A brand's customer base is often an untapped resource, and businesses should invest in building relationships with their customers. But what if you don't know who your customers are or how they see your brand? Here are some tips for connecting with your customers.
Identify the business goals and values.
Once you know who your target audience is and how they want to be reached, it's time to lay your cards on the table: create a mission statement that reflects this information. A mission statement provides direction on why you do what you do and how it benefits customers. It can also help define what type of person wants this service or product—and who doesn't benefit from it.
For instance, if your business sells insurance that is designed for people with a high net worth, then the insurance company might need to consider strategies for connecting with those customers – such as community initiatives. This could be a forum, an app, or even face-to-face networking events.
Understand what they care about.
It's important to understand your customer's interests, needs, wants and concerns. Listening is a crucial part of this process. By listening to what people are saying about your brand, competitor brands or issues that affect them directly (like the environment, economy, or political factors), you'll gain valuable insight into their thoughts and feelings.
- Listen to what people are saying about your brand on social media, in reviews or in forums
- Listen to what people are saying about their experiences with your competitor's products or services
- Use social media monitoring tools
Make a plan to connect with them.
If you want to connect with your customers, you need to create a plan.
First, get the foundations right and establish a conversation on social media channels. Consider whether or not it’s worth the time and effort to build up your Facebook page or Twitter account if you don’t already have one.
Then, once you have established a conversation and connection with people who are interested in what you do, start thinking about building a community of customers who feel like they can be part of something bigger than themselves by supporting and promoting your business online.
Create a space for people to engage with each other.
You’ve got a great product or service, but how do you get your customers to engage with each other? Or even better — with you? It all starts with creating a space for people to interact.
When done right, social media and email marketing can be powerful tools for driving conversations between your audience members and bringing together like-minded individuals who are excited about what you do. And if it is done right, that excitement will transfer over into trust and loyalty.
A blog is another excellent way to invite discussion among fans and followers. The more regular it is, the more engaged readers become (and more likely they will share their thoughts). Thought leadership is a great way to generate interest and assert your authority.
A forum offers an even more robust community experience by allowing comments on individual posts or topics within the broader conversation at large (and again—the more active this gets) while also giving your business some much-needed visibility on search engine results pages.
Owned platforms vs accessed platforms
A key factor to consider when devising community strategies and connecting with your customers is the specific platform that you decide to use. It’s true that existing platforms such as Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter are easily accessible and widely available, but they’re difficult to control.
It’s worth considering platforms that you can own, like Mighty networks or enterprise solutions like Verint. These platforms sit under your brand and allow you to run your community, courses, content, videos and other features all in one place. This allows you more control over the connection you have with your customers and also allows your customers to connect to each other in a more confidential space.
There’s also cross-channel conversation to be considered. Businesses need to consider the fact that customers will want to pick up the conversation wherever they are, and high consideration purchase customers will especially expect the best solution for their connections.
There’s a lot to be considered when choosing your platform, from functionality to cost and from integration to an interface. So choose wisely, but remember that, ultimately, it’s about what your customer will enjoy using the most – as well as what they’ll find easiest.
Knowing what your customers want will help you build a better relationship with them
You can engage your customers in a number of ways, and knowing what they want will help you build a better relationship with them. It's important to understand that customers want to feel like they are part of a community. By engaging them through social media channels and email marketing, you'll be able to nurture that feeling and encourage more frequent visits from your users.
Remember that, as much as possible, each interaction should be personalised for the individual customer. This doesn't mean it has to be lengthy or detailed (in fact, the opposite is true), but it does need some form of personalisation so that it feels like an individualised conversation rather than a mass-produced message sent out en masse by your company.
You can do this by using their name in emails or on social media posts, asking about any upcoming events (birthdays, weddings) or promotions (free shipping), and finding out if there are any other needs that could be met before making another purchase (promptly shipped orders).
Connecting with customers is a vital part of any business, but it can be difficult if you don't know where to start. By finding out what your customers care about and then creating an online space for them to engage with each other, you'll be able to build a stronger relationship with them.
Community strategy should complement any content strategy, with outreach and engagement going hand in hand with the content you’ve built around customer pain points. For more on maximising one of your biggest assets, try this on for size.