Why you should be making a Touchpoint Map for your Small Business.

This last week I spoke with an acquaintance of mine who works for a very rapidly growing ecommerce site. As we talked about their recent growth, he brought to my attention that they have really streamlined the operational aspect of the business, but they were having a hard time connecting with their customers and getting them to come back. My question to him was, Do you have all the right touchpoints in place? To which I received some confused looks. For an ecommerce business, optimizing your touchpoints with your customers can be the best way to drive customer experience and define your brand. 

Let’s start at the elementary points. Touchpoints are any interactions where customers and businesses engage to interact, exchange information, provide some sort of service, or perform a transaction. Think about the last time you bought something online, how did it go? Some of your interactions with the business are so subtle that interaction itself is often overlooked, however there affect on you isn’t. You can find customer touchpoints in any type of business whether that is a brick-and-mortar or a ecommerce business, or even non-retail service establishments like an auto-repair shop, a salon, or even a agency/consultancy. 

Now for the more technical points. There are really three types of touchpoints: Interactive Digital Touchpoints, Static Analog Touchpoints, and Human Touchpoints. So what do all those mean and which will be most useful for your business? Interactive Digital touchpoints are most popular amongst ecommerce companies. They’re typically lower cost and there are many channels to take advantage of them and more easily optimized. Some of those touchpoints can be utilized with tools like Email, Social Media, Blogs, Web, Mobile and Free Trials. I told you earlier to think about the last time you bought something online, After you bought did you receive a confirmation email? That’s a touchpoint, and like every touchpoint, it can be optimized for a better customer experience. Static Analog touchpoints are one way communications, things like direct mail, TV ads, Radio ads, and the product itself. With the power of Big Data being harnessed in the digital world and deeper segmentation taking place, these channels are becoming less and less affective for customer interaction and driving sales but still maintain there weight for branding. Human touchpoints play a role in every business model, things like call centers, customer support lines, and sales people. For a salon or an auto repair shop, the Stylist or the Mechanic are a touchpoint, probably the most important of all for that model. 

The first step to becoming a customer facing company is to map your touchpoints. Figure out the journey your customers go through to buy from your company over others. Where can we make it easier for customers? Where in the buying process are customers getting frustrated? Are the interactions they have with us good points or bad points? If Bad, why and how can we improve them. Mapping them helps you figure out the touchpoints you actually have now, how well they’re working and where you can make improvements and where you have redundancies that can be eliminated. As you map your touchpoints you can really separate them into two categories, Pleasure points and pain points. Any pain point is a reason for your customer to go somewhere else. When you look at your touchpoint map from an operational standpoint, you can make improvements to your customer experience, make some big gains in efficiency and improve your overall profit. Enjoy Mapping!

Below is probably and overly basic example of an experience my wife and I had in shopping and preparing for the upcoming birth of our daughter. Your touchpoint maps should include more detail and more touchpoints and interactions. This one was just a general overview. 

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Plain and Simple, Make Cool Stuff.

How do you answer the age old question of E-commerce and social media marketing… ahem, ok age old in dog years. But seriously, every small business is asking themselves these days, how do I prompt more consumer engagement with my brand? Answer: There is no silver bullet, no magic pill to feed consumers, but there are several brands that are getting it right on several fronts, the first and biggest is the new wave of Content Marketing. These brands that are using these new strategies are simply (as simple as it can get) engaging their customers by just making cool stuff and feeding it through channels where their customers are at, whether that is email, Facebook, blogs or other digital channels. Let’s take a look.

First and foremost, Red Bull has made a reputation of associating their name with all things extreme. Think about it. Whens the last time you heard about something that is totally off the wall, maybe a little crazy, you probably heard Red Bull’s name attached with it. Red Bull Stratos, you know, that guy that fell from the stratosphere in a space suit, yeah Red Bull, how about the Red Bull X-Fighters, where the airplanes fly around racing each other around pylons at breakneck speed, yeah Red Bull. Perhaps you’ve seen some of their feature films like the Art of Flight or Where the Trail Ends, a new films about extreme backcountry mountain biking. In fact Red Bull has pretty much abandoned all forms of traditional marketing in favor of a new content marketing strategy. In fact they created the Red Bull Media House who’s sole job is to produce cool stuff.  Now not all of us have the budget of someone like Red Bull, so let’s look at another. 

 GoPro, yes another action sports oriented company, but hang in there you might learn something from this one. GoPro’s strategy is simple, give you a first person perspective on the coolest rides, the coolest jumps, the coolest places and the perfect lifestyle for you. Check out GoPro’s Facebook page here, to see what I mean. They make cool content that people want to watch. Plain and simple. 

The last one has nothing to do with the action sports industry, that is unless you consider baking to be an extreme sport, is Betty Crocker. Yes Betty Crocker is mastering the art of Content Marketing. a couple years back they wiped the slate clean with their email marketing and brought together a whole new strategy. Make cool stuff that people would enjoy reading and looking at. Betty Crocker has regular features with titles such as “Top 5 One Pot Slow Cooker Dinners” they have regular free product samples offered exclusively through their emails, as well as quick polls and an Ask Betty section. Good, exclusive, original content. 

The thing that all these companies have on common is their commitment to creating content. Plain and simple, you need to focus on making cool stuff that people want to watch. They’ll engage, they’ll convert, they’ll share.