell them that their opinion and loyalty is important to them. And then ask if a positive review would help you reach potential new customers. Take another look at the beginning of this article. Most customers like to write a review – you just have to ask them.

11. Organize an event

User conferences or industry events that add real value to your customers in addition to the products or services you sell are a great opportunity to personally ask for reviews (as described in the strategy above). With such an event, you create conditions under which customers are happy to write a positive review.

Help your customers to an inspiring and helpful experience, in which they can make contacts, get to know new products first, use discounts, and meet their contacts in your company personally. Your customers will be in a positive mood, and you will most likely get more reviews. You could even incorporate customer reviews into your post-event feedback process: After your customers take part in a survey to evaluate the event, ask them if they want to share a few highlights of the event on a public rating website.