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Why Marketing Automation Doesn’t Work for NPS

I was at an event the other night with one of my kids. The organization that hosted the event had hired a magician to perform for a room full of 8- 10 year olds.

The guy was kind of a hack, but did well by a child’s standards.

One of the tricks he performed was taking a newspaper and making it appear that he was tearing it to shreds. Each time he teared, he folded the paper over on itself, making it appear smaller and smaller. At the end of his routine, he snapped the paper back into shape with the flick of his wrist.

The kids were amazed. The adults … well they were excited for the kids.

Needless to say, he wasn’t too protective of his “magic”.

As a marketer, it reminded me of how I feel sometimes when I’m trying to be really clever in how I automate messaging to customers and prospects. In a way, I’m trying to act like a magician and wow the recipient with a completely “personal” message, while at the same time diverting their attention away from the true¬†trickery.

If my recipients were 10-year olds, I might get away with it. Unfortunately, they are savvy adults. People that know the difference between a canned message and personal communication.

This is where we fail as marketers. We believe that our magicianal (my word) talents are so superior, that we can trick our customers and prospects into believing that we actually wrote that email just for them, or we favorited that tweet because we’re following their every word.

The truth is, nobody is buying it. Those that respond are just those that happen to be in the market for what we’re offering. As much as we want to believe it, our mail merge isn’t tricking anyone.

Sorry marketers, we suck as magicians.

Sorry marketers, we suck as magicians. Nobody is buying our 'personalized' emails. Click To Tweet

And, this is why Promoter doesn’t offer the option of automating messages according to scores.

I’ll admit, as someone that is directly involved in responding to customers, it would be much easier to automate the messages that go out to anyone identifying themselves as a detractor, passive or promoter. In fact, as a marketer, I’ve argued for why this should be a feature.

But, my argument was dismissed, and here is why:

Detractors are in desperate need of intervention: As you know from previous posts, up to 50% of your detractors are going to leave you (churn) within the next 90 days. If you want any chance of reducing that percentage, you need to act quick and it needs to be personal.

Not only that, but you also need to address their specific needs. Maybe your customer service is slow, or your product is lacking … you need to respond in kind. A canned response won’t do.

As unhappy as they may be, your customer took time out of their day to tell you exactly what you need to know to keep their business. Maybe it’s unattainable, but maybe it isn’t. The least you can do is give them the courtesy of a personal response.

If you have even as few as 100 customers and your LTV is $500, that’s $25,000 at risk. I think everyone (even marketers) would agree that it’s worth a personal response.

No two Promoters are equal – I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, Promoters represent the biggest growth opportunity your company has today.

If you read “The Anatomy of a Promoter” you’ll know that while up to 50% of your revenue is driven by your company’s advocates, it’s likely that it accounts for only 20% of those that are willing to recommend you.

You can’t activate the other 80% with an automated message.

You need to look at each of your promoters as unique opportunities. Some have large networks, others are personally connected to potential clients, or even investors.

If you want to properly activate your promoters, you should look at each of them individually and see where they bring you the most value.

If you automate your message to your promoters, you potentially leave a ton of revenue on the table.

You can’t learn anything without listening – This is probably the most important point, and one that most marketers overlook. If you truly want to see any value from the NPS process, you need to actually read each piece of feedback that you receive.

It’s a fairly easy and straightforward prescription. And, this is at the core of how Promoter is designed.

Without actually reading the responses of your customers, you not only run the risk of losing them, but you also miss any easy opportunities to improve your business. You’re also missing out on a literal goldmine of trend and sentiment data from your customers verbatim feedback (what we call trend analysis).

NPS feedback tagging

Within Promoter, you can add tags and attach sentiment to quickly identify trends.

Listening to customers and tagging their feedback to identify trends is one of the easiest ways to not only retain current customers, but also grow revenue exponentially.

If you’re not willing to do this, NPS is mostly meaningless.

At the end of the day, whether you’re a marketer or director of operations, closing the loop with customers as part of NPS is not a system you want to automate. It’s a place where customers are candid, and they deserve a personal response, each and every time. This is the most important engagement you can have with a customer, use the opportunity wisely.

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Dana Severson

Dana Severson is the Director of Marketing at Promoter.io and cofounder of Startups Anonymous. Former founder & CEO of Chasm.io/Wahooly and AngelPad Alum. In addition to focusing on growth at Promoter, Dana is a weekly columnist for Inc.com

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  • brandonlife

    Baremetrics did via Promoter though? https://baremetrics.com/blog/automating-customer-feedback

  • joshinteractiveqa

    I can see the appeal of some marketing automation (such as provided by tools like Marketo, Pardot, etc). I think a lot of marketers confuse automated marketing (such as emails when someone connects on LinkedIn, or auto DM on follow on Twitter) with marketing automation.