What does your customer say about you, and how can you use that in your go-to-market motion?
That question is important to every marketer — and today’s media landscape is cluttered with solutions that may or may not hit the mark.
The ‘voice of the customer’ is key, because it has credibility that the voice of the brand does not. Human beings are social animals, and we like to hear from other human beings. This is especially true when it comes to purchase decisions. Other human beings add validity to our decision-making.
The voice of the customer also adds emotion into an otherwise logical conversation — and every marketer worth a grain of salt knows that emotion drives decisions.
A strong organic search and social media strategy enables the voice of the customer to be syndicated and evangelised, but you have to create the content that features the voice of said customers first.
Video stories, case studies and testimonials are important as a starting point. They need to be simple, clear and succinct. They have to be publicly available and branded properly, both with your brand and the brand of your customers.
Of course, just creating this content doesn’t mean it can be properly leveraged.
The ‘Field of Dreams’ mentality rules too many content marketers. They think “if you build it, they will come,” but that doesn’t work. No ghostly customers walk out of the corn field and ask if you want to play ball. You need to actively push that content out so both humans and robots can uncover it and use it.
The humans who find it will see it as a result of the syndication strategy you put into place. The robots will find it because you submitted it properly, index it and evangelise it on your behalf.
A good content marketing strategy takes into account the various ways your content is tagged, how the metadata is structured and how you enable proper tracking.
If you think through all of these elements, you create a trail of breadcrumbs that leads prospects back to your door, and you can measure the impact of that strategy.
Social media is the largest and most important channel for activating the voice of the customer, but it is also the channel where you have the least control and the most opportunity for your VOC strategy to backfire.
I have written time and time again that the promise of your brand must match the experience of your brand. If these two things do not align, your customers will know and they will tell you. They will be loud about it. They will be unhinged in some cases. They will influence other customers and they will do so because they will be highlighting emotion rather than logic.
This is when the voice of the customers is a double-edged sword. As mentioned earlier, VOC brings emotion to an otherwise logical conversation. Does the experience of your product or service “’feel good’ when it is solving your needs? Do you feel good about using that product or service? If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no’, then emotion enters the conversation, and things go south quickly.
Once negative voices are heard, how do you respond? Do you choose to ignore them? Chances are that will simply make them louder. The voice of the customer is much like the genie in the bottle. Once the genie is out, it’s extremely difficult to get it back in until you satisfy the three wishes and it goes back to its home.
The voice of the customer is more than creative writing. It is more than a good content strategy. It is a full media and engagement strategy — one that, if invested in properly, can pay dividends and become one of your best marketing tools.
Cory Treffiletti is chief marketing officer at Voicera. He has been a thought leader, executive and business driver in the digital media landscape since 1994. In addition to authoring a weekly column on digital media, advertising and marketing since 2000 for MediaPost‘s Online Spin, Treffiletti has been a successful executive, media expert and/or founding team member for a number of companies and published a book, Internet Ad Pioneers, in 2012.
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