CMO Interview: How UGC and IOT will change Customer Marketing

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Jessica Day is an entrepreneur and marketer who builds results around customer stories and success. In this interview, she speaks in detail about some of the customer marketing efforts she's launched at B2B SaaS company, IdeaScale and the impact of those initiatives. She also looks forward, and offers her predictions for how user generated content and IOT will change customer marketing forever, and the career opportunities this will create. Watch the full video of her interview with us in our latest post in the Customer Advocacy Experts Series, and read on for the full transcript.

Could you share 1-2 reasons why you’re passionate about customer advocacy and storytelling?

Jessica Day:

88% of customers or consumers trust online testimonials and case studies as much as they do feedback from friends or family.

And I'm the same way. Whenever I'm going to spend money on something for my life or for my business I want to know what other people have done before me. It helps me to feel a sense of ease when I'm trying out something new and it gives me somebody who I could reach out to for more feedback about how they did that.

It's like that in our businesses as well. In fact, for our company specifically,

we work in innovation, which many people think is a technology driven practice that is all about blockchain or whatever new widget is out there, but actually innovation is all about people.

It's about people's ideas. Connecting people to resources, making decisions together. And so it's really important for us to put people at the center of a marketing to to show the human practices that make these things possible. And innovation can be a really intimidating thing for somebody who hasn't done it before. So giving people stories, giving people touch points, letting people learn from each other, really creates a sense of possibility and accessibility to what otherwise would be a kind of daunting prospect.

And then on a personal side, I think I've always loved storytelling from a young age. Actually, when I was a kid, all I did was read, even today that's the only thing that I do everyday is read. And whether those stories are from real people or from fiction. The fact of the matter is, is that the human brain processes narratives like that and retains them better. It helps us develop empathy, and we remember them for longer. So I'm really glad that I get to practice storytelling in my job as well.

Please share an example of a customer video that had a material impact on sales /marketing.

Jessica Day:

Customer marketing goes well beyond video, but I think video can always be a part of the process.

For example, one of the things that we do every year is we have a customer event where we bring together all of our customers, the new and the old, the those who are really experienced, some who haven't even started yet. And we let them present to one another about their use cases, what they've learned, where they're struggling and there's no sales pitch. We don't focus on the product. What we do is give them a chance to connect to one another and learn from another. And as part of that, they're all learning to be part of this community of practice that creates this really great network of fact and a halo for our brand.

However, of course, we bring everybody there. We've invested all this time and then spending time together. So, of course we have a film team on site who can interview them, and ask them about what their results have been. Advice that they have for people who are just getting started, sort of a confessional style, what other people should know. And what I find really interesting is that

more than half of all of the traffic to our YouTube page actually comes to us from those videos (customer events, experiences, assets, podcasts, and beyond) not demos of our product and not webinars that we've hosted,

so I can see how people talking about their experience actually really breeds trust in the product.

What are the hallmarks of a great customer marketing and advocacy program?

Jessica Day: The hallmarks of a truly great customer advocacy or brand advocacy marketing program are defined more by the experience that those customers have participating in it, than by the business metrics alone. I feel like one of the things that any customer should get out of participating in a program like this is a feeling that they're becoming part of something that they have access to this group of people that they wouldn't have met otherwise who are helping them learn and build their personal brand. They're becoming part of a tribe, and that bond extends well beyond the brand to the other people who are participating in the space that you have. And I also think that it's really about elevating the individual. If that is helping tell their story, if it's helping project an image that they're trying to grow, if it's helping them, highlight success that they're having in their career. All of that should be part of a customer marketing program.

And I really love when you get to see those goals played out in real tangible ways, like some of my favorite outcomes to customer marketing have been seeing one of my customers get a new job because of the work that they did that was pioneering or exploratory in the innovation space. I have really loved seeing my customers on the stage at some other event, talking about what they've experienced and having people raise their hand and ask them questions. I feel like I'm helping them build their personal brand as much as I'm helping them tell the story of our company.

What are some pitfalls in customer advocacy you’ve learned personally or observed?

Jessica Day: Every good customer advocacy or brand advocacy program needs to do four things.

  • You need to be able to identify who your brand advocates are.
  • You need to be able to activate those advocates once you find them.
  • You need to be able to reward them and thank them, show that appreciation for their participation in this network.
  • And then be able to track all of that.

A lot of programs fall down is in the tracking category. If you don't do that, then you run the risk of depleting some of your advocates who you go to the well over and over again with them to tell their story or to participate in some new RFP opportunity. Whereas if you're tracking, not only are you making sure that they're not depleting them, but you're finding new opportunities, new stories, different threads that you can pull on.

At IdeaScale I made completely bespoke tracking system so that anyone in the company can pull up at any time a list of all of our brand advocates, some of the content that's included, and all of the ways that they have shared their stories. So they can track particular types of value or be able to share or connect them with one another and also to see that they were definitely rewarded the last time they were participating in some sort of program. And when that happens, so that were never touching the same customer twice within the same quarter. So I think it's something that it's really important to get right in your program.

How do you predict customer storytelling will change in the next 5 years?

Jessica Day: I think we're already in a time when user generated content is very powerful and it's increasing at an exponential rate. But I also think that

the internet of things is going to further collapse the distance between a user's experience and the user content that they're generating for these customer marketing advocacy programs.

The other big part of that is going to be the data that is a signal to marketers and maybe even to customers, about when those experience points are happening, whether it's at the point of sale or when you download something, or that moment when you are feeling positivity toward a brand, you start going to start receiving cues that now is a good time to tell your story when you're in the moment and you're part of the experience that you want people to know about.

It's a really exciting time, and I think that the people who are able to parse that sort of big data and tell us what these narratives look like. I think that's going to be a really important job in the future.

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