Transcript: How Gifting Can Supercharge Your Customer Relationships with Leslie Barrett

On this episode, I was joined by Leslie Barrett, Senior Customer Marketing Manager at Sendoso, which is a sending platform that gives companies new ways to engage with customers throughout their journey. Leslie has a really interesting perspective because she has become an expert on the art of gifting and often advises other customer marketers on this topic. We talk about what makes a gift truly impactful, her unique approach to gifting on major customer milestones, and how she harnesses NPS surveys to automatically generate hundreds of online reviews. Without further ado, here’s my conversation with Leslie.  

Margot Leong:   All right.  Hi, Leslie. Welcome to Beating The Drum and thank you so much for joining us on this lovely morning. 

Leslie Barrett: Thank you. I’m excited to be here. I’ve been thinking about it all week.

 Margot Leong: Why don’t we start off with an introduction – why don’t you talk to us a little bit about your background and touch upon some of the work that you’ve done within customer marketing and advocacy. 

Leslie Barrett: So I’m Leslie Barrett, Senior Customer Marketing Manager at Sendoso. Sendoso is the leading sending platform that delivers modern direct mail, personalized gifts, e-gifts and other physical impressions at scale. And I first started working with customers while at Marketo and I was selling professional services to customers that were really going through a tough time. So as we all know, Marketo is a beast of a platform and a lot of people needed my help, which I loved. So I was able to set customers’ minds at ease and really like, just make a human connection with them. 

After Marketo, John Miller, who’s the co-founder, he started his own company called Engagio, and that’s where I first got to do this type of work. And I just completely fell in love with it, connecting with customers and really talking to them like a peer and a human and making them feel special and then spoiling them through an advocacy program. 

And that’s really where I believe I shine the most, is advocacy. So I just love creating programs from scratch – to have nothing there when you first come into a company and then all of a sudden you’re interviewing a few happy customers, you’re building it with them, you come up with a name and then all of a sudden, then you have members who are actually like knocking on your door to be in your program, and then throwing events and meeting them. It’s like watching that all come together, just really fills my love tank. 

Margot Leong: So Leslie, due to the nature of working at Sendoso, you are something that is quite unique within our industry – you are a customer marketer that basically markets to customer marketers. Talk to me about what that experience has been like for you at a high level.

Leslie Barrett: Yeah. I mean, the experience has been the best. I definitely market to a bunch of different marketing roles such as, you know, demand gen, field marketing. My favorite part is when I get to send my fellow customer marketers gifts and spoil them. And then they reach out and they’re like, tell me how you did this. And so that’s been really fun. 

And I understand that it’s a rare opportunity to be in, but at the same time, it’s also a rare opportunity in how I build my programs. So if you think about it, if I get on a call to mentor a customer marketer who markets to IT or security professionals and I’m thinking, okay. I think you should probably send them a pinata, or maybe some sunglasses. That would be great. And then they’re like, wait, no, that would never work for my audience. Let me rephrase that. I market to IT and security. So I can’t send them those things. And I’m like, Oh, oh, right. Totally. Okay. So I need to take a step back from all my fun sends and my punny sends.

Margot Leong: We always loved the punny sends though. 

Leslie Barrett: Yeah. Hone in on the different personas that my customers are marketing to. So instead of saying, send some sunglasses to these IT folks, I maybe would understand their persona a little bit better and then say, Okay, why don’t you send them some decoder glasses with a fun message that says, “Gain visibility into your website.”

And so I just have to really take into consideration who they are marketing to and what’s going to resonate best with their audience. 

Margot Leong: Yeah, I think that’s a really good point. We have to, as marketers, just as a marketing principle, right, we have to know our personas. That’s sort of Marketing 101. 

And I think what is interesting too, is that I’m also guessing that, in addition to the persona, you also have to learn a lot about how the brand thinks about itself, right, as marketing to those personas. So potentially you can have IT, which is considered a bit, you know, more formal, a bit more careful, but if you are, for example, a brand that’s like, I’m a challenger or a disruptor in this space. And I’m going to talk to you like a human and just have a lot of fun with it, then there can be that leeway, right. So I’m guessing it also depends too on how the brand wants to even come across to these customers. 

 Leslie Barrett: Yeah. I mean, for a more serious audience, I tend to think that they are leaning more towards wanting to be educated on the platform. So anything that you can send to them through direct mail that speaks to making them a better user in your platform and education-based is good. And then you pair that with a very classy swag item, like a Yeti mug. Those are like extremely popular. I tend to go to the Patagonias. And so they really appreciate the gift that you gave them  because you’re also providing value through the educational content that you sent. 

Margot Leong: Got it. You mentioned that you actually would get on the phone to sort of mentor or advise marketers or customer marketers about, you know, how to approach this. What does that typically look like? 

Leslie Barrett: So they reach out because they’re interested in a program that I just ran, so they want to like, understand how they could most likely just kind of clone it, if you will. But also they are interested in how I get my pipeline of advocates. And so this is my favorite program to set up, I find my pipeline of the advocates in five ways. 

First is through the NPS. So the net promoter score and I set up all of those automated programs based on scores. So if they answered the 8, 9 or 10, then they are pushed into my advocacy program, if they so choose. 

The second thing I do is set up a CSQA program, a customer success qualified advocate program. 

Margot Leong: Oh, I want to hear all about this. This is something that, you know, you and I both heard about from Gainsight, right?

Leslie Barrett: Yep. Yeah. So customer marketers haven’t really heard of this. So any customer marketer that I speak with, they don’t know what that means, and I want it to be bigger. I want this to be an industry standard for us. I want this to blow up. So that’s why I want to tell the world: CSQA: customer success-qualified advocate program. 

So basically you give your CSMs some inclusion criteria to identify advocates and that could look like, you know, a green customer, someone who’s really innovative. I mean, you and me, we all know what an advocate sounds like. They are passionate. They want to be a part of some sort of advocacy act. They are also seeing value in your platform, which is huge. So you set up this program for the CSMs to push all of those people inside of your advocacy program. 

And you just, whatever works for you. I don’t need a fancy platform for this. We don’t need Gainsight. It could be easily something like a Google Doc, Slack, and then a templated email that they can send out to the customer that pushes them to your advocacy landing page. And if you don’t have a landing page, then it can just be introducing the customer to your customer marketer. 

Margot Leong: The idea, I guess, is behind this, that I really like is you’re basically continuing to break down, or not even allowing for cross-functional silos to appear. Because, you know, customer success, they just have such a deep relationship with the customer. So you’re basically piggybacking off of that. And continuing to integrate them further with advocacy by making this a metric, right? Something that they are incentivized by to go after and hit versus sort of separating advocacy into one department versus CS in another, and them not being able to touch that. So I love this idea. 

Leslie Barrett: Yeah, you can talk to the leader, the CS leader and ask them, do we want to tie this to their metrics, or do we want to spiff them? And kind of lessons learned here is, I would. I mean, it’s no secret that spiffs work, but it’s really – it’s like training their brains. So once they see a customer who is happy, they’re seeing success. I want the CSMs to light up with dollar signs. I want them to say, Oh my gosh, this person would be perfect for the advocacy program. I’m going to pass them along and then I’m going to get paid. And then if you can do that early on, the rest of your career together is just kind of smooth sailing because you put that in place so early. 

So I wish I maybe would have done that a little bit earlier, rather than having it tied to metrics where they’re like, Oh God, I have to hit this. And it’s just kind of a negative connotation on it. 

Margot Leong: If you’re able to share, what’s the spiff amount that you usually tie this to? 

Leslie Barrett: Sure. This quarter, we’re playing with a hundred dollars if their customer gets a published case study on our website. So whereas they’re not getting spiffed for passing them, they’re getting spiffed if their story becomes a published case study on our website.  

Margot Leong: I’m curious, how has the team been responding to that so far? Are they loving it? 

Leslie Barrett: Yeah. I mean, of course when you launch a program, everybody the first day is like, here, here, here, here, here, here. But another lesson learned is if you kind of rally one person on the CSM team that can be your internal cheerleader, that also really helps stay top of mind, you have someone in there championing the program. 

And then also if you keep the nominations in a Slack channel, then you can update that channel with how the lead is being passed through my funnel, if you will. So I can say like, X customer is moving forward with a case study. We’ll see how this, you know, how it all turns out. And so you can get everybody excited, and then when they get that like ping over Slack, then they can remember, Oh, I just talked to another X customer who’d be perfect for this. So I think it’s all about staying top of mind and keeping the program just hot. 

Margot Leong: Yeah, absolutely. You’re almost making it, because there’s that incentive, you’re turning it into a habit.  

Leslie Barrett: You know, it’s a really rough job sometimes, and I feel for them, and they lost a renewal, but then all of a sudden I can turn around and say like, you know, you’re one step closer to getting your spiff and just try and turn that frown upside down. 

Margot Leong: And the thing is, it’s something that they’re doing anyway. They already have the relationships, right. It’s just one step of making that brain connection, that this is something that will help out Leslie and help out the team in this massive way. And so, you know, again, I love that idea that you’re creating that habit and their mind goes like, ding ding ding, when, you know, when they think about their customer relationships in a different way. So that’s the second piece you mentioned. So NPS, CSQA, what’s the next one? 

Leslie Barrett: Sure. So I go ahead and build a smart list in Marketo that says, show me all of the customers who’ve opened 9 out of the 10 of my last emails that I’ve sent. I mean, that’s an incredible open rate. So if you’re opening 9 out of the 10 emails that I’ve sent you, like, you’re pretty engaged with what we’re putting out there. And you can add an element in that smart list that says if they’ve clicked, so just run that smart list, see what kind of a list it gives you. The number is overwhelming. Like, wow, there’s a lot of people opening up emails, then do that one more layer with clicks, and that to me tells me that they are very engaged with the content that we’re putting out there. They want to learn. They want more. And so I think that there would be a good candidate to be in our advocacy program or at least know that it exists. 

So then I will trigger the email that goes out, asking them to be part of the program. If they don’t want to be, they don’t have to be, but chances are, since they’re opening and clicking, you’re going to get a really good open rate on that email as well. 

Margot Leong: Yeah. Two things there. I think one is, you know, when I think about the volume of email that I get from vendors, I rarely open and then click. Because we are almost drowning in emails, I think for a customer to take the time to do that, I think it actually, is quite high of a signal. So I really like that approach. 

And then the second piece, actually for a little bit more clarification, you mentioned, right, show me all of the customers who have opened 9 out of the 10 emails that we’ve sent. Is this emails from Sendoso in general, or are these emails from you in particular? Like what are these emails? What type of content is this typically? 

Leslie Barrett: Great question. So that would be emails from me that I send from our product team. So any product launch emails, nurture emails throughout onboarding or after onboarding , so things that are really helping the customer through the lifecycle. 

Margot Leong: And are you the person that is typically like the name on that alias that’s sending these out?

Leslie Barrett: Yeah, sometimes. Anything in the nurture is from the customer marketer, but when I go ahead and do product launches, I put that from our product marketing team. 

Margot Leong: Got it. Okay. I like this because, you know, it’s something that I’ve seen where you maintain consistency with one contact. And really, I like this idea that you’re sort of, you know, one of the faces of the company, right. And you’re continuing to build upon that in all these different ways, not just one on one interactions, but even through the emails that get sent out. So I liked that idea as well. 

Leslie Barrett: There is nothing more that I want then to have my emails be delivered at a relevant time, providing relevant information and then being able to trust me and my name and my brand really early on in onboarding, or right after, to then prime them for when I do ask them to get into my advocacy program. Their brain, they think back and they’re like, Oh yeah, this is Leslie. She’s been giving me the best stuff since I started as a customer. Of course, I will join her advocacy program. 

Margot Leong: You know, it’s interesting too, because your name is tied to it, you know, you also have a stake in what gets sent out. Versus kind of separating it between, you know, different, like this is from a success person. This is from, you know, this person, even though it’s all written by like the same team and it’s all the same nurtures. I like that because it’s like, this is a standard of quality because it’s tied to me, who’s a real person. I think that is really important. Alright, let’s talk about the next one. The fourth one. 

Leslie Barrett: The fourth thing! Yes. Okay. So, I worked at Engagio, so I am a big fan of looking into engagement at an account level. So you’re able to see the engagement minutes. How many minutes are your customers spending on your website, on your eBooks, on your blog? I wanted to understand the amount of time that they are spending on those types of really valuable content that our content team is just producing at such a rapid rate. And so I get a weekly snapshot every week that can tell me really interesting information. Let me bring one up actually to kind of help me walk through this. 

 Margot Leong: And this is, sorry, this is Engagio that you’re using for this to find out how many minutes people are spending.

Leslie Barrett: Yeah. So it’s a report that you get each week and you make a customer list. You build that inside of the platform, and then it gives you these weekly snapshots and you’re able to see highlights of what customers and what they’re doing on your website and what they’re clicking on. And they have visited 47 web pages, and it’s like, what, you had no idea that these people are engaging with your content and your brand at such an intense level. And then you’re able to proactively reach out and invite them into your advocacy program. 

Also with Engagio, you can understand the level of engagement and the engagement minutes tied to an account. So you’re able to automate emails through Marketo to go ahead and push them into your advocacy program, or just send them the link. 

Margot Leong: These are all just great ways, especially, I think that if you are launching something like this from scratch or you’re revamping a program, I mean, these are amazing ways to find where all of your advocates exist.

Leslie Barrett: Sendoso has a way to automate gifts based on Engagio data, so I’ll go into that a little bit. So if you have someone who has spent what you consider a large amount of minutes with your content, then you can send a gift off of that.

I haven’t done it. I just get my pipeline of the advocates, but I know a lot of our customers are using Engagio and Sendoso together more at the prospect level to then fire off those really easy, direct mail gifts to get further engagement into their landing pages, right. 

Margot Leong: Absolutely. For all of these different ways that you’re talking about to identify advocates, you know, do you find that there’s quite a bit of overlap between, okay, you know, someone is high on NPS and they also have opened 9 out of the 10 emails that you guys have sent, and they’re spending a lot of time on the website. Or are you finding that there’s quite a bit of people that you’re able to sort of swoop up as champions and find them that don’t overlap in these aspects?

Leslie Barrett: Yeah, I would say probably, you know, 60% I’m seeing the same names, but what I didn’t know was the people who are, really engaged with opening up our emails. That’s probably the one that stands out the most to me. 

Where I see overlap is my current advocates and the data I’m seeing in Engagio. You know, so I’ll go through the highlights and I’ll probably see around sixty, seventy perecent that are already in my program. But that tells me something too, right. It just, it means that they’re an active advocate. They’re not just in my program, just existing. They’re actually putting in the time to learn more.

Margot Leong: Exactly. Like, you know, it’s basically feeding into itself, right. You know, not only are you adding someone who can be an advocate, the person is then putting more time into engaging with you as a result of you engaging with them. That can generate all sorts of magic and opportunities as well.

You know, you mentioned right. The 60-40 piece, I mean, 40% is still a lot of advocates, new ones to find, even as you mentioned through email being one of the biggest pieces of this. Right. So that’s a lot of people that you can find through something like this that I had never really thought about.

Margot Leong: Let’s talk about this last one, which I know we keep sort of jumping all over the place, but this is just a fun topic to talk about. 

Leslie Barrett: So this could be one of my favorites as well. So it’s identifying meaningful behavior in your platform. So you would need to identify, what does it mean to have meaningful behavior in your platform? So what are your customers doing that all signs are pointing to this customer is successful, they’re happy, they’re trending toward renewal. And so if you identify that behavior and that could be a data scientist in your company or a Pendo or an Amplitude type of platform. That generates a list of the people that are doing that meaningful behavior, and you have got to get them into your advocate program. And then that list you can take and push those people into your advocacy program or the invite to get them into your program. 

Margot Leong: You know, I came from data analytics as well over at Mixpanel. And it’s the same thing, right? You are just looking and analyzing how people are interacting with your product. You can utilize these insights in so many ways when you just understand sort of the depth of how someone is actually engaging. As you said, right, I think the big question is: what is the meaningful behavior? How do you figure out what action, if that action sort of leads or correlates to them, you know, wanting to become an advocate or being primed for that. Like you said, utilizing your current advocates as an example is a great way to do that. You’re basically just trying to replicate successful behaviors, right. I think that’s a great way to think about it. 

Leslie Barrett: Yeah. And then just for example, our meaningful behavior is obviously sending through the platform, how ever many integrations they have with us. Sendoso has a ton of ways to integrate with your current tech stack. So the more you’re integrated with our platform, the more likely you are to renew. Because you are super sticky, if you will. So find out those sticky moments. And obviously, utilization and then amount of spend inside the platform. So kind of understanding what behavior looks like in your organization and then setting all those up.

Margot Leong: Is there anything that comes to mind where you’ve been surprised by the data or around what a meaningful behavior would be? You know, anything in digging through this data that has surprised you about where advocates can end up coming from? 

Leslie Barrett: All of the integrations into a current tech stack. You know, I get it now, but I wouldn’t have if I didn’t see this data. These people are so sticky and so successful because we’re really making, automation and everything just flows so much easier for them, and they’re just raving fans at that point. Because if we can just, tuck in nicely with their current technology that they’re using. And then we just like are a force multiplier on top of that, they’re just totally willing to shout us from the rooftops. 

Margot Leong: You know, what you’re talking about, right, is setting up these systems and interrogating the data on the backend, right. And being like, okay, like there’s so much more that we can dig into here to find advocates. 

Something that I wanted to recommend as well is working with support. Often, they’ve set up some sort of CSAT program, which is like the customer satisfaction scores. So, you know, we’ve all been through this process where you send a support ticket, then you’ll sort of say like, at the end of it, you know, from a one through five, how happy you are with the experience, and then often there’s a little text box for you to write, additional thoughts about the experience or, you know, what, how the rep was.

So usually what I’ll do is I’ll ask support to send me a download of a CSV of all of those responses. And then I’ll sort by who gives us the highest rating on support and also like, read every single response from the people who are really happy because people that take the time to respond to like an anonymous text box, you know, that’s really, that’s passion right there. You know, that’s another potential advocate. And I do find overlap too. Like the happiest advocates often tend to love support and then they often tend to like write really nice things. So it’s all feeding into that, but yeah, that’s just another way that that’s been helpful for me in the past too.

Leslie Barrett: Yeah. We’re currently setting that up for this quarter. So I’m sure that’ll be the sixth thing on my list.

Margot Leong: Yeah, it can be a full time job, I think, right. Just to like figure out all of the ways that you can identify advocates, because, you know, as you’ve shown, right, there’s so much you can do with just looking at existing data to find out  who could be primed for being a part of your program. Based off of what you’ve learned and your experience working with customers, how do you then think about applying this to the gifting experience that you provide to your customers, working with them at Sendoso? 

Leslie Barrett: Well, gifting has never been so much top of mind for me,  right.

Margot Leong: I can imagine. 

Leslie Barrett: I could just go completely overboard with gifting because we’re just so emerged in the latest and greatest and best messaging with that piece of direct mail. We have to take a step back, and so what we do is we like to match the send experience with a digital experience.  

For example, we are gifting at major milestones. So after onboarding, we’re going to, we’ll send a gift. And when it lands on their desk, which we get notified through the platform and notification emails, then an email is triggered through our integration capabilities that sends our customers the digital quick win guides that we have, right? So they’re getting the gift, they’re, you know, feeling all the warm and fuzzies, they check their email and they have more educational information to help them on their sending journey. 

So again, we’re gifting at major milestones. And so there’s one after onboarding, one after you’ve made your 500th send, which can come up real quick, which is a big, big thing for us here. And then also around renewal time. 

And then in customer marketing, I’m gifting a ton, like all the one to one sends , and for the little things too, like, as you mentioned, if they did a LinkedIn shout out. I want to tell them that I see you, right, like I see you taking the time to do that. 

And sometimes SDRs are saying how successful Sendoso is making them, you know, flipping opportunities for them. And I’ll go ahead and send them a beautiful range of these cruffles, by the way, they’re called cake truffles. They’re amazing. And I think that one of them cried, like they were just blown away. They’re an SDR. They don’t ever get, you know, treated like that and they don’t ever get sent anything. And it just like really fills my love tank. Like I just want to surprise and delight people all the time, but yeah. So I’m gifting a lot in customer marketing. 

And then something that, I think you can understand is partnering with customers on case studies and how long of a process that could be.

And if I’m sending them pre-interview questions, then you better believe I’m going to send them lunch to fuel their preparation and, and send them that e-gift. So they feel more inclined to answer those questions. 

And then there’s things that the CSMs can send like, somebody has gone dark and it’s time for their QBR. Then, you know, we have like these “wake the dead” plays, which are similar to any kind of sales prospecting send. 

There are sentiment plays. So run a list of all of your yellow sentiments and this could also be your NPS passives. So sevens and eights kind of translates into a yellow sentiment. So run a list of all of those folks and then jump on a call with them, figure out, what is making them on the fence to red, right. Like what is going on? And then while you’re on the call pick up on things. Do you hear a dog in the background? Is there a baby in the background? Get into like the weather, and where are you, and oh, you’re in Dallas, you like them Cowboys, you know, you’re always trying to make a personal connection, and then you’re able to send the personalized gift after that call in order to push them into the green.

Usually these people are just like right on the fence. And so you can let them slip into the red, or you can just like push them into the green with this super thoughtful gift. And so that’s one of our plays that we do here.  

Margot Leong: You know, I love what you mentioned, right, which is that you’re tying in the physical and the digital. And so even to be as thoughtful as okay, you know, Sendoso will let us know once the gift has landed on their desk and then, you know, we time the digital experience to be sent after that, right. It’s very, very thoughtful. And I think that, you know, being that sort of careful about how you approach it is very important and it also creates magic, right, for the people that are receiving it. It’s a very special experience. And to time it perfectly, I think is not easy. And so to have something like this that allows you to do that is, yeah, it’s just really exciting that you can do that. 

Leslie Barrett: It’s all about the timing. It’s all about the message and it’s all about the follow-up. And then you mentioned magic, and to me there’s nothing more magical than an account going dark, and then you send them something and then like, a la kazaam, just all of a sudden they respond to you. It’s magic. 

Margot Leong: Yeah, exactly. I have had accounts go dark and, you know, it was just naturally that maybe a month later I had timed to send them just something for their work anniversary, like a succulent. And then all of a sudden, you know, when they get that, they’re like, thank you so much for sending this. And by the way, there was something that we were doing together, right? Let me get right on that. So I love that. It’s a natural, you know, like it’s a natural automated way to remind people, so I think that’s fantastic and something I’m actually curious about is, what do you send to customers after their 500th send? What’s the gift there? 

Leslie Barrett: So we have these send it buttons that has our CEO, his voice is built in to the button. And so every time you send something, you hit the button and it says, send it. And it, you know, it really radiates out through the whole office and everybody’s like, what did you send? Send what? I don’t understand. And then it creates that conversation. Like, what is that button? Why do you keep pushing it? And so it really is a conversation starter, so it has some ripple effect and we really want to get that out. I mean, you’re a total Super Sender at that point. In fact that is what my advocacy program is called, the Super Sender. 

Margot Leong: I love it. I mean, it’s a total conversation piece. I think it’s very emblematic of, you know, what it sounds like the brand is of the company, right, is that it seems very fun and just approachable, jovial. And I love that you’re sending basically swag and gifts that are in line with that. Can you talk to me more about how you’re using NPS in your advocacy efforts? 

Leslie Barrett: For sure. So NPS is one of my most beloved programs. For people who don’t know, it’s the net promoter score, so it really gauges the loyalty of your customer base by asking them the question, how likely are you to recommend said organization? And it presents a scale from one to ten. If you select one through six, you are a detractor. Seven through eight, you’re passive and nine, ten, you are a promoter. And so great. You’re a nine or a ten. Amazing, you’re more likely to become an advocate. 

So I have kind of automated programs based on score. So with my nine through tens, actually, insider tip: me and a lot of my customer marketers out there in the world, we do include eights in our promoters programs. When you’re first setting up NPS, I would keep it traditional. And then understand the comments when seven and eights come in. So after they present the scale, they’ll say, why did you rate us that number and then they’ll provide you some comments. 

So really do some analysis of what your eights have to say, and if you feel comfortable to include those eights into your promoter program, then do so. If they have some more like, more meaty things to say, like, if you had this feature in your platform, then I’m ready to be an advocate or a promoter for you. It’s just something that you have to kind of look into, and it ranges from company to company, but for when you’re starting out, just do it traditionally. Analyze what the seven and eights have to say. If you feel comfortable pushing those eights into your promoter program, then great. 

So with eights, nines and tens, I’m going ahead and triggering an email 24 hours after they answered the NPS that says, Hey, I’m so glad. Thank you so much for answering, you know, our NPS survey. We’d love you to share your love on G2 Crowd review. So just take whatever’s most important to you. For me, review sites are really important, so I’m going to go ahead and push those promoters to write a  G2 review. And I actually have 358 reviews on my G2. And so this program has been amazing. It’s all automated. So, yeah.  

Margot Leong: Congratulations on that, first of all, right. As a lot of us know who are listening, right, is that getting that amount of reviews is no easy task and what I really like about automating this is that, I think a lot of times with review sites, it can be sort of thought of as one-off like, Oh, we have a big campaign that we’re pushing or, oh like, Gartner’s going to announce, you know, who’s the winner of XYZ award. Let’s do a massive push these next three months in order to get reviews. And I like this idea of automating it because you’re basically putting up a little bit more of upfront investment to build in the system, which then allows you to sort of take that off your mind and focus it on more strategic tasks. 

Leslie Barrett: Yeah, for sure. So it doesn’t have to be the G2 review that is asked, just take what’s most important to you at that time. Is it getting people into your reference program? Is it asking people if they’re ready for a case study? So whatever is most important to you, then go ahead and trigger the ask inside of an email. And if you’re the customer marketer who doesn’t have a strong relationship with your customers, then you can have it come from the CSM. And I find, you know, open rates are a little bit higher having from the person who owns the relationship. 

Margot Leong: I like that. A lot. And I like that you’re sort of thinking about, okay, there’s no ego here, right? You’re basically leveraging who has the closer relationship. 

And one thing I actually wanted to add that I remember hearing about the NPS surveys, specifically with EMEA. So I remember talking to an FMM in EMEA and them telling me actually that we should count the eights as promoters. And I was like, wait, why is that, right? It goes against sort of what I understand is the traditional wisdom. And she was saying it’s because in Europe, you just tend to be a little bit more conservative.  My understanding is that even an eight is high praise. So that is another sort of point towards thinking about them as a promoter when you think about it regionally as well. 

Leslie Barrett: I’ve had eights join my advocate programs so they can influence where the product is going. 

Margot Leong: Yeah, exactly. I love that because coming from a support background, no product will ever be a hundred percent perfect all the time, right. It’s the spirit of the product. And if it’s delivering what you say it’s delivering for the most part, there’s going to be customers that just want to see the product also be better. And so even if they’re not like, I love it a hundred percent of the time, that doesn’t mean they absolutely hate it either, right. I like playing within that eight, seven area, because you also have a chance to eventually convert them to nines and tens if you do sort of fulfill your promises, right. So I love that. 

Leslie Barrett: Totally. Yeah. And I should mention the gifting components to these programs. So the message with the G2 review is, if you review us, then I’ll send you the $30 Amazon e-gift card. And so what is different here is that if you go through G2, they run these campaigns for you and they have been offering $25 Amazon gift cards for a long time. And so I think the market is really numb to that price point. So by upping it $5, I mean, you would think it’s a hundred dollars that the way people are reacting and willing to write a review, but it’s just that like trick of the mind that just, it’s not 25, it’s 30. Oh my God. Of course I’ll do this. By switching up the Amazon gift card to an e-gift card of their choice or right now with COVID, offering them Uber Eats or DoorDash, they’re really more likely to go ahead and fill out that G2 just because the gifting has changed from what they’re used to seeing that $25 Amazon.

So that’s really been successful for me, just upping it to $5 and then with passes, as I mentioned, you can, automate the email from the CSM that says like, Hey, super excited that you answered our survey. Thank you so much. I really want to find out. What can we do better to get you to being a promoter? And for your time, I’m going to send you lunch. And so again, like offering them something for their time, and they’re more willing to get on the phone with you and you can really dig into who they are as a person and send them that personalized gift after the phone call. And then it’s really starting to like prime them to becoming promoters down the line. 

And then just as important is the detractors. And by the way, are they really detractors? I mean, they opened your email. They took the time to read the question. Not only did they read the question, they picked a number, so they want to be – they want to like you, but they want to give you feedback. And so that’s the time where it’s like automate that email from the CSM saying like, we got to talk about this. And for your time, I’m going to send you and then pick, you know, the e-gift card that matches your audience. Because you can really stop churn before it happens and identify those unhappy customers that you didn’t even know. 

Right now, we’re actually doing some analysis that says, show me everyone who has been a detractor at the company level. And then I want to compare it to the sentiment that we have. So we may see that the account is green, but all of a sudden we see five people that have given us a low NPS score. That to us doesn’t make sense. And then there’s a program that has to be built around that. 

Margot Leong:  Going back a little bit and thinking about the idea of gifting in and of itself, right. So, you know, I personally find picking out gifts for customers like really relaxing. It’s one of the things I just kind of enjoy about this role. You’ve had this tim e working at Sendoso. I think I would just love to hear a little bit more high level about how you think about gifting in general and how that’s affected how you even think about gifting. So I guess first off we could start off with, what is the power of a gift?

Leslie Barrett: So let’s take any gift that you get for a birthday or Christmas, for example. Like what do you feel? You tend to feel special and thought of, and it really kind of gives you the warm and fuzzies. And then think about it if it was a personal gift, like something engraved with your name or your company on it. And so those types of gifts can, like, hit your soul in a way. Right. And be like totally unforgettable. 

Margot Leong: Absolutely.

Leslie Barrett: All the human emotions come into play when you receive a gift. So in business, a gift helps humanize that approach to selling. So buyers have like completely tuned out due to like overwhelming amount of digital noise. And so that means your message is really kind of getting lost in every stage of the sales funnel. So like even CSMs are finding it really hard to connect and book a QBR. Because there’s just so much noise, coming into their inbox, and their phones are ringing and it says potential spam. And you’re like, Oh God. So sales and marketing and CX leaders are really like driving revenue by enabling their teams to make these real, authentic human connections through the gift. 

Margot Leong: Got it. I think what’s really interesting about that is what I’ve heard from a B2B trend, direct mail, right, was actually like having a bit of a comeback. And I think it’s not only just the gift itself, like you alluded to. It’s being thoughtful about the gift, right. Anyone can just send fruit baskets all day long, right. But it’s that personalization and putting that like little extra touch into understanding what’s the persona, like? Right. What would the audience resonate with? There’s so much power in a well-placed gift and I think it’s honestly not something that companies have thought about much in recent years. So I think I really like this. 

Leslie Barrett: Yeah, it’s coming back and I don’t think it’s going anywhere. 

Margot Leong: You know, I would love to hear a little bit more about what makes a gift impactful and effective for the customer? Right? What should we be thinking about when choosing the right gifts for our customers?

Leslie Barrett: Well, this is where it gets really fun. I know not everyone can implement this, but if you can and your audience would be receptive to it, I have created an automated email that comes from the CSM when they first sign up for your platform with the subject line that says, drum roll … “Help us spoil you.” And by the way, it is my top performing email, like in the history of my customer marketing. 

Margot Leong: I wonder why, I am getting good vibes. I feel like I’m in a spa already, like thinking about this email subject line. I want to put my feet up. 

Leslie Barrett: It has like a 70% open rate. It’s an amazing email and it’s basically inside just as like, help me get to know you in a fun way. We’re going to be working a lot together. So it’s a form – SurveyMonkey – that asks them, what is, when’s your birthday? What do you like to do on the weekends? What’s your interest? What’s your shirt size for kind of like swag reference? Favorite sports teams. 

So it’s not mandatory, like required fields on that form, but whatever they want to mention, they can mention. I have an integration with Zapier and Salesforce, that information gets pushed into the Salesforce contact. And then the CSM gets an alert when the form has been filled out and they’re able to have a really fun kickoff call. What that does for me is it helps me tremendously when I’m sending. 

So in customer marketing, there’s a lot of one to one sending, right? You really want to make a connection with your advocate, with a potential advocate. You want to treat them right. And so just think about six months later after they have gone through onboarding and it’s their birthday. And they receive – lately I’ve been sending kind of like a red box package with candies and a movie, just kind of like a movie night package and just because everybody’s kind of staying inside lately. And it’s really been landing well. 

But they don’t even remember that they filled out this form and then six months later, they get this birthday present from you and they’re just completely blown away by the amount of personalization that you put into it, because you can actually select a gift based on what they put in the form. So if they’re a red wine and dark chocolate lover, then you send those things over and they’re just completely blown away with the thought that went into it. And yeah, the surprise and delight factor for their birthday is one of my favorites. 

Margot Leong: I was going to say, actually, this is perfect when it comes to the surprise and delight principle. You know, I think that surprise and delight has become common as something that we talk about. But what I think people don’t do enough of is actually thinking about the surprise aspect. I read a study about how, when you are surprised, you know, you basically get a lot of dopamine, a lot more dopamine to your brain, versus if you knew something was coming.

And I think this is really interesting about how you had them fill out the form that included their birthday. And honestly, whenever a company sends me a form where I fill out my birthday, I’m like, Ooh, like I hope something’s coming for my birthday. But of course, as humans, we have terrible memories and, you know, I can’t even remember what I ate like two days ago for lunch, right. 

So you can have such an impact by doing what you’re doing, which is automating again, some of this collection of really important sort of personal human information. And then automating and knowing when to send that gift for their birthday. And I can’t even imagine just how much of an impact that can have in strengthening that bond and that relationship.

Leslie Barrett: Oh, for sure. For example, I just sent someone their birthday gift and it just so happens that a sales executive asked me for a reference and the person I sent the birthday gift to was the person to talk to them.

Margot Leong: That’s so perfect. I love that. 

Leslie Barrett: And so I asked her, I sent her an email, like, would you be willing to jump on a call with a prospect? And she, 10 minutes later, was like, of course I will do this. Thank you so much for the birthday gift. And so I really believe that the accelerated response rate and the fact that she jumped on the call was due to that surprise and delight. For sure. 

Margot Leong: I mean, when things line up like that, right. It’s truly magical.

Leslie Barrett: Not only did she do a terrific job on the reference call. She sat down, and what must have took an hour completely debriefing us, typing us up a huge email about every single talking point where she feels that they’re at in the sales cycle and just like what we would need to do to close it. It was intense. And so we were just completely blown away with that whole thread.

Margot Leong: Are there any other examples that you have, you know, even with how you’ve worked with your own customers outside of birthdays?  

Leslie Barrett: So when people have done a case study for you, I think all customer marketers ” love” the process of the case study and how long it takes sometimes. 

Margot Leong: What? It doesn’t get approved in 15 minutes?

Leslie Barrett: Yeah, weird. So there’s a lot of gifting throughout that journey, right? Like some people go dark on you midway through and you need to kind of draw them back in. And so utilizing that form information, sending over an e-gift to kind of wake the dead there is huge. And then after it’s all approved and you can just like move on to the next one, it’s rewarding that customer for taking all the time with you. 

So we have a Shopify and we call it our Super Sender’s store and it integrates through Sendoso. And then what’s only in the store is just like the latest and greatest in branded swag. So I’m talking Patagonias, AirPods, iPads, Bose headphones, everything Sendoso-branded. So you’re able to go and let them pick out their gift of their choice. So that’s just another really cool component where it kind of takes the load off you. 

It is a surprise element too. They didn’t know that this Shopify store existed until I pointed them to it. And then now they get to pick out one of these like amazing gifts for themselves. So it’s a really nice touch. 

Margot Leong: Something that I really like for gifting that has worked well in the past is thinking about, okay, what is sort of expected, right? Because basically with the case study, right, it’s kind of expected that you’ll send the customer something when the case study is done, right. But what I’ve done in the past is sort of leverage this idea of reciprocity, where when the customer gets on the interview with me, after that, I actually send them something small, like a coffee cake, after the interview and just to say, sort of keep them top of mind, thank you for even taking the time to talk to us. We’re really excited to do this case study with you. And then we send them something once the case study is done too. And so often what happens is that after the interview, you often get a thank you note from them where they’ve taken the time, right, to acknowledge what you sent to them. And it’s usually very much a surprise that someone will just get something for not the final product, which is the case study. But even just like talking to you, that’s worked really well.

Leslie Barrett: You’ve got to get into my Super Sender program. 

 Margot Leong: It’s so much fun. It’s, it’s very relaxing. I just pretend all these macaroons and cookies are coming to me. Yeah. 

Leslie Barrett: Another good thing about that form is you really find out someone’s specific dietary restrictions. 

Margot Leong: Oh, yes. That makes a lot of sense, actually. 

Leslie Barrett: Yeah. If there’s no dairy, then I’m staying away from those cruffles. Once you send them something that is like gluten dairy-free treat blows their mind. 

Margot Leong: Yeah, absolutely. Again, it’s automating something that ends up being very personal and human. So I love where the two can meet, and sounds like you’re all about that. But, anyway, Leslie, I have so enjoyed chatting with you. I’ve learned already so much about this gifting process and the strategy. If there are people that want to connect with you, where can they find you? 

Leslie Barrett: Sure, yeah, I’m on LinkedIn, Leslie Barrett. And also if you have any questions and I’m always happy to geek out on all of these topics, it’s leslie@sendoso.com.

Margot Leong: Perfect. I will put that into the show notes. Thank you so much for joining us, Leslie. I had a blast. 

Leslie Barrett: Thank you, me too. 

Thanks for tuning into this episode of Beating The Drum. For more interviews with advocacy leaders and tips on creating customers that will sing your praises, head on over to our website, beatingthedrum.com. If you enjoyed today’s show, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts and don’t forget to rate and review us. If you know someone that would be a great fit for the show, I would love to hear about it. You can reach out at beatingthedrum.com. Take care, everybody.

 

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