Businesses of all sizes need to stay in touch with their customers while striking the delicate balance between “enough” and “too much.” Here are 10 tips to help you stay in touch with both current and future customers.
TRUST THE TRIED AND TRUE. Email is one of the biggest drivers of conversions for small businesses, which means your email contact list is one of your most valuable assets. But use it wisely. Too many businesses pepper their clients with too many emails, which risks getting them marked as “spam.” Email communications should have a purpose, not just clog your customers’ in-boxes.
UPDATE YOUR EMAIL LISTS. Delete bounced email addresses, duplicates and otherwise inactive contacts so you can focus on engaging your most interested customers. Also, segment the list based on interests and past purchases so that your messages reach those most interested in receiving them.
CREATE COMPELLING CONTENT. Send relevant, valuable content to the people who have opted to receive your communications, either including it in the email or sending links to your website or social media site where the content resides. Use an enticing subject line and make sure they recognize that the email comes from you. Many third-party fulfillment services use a return email that does not instantly identify the sender as you!
USE MULTIPLE CHANNELS. Be sure your business has Facebook and Twitter accounts at an absolute minimum. YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram are also useful – and popular. Use those channels to share your messages by including links to content posted on those pages in e-newsletters, blogs and website. Post teasers linking to new content on Twitter, LinkedIn and others.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ENGAGE. As the three major U.S. airlines have seen in the last several months, social media is a powerful tool. Everyone knows it gives customers the power to share their experience quickly and publicly, but too many businesses fail to leverage the power it gives them: the opportunity to share their own message.
READ AND RESPOND. Comments posted on social media – both good and not-so-good – are vital to your success. Follow as many social network sites as you can. Read what people are saying about your business and budget some time to respond, whether than means answering a customer’s question on your Facebook page or replying to their Yelp! review.
STAY POSITIVE, EVEN WHEN IT’S NEGATIVE. Saying, “We’re glad you’re happy with the Widget you bought from us!” shows that you’re paying attention to what people say. An apologetic response – “We’re disappointed that we didn’t meet your expectations” – shows empathy. Social media channels can also provide an opportunity to make amends: “Please contact me directly; I’d like to learn more about what happened.” Finally, remember: You’re not just talking to the person who wrote the review or Tweeted the comment; you’re talking to everyone who reads what the two of you have to say.
UPDATE YOUR ONLINE INFORMATION. Make sure your own website is accurate, but also check sites like Yelp!, Citysearch and others to be sure their information is current. If you’ve added a new location or changed hours, advise the website of the change. Your current and future customers will want to know.
GO MOBILE! According to Pew Research, 77 percent of people own smartphones and more are joining those ranks every day. Make sure your website looks good on mobile devices. If a potential customer can’t easily find the information they’re seeking on their mobile device, or if your email doesn’t look good on a smartphone or tablet, it could cost you business.
ENGAGE IN PERSON. Engaging in person enables you to create a lasting connection in a very powerful way, which leads to customer loyalty and ever-valuable word of mouth. Consider hosting an open house, educational event, or simply a meet-and-greet to increase awareness about your business, build and strengthen relationships.
For more information on staying in touch with your customers and growing your business contact the Economic Development Collaborative-Ventura County. Conveniently located in Camarillo, California, we’re here to help.