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Growth Strategies

Optimize Onboarding with the “Bowling Alley Framework” to Boost Recurring Revenue 20%+

Many online businesses think that the sales process ends when the customer signs on the dotted line, but it’s increasingly clear that strategic onboarding of those new users is just as vital when it comes to turning them into loyal customers.

 

I had the pleasure to recently host a webinar with Wes Bush, founder of the Product-Led Institute, who shared with the audience how to create a powerful onboarding experience for clients and thus turn them into happy, long-term paying customers.

 

Wes introduced us to what he calls the “Bowling Alley Framework”, a very easy-to-follow approach that will change the way you think about onboarding. In essence, this framework sets guidelines for three areas that you need to take into consideration when optimizing the onboarding experience: process flow, product guidelines, and conversational touchpoints.  Wes peppered his theory with specific examples of how this framework can be carried out:

 

  • Aim for Straight-line Onboarding (picture the bowling ball making an unimpeded beeline for the pins for a strike). Make the visitor journey to their goal and outcome as quick and easy as possible, not just signing up for your product, but getting the results they need.

 

Straight-line onboarding

 

Wes points out that 40 to 60% of customers never use the product after signing up and simply drop off. How to prevent this?

1) Map out the onboarding path,

2) Label every checkpoint as either absolutely necessary (“green light”), necessary but perhaps later in the process (“yellow light”), or not necessary (“red light”).

3) Use only the absolutely necessary checkpoints as your “straight line to the pins.”

 

Even removing one extra step from the initial onboarding (like letting them activate their email later, for instance) can lead to a 20% boost in monthly recurring revenue.

 

  • Supply a Product Bumper (picture one of the side gutters that you want to avoid with your bowling ball). Take the time to set up the processes that will gradually and naturally introduce your user to your product, in manageable and memorable small increments. Supply product tours or include visual tutorials in your app/platform; feature a progress bar that shows your customers how far they are in the onboarding process; include checklists of what the users need to do to reach their desired outcome; and onboarding tool-tips that map out the way. These touchpoints usually occur within your product (on site/ in-app), they are fully automated, and, if done right, they can give the user a first hands-on, positive experience with your product. Don’t be afraid to flatter and encourage the user with each new progress down the product bumper: “You’ve exported your first visual, kudos Mr. Designer!”, “Your first mass-mailing campaign has been sent out, High-five!”

 

Product Bumper

 

  • Make the most of a Conversational Bumper (the other side gutter), taking every opportunity to reach out to the user and engage her, in keeping your brand and product as salient as possible in her mind. These touchpoints are automated, manual or a mix of the two and can include: user onboarding emails, in-app messages, and sales outreach. Send a welcome email and follow up with a usage tip email that triggers users to maximize your product in unexpected ways. Sharing case studies of successful customers via another email can convince free users of the value of a subscription. Send an expiry warning email, while sharing the benefits of upgrading. Stick to those points that are of maximum importance to new clients in their first months of usage, finding the right balance between over-communicating and on-and-off sporadic messages, between being relevant and being too pushy/spammy.

 

Conversational Bumper

 

Want to learn more about Wes’ Bowling Alley Framework and get tips on how you can improve conversions and revenue? Watch the complete webinar on the 2Checkout website.

 

 

Industry Buzz – September 2019

Hi, sellers!

This month’s Industry Buzz comes to your aid with some optimization ideas.

Whether it’s customer onboarding, reducing customer churn, nurturing B2B leads, or selling internationally, we’ve got you covered. Ready to jumpstart your online business?

 

Making sure your SaaS business has enough recurring revenue to sustain itself and grow is vital. Because we understand this struggle, we came up with an eBook packed with actionable advice that will help you deal with the pains of growth as far as recurring revenue is concerned. Are you ready to reduce churn and cash in?

 

How do you reduce your customer churn rate? There are plenty of tactics and strategies you can use to win that battle. Check out this post where seven experts share their top tips!

 

If you sell online in the EU, you must have already heard about PSD2 and its requirements, SCA being one of them. The new European directive was necessary to encourage innovation and improve the electronic payments ecosystem. More specifically, digital payment transactions are meant to become safer, and more convenient. Read on to understand the impact of the directives on you, as a merchant.

 

How does your business welcome new customers? Do you make it easy for them to start using your product? Wes Bush, founder of the Product-Led Institute will show you how to create a powerful onboarding experience for your clients. Watch this webinar to transform your onboarding program, avoid user drop-off and maximize adoption.

 

If your business is among the 66% of online merchants who want to tap into those expanding online commerce markets and sell abroad, your success will depend on your ability to act locally. Keep reading to find out the most important elements you need to consider when planning to sell cross-border, and how an international commerce partner can help with each.

 

Did you know that software leads the pack in digital eCommerce sales, purchased by 53% of surveyed shoppers, and it’s followed by mobile apps at 33% and eBooks at 20%? Get more statistics around the online buyer behavior, by checking out the full infographic.

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. If you already know who your ideal buyer personas are, here are some tips on how to make the most out of your social selling journey.

 

Most B2B leads don’t become customers. But email automation could help you address that issue. It lets you nurture leads at scale, so you can compensate for lower conversion rates with volume at virtually no cost. If you want to plan and write an email nurture sequence, read on.

 

If you have struggled with finding relevant content ideas for your eCommerce business, or with creating impactful content for your marketing, you need to watch this online workshop! Digital marketing expert Irina Ianculescu, founder of Marketingasahabit.com, will share her KICK framework for content marketing and help you address your most pressing content challenges.

 

Do you know how to create personalized mobile ads that resonate with your audience without spamming people? As a general rule of thumb, the more care and attention you pay to the kind of content you create and how you distribute it the less spammy your marketing behavior will be and the more effective your mobile marketing will become as a result. Check out more tips on how to avoid mobile spam.

 

Do you know other growth-related articles worth sharing?

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?

Industry Buzz – August 2019

Hi, sellers! There’s some serious noise in the eCommerce industry caused by the second Payments Services Directive (PSD2) and its Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) requirements, which should come into effect starting September 14, 2019 (we know about the potential delay, for now let’s assume the deadline still stands).

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.

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