Connecting With Your Customers

Connecting with your customers is important. It isn’t enough to just reel them in with advertising. There was a time when maintaining a customer base was as simple as having a brand and offering the occasional sale. Now, customers expect more from the businesses they bring their patronage to, and the world wide web sees to it that they have options. The best strategy for keeping your customers close is to build a relationship with them and make them feel welcome, often in their own homes over the internet. The following are four best practices to follow for keeping your customers in touch and happy to be loyal.

It’s a matter of common debate whether one should rely on an old-fashioned mailing list, a Facebook page, a Google+ page, a dedicated in-house network, a Twitter account, a blog or any other social media outlet. Most of these debates center around what the most effective individual unit of online connection is. The truth is in all and none of these answers: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. It’s best to utilize multiple services in different ways appropriate to their individual function. For instance, Twitter is an excellent interface through which to either report up-to-the-minute developments or a steady trickle of interesting factoids. Facebook and other social networks are great places to reap live, unfiltered feedback and respond to it if you have the ability to maintain the pages. If you are operating a more professional organization, however, you may find that it’s best to rely on e-mail, or even snail mail.

In any case, it’s very important that in addition to not betting it all on one service you shouldn’t expect customers to be on top of every service you offer. Don’t hound them about Twitter with Facebook. Don’t use Twitter to get them on your mailing list. Let them join the services they actually use; they’ll get more out of the connection if making it was “their idea”.

There are many kinds of content you can provide. The best two are infographics and lists. Infographics are visual organizations of useful or interesting information. Lists are simply lists, whether they’re top three, top five, top ten or top twenty lists. Infographics generally need to be created by qualified graphic artists, and this can make them expensive if you don’t have a creative team in-house. Lists can be generated by anyone capable of writing an e-mail, however. The longer the list, the shorter the factoids should be. These easily draw people in without demanding great amounts of attention, so they’re actually excellent for getting across more complex ideas, albeit in easy-to-digest pieces.

The best time to contact customers depends on what you’re trying to communicate. If you’re trying to interest them in simple information, the best time to put it forward is either Friday or Sunday, depending on when other businesses in your field are likely to release information. You don’t want to get buried under their postings and missives. If you want them to make an online purchase, put your notifications out between Tuesday and Thursday, which are widely reported as the best times to make an online order.

The last element is more of a guiding principle. Always question whether a posting provides value to your customers or if it simply seems like a likely way to attract business. Good advertising provides value in the form of information or offered opportunity and consequently attracts business. Never go for a hard sale with advertising; internet users are too jaded.

These are merely four best practices. You’ll find that your own customers have their own wants and needs, and you should follow these as best you can. However, these are the basics you need to keep in mind when determining what it is they want. Hold to these at the minimum and you’ll be miles ahead of competitors that have failed to extend their customers the same respect.