About Author

Digital Marketing Specialist

Check out her latest articles

Customer Training: Why You Should Create an Academy for Your Customers

Grab your favorite pasta sauce and look on its back label—there’s always a recipe for an awesome dish. They don’t just sell you a product, they teach you how to use it.

This is the purpose of a dedicated training portal for your online customers. Teaching new users how to make the most out of your product should be part of your customer onboarding and lead generation processes because it adds significant value and helps to advance leads further down the sales funnel.

 

Bring the value of your product to the surface by training your customers to become expert users. An expert user is more likely to become hooked on your product and remain a loyal customer for years to come, as well as a valuable advocate of your brand.

 

The importance of a customer training portal

So, what does a customer training portal actually mean for your business?

An academy can reduce costs by:

  • Lowering the number of incoming tickets
  • Providing personalized and automated onboarding
  • Automating customer training and support
  • Helping to automate user activation
  • Acting as a point of reference for support staff to minimize blunders

 

customers

 

It can also increase revenue by:

  • Providing a better customer experience
  • Increasing customer satisfaction
  • Reducing churn
  • Increasing possibility for an upsell
  • Providing the ability to sell premium courses or certifications
  • Increasing customer retention and lifetime value
  • Adding to brand equity, a company’s intangible real estate

 

An expert user will see the value earlier in the sales cycle. They will get value, are more likely to upgrade to your higher-end services, and will stick with you for longer.

Offering high-quality industry-related education can establish your company as a leader in the field and improve your standing as a strong brand, attracting more leads and making it easier to convert leads into customers.

 

How to use education to onboard customers

You most likely already have some sort of customer onboarding in place. Whether you have a blog, an auto-responder sequence, a webinar, or a live demo of your product, you are essentially providing training. All these are slow, time-consuming mechanisms to get to the end result.

 

A dedicated training portal can improve the process by adding self-paced education to the mix. The purpose of onboarding is to teach the use of your product until your customers reach the “Aha!” moment where they see the real value of your product.

A user can join a course teaching them the basics of your product. This is exactly what Hubspot does with their academy. They have courses on how to use every facet of their product.

 

Hubspot knowledge base

 

An example of a successful customer academy

How do you build a customer academy similar to Hubspot if you don’t have the resources of a giant? Here’s an example of a dedicated training portal: Softomotive Academy.

 

sofromotive academy

 

This portal was built using LearnWorlds, a top-rated online course platform and learning management system. LearnWorlds is a fully customizable, white-label solution to train employees and associates, educate customers, or sell online courses to a wide audience.

 

Tips for an effective training portal

There are other tools that an organization can use to implement a training portal. For example, one can use knowledge software. These tools usually have an integrated ticketing system, which is an advantage, however, they lack content presentation capabilities. Such capabilities allow course providers to create a professional-looking academy and engaging classes.

 

Some examples of features that you would expect in a customer academy that is built with an e-learning solution is a course player with lesson-ordering capabilities, interactive video, interactive ebooks, learner management, course access restriction, etc.

With the easy addition of engaging media, like visuals, audio, exercises, quizzes, and text, your training will be a unique learning experience for your users and encourage them to have fun in the process!

 

An academy for lead generation

Knowledge is highly valuable. Everyone is looking to learn something. This is why “How-to” videos on YouTube and articles on your blog get the most traffic.

People are looking for information on how to get to their intended goal. Giving away one or more free courses on popular subjects within your industry can bring in a flood of new leads. Those fresh leads then enter your educational sales funnel, get to know about your product during the process, and eventually become paying customers.

 

When creating a free course to collect leads, you should choose a subject closely relevant and valuable to your audience. Be sure to give a lot of value and prepare some nicely spread-out CTAs throughout your product material.

For example, this free course on Video Based Learning teaches how to create professional educational videos, acting as a lead capture for LearnWorlds.

 

Get started with your own academy

Facing constant pressure from competition and rapid development of new features, businesses need to do a better job of educating their customers. If potential customers do not fully or accurately understand your business benefits, they will be unable to discern your potential value.

 

Education-based customer onboarding is a huge opportunity for every organization that sells B2B digital products, especially if you are working towards increasing sales and reducing churn rates to maximize your profit.

Instead of having customers come back again and again with the same questions or directing them to a boring knowledge base, choose to educate them proactively, so they become power users of your product.

 

 

 

The B2B eCommerce Opportunity and Growth Beyond Agile – CommerceNow ’19 Part 3

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times: marketing is all about the customer. Unfortunately, that maxim can be easy to forget when you’re bogged down in the day-to-day of implementing eCommerce systems or managing agile sprints. But for all your hard work to pay off, you really need to stay focused on the customer. These recent CommerceNOW sessions covering eCommerce and growth may help you develop new strategies for making customer needs your top priority.

 

Maximizing the B2B eCommerce Opportunity: Don’t Be Afraid to Get Messy

 

In this session, Anna Talerico, Chief Operating Officer at Linux Academy, covers everything from measurement to compensation to goal setting. She started out by pointing out a reality that’s too often ignored: the buyer journey is messy! In contrast to often-shared images of a perfect funnel progressing from awareness to consideration to purchase, buyers make many detours along the way and don’t have a perfect path to becoming customers.

 

Different types of businesses may have different business models and complicated sales environments, but they all they need to focus on one thing: sell the way your buyers want to buy. Here are three easy steps to help you start selling for buyer needs, not internal processes:

 

  1. Define your lanes: Who works what deals? What deals can be sold which ways? Even in a complicated sales environment that involves selling online up to a certain number of seats, sending POs through Zendesk, fielding inbound and outbound calls and more, you can control and define how you sell your product for each kind of deal. Make sure to answer questions like who gets paid on a deal, who gets credit for expansions and renewals or how to transition deals to customer success.

 

  1. Document the ground rules. Once you’ve defined your selling lanes, write down the details—now! Too many companies operate on institutional knowledge about how deals work, leading to confusion and people working at cross-purposes to chase a commission. The more clearly you define and document lanes, the more likely you are to succeed—and the better prepared you will be to scale.

 

  1. Look for loopholes. What deals don’t fit in the system? In one company, salespeople were sending deals over to the eCommerce system to close and then grabbing credit for them, because deals were easier to fulfill that way. They weren’t following the process, but still got commissions! Find and close loopholes like this.

 

  1. Evolve as needed. No matter how good your initial “lanes” are and how well you document them, they won’t be perfect! Make sure they change as your business does. Evolve the processes in line with your team to ensure continued success.

 

  1. Sell the way your buyers want to buy. Don’t force them into anything—make it easy for them every step of the way.

 

Once you start recognizing the messy reality of the buyer’s journey and prepare to handle it, you may be ready to improve your product or service offerings to drive additional growth. Here’s how to do that—by going beyond agile.

 

 

Growth Beyond Agile: Focus on the Customer

 

Andre Morys, cofounder of konversionsKRAFT, discussed the recent hype around A/B testing, growth culture and experimentation—and where the hype falls flat. He shared the top 1% of growth principles that were consistent across 500 global experiments conducted by GO Group, a group of optimization consultants.

 

The Top Growth Principles You Can’t Ignore

  1. Give people a relevant reason to buy. Speak their language, not yours.
  2. Use herding and scarcity: funnel buyers to channels where scarcity exists.
  3. Make people feel good when the going gets tough—add a “you qualify for free shipping” message in checkout, for example.

 

Why are these are winning principles? Because they start with human behavior, not marketing departments. Too many marketers think about templates and tracking pixels rather than people and behavior. Leading with tactics will never win: lead with the customer instead.

While these principles are globally applicable, you’ll need to build out your own experimentation engine to find similar principles that work for your company. You can do that by getting started with an agile approach to growth.

 

What Does It Mean to Be Agile?

 

Agile has clearly taken off: the methodology has been widely adopted, with colorful sticky notes and cool illustrations available even on stock photo sites. But there’s way more to agile than feel-good sticky notes and cute drawings.

A lot of people are involved with agile processes, and agile means that product gets shipped more often, but it doesn’t always mean that the product gets better. Quality often rests with the product owner (PO). A good product owner will produce good product; a “bad” one will build a bad one. This means that agile alone is not enough—an agile team can build a product with a poor customer experience.

 

To ensure that agile works for your customers, not against them, have your company (including your PO!) adopt these three tasks to produce growth:

  • Analyze customer problems
  • Prioritize work (throw away irrelevant ideas!)
  • Validate learnings (with a quantitative framework)

 

The growth equation: analyze x prioritize x validate = growth

                                               

Start to move from thinking about features to thinking about customer needs. You’d be surprised to discover how many features are not designed with the customer in mind. In addition, when testing, don’t just test, test the right thing. Work on understanding customer needs through interviews, behavioral studies and more. Don’t stop your research after just a few interviews. Find out how customers really feel. And get angry about customer problems! When their problems drive you, you’ll succeed.

 

Ready to learn more about eCommerce success? Check out more presentations from CommerceNOW.

mail-header-commerce-now-19v2

 

Attract Customers and Close More Deals with Social Selling

Cold calling can get frustrating at times. Not to mention it has been less and less effective for years now, as sales reps and experts can easily confirm.

There’s a report that says 92% of buyers say they delete emails or voicemail messages when they come from someone that they do not know. That means you’re left with a mere 8% of buyers who will listen to your cold-call pitch.

In light of this discouraging news, sales people may need to use a new approach to generate leads and gain new customers. A focus on social selling is one possible approach that may be more effective.

 

What is social selling, anyway?

 

Social selling is about using your social networks to find, engage, and nurture the right prospects, build trusted relationships, close more deals and make a profit.

 

Social selling

 

People often mistake social selling with social media marketing or social media advertising. While these are the responsibility of the marketing department, social selling actually falls in the hands of the sales department.

Sales teams should use social selling to educate their prospects and provide value by answering their individual questions and explaining aspects they are curious about.

It’s a completely different approach from the old sales model, which involved impersonal activities such as cold calling and sales demos. The average cold calling appointment rate is just of 2.5%  and, as pointed out earlier, 92% of buyers say they delete emails or voicemail messages that come from someone they do not know.

Social selling, on the other hand, is all about educating prospects via social media about how your company can help them achieve their goals and ultimately grow their business.

It’s important to remember that even in B2B, people don’t buy from companies, they buy from people. Behind every website, there are decision-makers who have a say on what products or services are being sold and acquired.

 

Is social selling really effective?

 

A study from LinkedIn shows that over 76% of buyers say they feel ready to have a social media conversation and over 62% of those B2B buyers are more likely to respond to salespersons who connect with relevant insights and opportunities.

What did the salespeople say in the same study?

Nearly 73% of salespeople using social media outperformed their sales peers, and 54% of social salespeople have tracked their social selling back to at least 1 closed deal.

Before we get to the DO’s of social selling, let me quickly share some important DON’Ts:

 

Social Selling don'ts

 

  • Infrequent logins. Social selling should be an ongoing activity, and you should monitor conversations daily and engage with your prospects regularly.
  • Not actually making the connections. Ok, you’ve logged in, scrolled a bit, read some headlines and you’re out. That won’t do it. Selling is about building relationships, not spending the most time on social media or having the most LinkedIn connections.
  • Pitching strangers. Don’t connect with a potential customer for the first time and hit them straight up with a sales pitch. Social selling is about nurturing prospects and building connections over time. Otherwise, you’re just going back to cold calling.
  • Engaging with prospects before doing any research. You should learn as much as you can about a prospect before you engage in any sort of interaction. Check out their online profiles, see what they like doing, what they read, what they’re passionate about. This will help you personalize your outreach.
  • Only sharing sales material. Try to be helpful by sharing content that your prospect will find useful and educational, especially if she is only in the first stage of the buying process.

Make sure you keep all of these DON’T’s in mind before creating your social selling strategy.

 

How to make social selling work

 

Now let’s get to the fun part: the DO’s. Assuming you already know who your ideal buyer personas are (and if you don’t, check out this article to learn all about buyer personas), here are some tips on how to make the most out of your social selling journey:

 

Optimize your social profiles

 

You should start by making your name and profile picture consistent across all the networks on which you’re present, to avoid confusion. After all, there can be more than one person online with the same name.

Cater your bio to each social network’s audience. Twitter descriptions are limited to 160 characters so you should use them wisely. Focus on sharing insight into what you’ll be talking about on Twitter, cross-promote other relevant branded accounts such as the company you work for, and include hashtags that your prospects may follow.

 

Rand Fishkin

 

In contrast to Twitter, LinkedIn allows you to add more information about yourself. You can add a short and catchy headline about how you help, add a summary about your overall professional experience, mention your higher education degrees, list your specific professional experience, add skills and endorsements, and so on.

Add your social networks to your email signature, business cards, and PowerPoint presentations.

 

Fish where the fish are – find the best networks

 

Join social conversations that are relevant to you and your business. LinkedIn is the go-to platform for B2B while Twitter is more customer service oriented, great for fast communication. YouTube can also be extremely useful as consumers nowadays often compare and review products by viewing its videos.

You might want to consider choosing a mix of the platforms where your current audience is spending time.

 

Social media

 

Don’t forget that you can find and share discussions on your social feed, on groups (Facebook, LinkedIn) and from searching hashtags related to your industry or product.

 

Research prospects’ needs before engaging

 

Take the time to learn as much as you can about a prospect before you engage with them.

Monitor everything your prospects write, read their bios, check any updates to their profiles, and analyze their connections. Basically, collect as much information as you can.  This will facilitate future engagements that are thoughtful and strategic.

 

Linkedin social selling

 

Did you know that LinkedIn can give you instant notifications when your prospects join? Rather than relying on manual searches for that type of prospect, you can set up a saved search. Make sure to make it as specific as possible by using the Advanced filters, to get the best results.

Another great LinkedIn tool is Sales Navigator, which allows sellers to import contacts from Salesforce. It then provides you with a detailed report on these prospects’ activities and can also recommend new leads based on its findings.

Twitter allows you to build lists (which are kept private) and segment them based on different criteria, like active accounts you’re working on, decision-makers, or current clients, or based on the funnel stage, so you can personalize your approach every time.

Another way to make sure you’re connecting with the right audience is by joining specific groups where your prospects also belong. Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, Twitter chats, Quora and so on will help you get a better picture of what issues your prospects are dealing with and what questions they have.

 

Be yourself

 

Drop the sales pitch. Try to be as helpful as possible in a genuine way; the pushy approach can scare prospects away.

While each social platform has its own unique environment and voice, you should stick to your true self, whether it’s friendly, fun, or trustworthy, and remain consistent across networks.

If you create and maintain a strong professional brand you will most probably receive more interest from prospects, as it shows you are a professional and active participant in your industry.

 

Post quality content regularly

 

You should strive to provide valuable content for your connections and followers on a regular basis, in order to build their interest and gather more interactions.  Sharing content, ideas, and opinions is all that social media is about in the first place, so always give more than you receive if you want to be successful.

You should create your own curated online newspaper for specific accounts using Paper.li/ Feedly. These are great websites that will help you find fresh content to share further.

 

social media sales

 

You can use tools such as Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule those posts in advance to save time and make sure you reach all time zones that are of interest to you. Certain types of content work better for certain days of the week or times of the year, making this scheduling especially helpful.

Also, it is very important to align your social selling efforts with your marketing team’s agenda. Always be aware of the arsenal of content the marketing team has, including blog posts, eBooks, webinars, datasheets, etc.

Share the success of your existing customers. Find case studies, success stories, and client testimonials and share them in a way that shows your genuine excitement for them, rather than relying on a “look what we did for you” approach.

 

Constantly nurture and provide value

 

Interact with your connections regularly, and not just to push them for the sales.

Did a prospect make a post about needing advice or help with something? Go on and offer your expertise and help them solve a problem. Did they just launch a book, or has their company launched a new website? Congratulate them on their success. Offer to introduce them to someone that could provide advice, introduce them to groups, or link them to discussions about which they might not know.

Spend at least 10 minutes each day to:

  • Accept connection requests and even send a personalized thank you to prospects who requested them
  • Respond to new messages
  • Check notifications and alerts
  • Follow new prospects
  • Check news and conversations
  • Engage: Like a few pieces of content, comment on some others, and share what’s worth sharing.

Add value on a consistent basis so you can become a trusted resource in your industry.

 

engaging on social media

 

While keeping your eyes on the brand new shiny prize of gaining new customers, don’t neglect your existing customers on social media. Don’t forget that it’s six times more expensive to win a new customer than to retain an existing one. Take time to ask them questions, nurture relationships, and make them feel valued.

 

Track Results

 

No social selling strategy is perfect, which is why you should constantly assess results and compare them against efforts.

Start by collecting insights on your social selling activity; see what type of posts and activities perform the best.

  • What time are posts getting the most interactions?
  • Is there a particular style of post or piece of content that is performing better than others?
  • Are LinkedIn users more engaged and receptive compared to Twitter users, for example?
  • How many LinkedIn replies to messages have you received?

Also, for LinkedIn users, the platform produced the first-of-its-kind social selling measurement called The Social Selling Index (SSI). It measures how effective you are at establishing your professional brand, finding the right people, engaging with insights, and building relationships.  I would say it’s a pretty good place to start in order to see how effective your activities have been, at least at a general level.

 

social selling index

 

Sales people can also ask their marketing team for data they’ve received from Google Analytics. You can see where a visitor comes from when first entering the website, and what triggered them to fill in a form or choose to sign up. Don’t forget to track the links to your website that you want to share on social media using the URL builder, to make it easier to track, sort, and analyze content and to link it back to something that you accomplished as a sales person.

 

Last but not least, you should exercise patience when it comes to expert social selling. Results don’t happen overnight. Use tools to measure results for a better understanding of what is working, but don’t forget that patience and commitment are key.

 

Have you tried social selling before? Care to share your thoughts, experience, or ideas?

Stand Out, Maximize and Socialize: Top Tips from CommerceNOW 2019

We recently hosted another smashing CommerceNOW online event where experts shared their best marketing, sales, and eCommerce tips in real-time with over 1,200 professionals who signed up for the event. We’re continuing our series of quick summaries of some incredible sessions from CommerceNOW further in this blog post. For the complete experience, however, don’t forget you can watch all the recordings here.

How to Win Over and Keep Happy Customers – CommerceNOW ’19 Part 2

This past June, 2Checkout was the proud host of our third CommerceNOW online event, where 12 amazing marketing, sales, and eCommerce experts shared their knowledge with the audience. Almost 1,200 people registered for the event and during the more than ten hours of live-streamed sessions they learned about the latest strategies and tactics for eCommerce, digital marketing, conversion rate optimization, customer experience, and more.

Give Me 5 Tips for Choosing the Right Digital Commerce Platform

Welcome back to our Give me 5! series, where we share 5 useful eCommerce tips that will help improve your strategies and get you on the road to success.

 

In this episode, we’re going to focus on how to choose the right digital commerce platform for your software & SaaS business.

Simplify the eCommerce process. Try 2Checkout.
The most flexible digital commerce platform that can give your business a real boost.