The secret to successful online marketing is ensuring that potential customers view you as a person or as personable instead of just a business entity. Social media platforms dramatically improve this issue (when done correctly), but how can we approach each new customer so that we can build a long-term relationship?
In online marketing, we use content to initiate a connection with a potential customer. Once we create that contact, our job is to maintain that contact by engaging them in our business and meeting their needs or keeping their interest. Once a relationship has been established, we need to enhance it. We can do this by providing customer service, by following-up with them once a product or service has been purchased, by providing answers to questions or by offering more long-term services (vs. only offering a one-time service or product). An example of this may be that instead of only offering web-design, you also offer monthly blog-articles, you offer monthly hosting or you offer monthly e-Newsletter services.
It is also important that when building relationships with customers that you are mindful of where they are in your buying cycle. There are 5 touch points during your business relationship, and your job as you market online is to provide interaction and engagement opportunities for customers along each point. Make sure you are using different forms of media and content to touch each of these 5 points.
Awareness- At this point, you should be using social media, word of mouth and other forms of advertising to reach out to potential customers, making them aware of your brand or company.
Consideration- When a potential customer is searching for a need to be met, you could be a top contender, along with a few other businesses. While a customer is considering which company to choose, they will search for testimonials, product reviews, blogs and articles referring to you and how well you respond to them (and previous customers).
Purchase- This is the stage at which a potential customer becomes a customer. Your website and your social commerce should be established and as user-friendly as possible. Their experience with you at this point will be a huge factor in determining whether or not they will return to you.
Service- When providing service to a customer after a purchase, your customer relationship management (CRM) skills should be finely-tuned. Social media, online messaging or forums, polls, email and direct responses and follow-up are all very important. Ensure that questions are answered promptly and thoroughly.
Loyalty- Keeping customers in the loop and involved with your business is a great way to establish loyalty. Offer information that is useful, helpful and relevant to your customers by utilizing eNewsletters, free webinars, writing blogs and engaging with them through social networks and forums.
Remember that content isn’t useful until it is discovered and shared, so create connections with your audience, build a reputation and a relationship with customers and encourage them to share information you provide.