Episode 132 : Enhancing Your Customer Experience with Targeted Value Optimization

Will Laurenson is a customer value optimization consultant with 9 years experience optimising customer journeys to convert more traffic into customers, and retain those customers for longer helping companies achieve more profitable growth. He is also the host of the Customers Who Click Podcast, interviewing guests from across the marketing spectrum to give actionable insights into growth.

Questions

  • Could you share a little bit about your journey? How it is that you got to where you are today? How did you end up into customer value optimization?
  • Could you share with our listeners why you think brands need to focus on customer value optimization, not just necessarily from a subscription perspective, but just generally speaking, if you’re a retail business, or if you’re a service oriented versus product oriented, why is value optimization so important in delivering that great brand experience?
  • Could you give our listeners maybe two or three tips that you think their companies could utilize to get better customer retention?
  • What’s the one online resource, tool, website or app that you absolutely can’t live without in your business?
  • Could you share with us maybe one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you? It could be a book that you read a very long time ago, or even a book you read recently, but it really has just impacted you greatly.
  • Could you also share with us if there is one thing that’s going on in your life right now that you’re really excited about? It could be something that you’re working on to develop yourself or your people.
  • Where can listeners find you online if they wanted to connect with you further?
  • Do you have a quote are saying that during times of adversity or challenge, you’ll tend to revert to this quote, it kind of helps to get you back on track or get you refocused?

Highlights

Will’s Journey

Will shared that he actually started in a few start-ups. He started in one start-up, but his early career was start-ups, so he did a bit of everything, generally marketing but kind of covering a wide range of channels responsible for pretty much everything.

But what he found was, very often companies would kind of hand the marketing team a bunch of cash and say, “Go and acquire customers.” that was basically the job. And it doesn’t work like that especially in the start-ups where the product is still a work in progress. So what he started to do was work more closely with product teams and development teams to actually take into account customer feedback and build out a better experience.

You’re not going to convert people into customers or retain those customers for very long if your experience is rubbish. He has got quite a bit of experience in the subscription space, that tends to be where he works. And obviously, if it’s a magazine, it’s a bit different but if you’re talking about a digital product, and actually one that he worked for was kind of like Netflix for magazines.

If the app experience is not very good, you’re not going to keep people, they’re not going to pay that monthly fee for something that they’re not finding particularly convenient.

If they can’t find the content they want to read, if it’s not recommending them content, you’re just not going to be able to keep people.

So, that’s where he kind of went down this path of customer comes from value optimization. And it kind of stuck with him for the years, it’s always something he was working on regardless of what his role was, and once or twice, he did specialize a little bit more in the marketing area in house, but it was always a focus on value. Like he said, if you can’t retain those customers, you’re not going to make much money off them.

And likewise, if you focus too much on the conversion side, you could raise the conversion rates really high, but you just damaged value, if you incentivize too much, give people loads of discounts and offers, you’re obviously not making much money there. But you’re convincing people to buy for the wrong reason. So, that’s why his focus is customer value optimization. And I went solo basically, November 2019 to just work with direct to consumer businesses on this.

Brands Focusing on Customer Value Optimization

Me: Could you share with our listeners why you think brands need to focus on customer value optimization, not just necessarily from a subscription perspective, but just generally speaking, if you’re a retail business, or if you’re a service oriented versus product oriented, why is value optimization so important in delivering that great brand experience?

Will shared that at the end of the day, every business wants to make loads of money and wants to be profitable.

If you can only really do that, if you are optimizing the value of those customers and building up their value over time, as opposed to just acquiring new customers every day, every week, every month, you’re going to have those acquisition costs associated with it.

A lot of the time businesses do give discounts to first time customers, so that drops the value of that customer. So if you focus purely on acquisition, you’re just not very profitable with every customer. So you’re going to have to spend more money and acquire more customers. Whereas, if you focus on retention and building up that value over time.

If Facebook or Google does something that affects your business, or as prices get more and more expensive to acquire customers, you’re not going to be hurt by that so much because you’re also focusing on the customers you’ve got and getting more and more value out of them. Plus, you tend to get better levels of loyalty. And kind of ambassadorship. If people really like your business and are happy to spend lots of money with it, they will probably also be happy to tell other people about it.

So you’re not only getting that direct value from each individual customer, you’re also getting them telling other people to come to you, which means you’re getting a potentially better customer anyway, because it’s someone who’s been referred. So he generally sees it as a bit of an increase in value there. But also, you’re not paying the acquisition cost for that customer as well.

Tips to Utilize to Get Better Customer Retention

Me: And I guess ideally, all companies aim to have a high customer retention. So maybe could you give our listeners maybe two or three tips that you think their companies could utilize to get better customer retention?

Will stated that the overall big tip, he would say is, give your customers value. So that’s a term that’s thrown around by marketers a lot, and it can be a bit meaningless.

But what he means is, always explain to them the value of that product or service to them, make sure you’re not describing just the features and saying, “Yes, if you’re looking for a bookshelf, this is a bookshelf, this is what it’s made of, this is how many shelves it’s got.”

You want to explain why that’s going to be beneficial to someone and get them to really feel like this is actually the right product for them, it doesn’t just meet those basic functional requirements, but it’s actually going to kind of make them smile every time they see it or they’re going to feel like their life’s going to be better because they have that product.

And then that kind of that idea of giving value should be everywhere, really in the business. So whenever you send out email marketing, for example, you don’t have to just sell, you don’t have to be sending an email every week to customers, just saying, “Here are some new products.” You can give information, you can give tips, you can give advice.

He has got one client at the moment, and they’re doing a series of emails which actually has no end points in mind. But basically, each email is just a research piece, it gets put into the form of maybe an infographic or some bullet points or something and it is just purely to explain what people need to be doing to feel better. It’s kind of to do with how to sleep better, how to reduce pain.

So, it’s just loads of tips and they get sales from those emails. So even though the email doesn’t push products much, they’re kind of there at the bottom, but the main focus on the of the email is that value and giving people information. And then people are happy with that, they see the value of it and then they go and buy the products.

So, kind of with that in mind, email marketing in mind, one thing that’s so important is just is marketing automation. No matter what size the business is, marketing automation is just incredibly valuable, if you’re a small business, you can get them set up and they will just drive revenue for you on autopilot and you don’t have to be going in and manually building emails each week or every fortnight. So, it can really help with kind of resource issues as well, if you have a small team, you don’t want to be wasting time doing that, when you could just set up a few email sequences and have that drive revenue for you forever, while you focus on other areas.

And if you combine that with that value piece, instead of just selling, they will just work really well for you. You can do abandoned cart emails, welcome series, post purchase, loads of different types of emails you can do.

And you can provide value at all of them. What most people tend to do with an abandoned cart is send you an email saying, “Here is the item you had in your cart, do you want to buy it?” Just a reminder, that’s it.

But now, while some people will have abandoned the cart, because they got distracted or something came up and they had to deal with it, so they might come back. You’ve also got a huge number of people who are not fully convinced that that product is what they want to buy and that your business is the one they want to buy it from.

So, that abandoned cart email is a great way of dealing with those concerns depending on what your product is. If you’re selling electrics like a washing machine or something, you could send out the manual or something or the manual for that product, something like that. So people can check all the details, all the specifications and be absolutely sure it’s the right washing machine or dishwasher for them.

You can do some really simple things that don’t really cost you anything to do, but could make that customer’s life a lot easier, therefore more likely to convert. So, it’s giving people value kind of all the time, email marketing, email automation, really, really important. And the final thing is make really, really good use of your customer service team.

So many businesses just see it as like a cost centre, it’s a team that has to be there because people will contact the business so we need to pay some people to sit at a desk and just answer these emails all day.

But actually, there’s so much that you can get from the customer service team, they can turn unhappy customers into happy ones, they can answer people’s questions, and cause those people to actually then buy the product.

And even better, if you collect all that information and pass it on to the relevant teams, you can then make the website better, the emails better, your social media better, whatever, so that those questions actually disappear, they’re no longer people coming into customer service for it, because you’ve actually fixed the problem and people no longer need to ask those questions.

So, he thinks there’s so much value you can get out customer service and it’s so easy, pretty much all you got to do is set some categories up, some tags in your customer service tool and tag each email that comes in.

And then on a monthly or quarterly basis, depending on how big the business is, just review the queries that have come in. You’ll pick an area once a month maybe and just pick one of the categories and just dig into what people have actually been asking, what’s been going on, and then see where you can go fix that problem so that no one faces it.

App, Website or Tool that Will Absolutely Can’t Live Without in His Business

When asked about an online resource that he cannot live without in his business, Will shared that he has quite a few. He’s got some like accounting things that are really useful. Dext is really handy, he just forward all his receipts onto it, takes care of all that.

And he thinks a really cool one is Otter.ai. So, Otter like the animal and ai. It’s an AI transcription tool. So he actually uses it for his podcast, after the recording he loads the podcast episode into Otter.ai, it transcribes the podcast for him and then he can really easily pick out some quotes, pick out key points for the summary for social media posts and things like that.

He initially tried to use it to do an actual transcription of the podcast but he found that he had to do about an hour editing every single episode to tidy it up because it’s not perfect, because AI is not there yet, so, he stopped doing that.

But he uses it to help him write the summary and things. It probably cuts a good 30 to 45 minutes out of the process each week. He guesses it doesn’t sound much but he really likes it, he just finds it so useful.

Me: And of course, if you’re cutting 30 to 45 minutes off of any activity, when you add that up, it makes a big difference.

Books That Have Had the Greatest Impact on Will

When asked about books that have had the biggest impact, Will shared that Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin is really, really good. It’s all about standing out but being different. Having something to actually say that is unique and makes people pay attention to your business and not just view you as another website.

He thinks honestly, a lot of fashion sites are really bad at that. You’ve got the top tier brands which are fantastic. By top tier, he doesn’t mean the publicly listed completely, the massive ones. You’ve got those the handful of companies that do it really, really well and stand out. But the majority of them even look almost identical on the website, there’s nothing that makes them stand out. Major clothing is a little bit different, but most of them are pretty basic. So Purple Cow he would definitely recommend reading.

And the one that he read fairly recently was last year actually, The Adweek Copywriting Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Powerful Advertising and Marketing Copy from One of America’s Top Copywriters by Joseph Sugarman, which is just absolutely fantastic.

When you look at it and you kind of read the name, you think it’s going to be like a textbook or something or a workbook, it’s not, it’s kind of more written like a first person, almost like a story really. It’s a bit like a course but not sure how to describe it, it’s really, really good.

It’s partly about copywriting but it’s something you can take into so many other kind of aspects and areas of the business. It’s all around, for example, the first sentence should make the reader wants to read the second sentence, that’s the job of it, is to make you read the next bit and on and on and on, things like that.

And then there’s quite a bit about kind of consumer behaviour and psychology which is really, really interesting. So, he really enjoyed that, that’s just sits on his coffee table actually, quite well broken out in chapters. So it’s pretty easy to just open up, read a quick tip, it takes two to three minutes, read a few tips, and then put it down. It’s obviously not like a novel, where you probably want to keep up with it, quite a lot in order to make sure you don’t forget the story.

What Will is Really Excited About Now!

Will shared that the one big thing that he’s super excited about at the moment is he’s actually selling his flat and buying a new place. He stated that that’s not quite work related but that’s all going on which is really cool. So, he’s getting a house, just kind of outside London in the UK.

But otherwise, he’s quite excited about the new direction that he’s taking his business in. He is leaking down into that subscription space, so everything he does will be more focused around subscription businesses because he likes working with them, he likes the business model, he likes the fact that you have to place that focus on retention as well and build up the lifetime value.

So, at the moment, he’s redoing his website a little bit, he’s creating some new content and new eBooks and things which will be available on the website. That’s probably the big thing that’s going on with the business right now. Just that slight repositioning, so that he has that purple cow moment really, he wants to stand out a bit more.

Where Can We Find Will Online

Email – www.customerswhoclick.com

Twitter – @WillLaurenson

LinkedIn – Will Laurenson

Quote or Saying that During Times of Adversity Will Uses

When asked if he has a quote or saying that he tends to revert to, Will shared that probably not to be honest, he’s not really that sort of person. One thing he finds himself saying a lot is, “We’ll make it work.” Just applies to anything really.

It happens a lot when he’s cooking, he tends to forget ingredients or something and just say, “I will make it work.” Applies to the business as well, if he’s struggling with something, just got to find a way to make it work.

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