As marketers, we’re keenly aware of the buyer’s journey and strive to make it seamless in order to increase funnel velocity and conversion rates as a whole. This is a journey the buyer goes through when looking to purchase a new product or service to meet their needs.
There are eight typical buying stages that stretch from the customer becoming aware of the service or product, researching it, taking the dive to make the purchase, and finally, receiving high-quality support to ensure customers renew and repeat the cycle—upsell anyone?
But is that truly enough? And is enough really enough?
What Are You Missing?
You might think these buying stages are enough to guide a buyer through a consistent customer journey that gets them where they need to be. And you might be right.
But enough is never the goal. Make it exceptional.
The typical buying stages forget a critical component: celebration!
Let me be clear—I’m not saying you should celebrate yourself every time a deal closes. I mean celebrate your customers to improve leads at the top of the funnel and renewals at the end of the funnel.
In celebrating your customers, you get to highlight their successes, give them a vested interest in your company, and show your prospects how your product or services enable customers to be awesome.
And all of this cuts down your spending and increases your revenue. Ta-da!
Engage Your Customers in the “Celebrate” Stage
We’ve already covered ways to show your customers you appreciate them, and not to spoil the surprise if you haven’t read it, but one of them is by celebrating them.
You can celebrate your customer in a myriad of ways. Here are just some of the options:
Present Customer Awards
Awards are recognition of achievements. Your customers accomplish a lot in a year, so let them know you see them with customer awards! You create the categories in which you think it’s important to excel. Then customers nominate themselves, sharing why they earned it. A cross-departmental committee at your company picks the best stories that speak to your values and your customers work.
The cool thing is you get to see where customers believe they excel—and recognize the top stories! It’s an important way to recognize your customers and have them come out of the woodwork to engage with you.
One of the first things I did as Customer Advocacy Manager at Kapost was to hold customer awards for those who accomplished so much with our software. It allowed me to become familiar with the great stories our customers have and brag about them. It’s three months later, and I still see benefits.
Publish Case Studies
Typically these are called case studies, but I like to call them boo-yah stories. Just kidding, but “case study” is too boring and doesn’t fully encompass the opportunities they present. Sure, you can tell a story about how customers had issues, came to you, and you solved them. Great content for the sales team to share with prospects!
But I encourage you to dig deeper and think of all the other opportunities case studies present. Think use cases. You can capture how, with your product or service, the customer excelled in a way that you can share with other customers. Sharing such stories shows value to your customers as well as to prospects.
Or, try customer shout outs! Share your customers’ successes with the world. Focus on how awesome they are instead of yourself. Your brand will get recognized via association, and your customer can benefit from the extra publicity.
Highlight Their Success
Secret: this is my goal for this year. I want to go a step further than case studies and really highlight what our customers are doing—whether it’s inside our platform or not. Each month they create successful marketing campaigns that shake the industry, and I want to share that (Kapost customers, if you’re reading this I’d love to talk to you).
Blog posts, webinars, videos—anything to capture the innovative work of customers who are leading the way in the industry.
I even want to take it a step further than highlighting only customers to highlight other industry leaders. This will give value to our customers and insight into what others are doing.
Host In-Person Events
Listen to what your customers want, and give it to them. A lot of feedback I’ve heard is, “Give us events!” (which is great because hosting is one of my favorite things)! Events are excellent because they allow you to connect with customers and allow customers to connect with each other. Events add more value to your product or service.
Send out surveys ahead of time to gather data on what customers want to hear and spend their time doing. That preparation can proactively ensure the event is not a flop. Plan, plan, plan. Remember, it’s the small details that make a difference. That includes beverages at meetings and free time for people to network.
When bringing customers to speak at an event for you, give them the VIP treatment. Pay for their travel and don’t forget to include some spa credit or a special treat.
Just remember—make your customer look good. It’s about them.
And while your customer is the focus, that doesn’t mean it’s a waste for your organization. By building these relationships, you’re reminding customers of the value your organization provides and making them feel like part of something larger. They’re more likely to renew, and it’s at least five times less expensive to keep an existing customer than acquire a new one. With the large contracts in B2B, that adds up, fast!
Beyond retention, you’re building customer advocates. In a world where consumers are inundated with marketing ads and images around every corner, even B2B buyers are turning to peers for recommendations. 84% of B2B buyers start the purchasing process with a referral.
In fact, leads generated by B2B customer advocates are four to ten times more valuable than regular leads. Did you hear that, marketers? Not all leads are created equal.
Here’s why: leads generated by advocates have shorter sales cycles, improved win rates, and larger contracts. And that can be great news for marketers—if we’re ready with celebrated customers who want to advocate and share their experience with new leads.
That’s why we added celebrate to our buyer’s journey map. We want to be our customers’ biggest cheerleader as we work with them and show prospects what’s possible. At the end of the day, we want to help our company succeed and continue to deliver amazing experiences.