There are more people than ever online these days – the pandemic has definitely contributed to that as people are looking to buy things they can’t go out to get. But, mainly it’s because technology has improved and become so popular. Searching online for what you want, be that information or the latest gaming device, has never been easier or more accessible.
It seems to make sense that if you’re a small business, you absolutely must be on the online space. That could be with a website, blog, shop, or on social media channels. But with so many people trawling the internet, the competition for business is fierce and converting someone to a customer is a whole new ball game.
Customer engagement strategies are the answer, but what kind of strategies can you use to engage consumers and then convert them to buyers? Here’s a few ideas:
Maximise the customer experience (CX)
The customer experience is absolutely the key to any business and you should do everything you can to make your customers happy. They buy your products and services, so every single touchpoint needs to leave them with a ‘warm fuzzy’ feeling, not a ‘cold prickly’ one! The customer experience covers everything, from the very first time they come across your business, through the awareness stage, attraction, interaction, purchase, use of that purchase and of course support and promotion.
Customers are connecting more and more via mobile devices, so being found online is vital. You have just seconds to make a good impression, so your online business needs to be visually pleasing and impactful. It’s important to think about the how your customers will interact with you, so ensure that you are contactable and easy to do business with.
If you have employees that deal with your customers directly, make sure they understand the importance of excellent customer service. Everything they do will reflect on your business. Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hataway once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” This is so true, and quite a sobering thought.
Never underestimate Word Of Mouth Marketing (WOM)
A happy, satisfied customer will be loyal to your brand, and will do some of your marketing for you, by telling all their friends and family how good your products or services are. A satisfied customer will also give great reviews, which always helps your brand’s reputation and makes you stand out from the crowd. Word of Mouth Marketing is probably one of the oldest forms of marketing, but is still very much alive and kicking today!
Relate to your customers
Your customers want to feel that they are valued and important to you. So it’s absolutely crucial to understand their needs and to show that you care about them.
Don’t use a ‘one size fits all’ approach – they are all different. Respond to emails, messages and any communication promptly and positively. If there is something a customer is concerned about, address it immediately and try to work with them to find a solution.
Keep communications personal and make your customers fall in love with your business.
If you get a complaint or any negative feedback, do not ignore it. See it as a challenge to win the customer round…find out exactly what the complaint is – talk to the customer, by phone if possible. It may be a simple misunderstanding, but if it isn’t, do everything you can to solve the problem. Sometimes problems can’t be solved and if this is the case, apologise and give a refund or suggest an alternative…or give a discount for their next purchase.
How often do you surprise your customers? Surprising them means you do something that they’re not going to be expecting.
- That might be a phone call to welcome a new customer or to catch up with an old one.
- Send them a completely personalised email
- Give a free gift without expecting anything in return…an eBook, checklist, tips or advice
You could use a pop up to deliver a personalised message to a new customer to your website. If you’ve done the pop up well, it can encourage a potential customer to buy from you.
Use Social Media platforms
Most businesses are on social media platforms. And, as a business, you don’t have to be on them all; it would be far too much to manage! But choose two or three and learn everything you can about that platform. Then use those platforms as a tool.
- Use it to connect with your audience
- Identify questions that they need answers to
- Research other platforms, influencers in your niche and find out what problems people have – then you can solve them!
- Create content that speaks to your audience
Business pages on social media sites are not all about selling your services or products. It’s about engaging your audience. So use your posts to entertain, educate, engage and inspire. They will get to know you and your business and trust that you know what you’re talking about. And, they’ll also feel that you care about them, not just about the money they can throw your way. Be genuine and authentic!
Listen to your customers
This one is short and sweet, and says what it is on the tin. Listen to your customers. If you want to know something about your services or products, ask your customers. They are in the best position to answer you.
Send out a survey, and give a small incentive to respond. Send it to your customers, the recipients of your newsletter or followers to your blog.
You can also set up a survey and put a link to it on your social media pages. Ask your followers to do the survey and to share it with their friends and families.
Provide valuable content
You might write a blog or send out a regular newsletter. And you most likely do use social media. Ensure your posts or articles are valuable to your customers. As I have said previously, they should entertain, educate, engage or inspire. Ideas for posts could be:
- Introduce yourself and your business with a photo or video
- Share something personal or share a photo of your workspace
- Share an inspirational, funny or work related quote
- Create educational posts giving tips that will help them. For example, I am a small business marketing consultant, so I share tips that will help with marketing, or tips to help people grow their small business.
- Show that you are an expert in your niche or field.
- Ask questions – can be trivial or specific to something you want to know
- Create polls – again they can be fun or serious
- Use good images
- Use video
Above all, show your passion and share your enthusiasm for your business with your customers and potential customers. If you invest the time, effort and engagement into your business, your customers won’t be able to help but get caught up in your excitement and will want to be a part of that.