Four businesses that use their customer’s voice to strengthen their marketing

I think words are pretty awesome. And powerful.

Yet, I’ve furred my brow in many a marketing meeting where some combination of design and copy were presented, wondering if I was the only one in the room that didn’t “get it”. Meaning, the copy on the website, ad, brochure, whatever, was so cutesy and cleaver that it flew over my head like the Blue Angels on the fourth of July.

In last week’s article, I dove into the number one reason you’re not getting enough leads from your website. To be ridiculously succinct about it, don’t write flowery, clever marketing copy anymore. You’re losing people. And in mere seconds, they’re clicking that easy back button in the upper left corner (the little bastard).

I promised you I’d prepare examples of companies doing a great job at using their customer’s words in their marketing. Seemed like an easy task.

Wrong.

There are far more companies using marketing gobbledygook than the real words customers use.

4 examples of businesses that use customer voice in marketing:

These companies do an awesome job of using their customer’s voice, but sometimes, just like all of us, they fail. They get trapped in that “oh but this headline is so powerful, we just have to use it!”

NIKE

First up is Nike. One of the largest global consumer brands with the biggest marketing budgets ever. Take a look at this vintage, long form copy Nike ad. Not only does Nike seem to be listening to what the target customer is saying, they get what the customer is thinking.

Vintage Nike ad that uses the customer's voice and thoughts

Vintage Nike ad that not only uses the customer’s voice, but nails their target customer’s thoughts, too

Yet, Nike still doesn’t get the voice of the customer right all the time. Envision the young, urban woman pictured in the ad saying the headline, “I gotta have a shoe that’s designed for sport, but remastered for life.”

Nike ad that does not use the voice of the customer

Perhaps this was intended as a branding campaign only. It certainly doesn’t attempt to relay customers’ words.

Webex

This web-based meeting platform provider has always been fairly good at using the voice of the customer — even with a business model as ubiquitous as providing “airways” for long distance online meetings.

Webex homepage that attempts to use customer voice

Whenever you market technology, using the customer voice becomes challenging. Webex does a good job, here, of using plain language to describe its offering.

Just like Nike, Webex hasn’t always nailed it. When Webex was purchased by Cisco in 2007, the firm embarked on an awareness campaign seen below. If you know what it means, drop a line in the reply section below, cause I sure don’t.

Webex promotion that has poor use of customer voice

What?

Less Accounting

Web-based bookkeeping software, Less Accounting, turns humor on themselves. Their headline (under the video) is something discussed between small business owners over coffee around the world daily. The video testimonial echoes the headline’s sentiment and is another fantastic use of an actual customer’s words to communicate value.

Great use of customer voice on this Less Accounting website homepage.

Brilliant headline using the customer’s words: “All small business accounting software sucks, we just suck the least.”

Less Accounting also has a set of humor-toned banner ads running online right now that poke fun of the imprisoned Wesley Snipes, an actor charged with failing to file taxes. The ads force you to think way too hard about the message they’re trying to convey.

Again, this is evidence that companies sometimes nail a customer’s voice … other times, not so much.

Less Accounting's poor use of customer voice.

It’s been four years since Wesley Snipes was sent to prison. As a consumer, I barely remember it, never mind talk about it.

Crazy Egg

I’ve saved the best for last. Crazy Egg is a website tracking tool that shows user heat maps and click tracking. Copy Hacker, Joanna Wiebe, ran a performance test of the Crazy Egg homepage against a new homepage she wrote and designed.

Here’s the homepage that was live when she started the test:

Crazy Egg homepage that does not use the customer's voice

The viewer reads the headline, first, and it doesn’t really mean anything to us.

And here’s her final homepage, which beat out performance of the control homepage. The winning copy (now placed inside the illustration) was pulled verbatim from a simple, catchy phrase a handful of survey respondents had used:

New homepage that uses the actual words of users on its graphic

The main headline is dwarfed by the text on the computer screen illustration, “The heat map tool that shows why your visitors aren’t converting.”

Joanna’s breakdown of the website test is fascinating (if you’re into that kinda stuff). If you want to read more about what she changed and used from customers’ own comments, you can read it in full here.

How do you communicate in a language your customers can understand? Reply below with any tips or ideas.

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Comments

  1. says

    Okay, I was so inspired by this post that I just rewrote my Home page text, something I’ve done no less than 30 times already. It might not be perfect, but it’s me and it uses the same words my customers use instead of the ones photographers use to make what we do sound lofty. So, thank you. Very much.

    “My name is Karen McMillan and I take pictures of dogs having fun. Stuff like catching tennis balls, chasing each other, swimming in the creek and hanging out with you on your patio. Dogs being dogs. The concept is simple, the photographs are beautiful and the dogs have a blast.

    Take a look at the dog gallery here to see what I mean and then come out and join us for a seriously good time.

    I live in the Greater Philadelphia area and hope you do, too.

  2. says

    I remembered to ask my clients that liked my work to write a referral for me that I could use for other prospective clients (especially if they weren’t on LinkedIn). However I felt a bit stuck on what to do with them on my website (working a 3rd rollout for my next move now). These examples were great and got me out of my rut!

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