Website visits, blog readers, social media followers and email subscribers – all of these people hear from you on a regular basis, but how can you be sure they are really listening? How do you stand out from the crowd, make a connection with your customers over the long term to ensure they keep coming back, and recommend you to their peers?
First and foremost, you need to offer value. Shouting about offers and constantly showcasing your products will not endear your audience to you. Think of certain sofa retailers who seem to have their ‘best sale ever’ three times a year, do you ever really watch the adverts or listen to them? Social media is for conversations, it is not just a billboard for you to advertise on. You need to give your audience a reason to follow you, or to sign up to your newsletter or return to your website. Then you need to consistently give them reasons to stay and engage with you.
In marketing when we talk about giving away ‘something of value’ we don’t mean running competitions to win something expensive, we mean giving your audience something that is of use to them. You can use your digital platforms to provide insights into your brand, offer information that they cannot find anywhere else, and share value through original and repurposed content. By creating on-brand content that adds value to your customer, they will stay with you longer, and engage with you more.
Secondly, you need to be there. You cannot just send out scheduled posts and email campaigns, you need to be there to answer questions, start discussions, and provide a genuine, authentic source of information. Not all of your customers will use the same channels in the same ways. Some will be tied to their emails; some will love Twitter and hate Facebook; some will want to read while others want to watch a video. By using multiple forms of communication you open up the ways for people to interact with you and contact you.
Finally, ask them for help. Did you know that 77% of consumers will read an online review before making a purchase? But how do you get reviews? It’s the most simple thing in the world – you ask for them! Since you already have a community that you have cultivated online, you don’t need to go far to find someone to ask!
Use the audience you have online to gather information about preferences and opinions. People love to share their views, and your fans will love to tell you their thoughts as long as you ask them a question and give them an outlet. Don’t fall into the trap that many businesses do by collecting the feedback and then forgetting about it! Use the information you gather to inform your business strategy. When your customers see that you are listening to them, they will become more inclined to provide feedback in the times ahead.