For anyone running a business, the web offers an unparalleled resource of information on how to attract new customers, build a social media presence and develop that all important brand awareness. While these are undoubtedly key areas that all businesses should know, many online articles tend to focus solely on how to create that initial engagement without then telling you how to maintain that engagement and even build on it over time.
Don’t get me wrong, new customers are fantastic. They give your business a lift, increase your brand presence to a new audience and bring in a good amount of sales that will keep you ticking over. Definitely a few things that aren’t bad for a business by any means. However, for those businesses that have become sustainable and continuously grown over a prolonged period of time, most will find that the majority of their revenue and total sales come not from first time customers, but those dedicated consumers who come back time after time.
So you’ve followed the basic steps laid out in other articles; you’ve created social media accounts, you’ve started doing some form of basic email marketing at prospect customers, you’re seeing a steady growth in your online presence but where do you go from here? While it’s important for a business to be unique in its output and engagement, there are a number of conventions and practices you should incorporate over time.
Always Consider Who Your Audience Is
When it comes to marketing, just like in everyday life, try not to treat everyone the same. Depending on the services you provide, you’re going to have different types of buyers as well as people who just haven’t bought from you at all, they simply found a reason to follow you on social media. Each one of these consumer demographics requires their own targeted message in order to create the levels of constant engagement your business needs. Sure a blanket campaign, engaging with everyone with the same messaging is an easier process and will reap some rewards, but it’s not going to appeal to everyone.
Whether it’s sending out emails, posting social media statuses or creating banners for your site, considering your audience and tailoring your output to reach these buyer groups is going to give you a more fruitful return in engagement and sales. Look at content you’ve posted which gained good traction as well as consumer buyer preferences, this will start to give you an insight into what your audience likes and how you can best engage with them. These tendencies will shift based on seasonality and public favor, but it’s up to you as a business to always be on the cusp and take advantage of these trend shifts.
Never Forget Who You Represent
Especially when engaging through social media, your tone is everything. Whether you’re answering a question, posting a new blog article or responding to a customer complaint, you should always remember to remain profession, courteous and helpful. After all, it’s not just that one person you’re talking to, you’re on a public platform with the eyes of all your customers and potential customers on you. At that moment you are the voice and public image of your business, how you act in that moment can have a lasting impression on its public perception. Forgetting this is one common pitfall that many small businesses fall in to. If you’re someone who has worked hard setting up your own business and getting it to where it is today, you’re business is going to be your baby and as such you may not take too kindly to someone criticizing something that means so much to you. Sadly, customer criticism in some form is unavoidable, even the best run businesses experience it on a daily basis to some degree, it’s just up to you to not let it affect your business as a whole and even try to turn it into a positive.
How you respond to your customers, relays trust, it offers reassurance, it tells anyone who purchases for you or is looking to buy for you: “We’re professional, we’re helpful and you can trust in us that we’ll fulfill all your buyer needs perfectly.” If you ignore criticism or fail to offer assistance within a suitable timeframe, all you’re going to do is make people hesitant to not only engage with you again in the future, but take advantage of any products or services you may be offering. No one can expect a business to be completely flawless and the vast majority do accept that some issues can occur along the way. Being able to show that you are attentive and work hard as a business to deal with the issues that do crop can be just as good, from a public perception, as a raving 5 star review. Although I’m sure we’d still all rather have the glowing feedback!
The More You Give, The More You Get…Most Of The Time
A lot of businesses think that as they’ve got a website and set up their social media pages, customers should automatically be flocking in their masses. I think most of us by now know this isn’t the case. If you don’t go and drag them kicking and screaming to your various platforms, they’re just not going to come. However, rather than making it a Romanesque conquest and forcing them to go somewhere they don’t want to, give them something they want, make it so they have no choice, they have to come to your store, they have to look at the content you’ve created. This means creating blog articles, images, videos, competitions, discounts and offers, literally anything you can think of that’s going to make people take notice. The more content you create, the more chance you have of finding that gem that appeals to a user and compels them to explore further.
Although a constant stream of content is a large contributing factor in creating long lasting engagement, try not to overdo it. A blog article every few days, some pictures here and there or a video every couple of weeks keeps your content fresh while also ensuring you stay relevant, always at the forefront of your audience’s minds. If you produce your content too frequently you run the risk of saturating your output so that it no longer holds the same entertaining and informative draw that it previously did. As such it will only serve to bug your followers rather than give them content that they want, undoing all the hard work you’ve previously done in getting their attention.
While some content too often can be harmful, the one type of content that goes completely against this convention is sales and discounts. No matter who your audience is one thing’s for sure; they love a good bargain. Any discount, promotion or offer you run is going to be met with open arms by all of your followers. In fact, the vast majority of social media users will follow a business purely to keep up to date with any offers and promotions they’re running. If you have an audience that has even the slightest interest in the services and products you provide, you’re eventually going to hit them with the right offer than compels them to buy. Discounts and promotions provide two angles of attack on your consumer audience; it entices users to become first time buyers and it’s also going to keep you in the mind of your existing customers to help transition them into regular buyers. You just need to be sure that the type and frequency of your offers don’t hinder your bottom line.
About the Author:
John is a marketing executive for Workwear Express and has been a passionate writer of marketing and business articles for a number of years.