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Kayleigh Alexandra

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Does Honest Branding Really Win in the End?

Posted by Kayleigh Alexandra on Fri, Oct, 26, 2018 @ 17:10 PM

Honesty

Image credit: Nick Youngson

Growing up, there’s a good chance that you were taught to be your best. To treat others with respect. To tell the truth. To show kindness and compassion toward others. And to go out of your way to help where you can and make the world a better place.

And right now, there’s a movement in the business world that asks you to do the same. It’s called honest branding. And much like the lessons you might have learned during childhood and throughout your formative years, it preaches honesty and transparency in business.

Now here’s a cynical question. Do you believe it to be true? Or do you believe that your company should adhere to what some believe in their own lives — that “nice guys finish last”?

Today, we’re going to take a look at honest branding. And we’re going to show you why it’s a worthy endeavor. One your business should take seriously.

People want authenticity from brands

Here’s the stone cold truth: people would rather do business with the brands they feel are open about who they are and what they do. Money doesn’t grow on trees, after all. And no one wants to hand their hard-earned cash to a business and feel bad about it afterward.

They want good juju from the transaction. They want to feel that they’re not just buying a product or service, but that they’re supporting a business that’s being real with them.

Which leads us into our next point.

People want to do business with brands that have good intentions

Consumers often seek out companies they vibe with. It’s why a lot of artists flock to Apple products. It’s not because you can’t find comparable software on a Windows machine, but because Apple developed a reputation over time as being a great platform for artists.

But that’s not always enough for consumers. They also want to know that a company is operating with the best of intentions, whether that’s toward that company’s customers or the world at large. So they’ll eat at restaurants that are farm-to-table, because they appreciate that restaurant’s support of local farmers. Or they’ll buy a certain type of shampoo because a particular company doesn’t test on animals.

Being open and authentic is good. But wearing all the ways you’re doing good on your sleeve? That’s even better.

People want to feel like a business is on their side

One of the best things you can do as a business is treat your customers as individuals and peers. Pretend that you’re not serving loads of customers. Pretend you’re serving just one. And pretend you get where they’re coming from.

Dove, for example, really nailed this with its Real Beauty campaign. So many beauty products feature television stars and models. People who look consistently flawless on film. And sometimes it can seem like those products aren’t made at all for everyday people. But Dove went in a different direction with its campaign. It showed that, sometimes, women have less-than-flattering feelings about their appearances, and it empowered them to let those feelings go.

Dove gained a lot of goodwill by telling women, “Hey. It’s okay if you have wrinkles. You’re you and that’s all that matters.” Almost as a good friend would. Look for ways your company can do something similar.

People appreciate those who go above and beyond to be open

Are you familiar with Buffer? It’s a social media tool that enables you to schedule updates, letting you automate some of the more mundane tasks of managing a Twitter or Facebook account. The company itself is already well known for its stellar customer service, but there’s another area Buffer really shines in. It doesn’t just pay lip service to being transparent. It relishes in it.

Buffer posts an incredible amount of information about the company on its website. If you go there, you’re not just going to find sales pages and help files. You’ll learn exactly how much every employee makes. And you can read up on every metric the company uses to determine its success.

It isn’t about releasing every last scrap of information, because that’s neither wanted nor justifiable. There’s no reason to talk about how much revenue you made last year (not unless you’re aiming to sell your business in the near future) or what brand of notepad you use in meetings. It’s more about scrapping the compulsion to hide things from people.

When a company is that open, it’s hard not to trust them. Vulnerability is compelling. Which is why a lot of customers trust Buffer enough to pay them for the company’s social media tool.

So, how can you be more honest in your branding?

We’ve told you why it’s important that your company takes honest branding seriously. And we’ve shown you that, yes, honest branding does win in the end. Businesses all over are putting an emphasis on it — even those you may interact with on a daily basis.

Now it’s your turn.

Start by being willing to answer questions. If a customer wants to know something, tell them. If Buffer can publish employee salaries, why can’t you? Perhaps that’s a stretch for your own business — privacy and such — but look at that company as an example of one that does something out of the ordinary. The Buffer team are answering questions most companies wouldn’t be willing to. That’s important.

Also, call yourself out on mistakes. And if you can, try to be proactive about it. There’s a good chance that you’ll know you’ve made a mistake before a whole bunch of people are pointing it out. The faster you acknowledge your error, and the faster you handle it yourself, the more customers will be willing to let it slide.

Finally, listen to feedback and act on it. Don’t just pretend to lend an ear to customers. Don’t provide them with an empty “I hear you” that results in zero action. Take their words to heart. Look at ways you can implement their feedback into bettering your company. Because there’s a good chance that if one customer feels a certain way, others do, too.

And please — don’t let anyone tell you that honest branding doesn’t win. It’s been thriving for a long time now, and it’s still rising in importance. Less transparent and less honest companies may prosper in the short term. But if you’re after long term success?

Well, you know which path you should take.

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Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups, a site dedicated to supporting startups and small businesses of all shapes and sizes. Visit the blog for entrepreneurial tips, and follow along on Twitter @getmicrostarted.

Tags: Trustworthiness, Ethics, do what you say you will do, transparency, integrity, values, honesty

How Analytics Can Help You Improve Your Customer Experience

Posted by Kayleigh Alexandra on Mon, Aug, 13, 2018 @ 12:08 PM

Image credit: Pixabay

 

The importance of exceptional customer experience (otherwise known as CX) continues to rise proportionately alongside usability standards and the surfeit of consumer options in the ecommerce world. Today, any given site must contend with more viable rivals than ever before, and provide a level of functionality that would have been top-end just a few years ago.

 

To adapt to this hotly-competitive marketplace, retailers must consistently identify and implement improvements, whether to their content, their technical configuration, or their operational procedures — and improvement wouldn’t be possible without digital analytics.

 

It is rich digital analytics that can tell you not only how your business is performing but also how each segment of your setup is contributing to the whole, and if you’re planning to bolster your CX, you should start by delving into your analytics. Here’s how they can help:

Attributing value

For ecommerce, product value is obvious and easy to follow. The price is on the page, and an order logs a set value on the system — simple. But what about the value of everything that goes into yielding that order? What is a lead worth, or a form submission? What kind of traffic matters the most?

 

Using your analytics platform, you can create custom goals with values of their own to make the distribution of value through the sales funnel infinitely more understandable. For instance, if you can see from the stats that 1 out of every 100 Twitter visits results in an order, and that the average value of an order from a Twitter referral is $100, you can attribute the value of $1 to each Twitter visit.

 

Why is this important for customer experience? Because it allows you to direct your attention where it matters. While customer experience should surpass a certain baseline of quality across the board, it’s perfectly rational to work harder to keep the most valuable customers happy, and being able to see a clear value split that takes your whole funnel into account will equip you to allocate your people-pleasing work accordingly.

Highlighting weak points

Since everyone likes and dislikes different website elements, personal tastes gets involved in websites assessments far too commonly. Perhaps a developer personally feels that a particular piece of content is underwhelming, and concludes that it needs to be removed or reworked — but the system isn’t there for the staff, it’s there for the users.

 

Assuming correct configuration, analytics will make it abundantly clear which parts of the site are working effectively and which are driving people away. Simply looking at a page funnel will quickly and unambiguously indicate which pages are losing customer interest and which are performing excellently.

 

Armed with that awareness, you can then commit time and resources to shoring up the overall chain by rehabilitating the worst performers, knowing that the investment is fully justified (as opposed to making improvements on a whim and hoping that they’ll prove significant). Since there’s no such thing as a perfect digital design, working efficiently is essential.

Revealing demographic information

If you’ve previously glossed over your analytics, then you’ll have a very unclear notion of the people using your website. You might even have extrapolated wildly-inaccurate notions of your user base from occasional support tickets, direct enquiries, or social media mentions. And if you don’t know who’s using your website, how you can provide them with an optimized experience? Beyond the basics, difference demographics have markedly different preferences.

 

By installing Google Analytics (or using an existing installation, as is more likely given the ubiquity of the software), you can take a deep dive into your metrics and find out more information about the people who spend time on your site. You can then glean insight from the commonalities about what you need to do (you may be best served using an integration-rich webstore package to start from scratch, or you may need only minor adjustments).

 

Here’s an example: the older your user base skews, the more important it will be to provide accessibility features (such as adjustable font sizes and robust support sections) and legacy compatibility (ensuring that your site is functional in old versions of Internet Explorer, etc.). However you achieve it, you must attune your system to those who’ll ultimately use it.

Identifying opportunities

Analytics grant tremendous insight into user searches, pulling data from on-site search systems and external search engines (albeit to a lesser extent in the case of the latter), and that insight is invaluable for plotting your future content and feature updates. Every case of a user searching on your site for something that isn’t there is an opportunity for growth.

 

And the prospective expansion might not even require all-new content. Suppose that your analytics showed that many of the visitors to your site were searching for a non-existent guide to using one of your products. Since product pages often feature basic instructional information as it is, there’s a good chance that you’d be able to quickly throw together a decent guide using existing copy and images, and plug that search gap with minimal effort.

 

In some cases, you may not have a clear idea of what your users are looking for with particular searches, but then your analytics data can serve as a jumping-off point for some community consultation. Reach out to your customers through social media, your website, and/or email surveying and ask them what improvements they’d make, then align the feedback with the analytics for confirmation.

 

Trying to create a great customer experience without taking full advantage of analytics is like trying to complete a puzzle in the dark. It’s technically possible, but extraordinarily unlikely, and you won’t even know if you achieve it. Only through keeping a close eye on the data can you achieve the consistent improvements that deliver consistent results.

 

Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to keeping people informed about everything relating to entrepreneurial ambition and online startups. Check it out for the latest insights and stories, and follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.

 

Tags: customer experience, big data, CX