Are Your Customer Success Stories Being Heard?
February 5, 2016 | Dan Trefethen
Communicating your customer’s successes can be one the strongest marketing approaches there is. Reviews have really changed the way we buy in the B2C world, and for B2B, really demonstrating the benefits of your product versus just telling can be a big differentiator in the buyer’s journey.
The tricky part is how can we best communicate our customer success stories so they are really heard?
We all know, or have at least been told, that good content is powered by good storytelling. However, content marketer, Ann Handley, puts it a slightly different way: “Good content is not about storytelling; it’s about telling a truly connective story well.”
What does her statement mean? Well, I’ll tell you what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean turning your back on storytelling at large, but rather making sure your story is being heard in a way that best connects and resonates with your listener.
Telling Your Customer’s Stories
Customer stories, testimonials, and case studies can come in a variety of formats. And variety is the key word, because depending on who the audience is and what their preferences are make the difference between the story being fully heard, just glanced at, or skipped entirely.
In this post, we’ll take a brief look at some different mediums and popular formats modern B2B marketers are using to tell their customer stories.
Then we’ll dive in a little deeper to demonstrate how adding interactive content to your campaigns can really amplify the power of those stories to generate real engagement and demand gen results.
The text-based case study
A more classic type that is very effective and useful for prospects to read in detail about real examples. Using this format with good design allows you to guide the reader’s eyes to the key facts, even if they’re just glancing, and provides valuable insights into the details of the problem and solution.
Typically these are 1-4 pages. Erring on the shorter side is better with many different case examples to choose from versus a select few really long ones.
As Cisco has predicted that by 2017 69% of all consumer internet traffic will be video, it’s no surprise to see customer video testimonials becoming more and more popular on websites. Using this format allows your prospects to see and hear straight from another customer on how they were successful.
Though there are some limits to how in depth the case study can go with a straight testimonial, having it be video makes it easy to post in multiple channels like your website, social promotion, and Youtube, which are big top of the funnel outlets.
Like text-driven case studies, it’s best to have many smaller videos for your prospects to browse. Totango has a great video gallery featuring an assortment of client cases on their site.
Combination video & case study
Of course you can always combine the two above formats for an integrated mix, ultimately providing viewers the choice of reading or watching. HubSpot uses both video and case study options in their customer gallery, often with the video testimonial as the preview for the case study. I dig it.
While social is always a good vehicle for promotion, you can also repurpose larger case studies into smaller infographics and have them live on your Instagram or Pinterest channel. Making the content more bite-sized can really highlight the standout KPIs and increase traffic to your site.
Interactive Content: Getting the Most Engagement With Your Customer Stories
Now that we have covered a few different ways of displaying and sharing your customer success stories, let’s wade into the deep end and really look at how to engage your audience and drive serious leads with your customer stories.
To do this, we’ll do a mini case study of how Blackbaud University used interactive content to really showcase their customer’s successes to generate more leads and close more sales.
Blackbaud University is a powerful resource for non-profits looking to get the most of their technology. Their education services division offers training for courses on specific technology that help organizations make sure their staff is successful in every aspect of their work.
How Blackbaud turned conversations into conversions
With a series of great feedback and customer success stories, Blackbaud knew they had some awesome content in their hands but had to figure out what the best way to have these stories connect with prospects.
The demand generation team set the goal of increasing the impact of their pre-sale activities by bringing stories of customer success with Blackbaud training to life in advance.
“My goal was to put non-profits and their successes first,” says Emily Popson, Demand Generation Marketing Manager at Blackbaud. “We wanted to show other non-profits real results to illustrate how they can replicate that success to achieve their own missions.”
The microsite Realize Real Results was born.
As part of the marketing strategy around the Blackbaud University training program, the team developed several different pieces of content, including interactive – two calculators and two assessments – that worked in tandem to give participants a comprehensive view of the results they could achieve with Blackbaud’s products.
The content pieces gave prospects a way to visualize how they would benefit from training and even “try on” their peers’ results for size by applying them to their own organizations.
For example the calculator, Save 20 Minutes Every Time You Upload a Batch of Data, allowed a prospect to apply real customer results (saving 20 minutes on data uploads) to their own workload.
In two questions, a prospect was able to see how much time they could save with Blackbaud on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.
By promoting the microsite across all their promotion channels including blog, email, social, and paid media, Blackbaud was able to gain huge results on assets that didn’t break the bank to make.
“We wanted to breathe new life into the way we engage with our customers – but we didn’t want to sacrifice integration with our existing marketing automation and CRM platforms.” The marketing director at Blackbaud, Amy Bills, said.
Over a 4-week campaign Blackbaud achieved:
- 52% click rate on landing page
- 56% lead conversion for Realize Real Results
- 500 qualified leads
- 133% Q1 quota attainment
- $600k add’l Q1 sales
Sales also used the interactive assets in their calls to show rather than tell the impact Blackbaud can provide.
Pretty good, right?
Practice What You Preach
Seeing such great results from Blackbaud, a customer of SnapApp’s, we couldn’t help but take their lead on creating great customer success stories.
Learning the ins and outs of their campaign, we were able to produce a variety of content pieces includingan interactive case study, a few blog posts, a 3-page static case study, and an awesome ROI calculator that walked through the Blackbaud campaign while also allowing you to input your own content details to show results you can get with interactive content.
Telling the story in multiple formats let us increase our content creation, spread out our promotion, and allow our prospects to engage in the story in their preferred medium.
Some people are book learners, some are visual learners, and some are experience learners that need to “try on” on the results before wanting to learn more.
As customer examples, reviews, and testimonials become increasingly relevant in the B2B buyer’s journey, it’s important to always be seeking new and inventive ways to powerfully communicate those stories.
While there’s no single answer for telling a good story, using a variety of formats and including interactive content as one them is a highly effective way to increase engagement and generate leads.
As Blackbaud demonstrated, having a clear goal in mind for your customer content is the first step and then exploring different formats to achieve that goal can bring some serious results to your demand gen marketing.