3 Simple Ways To Cement Customer Relationships – Forbes


Here are three ways to build relationships with your customers that are more scalable than a brunch invitation.Getty

Not long ago, the thought of receiving a direct message from a business seemed absurd. That’s all changed. Facebook Messenger hosts 8 billion business-to-customer messages every day, and that app and others — including WeChat and WhatsApp — allow users to summon a cab, pay an electric bill or order a pizza, all with the help of a friendly chatbot.

The future is here, and it’s all about personal engagement. Consumers are tired of static ads and sales pitches; they want direct, meaningful access to their favorite brands. That’s great news for brands as long as they can learn the ropes of relationship-building before they start bombarding their audiences with direct messages.

Communication Drives Relationships

In a crowded online space (to put it mildly), companies are desperate to differentiate themselves. The fastest and most effective way to stand out is to develop personal connections with your target audience. Of course, most companies can’t afford to invite every prospective customer out for brunch. So, brands need to figure out how to create personal bonds in a scalable way.

That might sound difficult, but it’s not optional. Today’s consumers expect their favorite brands to provide personalized, authentic communications. Accomplishing that requires businesses to know what their customers want and how to talk to them without coming off as robotic, bland or (on the flip side) unnervingly overinformed.

When brands communicate effectively with consumers, they set the stage for other marketing initiatives to succeed. Content marketing, for instance, is one of the most vital components of any marketing strategy, but many brands struggle to get their content noticed — even when it’s great. At Acceleration Partners, content development is a huge part of our marketing platform, but instead of focusing on selling, we concentrate first and foremost on creating value for our customers, partners and prospects. A great example of this is my Friday Forward inspirational newsletter, that now has over 50,000 global followers. It’s not about our business.

As in all relationships, good communication is critical to the bond between brands and customers.

How To Develop Better Audience Relationships

The only thing brands have to do to keep their customers happy is to create authentic, personally relevant bonds with each one. No problem, right?

Fortunately, it’s not as difficult as it sounds. Customers understand that brand ambassadors will not be scheduling coffee dates. All people want is functional service and a little reassurance that they’re worth more to you than a few bucks.

Follow these tips to build better relationships and keep your audience engaged.

1. Offer direct access.

Is a third party, such as a retailer or social platform, making it hard for you to hear what your customers are saying? Maybe you should cut out the middleman. Give your audience direct access to your brand by opening a channel through which they can ask questions, get information and interact with your company more directly.

Glossier, a beauty brand that made its name on Instagram, has begun shifting its focus away from the social media platform in favor of its own consumer communications. Intermediaries such as Facebook and Instagram are great, especially for brands just starting out, but companies can get even more personal with audiences through owned channels (such as company apps and websites) that provide direct access.

2. Show some emotion.

Everyone loves a feel-good story. Give audiences a reason to care, and they will pay more attention to you. You’ll get bonus points if you can show that you care about a cause that’s important to them.

For example, WeAreTeachers recently threw a teacher shower for Dwayne Reed, a first-year teacher who needed school supplies to stock his classroom. WeAreTeachers (which is owned by MDR, a division of Dun & Bradstreet) is an online media site dedicated to supporting educators. The shower, sponsored by office supply company Quill, helped the WeAreTeachers brand build emotional connections with its target audience.

The educators in the WeAreTeachers audience are used to spending about $500 out of pocket on school supplies every year, so this heartwarming story connected directly to a familiar struggle. WeAreTeachers invited Joe Dombrowski, a popular influencer and fellow educator, to make the event even more special and deepen connections through a familiar face.

3. Educate through content.

The old adages “Content is king” and “There’s no such thing as too much content” are surprisingly relevant to relationship-building. Audiences connect to brands when brands enrich their lives somehow, and much of that enrichment occurs through content.

To keep audiences coming back for more, develop a consistent stream of educational and entertaining content. Host webinars, write blog posts and create how-to videos about the problems your products or services solve. Mint, for instance, offers a whole library of financial literacy content that keeps its audience savvy about budgeting tips and market trends. The content is not about the company, it’s about users and what they need.

Audiences are ready to listen, but is your brand speaking their language? Use these guidelines to create more meaningful connections and provide a source of differentiation for your company in a crowded marketplace.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)


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