In our last blog (Part 1), we spoke about using marketing to build customer relationships. In this post, we’re going to look at ways that the customer relationship might be maintained through online activity. By the way, in Part 3, we’ll focus specifically on how we can do that, using social media.
Think about the many ways we build relationships offline. It can be through sharing a joke, a personal introduction, a warm handshake or even just a smile. Personal connections build trust. The challenge for us, as business owners, is that when we go online, it is difficult to replicate the human touch. In our online conversations, we don’t have the human signals such as the handshake, the eye contact, and the body language. These engagement opportunities are not available online. Or are they?
How might we replicate those 3 human signals online?
First of all, when a person lands on your homepage they’re thinking “is this site of interest to me? Are the owners genuinely interested in helping me?” Your website needs to answer those questions by simply stating who you are, what you do and how you can help them – all in a user-friendly way. You might consider this your personal handshake.
Secondly, you might equate the eye contact with their experience of your online presence. If they have read your blog or arrived on your site through a social media channel – are you consistent in tone, voice, and personality. Is it informative or entertaining and easy to navigate?
Thirdly, will they consider their meeting with you good enough for them to return (your body language), and start building a relationship with you. Building a relationship means building trust, which you can do by sharing relevant content, delivering what you promise and responding to their online requests for help.
Your online handshake is your website. It should be firm in information and warm in outlining benefitsClick to tweet
Here is a link to an article on the MasterCard Biz site that gives us three practical examples of 3 Easy Ways to Bring In-Person Customers Online.
5 other areas that should help maintain customer relationships online.
- Website speed. In addition to your site’s functionality, speed plays an integral part of its UX. I, for one, don’t hang around for probably more than 5 seconds if a site isn’t loading – how is your patience? Use the Google’s PageSpeed Insights to check your site’s speed.
- Mobile Audience. Build your website with a mobile audience in mind. The majority of people now search on mobile devices. Your content and Calls-to-Action must be accessible (and readable) on the small screen.
- Online Personality. Let the real you shine through the business’s online voice. People like to deal with people so forget the business-speak. Why not have some fun while you’re at it.
- Content Platforms. There are many platforms that you can use in addition to your blog. Visual communication is becoming the most popular method to engage customers. Think YouTube, Instagram, Periscope, Snapchat, Pinterest – use your smartphone on the fly.
- Influencer marketing. Build on the trust that existing influencers in your industry / niche have on, say, social media. Building an authentic relationship with them augurs well for your customer’s perception of your authority.
Tips and Timesavers for an online review
You may well be attending to all the points above but sometimes it is good to review your online relationship with your customers. Here are eight suggestions that we think might help you reconsider your customer relationship:
- Analyse your traffic to see when, how and why they come to your site
- Go out of your way to have a conversation with your customers
- Learn about your new customers – who they are, what they do, why they do it and what they dislike
- Research if, when and how your customers use a mobile device
- Stay up-to-date with industry trends so as to pass on benefits to your customers
- Check that your customers are still on the same social media channels / platforms as you are
- Deliver relevant content in a format that they can access easily i.e. 2 clicks
- Check that your customers are still engaging with your marketing messages / storytelling
By being available online to help customers whenever they need it, will go a long way to building a sustainable relationship. The ultimate goal for your business is to have customers trust and understand you completely. The payback for your efforts will be that they will tell everyone about the excellent brand that you are – it’s only human nature.
“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.
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