Most companies believe they are customer centric, but many don’t know what that means and involves. So, they don’t truly practice it. Today I’m talking to Georgiana (Gia) Laudi, who has been developing strategies and launching campaigns for companies of all shapes and sizes for the past 15 years. She will help us build a basic strategy based on customers by mapping out their customer journey. Gia is a SaaS Marketing and Customer Experience Strategist, Startup Mentor, and former Vice President of Marketing for Unbounce. She left Unbounce to start A Better CX (a better customer experience). Also, she runs Forget the Funnel with previous Everyone Hates Marketers guest, Claire Suellentrop. Forget the Funnel is an online workshop series that helps early-stage SaaS marketers to become respected leaders.
listen to this episode
- What it means to be customer centric
- Difference between customer-driven and data-driven; focus on customers rather than results
- Practical methods that focus on customers
- Step-by-step process to become customer-centric
- Start by recommending brand development; define what, how, and why
- Examples of existing companies’ what, how, and why
- Conduct customer research, such as surveys, to achieve and meet them where they are – what value you can provide
- Utilizing a customer survey (what was going on when you started looking for a product) and a Web survey (to uncover level of awareness); and the questions to ask on each
- Put together a customer journey map using results from the two surveys
- Surveys should consist of about five questions; the number of questions should be as short as possible
- Five-Stage Process: awareness, acquisition, retention, referral, and revenue
- Metrics are based on a company, not customers
- Importance of naming the phases of your customer journey
- How to draw map of customer journey
- Involve your team so they are invested
- How different jobs have different journey maps
- Define meaningful key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Gia’s most major mess up
- What Gia thinks marketers should learn today that will help them in the next 10, 20, or 50 years – especially build relationships between departments
- Gia on Twitter
- Forget the Funnel and Claire Suellentrop; Forget the Funnel Workshops
- A Better CX
- SaaS Marketer Essentials
- Nichole’s Sunday Brunch Newsletter; Twitter (request an invite to Unicorn Think Tank Slack Community)
- Adaptive Path’s free guide
- Jobs To Be Done
- Google Ventures 3-Hour Brand Sprint
- Simon Sinek Golden Circle
- Momoko Price on Everyone Hates Marketers
- Oli Gardner
Louis: Bonjour! Bonjour! Welcome to another episode of everyonehatesmarketers.com, the marketing podcast for marketers, founders, and tech people who are just sick of shady, aggressive marketing. I’m your host Louis Grenier.
What we’re gonna talk about in this episode is one of my favorite one. I love talking about the fact that companies describe themselves as being customer centric and I’m using, but most of them don’t actually really know what it means and most of them don’t really practice it.
My guest today will help you to build the basic of a strategy that is based on customers by mapping out your customer journey. My guest is a SaaS Marketing and Customer Experience Strategist, a Startup Mentor, the mother of two fierce daughters and the former VP of Marketing for the software that you might know and called Unbounce, which is a learning base software builder and she helped them to turn from $1 million in annual recurring revenue to more than $15 million, which is quite a nice increase. She left Unbounce since then to start her own gig called A Better CX, a better customer experience.
She also runs Forget the Funnel with the previous guest of Everyone Hates Marketers, Claire Suellentrop. We talked about Jobs To Be Done. They are two of my favorite marketers right now. The Forget the Funnel is actually an online workshop series that helps early-stage SaaS marketers to become respected leaders.
Finally, she’s been developing strategies and launching campaigns for companies of all shapes and sizes for the last 15 years. She’s like me; very, very, very passionate about what she does. Georgiana Laudi, welcome.
Georgiana: Thank you very much. That was quite the intro.
Louis: I know right, and it’s all improvised.
Georgiana: That’s great.
Louis: It wasn’t. Gia, what does it actually mean to be customer-centric?
Georgiana: It’s funny. I was recently speaking with a friend of mine who works for a big telecommunications company. She was like, “Seeing your team is so exciting.” When I say big, I mean huge, actually. “I was so excited seeing your team’s all excited. We’re gonna be data-driven. Yey. Data-driven.” I was like, “Wait a minute. Is that really super exciting? I understand it sounds good but isn’t it more important to be like customer-driven?” She was like, “I don’t understand what you mean.” By the way, she doesn’t work in the marketing department so I didn’t expect her to know this or care about necessarily in this because she works in HR. But I was like, “If you have a possible way of influencing them, please talk to them about being customer-driven and not data-driven.”
It’s a bit prolific these days but there’s a good trend going towards being customer-driven which I love seeing at least in the marketing space. People outside of it maybe are a little less attached to it. They’re still on the date-driven-is-important-train but I’m not saying it’s not important.
Being customer-centric, what does it mean? It means giving a shit about creating good customer experiences, it means giving a shit to ask questions and talk to your customer, and it means giving a shit to actually share that information and to disseminate those customer insights for the rest of the organization so it’s not just somebody off in a corner with all this insight and not sharing the knowledge with the rest of the company so that everybody can be customer-centric.
Louis: From my small experience, it seems like a lot of people would agree with you. In fact, most people would say, “Yeah, that makes sense. Why shouldn’t we focus on customers? They are the one paying our salaries at the end of the day.” But it seems like a lot of people struggle to actually implement that in their day-to-day life. I think this is something we’re gonna talk about in this episode, practical methods to actually do so. But why do you think it’s so damn difficult for people to actually be truly customer-centric, to actually give a shit about customers?
Georgiana: It’s a great question. I think that the answer is largely, especially I would say in tech, and the startups space, it’s because everybody’s so results-driven and it’s results first culture and panic culture, a lot as well. It seems like a luxury to stop and go, “Yeah, let’s do some customer research.” It sounds fluffy, it’s like brand development. It just sounds too soft and not like you’re barreling ahead enough or you’re not results-driven enough when you’re like, “Wait a minute, let’s stop and talk to some customers.” The exacts or not all, but I obviously can’t throw blanket statements about all founders, but a lot of founders rightfully so, are very results-driven, and fiercely so. The only thing they talk about with their marketer is, “I need results. Show me the money.”
I air-quote like which is obviously a total blanket statement but being results-obsessed turns you into a conversion-obsessed marketer which removes you from the experience, really. You start looking at these micro-events that are super, super small in the grand scheme of things in terms of your opportunity and in terms of your customer’s experience. It becomes hard to back away a bit and look at things a little bit more holistically and through the eyes of your customers when you are constantly being reminded that it’s do or die.
Louis: Amen. Yup. It’s difficult to follow up on this because this is it. It’s a lot of focus on money, making money, a lot of focus on generating results but long-term results, and I sincerely believe in this, generating long-term results will only come from focusing on people first, focusing on customer first. You will then generate the results you need. You can’t do it the other way around or else you’re just gonna shoot yourself in the foot in the long-term.
What does it look like in practice? Listeners love this type of step-by-step methodology in this podcast. They like to know how to actually do this practically speaking. Let’s go over it. How do you advice people to be truly customer-centric and where does it start in your opinion?
Georgiana: I always start at the top, likely the most painful place to start. But once a customer exists, before you get customer-centric, you have to know who you are and really define your purpose. For the company basically, why do you do what you do? What gets you out of bed every morning? Who are you as a brand? Who are you as a company? What do you stand for?
It sounds counterintuitive because obviously that’s like very me-me-me, or we-we-we focused and not focused on the customer at all but in order to speak to your customers in any sort of way that will potentially resonate with them or that you can connect with them, you really need to know who the hell you are instead of trying to be everything to everybody and yada yada.
I will always start by recommending some sort of brand development. I know for startups in particular, this is harder to do because, again, results were needed yesterday. However, it is really, really valuable to stop and take an inventory of who you are and who you want to be in your space. That’s first order of business is figure that out, peel away the layers to the why you exist, and what your true purpose is as a company and make it as inspiring as possible. It will help to get everybody on the team to amped up about what you’re trying to do, it helps everybody get on the same page and really passionate. I think it has to come from a place of passion or else it will fall flat once you try to turn it into marketing.
I really love the Google Ventures Three-Hour Brand Sprint for this reason, it’s not perfect but it is a really good exercise to run through at least at a bare bones early stage thing. It’s literally a Three-Hour Brand Sprint where you get 4-6 people in a room and basically force them to think about really tough things and make really hard decisions because you have to get it down on paper and then everybody has to take stalk in it and believe in it and be prepared to be like, “Okay, that’s who we are. Next.” But it’s really hard to do that. It can be very hard.
Forcing everybody to agree can be difficult and forcing everybody to agree on something that is actually inspiring to everybody is hard too. It’s hard-work, but it doesn’t have to be long. Once you’ve done that, then the next step is obviously, after figuring out who you are as a business… By the way, I will add, the Google Ventures Three-Hour Brand Sprint, one of the exercises and my favorite in it forces you to go through the Simon Sinek Golden Circle which is basically defining the What, How, and Why, and that’s probably the hardest part but the rest is really great too. The rest of the exercises are designed in a way to make sure that that one actually resonates with everybody.
Louis: Let me stop you right there because I think this is incredibly important. I’m glad you came back to this because I wanted to ask you more details about this step.
Louis: The Golden Circle of Simon Sinek consists of as you said, the What, the How, and the Why, but instead it’s more like the Why, the How, and the What.
Louis: Start with why do you have purpose, how do you accomplish this purpose and what do you do day-to-day to actually do this?
Georgiana: Right. But when you build it for the first time, defining the What is easier than the why.
Georgiana: Running through the actual exercise, I will start with the What. Then the how, like how you do it better than everybody else, and then it can be like, “Okay, now I’m starting to get somewhere.” You can actually define the why. But you’re right, you had to lead with why in terms of mindset after this but as part of the exercise it typically is easier to start with the What.
Louis: Give me an example of this exercise.
Georgiana: An example of it like in practice?
Georgiana: Like our company?
Louis: Everybody’s gonna say Apple with this. Let’s pick something else and let’s say it together briefly. Let’s pick…
Georgiana: I’ve got one.
Louis: Okay, do it.
Georgiana: They’re a great example of a company that you know. I don’t know what framework they use.
Louis: No, what do they do? Just define who they are.
Georgiana: Wistia, I’m gonna butcher what they do actually. But they host and do analytics for video for marketers. They’re a marketing tech company. But they have a very clear sense of self. They know exactly who they are. They know, I’m gonna throw it like stupid labels but like they know their voice and tone. They have a really strong personality and just over all voice. You can tell it when you visit their website. Just consuming even their support, their help articles, you know they know who they are and that it’s really obvious that their people give a shit about what they do. They all share the vision. Not every company does that very well. They’re a great example.
Louis: What is their What?
Georgiana: I don’t actually know what their What, How and Why is. That’s not the point. The point is not for your customers to be able to know why you do What you do. It’s a feeling. I realize that it’s not quantifiable but it is a feeling that I get when I see any of Wistia’s marketing clutter. I’m not a customer of theirs by the way. Take that with a grain of salt. But I jive with what they jive with, if that makes sense. I can connect to their brand.
I don’t know why they do what they do. I don’t know what their Why is of their Simon Sinek necessarily but it’s a feeling, it’s not like, I could maybe try to venture I guess but honestly…
Louis: Let’s go through another example then so that we can really show what it means. The Why starts with what we believe x, y, and, the How is we do that by doing x, y, and z and the What is we do x.
Louis: The example that is always used is Apple. Apple, just to simplify the What is “We build computers.”
Louis: The How is you have to Google this, I don’t remember now. The How is “We do this by creating computers that are well-designed” or something around those lines.
Georgiana: Yup, yup, yup. Beautiful, well-designed…
Louis: Yeah, products. The Why is “We believe in fighting the status quo.”
Georgiana: Yeah. Think different. Yeah. I don’t remember what that campaign was but it was like for the believers or for the people who are basically fighting the status quo. Yeah. That’s obvious with Apple but they’re always a de facto example in this case so I don’t analyze Apple very closely in this regard because it’s just boring. But that’s why I like examples like Wistia a little bit better.
To counter the Wistia one by the way, a good example of a company that doesn’t do this is like Salesforce.
Louis: I like what you said Salesforce.
Georgiana: Because it’s obvious too, it’s almost too obvious like, “Who the fuck are they anyway?” What do they do is even hard enough to answer, let alone how they do it or why they do it. Sorry to the Salesforce fans out there but it’s a bit of a cluster fuck in terms of trying to figure out like what do they stand for and why do they do what they do and I don’t know, maybe it’s just their size but size isn’t an excuse, because Apple.
Louis: Yeah. They used to have a very strong vision. Their founders used to have this war against software or something around those lines. Before the software as the savviest world there was basically you had to buy licenses and all of that. They enable software over the internet and they fought against that which was quite cool, but then I think [inaudible 00:17:33] away.
Louis: That’s step one, figure out your why, the Golden Circle exercise. What is step two?
Georgiana: Doing the same thing for your customers, and in terms of the customer research you’ve done, you’ve covered customer research with other guests and I don’t need to go too far down that path. But customer research is obviously a very important part of this of figuring out, meeting your customers where they are basically in their struggles, in their emotional states, how they’re trying to be better, whatever. What it is they’re trying to achieve but to try to meet them where they are, and doing customer research in order to get a good sense of that.
There’s levels of customer research, there’s like the MVP version like we just described with the Three-Hour Brand Sprint. There’s this crappy customer research that can be done and then there’s a right way which obviously takes a lot more time. But if we’re talking about a startup environment, or a tech environment in this results obsessed environment then it could be harder to do. At the second stage, I would say a decent level of customer research enough that you can build a hypothesis around what they’re struggling with, why they’re coming to what value you can provide.
Louis: I would suggest though that even though, yeah, people have been talking about customer research in this podcast. Why? Because it’s one of the core principle of good marketing. Nobody has talked about your own method and your own way of doing stuff. Why don’t you go through just a bit about this? How would you typically approach this phase?
Georgiana: This crappy version of this from my perspective, a lot of people will disagree with this, is surveys which is a given but not doing interviews. That’s what’s not popular about it because interviews, I know, are super important, I know, they are crucial and critical. I’m not saying never get on the phone with your customers, obviously, do. But when you are trying to move super quickly, get results yesterday, particularly if you’re not a founder, and you’re trying to do some customer research without really getting that buy in from the founders to do it. Surveys can be an easy way to set it up and continue working while the data comes in and you could keep doing your job, keep learning, keep listening, and then take the results and parse them in such a way that you can create a hypothesis about what your customer’s journey is.
Louis: Okay. What kind of questions are you asking them in this survey?
Georgiana: There’s two surveys that we typically run through. This is a process by the way that I only adopted in the last year. Prior to that it was surveys and interviews and I was working for a bigger company obviously so funding customer research was a little bit easier.
But now, working with younger companies and trying to move more quickly basically, I’ve learned a scrappier way of doing it. I learned to scrappier way of doing it through Momoko Price’s ebook about value propositions which I’m sure has been talked about before. I have learned quite a bit about this process by working with Claire, obviously on this same process and developing out training with her workshops and so forth. I’ve put it into practice with multiple clients of mine and I’ve seen great results, great MVP results. This is not final product by any, I have to add that disclaimer to all of this because I know it breaks a lot of rules.
A customer survey, to your highest value, most valuable customers in a web survey to paint the picture of the pre-purchase journey and the post-purchase journey. With those two surveys, you can paint the picture again of that customer journey and create that first best guess at what your customer’s journey is.
Louis: What question do you ask in the customer survey?
Georgiana: Wow. I cannot remember exactly. But on the customer survey or the web survey?
Georgiana: The web survey is trying to uncover level of awareness, are people shopping, they don’t know what your tool does or do they know exactly who you are. Do they use a tool similar and they’re looking for exactly the type of tool that you offer? That will determine what type of messaging you need to lead with on your website. What are they looking for or asking them for the one thing that they’re looking for, I’m going from memory here because I can’t remember off the top of my head exactly how I framed these questions but asking the one thing that they’re looking for in this type of solution will help you determine the hierarchy of messaging on your page a lot as well. Then I can’t remember what the other questions are, I think it’s laid into into whether or not they’re making any purchase order or not.
Louis: I can help you on this.
Louis: For the web survey, one of the question that I like to ask that are related to this is why I own this page right now? What are you looking for? That’s a good way to know who they are as you said why they’re looking for to do if I’m just looking around. If you have only “I’m just looking around” then it’s not that good. If you have a lot of people that say, “I’m looking to buy from you.” But then it’s not the subject and then, “Have you ever heard of the brand on this website before today?” That’s a great way to know whether you have to, as you said, write a message that is, “This is who we are… This is what we do.” Or a message that says, “You know who we are. Let’s go.”
Louis: Those are two steps for the web survey. Then you talk about struggles and problems and stuff like this for the customer survey. One question is what is your biggest problem right now? What are you suffering from the most in this field?
Louis: Any other for the customer survey?
Georgiana: On the customer survey side, yeah, basically like what was going on in your world when you started looking for this type of tool? For the customer survey, remembering obviously that these are happy customers that you are serving well. What was it that convinced you that we were the right tool for you?
Further to that, you can dig a little bit further into that as well and maybe potentially pull out the benefits or potentially the features that had meant the most them or that they think is the most valuable to them which can help you obviously prioritize your onboarding.
Louis: Do you like to incentivize those people to reply to surveys? How do you typically deal with this?
Georgiana: No, I don’t. You know why, because I don’t think it’s needed. The web survey is harder. For obvious reasons, obviously people have a much less vested interest in responding to a web survey when they’re just shopping. It can take a while for the results to build there which is why I always encourage to get that set up as quickly as possible because it can take sometimes weeks to get some okay results from that.
The customer survey I don’t think it’s necessary actually because if you’re talking to your highest value customers that are actually getting value from you, I think they have invested interest in you being more successful. I have never seen a need, I’ve never worked with anybody who’s needed to incentivize a customer survey. That type of customer survey, a best fit customer survey.
Louis: The first question you like to ask is actually related to, you said something like, “What was going on in your world when you started looking for a solution like ours?” Is that correct?
Louis: You basically try to paint the full to customer journey from the best first ever thought they had about solving the problem that they’re solving.
Louis: How does it look like? The first question would be this one, then you ask about the problems that they’re hoping to solve, then you ask why have you purchased from us to understand the benefits. Were there other questions that you like to ask?
Georgiana: No, because I try to max it at five-ish questions so that each question, people will dive into a little more deeply. They’ll be more obviously willing to fill a customer survey at a shorter, you don’t wanna take too much time. In all honestly, also to risk people not abandoning the survey process and to get as much as possible in the shortest amount of time as possible keeping it as short as possible.
Again, MVP, five questions is not an end-all be-all and often will be the impetus for writing interviews but in the absence of the interviews, these two surveys will put you in a decent position to put together a customer journey map.
There’s a lot of other factors, obviously, that need to go into it. But, you will be in a decent place to start, and then your team, yourself as the marketer, your customer success, sales, products, executive team are all also in the position to help build out that customer journey map and really from based on what they know about your customers and what they know what you’re delivering and when and where they are, admitting them where they are, you can build that customer journey map and really start defining for each of the stages or phases depending on how complicated it is what people are thinking, feeling and doing at each of those stages, building it out in those types of layers.
The defining stages and phases part is actually it feels straightforward for a lot of companies but it’s actually not. There’s the like, “Yeah, yeah. The awareness.” “Yeah, the consideration.” “Yeah, the loyalty or growth or customer or whatever you call the typical last one.” But depending on how complicated the buying process is or depending on how complicated the onboarding process is, that consideration phase might have multiple stages in it.
There’s the obvious like, “Okay, people on the website are in consideration mode, and people who are in our trial or onboarding, even people a month in, two months in could still be in consideration mode for a lot of tools, not all, but some.” You won’t actually know when that consideration phase ends unless you really know your customers. You run the risk of abandoning the fact that people are still evaluating you, “Oh we got their credit card, okay cool, got them.” It has nothing to fucking do with anything. They’re still very much in evaluation mode. All of that to say, that consideration phase could be multiple stages as is the loyalty or growth or customer phase at the end, that can be multiple as well.
Louis: The stages, as you mentioned, awareness, acquisition, retention, referral, revenue, and all of those metrics, the stages that people use are based on your company.
Georgiana: Not metrics, though. I don’t attach metrics to those stages.
Louis: Stages. Right.
Georgiana: Two different things to me.
Louis: They’re not based on companies.
Louis: They’re not based on the customer, they’re based on yourself. As soon as you start doing the exercise that you just mentioned, as soon as you start understanding what the actual journey the people went through, you will realize that this doesn’t look like a five-stage process. It’s very lucky to be much longer than this and you will be surprised by the rest of this ride. That’s stage three. How do we map this? How do we go about mapping this customer journey?
Georgiana: It’s funny. The first customer journey I ever mapped was a circle. That was like early days at Unbounce, my first ever one was the circle. I remember very well, whiningly, the head of CS, myself, Head of Marketing, and Carter, one of the founders and head of product, we locked ourselves in a room for I don’t even remember.
The day, at least, and mapped out this customer journey ourselves. We did it in the form of a circle. Since, I’ve sort of abandoned the circle model even though it makes a lot of sense and I still think of it like a circle, but meaning your customers can do a lot to feed acquisition and build awareness around your product as well. I think it was a pretty solid understanding around that.
But essentially what it ended up at is no two customer journeys will ever look the same. Depending on your resources, you could just build it in a Spreadsheet or in a Google Doc, it doesn’t have to be complicated as long as you’re taking your customers into account, the rest of your team, what they know about your customers, and their experience with your customers into account, you’re in a pretty good position to basically come up with a good naming convention for your phases and stages. That may sound gratuitous but it is really, really important to have a name.
Naming the phases of your customer journey is super important to the language that you use internally but also making sure that it’s tied to the goals associated with each of those stages and giving a reference point for everybody, even engineering, product and everybody on your team to know, “Okay, we’re focused on this phase right now or this stage right now or effecting change there. The naming convention, and then again like I said, the defining the touch points and what are people actually doing, not only digital touch points, but what they’re actually doing, how they’re feeling, and what they’re thinking with quotes, some things like that.
Louis: Okay. Let’s go back to it. Let’s picture together like I’m picturing this huge blank piece of paper in front of me.
Louis: You draw this huge arrow from left to right…
Georgiana: I actually do it more like a grid. It’s with columns.
Louis: Okay. The columns are like the key stages.
Georgiana: The columns are the stages, exactly. There may be six, five, seven, or whatever. Then the rows are the names of the stages.
Georgiana: Across the top, a high level description of what the stage means, that should be written in the first person of your customer like, “I am XYZ. I have each of these stages.” At the end of it I’ll put KPIs also at the top, underneath those, where the team should be focused, what a meaningful KPI is for that stage, I will know that the customer has achieved that when they hit this certain KPI. Below that I’ll get into a little bit more of the nitty-gritty which is the doing, the thinking, and the feeling. Actually I do feeling first and then thinking. I don’t know why.
Louis: Feeling, doing, thinking.
Georgiana: Doing, feeling, thinking.
Georgiana: Is there a big reason for that? No, not necessarily. I just think it for hierarchy’s sake, for people that are trying to grasp your customer journey when looking at it, I put it in that frame just for them, for other people.
Louis: Sure. How do you feel this badass greed?
Georgiana: With your customer feedback that you received from your surveys, your two surveys and by talking to your team. Again, it’s best guest. But I do keep the KPIs and the metrics associated I do last because really, it’s like, how do we dig into what’s meaningful at each of those stages and you really gotta talk to people, you have to involve everybody.
The other reason by the way, the thing I’ll add, attack onto the side of this is the other reason involving your team is so important and so valuable is that you need everybody to feel invested in this. You need everybody to believe in it because if you just go off and build this in a silo and then bring it to the team and be like, “Here’s our customer journey, everybody.” [inaudible 00:35:28] cool like so had a fun like arts and crafts project over there, “Good for you. That has nothing to do with me.” But you really want everybody to feel invested and to feel like, “Oh, there’s where I come in. Oh, there’s me. I see me in that customer journey. I see how I contribute to this customer journey, how my work contributes to the customer journey.” The super important added benefit of involving other people other than obviously learning from them is getting them involved in the process so they invest themselves in it as well.
Louis: Alright. Talk me through the way you actually go through each survey and able to map out the key stuff into this grid. Do you actually go through every answer one-by-one? Do you summarize them first of all? How do you do it?
Georgiana: It’s not always the most cut-and-dry process but you can parse it in such a way that you can uncover jobs to be done. Again, I don’t pretend to be an expert in jobs to be done at all but if you can get a clear understanding of the job that your customers are hiring you to do, you can see their journey in that. Defining their struggle, their motivations, and their desired outcomes, that’s a customer journey. That more or less if you, again, let’s use it as a lens and lay it against that customer journey, they pair up quite nicely, jobs to be done, and customer journey. I think they’re very complimentary and I always use them together. They’re just a different way of looking at the same thing at the end of the day.
That customer survey can help you define the customer journey but what you will quickly realize once parsing the data is that there are multiple jobs, and you do not do the same thing for every customer.
You may discover that people are in really different places when they come to how you actually take that customer data and turn them into customer jobs, and then the customer journey is work, it’s not easy work and it’s easy to fuck up. It’s easy to follow a path because you’re like, “Oh, here’s this formula I’m trying to follow and I have to abide by this formula or this framework of jobs to be done or a customer journey.” Then you can actually lose sight of meaning, the true meaning that needs to be gleaned from the customer feedback that you’ve received so it’s not perfect and it can be messy and you may need to go back and check your assumptions. But what you can do is get some maybe two or three highest value jobs to be done defined, customer jobs defined and then you can fill the customer journey to match that.
You may need a different customer journey per job. In a lot of cases you do, because different customer jobs typically need different onboarding. It may need such unique onboarding that they need different customer journey maps.
Louis: Give me a brief example of a job from the customer perspective.
Louis: Wistia again, let’s just take the example of Wistia. What are people, marketers in particular, hiring Wistia for? They might be hiring Wistia…
Georgiana: Oh man, you know what, I’m too afraid to bastardize Wistia to be honest with you.
Louis: It’s okay. We will, we will bastardize.
Georgiana: Can you pick another one? I have a simple example. I work with a client right now who’s B2C personal finance tool. They have some customers that go to them to get out of debt. They have some customers that go to them because they are do-it-yourselfers in terms of like they really like to know everything about what’s going on. There’s a term for these people but I can’t remember the name but it’s like it’s this people who basically like micromanage everything in their life, they’re fiercely in-charged about everything in their life, highly-efficient people so they like to use Spreadsheets which happens to be tied directly to this product.
Then there’s a third job, let’s say, which is people who are frustrated to competitive. Let’s say Mint customers or Mint users, frustrated competitive users. They obviously need very different messaging. They may not be the most prolific Spreadsheet user in the world so they may need time to get up to speed with like, “How is a Spreadsheet actually gonna do this for me?” On top of that they may need education about getting out of debt itself. The product education and the problem solving education is a component for them.
On the other hand, so the onboarding would be very different versus somebody who understand how the tool works, they’re very tech savvy, they’re control freaks, they know exactly what they want. Them, they’re like, “I don’t need to know how to get out of debt. Give me the TLDR on how to use your tool and then get the hell out of my way.” There’s the third one which is, “I’m really used of having my hand held by Mint. I’m used to a lot of restrictions and now this is blown wide open for me so I need a bit of help on how to use your actual tool.” You can see how those three different jobs require very different, not only marketing experiences and nurturing experiences but also onboarding.
Louis: This is it, right? It’s obvious when you talk about it this way. When I’m looking to go out of debt and use these products, and when I’m looking to manage my finances better, you can already picture that those two people will need completely different experience. But yet, most of the time, what we do, and a lot of companies are guilty of that is because we just try to provide a blanket type of experience that will work for anyone that therefore works for other one.
Louis: I assume that’s step four, once you’ve built those different journeys and maybe you need to start for the very simple approach that selects the most important job, the one that has the highest ratio of potential customer to have this job. Let’s say they wanna get out of debt, 80% of people are in this category, you might wanna map this journey first.
Then what is step four? Once you have this kind of first version of the map, it’s not gonna be perfect, but at least, people have pitched into it on how to build it, what do you do with it?
Georgiana: We’re talking about just one customer job for the moment? One customer’s journey?
Georgiana: Because if we’re focused on only one, then what I would do next is defining meaningful KPIs. I mentioned this before but it’s really important not to gloss over it. What are the metrics that are affected? What are the actual things that you’re looking for that are indicative of somebody having success of a given stage? That might not be they give you their credit card, a lot of ways it’s not.
It’s not like, payment source added is not a KPI of somebody seeing value in your tool for example, but a lot of people use it that way. They’re like, “Okay, marketing’s focus is payment source added, and/or credit card added, or trial started or whatever.” When that is only transactional and has nothing to do with the customer’s experience. It has more to do with the mechanics of how your company operates and way less to do with that. I would then define meaningful KPIs for each of the stages.
Then the fifth stage is how good of a job does your current onboarding, does your current marketing, does your current customers experience do of affecting that KPI that you’ve defined, that very meaningful KPI being defined? Taking inventory of where you’re at and where the biggest opportunities are or missing because at that stage it becomes really obvious what you’re not doing.
The lowest hanging fruit or biggest opportunities are like punch you in the face. What needs improving also it becomes really, really obvious too, particularly if you’re looking at just that one customer job for that one customer’s journey.
Louis: Give me an example of meaningful KPIs.
Georgiana: My favorite one that I always use is like paid us twice and has been using our tool for at least three months, for example. That being when you can finally consider somebody out of the evaluation stage.
Louis: This is behavioral, meaning that this is based on what people have done in the past, not what people are maybe doing or anything like this. This is rooting in action and I think this is one of the great area for meaningful KPI. It’s rooted in the customer behavior because we have repeated that many times over in this podcast.
People are very bad at predicting what they wanna do, what they really do, and the only thing you can really judge and base things on is what people have on. For example, for a customer to define an active customer, pay twice, use the products more than 20 times, for a subscriber, and it could be subscribed, confirmed the email, and received and opened more than five emails. You can, whoever are going with these.
Georgiana: But it’s an important process defining those KPIs is not a small job at all. It can actually take quite a bit of time to get it right. Also considering the fact that you are going to be moving forward of this and hopefully keeping this customer journey at least the core pieces that we’re talking about right now for a long time, you wanna make sure that you got this right.
Again, the buy-in is really important. Another thing that defining these KPIs is really then official for is for defining where this one person’s job end and another’s begin which can be really important for sales and for CS and marketing particularly those three. But we’re talking about customer experience here, not product experience obviously.
It’s those three teams or people that are the most effective by those things, particularly CS and marketing, deciding where marketing ends and customer success begins is a really important decision and so, so important to the people, like the individuals, just at the individual level from like, “How is my performance being measured? Am I doing a good job? What are my targets for this quarter?” Just that shits that what these marketers are responsible for should be rooted in actual meaning attached to these customer journeys which have been rooted in your customer’s experience. Setting performance targets for your team that aren’t rooted with the customer experience is a big mistake.
Louis: Right. Gia, thanks for going through this step-by-step with me. I know it’s not easy to go into that level of details because you did great. Let’s switch gears and move on to more personal step which is even more difficult to answer.
Georgiana: Oh, great.
Louis: I’m curious, we mentioned you worked with Unbounce for quite a few years. You have a lot of experience in marketing and you worked with a lot of clients. I’m curious, what has been your biggest marketing fuckup to date?
Georgiana: Oh God. That’s a great question, one comes to mind that always comes to mind when I think about like fuckups that actually affected the bottom line of revenue was a pricing page test and Oli Gardner will remember this one well but it was a pricing page test we’re running on the Unbounce website where we–I can’t remember where we were testing up top–but basically we pushed free below the fold without realizing that we pushed it below the fold. It took us two weeks to realize what the hell we had done and what that actually meant to the business.
Louis: Just to describe, you have the pricing page but above what you can see on the screen? You only have paid plans?
Georgiana: Yeah, that’s right.
Louis: Then below that you have to scroll to see the free plan.
Louis: You basically– what happened was people…
Georgiana: We stopped getting free signups and there was a lot of learnings that came out of this obviously but free signups dropped and upgrades from free to paid obviously were affected, it became more obvious than, this is like an early day fuckup, this was years ago, but we started prioritizing our free users after that a lot more. I shouldn’t say prioritizing, because it sound like they weren’t important but we started optimizing their experience a little bit more and taking that opportunity more than we had before.
It was a simple test we’re running on the pricing page, it really wasn’t like a big deal. The biggest fuckup was not that it happened, I don’t care if that happened, that was great, we learnt a lot, the biggest fuckup was I didn’t know. It took two weeks to figure it out. It would have been a great test had I accounted for it but I had no explanation until I realized, “Wow, that must be what happened.”
Louis: Did you get in trouble?
Georgiana: No. Not at all. I don’t typically get in trouble when I have a job, when I have a boss, I don’t typically get in trouble because I beat myself up about fuckups way more than enough so nobody else needs to beat me on them because I take my work to maybe an ultra-high level of accountability.
Louis: I’m curious then, while we are in the transparency side of things, have you used any sleazy, shady, aggressive marketing tactics in your career?
Georgiana: Entire career, I think maybe, and this would be laughable maybe to a lot of people but the thing that made me feel like dirtiest as a marketer was SEO. Not the good kind of SEO obviously, but the bad kind, the kind where you’re like putting footer navs together and you’re like naming your links on your footer just the right keyword, I’m like, “What the… What am I doing with my life? What is this?”
Louis: When was that?
Georgiana: Oh God, years ago like over 10 years ago. I haven’t done that since because in the moment I was like, “What am I doing?” This just feels like this has nothing to do with the customer’s experience. This has nothing to do with being helpful or providing value. If you can do both, that’s what you should aim for. Be SEO friendly and user friendly but I always default to being user friendly over SEO friendly but that was maybe what I didn’t like.
The other thing that I probably did, and again, this is way pre Unbounce, back when I was running an ecommerce website and became very conversion obsessed. It’s easy to do with ecommerce obviously, it was easy to do always but it’s particularly easy to do in ecommerce, I find.
I became obsessed with very, very, very, very small details for too long. Luckily I’m also the type of person who’s hyper-brand sensitive. I never messed up in terms of the company, just I disappointed myself in not thinking holistically enough for a period of time. It was a learning.
Louis: Right. Since it’s a podcast, since you’re listening to this podcast from your house, or going to work or cooking or whatever, you haven’t seen Gia’s face when she was talking about SEO and all of that. She really did this disgusted face, so she really hates it.
Georgiana: I love SEO. I love SEO. I started SEO, that’s what got me excited actually about marketing, that was where I dove in first, I guess that was where I first felt…
Georgiana: The dark side of it, yeah.
Louis: What do you think marketers should learn today that will help them in the next 10 years, 20, years, or 50 years?
Georgiana: There’s the obvious stuff like market like you wanna be marketed to and provide value, and yada yada. What I think doesn’t get nearly enough attention is again the relationship between marketing and other teams, marketing and customer success, marketing and sales, marketing and product, marketing and engineering, marketing and the executive team, particularly at tech companies, it’s not given that the marketer, even the most senior one or in many cases, the only one, has a seat at the table. It’s being taken seriously, as maybe a non-technical person at a tech company has challenges associated with it and building inroads with the executive team and the engineering team, all the departments for that matter, can go a long way to being a more effective marketer.
Marketing is very inter-disciplinary. You can’t operate without these other departments but I would say further to that building relationships and inroads and learning to advocate for marketing internally, being a champion for other departments, and their needs and how marketing can help CS, and how marketing can help sales and vice versa, and product, and engineering, advocating for marketing internally is not an easy task particularly at a tech company. That’s one of my favorite topics, particularly because I’m extra sensitive to that tech side of things.
Everybody hates marketers, you didn’t name that for a reason, but a tech company’s a little bit different in that it’s all about product first, typically. Just being an advocate for marketing, representing marketing well, being helpful, being a team player and speaking for how marketing drives business value doesn’t always come naturally to everybody particularly people who are like earlier in their career, and so learning those skills is really, really important to being an effective marketer at a company.
Louis: What are the top three resources you would recommend our listeners to check out?
Georgiana: Considering the topic I was just talking about and considering that I’m also a marketer, I would be remiss not to mention Forget the Funnel, obviously. Forget the Funnel, I know was mentioned earlier, but basically what we do is we run free weekly workshops for SaaS marketers, focus a lot on this type of customer-centric type marketing but also that advocating for marketing piece that getting out of the weeds piece, thinking more strategically part of the job that I don’t think can get stalked about nearly enough. Definitely the Forget the Funnel workshops, I would recommend.
We are also next month in March, we’re launching a more guided training version of this. It’s a much more, I think guided, a much more handheld sort of process of going from mindset all the way to customer research, brand development, the entire process, customer journey development, a lot of this stuff that we talked about today but in a more guided sort of 12 week programs. We’re all gonna be doing a training.
Other than that, in the SaaS space particularly, I really love the think tank Slack community which is I think the biggest, I don’t know, but it’s one of the biggest communities of marketers. I would highly recommend that. Nichole Elizabeth DeMere runs it. Everybody is really helpful and giving. There’s a channel that is all about like, “I need help this week.” You can go in there and ask anything. You will have undoubtedly like people like raise their hand to help you, just amazing. There’s a lot of really cool channels in that Slack community.
Also she just launched a newsletter, there’s only been one, it’s brand new, but because it’s Nichole, I have no doubt it’s gonna be jam-packed of SaaS goodness. It’s called Sunday Brunch , she just launched a newsletter that I think if you go to her website, you can sign up.
Louis: Okay, it’s Nichole Elizabeth DeMere.
Georgiana: That’s right.
Louis: We’ll add that in the show notes of the episode as usual but just Google it as you have heard me saying this name or Gia telling her name and you’ll find it somewhere.
Louis: Yeah. She’s great. Forget the Funnel is a great, great show. I love their name as well, it’s pretty cool. I’ve actually been on this recently. I’ll put that in the show notes as well as a link because that was quite fun.
Louis: Gia, it’s been absolute pleasure to talk to, learned a lot from you, where can people connect with you?
Georgiana: Twitter is probably the best place, my Twitter handle, my poor decision making skills back in late 2008, @ggiiaa is my Twitter handle, don’t ask. I could have gotten my first name, don’t even get me started on not taking my first name at the time it was available. Twitter, and then my company is abettercx.com.
Louis: Right. Thank you.
Georgiana: Thank you.