It’s one thing to get a customer to buy from you one time, but another challenge altogether to keep them as a recurring client. By fostering stronger connections with your clients, you can encourage them to remain loyal to you even in the face of strong competition.
Today’s consumers are bombarded with ads, marketing communications, and sponsored content all day long. Needless to say, the competition is fierce, no matter what niche you operate in. This makes loyalty all the more valuable because loyal customers are less likely to be swayed by marketing messages from your competitors.
So, how can you build those strong connections that will pay off and enable you to grow your business over the long term? That’s exactly what we’ll cover in this article.
Social media marketing is a powerful strategy that ensures your business stays top of mind for your ideal customers. It also gives you the opportunity to engage directly with your target audience at scale in a way that wasn’t previously possible. This lets you grab their attention and forge meaningful, authentic connections with people.
If you’re not sure how to get Instagram followers or build fan bases on other platforms in the first place, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Use your brand voice. The more your brand’s personality is conveyed through both the images and text that you use, the more your target customer is likely to delight in your content and decide to follow you.
- Always experiment. While sticking to your brand voice, try out different types of images, caption lengths, and content ideas. This is the only way to see what resonates with your target audience so you can deliver more of what they love.
- Engage! Make a daily practice of responding to comments and liking other content on your social platforms. Every engagement is another opportunity for your target customer to discover you or have your brand reinforced in their minds.
- Use a social media bulk scheduling and analytics tool to ensure your output is consistent and that you get the most out of your social channels, without having to spend time manually posting content every day.
- Delete inactive channels. For example, if you created a Twitter account but have never tweeted, it’s generally better not to have an inactive account gathering dust on the internet. Stick to the social media platforms that make sense for your business.
Your website content provides an opportunity to demonstrate to your ideal customer that you understand their needs and know exactly what makes them tick. If your content shows that you understand them, that target customer is far more likely to feel connected to your business. Everyone likes to feel seen, and great content marketing can do that for your audience base.
One of the best ways you can show your target customer that you understand them is by creating content that addresses their pain points and common questions.
Here are some proven ways you can do this.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth even more. Explainer videos enable you to address specific questions or concerns in the level of depth and detail that makes sense for your audience, product, or service. Often, it’s much more convenient for your target customers to watch a well-made and informative explainer than to dig around for information about how to use your product or service, so it’s well worth the effort to create them.
Your blog is the perfect place to cover subjects that require a bit more room than, say, a social media caption. Blog posts can address common questions or concerns that customers have, which is helpful whether they come across the content themselves or your customer service staff refers them to it.
To give you inspiration, here’s a great example of a blog post from the outstaffing company YouTeam.
Given their niche, the difference between outsourcing and outstaffing is likely a topic they frequently get asked about. Now, a prospect browsing their blog and wondering the same thing will find the perfect piece of content, while another prospect contacting YouTeam for clarification will see that the company is prepared with exactly the information they’re looking for.
To create this kind of content for your business, consulting with your customer service team is an excellent place to start. They’ll be able to tell you what the most common questions are, so you can publish the most appropriate content.
Particularly (but not exclusively) for SaaS companies, courses that coach your client base in how to get the most out of your product offer a great way to make customers more comfortable using it. As it becomes a more important part of their lives, the more loyal they are likely to be to your company.
For example, check out Canva’s design school series.
A platform like Canva is likely to be used by customers for a wide range of reasons, from non-profit marketing to magazine design. These customers will have unique needs, so offering mini courses means every customer segment can find content that covers their concerns.
When taking this approach, don’t be afraid to niche down and get specific about who the content is for. This will show that you truly understand everyone who might be interested in your products or services.
Let’s face it: the internet is a noisy and distracting place. So, one of the best ways to grab the attention of your target customer is with personalized marketing techniques. Not only will you cut through the noise, but you’ll also help your customers to feel more connected to your business.
So what is personalized marketing, exactly? Essentially, it’s an approach to marketing that uses analytics to give customers a marketing experience that responds to their needs, preferences, behaviors, or demographics.
Marketers have recognized the effectiveness of personalization and implemented it in many successful campaigns you might recognize, such as Coca-Cola’s Share A Coke campaign that invited customers to find bottles emblazoned with their names or the names of loved ones to purchase.
Luckily, there are plenty of tech solutions for online businesses that make personalization possible at scale, making promotions more effective.
Email marketing platforms, for instance, enable businesses to use personalized marketing techniques that go beyond just putting a customer’s name in the subject line of an email. Data such as how much they have spent in the past, the time of their last purchase, or their recent browsing activity can all be taken into account to ensure they get the right marketing message via email at the right time.
It’s important to remember that personalization doesn’t necessarily mean using a customer’s name in a marketing communication: it also refers to using data to better segment and target your audience, so that everyone gets marketing communications that are best suited to them, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing.
For example, someone who has browsed the same product on your website several times might receive an email with a custom offer for that product, or a customer’s birthday could trigger a free gift. Sephora’s birthday gift is an example of personalized marketing that is very popular every year.
If you really want to wow your customers with personalized promotions, another technology you can employ is personalized video creation platforms like Bonjoro. These allow you to create quick videos that you send to new leads or customers, so why not create a video to send to a customer segment inviting them to enjoy a new promotion?
You don’t have to create a custom video for every customer – that wouldn’t be feasible – but sending a video to your most engaged customers can be an effective way to get them excited about a new promotion.
Giving customers a peek behind the curtain to see how things are done behind the scenes at your business can help them feel more connected to your company and more inclined to trust you. Behind-the-scenes content offers a great way to humanize your business and make it more memorable.
A business youtube channel can be a great venue for this kind of content, since you can put together videos that might be too long for other social media channels.
For example, Lush Cosmetics’ How It’s Made series on Youtube gives curious customers a look at how their popular bath bombs and other products are made, which reminds customers of the hand-made, artisanal quality of the products.
Another idea is to create Instagram posts, which could feature videos, photos, or some combination of both in a carousel, giving people a tour of your workspace or store location, like Lego does here.
One thing both of these examples do that is worth keeping in mind is that they’re unscripted. Behind-the-scenes content should feel authentic and somewhat off the cuff, so don’t worry about polishing your content too much before posting it!
Requesting feedback from your customers is a great exercise in transparency and demonstrates that you truly care about their opinions and experiences.
The same is true for responding to reviews and feedback. Even a negative review can turn into a positive brand impression if you respond quickly and respectfully, acknowledging the problem and offering a solution if possible. Positive reviews should also get a response because it helps customers feel valued and strengthens their positive impression. Whether you have onsite reviews, app reviews, or reviews on third-party sites, make a habit of responding to them regularly.
Displaying reviews or testimonials on your website is a powerful way of communicating to prospects that your business is trusted and creates happy customers. There are lots of ways you can do this, depending on what makes sense for your business.
For example, take a look at how AdWords Nerds display testimonials from their happy clients.
For service businesses, testimonials are particularly powerful because they help prospects envision themselves getting the same results that previous clients have had. Prospects can further research each of these cases if interested, and judge their success for themselves.
For product-based businesses, like Joy Organics, displaying star-ratings is a must.
Seeing a good average star rating will pique your prospective customers’ interest, then being able to click through and read related written reviews provides a look at what people are actually saying, including if they’ve given any less-than-5-star ratings. This combination is particularly powerful because it communicates trustworthiness and transparency.
You might feel tempted to remove your less-than-stellar ratings, but it’s a good idea to resist that temptation. A large number of positive reviews along with some average or even negative reviews will appear more trustworthy than only 5 star reviews, which might make customers think the reviews are fake.
User-generated content is, as the name suggests, content created by real users of your product or service. This type of content has become increasingly important as customers have grown immune to highly-produced studio content. It not only resonates with audiences but also invites your existing customers to forge stronger relationships with your business by creating their own content with your products.
Further, by regularly sharing UGC, you communicate to your audience that you really care what they think and that you’re grateful for them and their support.
To encourage your customers to send you UGC, you can try the following techniques:
- Create a brand hashtag encouraging customers to create content and tag it for others to discover
- Run an influencer campaign and share their content, which will encourage their fans to create similar content
- Run a contest that your followers can enter by creating UGC and tagging you
- Post signage at your location encouraging customers to create UGC
- Share UGC on your social channels and website, which will encourage others who also want their content to be shared to create it and tag you
When it comes to UGC, it’s just important to remember that you need permission from the creator to use it. A simple message will usually suffice. If you’re running a contest, make it clear that entries can be used as UGC.
Exercise clothing brand Outdoor Voices has an example of an excellent hashtag campaign for generating UGC. They use their brand slogan #doingthings as a hashtag, inviting customers to share images of themselves out and about wearing their gear.
Consider creating and promoting a hashtag that similarly encourages your customers to take photos when they would already be using your product or service. The more authentic your UGC feels, the better it will be for forging stronger connections with your customers.
Your UGC doesn’t have to live only on your social media channels, either — your website is another great place to use it. For instance, the furniture retailer Article gets it right with their Article At Home section.
Seeing the furniture pieces in real homes rather than just in marketing images and renderings helps customers connect to the product and envision the pieces in their own homes, while anyone who has their image shared will feel particularly appreciated.
In an ever more crowded online world, standing out requires that you build strong relationships with your clients. The tips we’ve discussed here give you actionable ways to make your customers feel more connected to your brand, so they don’t jump ship for the competition at the first opportunity.
Author bio & headshot:
Aaron Haynes is CEO and co-founder of Loganix. The company is an SEO fulfillment partner for digital marketing agencies and professionals, which provides the services businesses need to improve their online visibility and grow. If you liked this article, check out the Loganix blog, where you’ll find more SEO guides full of expert advice.