Want to build real, long-lasting relationships with your customers? You’re not going to get there simply by content marketing and hoping for the best.
Connecting with customers today requires reaching them on a deeply emotional level. People aren't just looking for products; humans have a fundamental need to connect.
Companies that don't make it easy to communicate with their customers are already falling behind. In my own businesses, it’s essential to maintain a healthy relationship with my customers to have any clue about what they want and need.
Here are seven ways I connect with my audience:
1. Embrace mobile technology.
Today, nearly 92% of Americans carry mobile devices which they use to shop for products. The traditional "word of mouth" advertising is now taking place on a digital platform than can span countries and millions of users. That is not an opportunity I plan to ignore.
I can distribute digital courses, webinar notices, and special offers to thousands of my readers in just one click. 75% of consumers think companies should provide answers via smartphone apps. Incorporating mobile technology part of my marketing lets me interact before, during, and after a sale.
2. Aim for outstanding customer service.
U.S. companies lose about $41 billion each year from poor customer service. But it applies to every employee across the board - I have to accept that every interaction between any customer and any employee has to have positive outcomes to establish company equity, negative or positive.
In order to best serve customers, I need to ensure that support staff are knowledgeable, sympathetic, use emotional intelligence to reduce stress, and observe good problem-solving methods. But I find customer service also means delivering promises to employees as well as customers. The level of engagement and satisfaction they exhibit is a direct factor in improving the customer experience.
3. Email should not be neglected.
Companies tend to overlook the value of email management. It provides greater capacity communicating than texting. I can see in my own email accounts that I occasionally get buried in "junk" email, but that's what spam folders and filters are for.
I appreciate getting an offer that has value to me, and so will my customers. But it has to be an email that makes them take notice. Personalized subject lines in promotional emails are 22% more likely to get opened.
Using email is about more than distributing targeted advertisements. It's also important that I respond promptly to questions or complaints customers submit. Customers who submit emails to companies are used to waiting long to get a response, or being ignored altogether.
Responding quickly and resolving the issue is something my customers seem delighted with.
4. Maintain communication on social media sites.
The easiest way for companies to keep in touch is through social media. There are sites to suit several types of interest; Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest being the most visible. I find they are all great for inviting and compiling email lists for further marketing, and of course, conducting useful dialogues with followers.
Using social media to support customers can provide gains of 7.5% vs. 2.9% over standard CS channels. However, I have to remind myself that it's as much about gathering information as it is about marketing.
By encouraging comments I gain feedback to focus my campaigns. I also find that posting video responses were possible instead of textual responses. It is a better use of my time, and is more effective.
5. Share news and updates through blog posts.
Textual information is better suited to my blog. I make frequent, regular posts to provide readers with updates, news, tips, and more in-depth information. It also allows me to show a personal side, which is important to any human relationship, even in digital formats.
A blog with useful, relevant content is something loyal customers keep coming back to for answers to their questions. Quality posts invite more interest, and more responses, to keep communication flowing. I also look for the chance to guest-blog on authoritative sites to improve my credibility.
6. Distribute E-newsletters to subscribers.
A good way to reach out to my audience is through monthly newsletters. I don't have to rely on my blog or my Facebook page and wait for customers to connect with me. Sending out newsletters not only keeps followers informed, it helps to bring my brand to mind and keep it there.
Newsletters mean keeping my loyal customers informed is less of a challenge. It's also another opportunity to generate interest and invite feedback.
I can easily use email applications to distribute personalized newsletters to hundreds of preferred customers to let them know that I see them as individuals as well as valued customers.
7. Relate to the real world.
Day-to-day operation in the digital world sometimes makes companies overlook the value of a local presence, especially for B2B companies. Local advertising and publicity tend to be cheaper than national or often Internet ads.
In the social media/mobile device era, news stories can still generate wide-scale interest. Charity events, holidays, and celebrations are all opportunities to create positive brand recognition and audience interest.
In this situation, local press is just the first step. For every charity fundraiser or community milestone I might create a post on blogs or social media, maybe even a national press release. These will publicize my organization in a positive way with a broader spectrum of the public - and there's no selling required.
I try to never to miss an opportunity to connect with customers, strategized or spontaneous. They are important to me. At heart it's a simple triangle - get their interest, show them value, and keep them engaged.
How would relationship marketing help or hurt your brand?