The Internet is not a soap box. Many businesses make the mistake of only giving information without seeking any response. A truly effective brand encourages audience participation, and while starting online conversations can be difficult, the benefits of having direct access to your customers are well worth the effort. Here are some of the best strategies and tools to start and manage conversation.
Social media provides a channel of communication between you and your audience. The conversations you create on social media platforms can funnel traffic back to your website. Use social media as your buzz-generator, the solid first impression of your brand. Social media can also be used to hunt conversation. It is often difficult to start a discussion unless a customer is navigating through your website or on your page.
With social media you can look for potential customers and engage them directly: follow them, message them, mention them, etc. Keep your interactions short, positive and consistent with your brand. A simple, “It’s great to meet you! Feel free to explore www.website.com and let us know if you need anything!” could work wonders for how a customer feels about your company.
A lot of companies will use incentives or give awards through social media. This is a great way to engage customers who really have their eye on the brand — usually more loyal buyers. It’s a great idea for companies to send their followers coupon codes or other deals as a reward. A message like, “Thanks for re-tweeting us! Please use coupon code ‘RTcompany456’ for a 15% discount on your next purchase. Have a great day!” will make customers feel appreciated for their loyalty.
Having a comment section on your website encourages your customer’s voice. Testimonials do this as well; they tell potential customers that you care about how your products affect them, even after the purchase. However, just receiving comments is not a conversation. If a website wants to yield page space to make comments possible then it has to be committed to the conversation. Comment back, answer customer concerns and questions directly and in the open. If you respond to a customer query then they’ll be instantly impressed by your commitment to the conversation and your interest in them.
Never stop the conversation; it could be impossible to get it started again. When visitors come to your site they should be greeted with fresh content. Give them more things to see, read and comment on as frequently as possible. Your site can easily feature event information, a calendar or a “What’s New” section that can be constantly fresh. You want users to look to your site as a trusted source of up-to-date information on the topic.
It’s important to make sure users can get to your freshest and most popular content first. Use a tool like crazyegg or Clickheat to see where your guests are clicking. These tools show a heat map of were your guests click the most. This will tell you if your buttons and navigation are clear.
Get To Know Your Audience
Remember, these suggestions are only the first steps in starting a conversation with your customers. Take the time to explore who your audience is. How do they communicate? What inspires them to buy your products or services? What keeps them coming back? Always make listening a priority. Social media, comments and fresh content are useless without a strong, active voice behind them.
What tools do you use for customer engagement?
Danielle Russell has a passion for web design and finding new ways to incorporate a wide array of technologies, like social media, text marketing and the latest advances in HTML and CSS to create an integrated, user-friendly experience.