We all know how important reviews are. In fact, reading a review online can make or break a sale. Today, buyers look for reviews and user experience before they even consider contacting a salesperson.

This means that peer influence (or customer marketing) is an essential part of the sales cycle. Some could argue that it’s the number one influence in any purchase decisions. It’s very obvious that buyers do their research now. With the internet, social media, and the long list of customer reference software out there, a person can find out a lot about a business or service without having to actually engage with the business.

This is even more relevant if your business has multiple touch points for creating a sale. The longer the buyer journey is, the more likely a consumer is to do their homework. Therefore, having documented customer reference stories should be a vital step in your sales process, or at least be available for customer consumption.

Customer marketing

So we’ve mentioned customer marketing. What exactly is it, and why is it important? Well, simply put, it’s building customer relationships. A happy customer, is, after all, a great advocate for your brand. Many people see the benefit of customer marketing as it usually results in word-of-mouth marketing that produces new leads for the sales team. Another thing to think about is, customer marketing makes it easy to get and ask for referrals.

Customer marketing is really just keeping in communication with customers after the point of purchase. The main reason for using customer marketing is to build a strong relationship (there are plenty of customer service statistics that prove it). Here are five easy ways to implement customer marketing:

  1. Sending product updates
  2. Using in-app messaging
  3. Asking for reviews and testimonials
  4. Generating referrals
  5. Creating case studies

Customer marketing is all about retaining existing customers, as you can imagine it actually has a big role in customer success. This means providing the customer a reason to stay a customer.

Customer reference software

You may have realized that customer marketing blends into customer success. One key reason for building great relationships with a customer is so that they can help spread the word.

You may know of a few companies who have a customer reference program. Customer reference programs provide an easy way to strengthen a brand while building and maintaining happy customers.

A reference program allows a business to engage customers. So, as the name suggests, a customer reference is when a person or company agrees to share a positive experience about your brand, product, or service.

Why is having customer references important? Well, people are not interested in your view or opinion of how awesome your product is. They want to read real stories from real customers. They want to know how your product helped or didn’t help a business.

If you’re thinking about blasting out an email to all your current customers and asking for a reference, testimonial, etc. stop right there. You need to build repeatable processes, so that you approach a customer at the right time, every time. This also makes it easier for your customer success team, as following a protocol typically yields consistent results.

This could mean determining the messaging that is used when asking a customer for a reference, determining what customers to ask, and figuring out when the appropriate time is.

Some helpful tips:

  1. Let customers know how you plan on using their reference. Keeping them in the know gives them another reason to trust your brand.
  2. Keep it easy. You don’t want to make this a difficult task. In fact, if you make writing a reference a difficult task, you will avoid potential burnout.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask. Pick moments where customers are most happy, or after they have expressed how much they appreciate or like your brand.
  4. Continually reach out to customers. Just because you got your reference, and they have already made a purchase doesn’t mean they can be neglected. Don’t forget to reach out occasionally, whether it be to share tips and tricks, or simply to say hello.
  5. Let them know you are thankful for their time and efforts in writing a reference. A simple thank you can go a long way. This also helps build a better bond, as people who feel appreciated tend to stick around.

Here is a list of customer reference software to consider

Planning and implementing a complete marketing campaign on your own can be difficult – which is exactly why businesses use the software in the first place. Here are some easy-to-integrate solutions that may be just what you need in order to manage your own customer reference program.

  1. RO Innovation: You can really leverage the voice of the customer throughout the customer’s buying journey with RO Innovation. Create unified messaging and establish consistency. The platform makes it easy to create, deploy, manage and measure customer reference and sales enablement content.
  1. Point of Reference: Can help you automate the entire customer reference process. This will help you stay consistent all while injecting customer insights throughout the buyer’s journey.
  1. Testimonial Tree: Is a web-based system that allows you to easily and automatically use testimonials to grow your business. Testimonial Tree can be seamlessly integrated into your existing business operations. To make things even better, you have complete oversight of testimonials, so you can share and store which ones you want.
  1. Boulder Logic: Helps shorten the sales cycle so that you can get more sales. They offer a ton of features so that your customer reference program is simplified. Some of their top features include: customer profiles, suggested references, traffic control, reward points, easy integrations.

Other customer marketing and reference options

If you aren’t really looking for an automated way to track references, you should at least be adding yourself to popular listing sites like Capterra, Software Suggest, and G2 Crowd if you’re a software or service type business. There are a ton of other business listing sites out there that cover a wide variety of businesses. So go ahead and add yourself to the ones that make sense and start inviting people to write a review on you.

This is important because the majority of leads do their research before choosing which business to go with. If you have reviews out there leads will be able to establish whether you are a fit or not. Plus, it’s a great way to build your reputation and trust.