Engaging with customers in the age of referrals
In today’s era of instant, infinite media, society has been flooded with advertisements, and each individual consumer is targeted for his/her business and loyalty. While sending a multitude of messages may be an effective way to reach your audience, it doesn’t guarantee that they will respond positively to them. A recent study shows that consumers are growing weary of online advertising, and as technology continues to advance, are finding new ways to negate the efforts of marketers. For instance, 71% of consumers find personalized and behaviour-based advertisements intrusive or annoying. Therefore, the method of communication you choose to interact with your customers is very important, as only the most specific channels will effectively reach them.
Source: MarketingTech Blog, Everyone hates advertising...does paid advertising still work?
This phenomenon was exemplified with Facebook in 2014, when they implemented specific changes to their algorithms. Once these changes, which included the limiting of newsfeed clutter, were in effect, growth of sales through social media stagnated. This meant that the Facebook content created by businesses themselves achieved a lower audience engagement compared to before the algorithm was changed. The only exception was content that was sponsored or promoted by the business, meaning they came at a high price. For small to medium sized business owners with low budgets, it became very expensive to reach potential customers, and the cost of trying to attract them outweighed the benefit.
So how does a business attempt to gain new customers when their marketing efforts are not as effective as they used to be? The solution lies in the hands of the existing customers. A study notes that 81% of shoppers conduct online research prior to making purchasing decisions, showing that word of mouth recommendations have always been a driving sales force. The rise of social networks has brought internet users together, and quickly connected millions to new brands through online recommendations.
Statistic source: SocialTimes, 81% of Shoppers Conduct Online Research Before Buying
This provides potential new customers with a way to access information about businesses from other consumers who have already used the products or services in question. It allows for consumers to speak on behalf of the brand, providing a sense of authenticity, rather than a marketed message. This explains why a study found that 78% of consumers don’t find brands open and honest and seek authenticity in the businesses they engage with. Therefore, businesses must be careful as customers can post positive or negative messages. Monitoring what your customers are saying online is a necessary thing to do, and getting to detractors before they write a negative review is even more important. While getting to these critics wasn’t as easy in the past, there are now solutions available, as explained further below.
With the increase in the potential of consumer-based promotion, businesses should work to foster a stronger relationship with their customers to gain their loyalty. To keep up with current trends, your business must find new ways to interact with your customers, to create a better in-store experience that would warrant them to return and speak positively on your behalf.
Over the years, we had many businesses utilize TapMango’s customer engagement platform and we are happy to share some tips on creating an innovative customer experience. You want to ensure that your business leaves a positive impression on your consumers. It is only when a customer feels like a business has presented an exceptional experience will they be willing to spread the word of what you have to offer.
While customer loyalty may start at the point of purchase, it spans far beyond this transaction. Following up with a consumer after the transaction is equally important, and creating a relationship with your customers is a crucial part of the process. Send your customers messages after their visits to your store to give them a reason to come back. By offering a positive customer experience, your customers will become loyal to your brand, and will want to come back to your store and write a positive review, especially with the incentives you offer them.
You can even tailor your message to specific groups of customers to make sure only relevant information is relayed to them. By categorizing your customers into groups, such as female clients at a hair salon, you can contact them with messages and promotions that are specific to their needs (for women, promotions on men’s haircuts are pure spam!). This is a great way for your customers to know that the messages you send will be suited to them.
Listen to Customers
In a situation where a customer has a negative experience with your business, it is best to identify them right away, and find ways to change their opinions of your brand. By implementing a survey system into your customer experience, it allows you to quickly find those who were unsatisfied, and presents an opportunity to improve their future experiences with your business. Time is an important factor for unhappy customers - you want to reach out to them as soon as possible. A digital survey lets you contact your customers right after their negative experience to react as fast as possible.
With a set-it and forget-it system, you can set it up once and then the whole process becomes fully automated. As an example, you can send a survey to go out automatically 2 hours after the purchase. To ensure your customers fill it out, you can provide an incentive for filling out the survey and results will flow in. The ultimate approach would be to know how your customers responded the next time they show up at your store. Surprise them with a 10% discount for coming back knowing last time they gave you a low score. We bet after that discount your score and sales will go up!
The best way to attract new customers is to have your existing customer spread the word! Whether it is a positive review on websites such as Yelp!, or a post on their social media page, this is an easy way to get exposure to a new network of potential customers. As our last blog noted, loyal customers make up roughly 20% of the total customer base, but generate roughly 80% of sales revenue. With this in mind, enticing your existing customers with referral incentives is a bonus to everyone involved. New people are introduced to your business, pre-existing customers are rewarded for their recommendation, and your client base can grow.
Creating a personal record of referrals for each customer allows their recommendations to be tracked, and each time someone they refer comes into the store, the referrer is automatically rewarded. Technology has allowed for this process to be integrated seamlessly, making it easy for everyone.
In the age of social media, customers are now voluntarily sharing information throughout the web about the products and services they use. This has become exceedingly important for small to medium sized business owners whose resources are scarce compared to Fortune 500 competitors. The way consumers speak of your business has become extremely powerful in today’s world, and maintaining a happy loyal customer base is the best way to keep good reviews coming. By using some of the techniques that are listed above, you can create a positive customer experience, continuing the cycle of word of mouth recommendations. When you connect is when you collect.
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