Businesses don’t exist in a bubble. If you can’t successfully gain loyal clients, your business will slowly run dry. You can have a brilliant sales pitch, but if you can’t successfully engage with your potential clients, no one will care about your great service or product.
Nowadays the virtual online world, is just as important as the real world. You might be a great sales person when dealing with a potential client face to face. But if you can’t transpose that energy into an online persona, you’ll miss out on a huge market segment. Two brands can offer exactly the same product or service, yet one is highly successful and the other remains average. The difference between successful and status quo, can be seen in how you engage with your audience online.
People make decisions based on their emotions, not logic. You may think you’ve rationalised buying that new pair of shoes. But in actual fact, your emotions made the decision for you, long before you started reasoning with yourself about the price and the quality.
If you can sucessfully pull at people’s heartstrings, half your sale is already completed. To effectively engage with your audience online, make sure you are closely acquainted with your target audience. Also, people like doing business with people. It’s a challenge to bring across the human element in a virtual world, but it is not impossible.
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If you can introduce yourself to your potential customers in a personal way, they will already feel more eager to do business with you. Instead of keeping information on your website and social media pages purely professional, add a tasteful personal touch to it. For instance, tell people why you are passionate about the service of product you are marketing. What made you decide to start the business? Add little bios of your team members on your website.
Another simple trick to use, is to respond to people on social media with a face linked to the brand. Instead of using your company name and logo, use the profile of a team member to respond to a comment or question. This way you engage with your audience online from a human angle than a corporate angle.
How do you build a community? The same way that you get to know someone new in real life. Just think about the usual social protocol when you meet someone new at a party. You will want to get to know them, by asking a few personal questions. Try to follow the same steps for your business.
You could also create a brand ambassador. For instance, Apple had Steve Jobs. This way your potential customers will feel like they are doing business with a person, not simply a faceless corporation. Consider creating an online forum where people can directly engage with you. Or take advantage of social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.
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People like feeling important and useful. If you can create a way to collaborate more closely with your customers, embrace it. You could consider adding a page to your website, or posts on your social media, which showcases customers with complementing skills or products to your own.
Include customers when celebrating milestones. Each year for your birthday, you can create special exclusive offers for loyal customers. On bigger birthdays, such as 5 or 10 years, consider creating a big event where your team can interact with customers.
Also, invite feedback from your customers. Create focus groups to test out a new app or website feature, or simply to find out if you are hitting the mark with your service or product. As a thank you for the feedback, you can offer a small gift or discount. This way you make your customers feel both important and appreciated.
To engage with your audience online, think outside the virtual world box. There’s nothing like the VIP treatment to make people feel special. Even something small like a 10% off coupon for new newsletter subscribers can do the trick. Or consider releasing exclusive content or deals on your website for a limited time only. Keep people in the loop with a timely email, or social media post. This way you kill two birds with one stone. Firstly, you engage with your audience online, and secondly you create more loyalty when they regularly visit your website or social media pages.
This doesn’t have to be a real-world event. Create a webinar or use a service like meetup.com. It’s a great way for your customers to engage with your company, plus you are also offering them an opportunity to network with other customers.
If your company offers local services or products, hosting a real event can be a great way for you to transition from the virtual world into the real world, offering your customers a chance to engage with you face to face. Both types of events create a great sense of community, as well as making people feel important because they were specifically invited. Also look out for trade show or exhibition opportunities in your industry.
Building on the idea of offering exclusive content, create a competition to make people work a little bit for the free stuff. You can also gather a great deal of personal information from your customers this way. But don’t ask too many questions, or people will feel like you are just turning the competition into a marketing scheme.
With the wonder of technology, there are many ways to create interactive competitions. Ask people to upload photos to Facebook or Instagram, write a little service/product review, or like and share a post. Use the power of social media to your advantage. A voting contest is also a great way to engage with your audience online.