How Your Company Can Stay Connected to Customers in the Digital Age

2015-03-19-1426796716-418219-PeterDaisyme.pngAuthor Peter Daisyme is the co-founder of Palo Alto, California-based Hosting, a hosting company specializing in helping businesses with hosting their website for free, for life. 

Connecting with customers is getting more and more challenging. Your consumers are getting smarter, refusing to listen to one more hard sell or pitch. And even though it seems like they're "connected" around the clock, all that technology they're hiding behind doubles as some excellent personal security.

In other words, you can't reach your customers unless they want you to. Or can you?

Just like your customers, companies need to use technology in order to adapt, connect and engage. The "Mad Men" days are over, and how you look at fostering relationships with your customers is steeped in technology.

As an example, Duetto is a niche big data solutions provider that serves the hotel industry. They help get hotel rewards to great customers via big data and internal data. Rewards, when they're actually desirable, are a fantastic means of breaking the ice with your customers and securing a loyal following.

Figuring out what your customers want is actually pretty simple: Ask yourself what you'd want if you were your own customer. You want a company that respects your time and how you want to be approached, offers great quality at affordable prices, and customizes interactions and offers.

But how can technology help make that happen?

First, forget the cold calls, the costly direct mail campaigns that aren't directed towards any demographic in particular (beyond ZIP code), or hard sells. Consumers can sniff out pushy sales in an instant. We live in an era where the customer is in charge. And if you play your cards right they'll find you. You might need to learn more about passive marketing rather than active marketing, so that your customers can naturally find you and your goods/services. You can do this a number of ways, from a strong social media presence to PPC advertising.

Obviously, social media is a great way to connect with your customers. It lets you show a "face" to your brand, engage in conversations, and encourage a following by offering special deals, offers or information just for your social media crowd. However, it's not easy to manage a good social media campaign. It requires turning your social media analytics into actionable change with perfect timing on a consistent basis.

Whether you're a startup or a corporation of enterprise proportions, good passive marketing means being accessible to your audience. This includes lurkers, complainers and incredibly eager customers alike. You can be accessible by making your contact information simple to find on your website, following standard formatting when listing your contact information on Yelp or Google+, or complementing your online presence with a blog.

It also means staying in their line of vision. PPC campaigns can be great avenues for providing a solution to what your potential customers are already searching for. When they Google "trampoline party Phoenix" and you have a trampoline gym, you need to come up first with both search engine optimization (SEO) and PPC ads if it's in your budget. (Here are some tips for starting a PPC campaign.) Make sure to choose a reasonable budget as you learn the ropes of PPC on Google's AdWords, but don't forget about search engine optimization either (which is an evolving set of best practices that should dictate how you create your web presence).

So, how can you stay ahead in the digital era?

Give your customers what they want and don't make things tougher than they need to be. There's a smorgasbord of tech available, from big data to SEO white-hat tricks. If you're not making use of them, you can bet your competition is.