Having strong online relationships is key to gaining and keeping customers. It’s about developing and nurturing trust between your business and your customer. A more personal approach is always going to garner more loyalty than merely pushing sales pitches.
Here are some tips on how to build these kinds of online relationships to keep your customer coming back to you:
1. Be yourself
First and foremost, it’s important to be yourself when doing anything online. People have a tendency to try to create an alter-ego for their online persona, more of a brand than a person. But this won’t help you create authentic relationships with prospective customers. You’re trying to build trust and convince people to buy from you and your business. They won’t do this if you’re not genuine. People can easily search for and find out about you and your business online, so being likeable and authentic is more likely to make them want to deal with you.
2. Your website
Your website is the home of your online presence. It should be welcoming and give a clear picture of what you’re offering. There are two main things your website should do; the first is give your customer a clear call-to-action, so they know what the next step is. Your website is the first port-of-call for a customer to do business with you, you have to make sure that they know how they go about it.
The second is to give your customer a way to contact you easily. Do you have your contact details clearly presented on your website, or does your customer have to wade through entire pages before they can find them? If it’s the latter, make your contact details more easily available. Don’t just have an email address and phone number either. Have links to your social media accounts so that customers can contact you there also.
3. Interact on social media
Social Media is probably the most important part of your online relationships. Websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ are the easiest ways for a customer to find and contact you, and for you to find and contact your customers. There are so many ways to interact with people on these platforms, through liking, sharing and retweeting content.
It’s not about just sharing your products on social media, however. It’s important to make sure that you’re not spamming your followers with constant product information and marketing. You need to interact on a more personal level. This comes back to making sure you’re being genuine and authentic with your online presence. Follow your own interests and share content from others that you find engaging. Comment on things that you enjoy and interact with people who have the same interests. This will start conversations with like-minded people who are more likely to look at your profile and inquire into your business. It’s also possible that by sharing other people’s content, they are more likely to share yours as well.
4. Respond (Quickly)
This is especially important when the customer has contacted you with a problem. The quicker you can solve the problem, the less likely you are to lose them as a customer. Customer relationships are all about trust and you need to reassure them that you’re there and willing to help. Make sure you respond to them politely and efficiently and they’re also less likely to be annoyed that the problem arose in the first place.
5. Stay in touch
Your customer needs to remember you. They’re not going to be buying all the time, so when the time comes that they do want to buy, you have to be the person they think of. Staying in touch with your customers is important to nurturing a relationship. This can be done through email, by sending tailored content to keep them interested. Even just sending an article you think might be useful or them, or congratulating them on a recent achievement. This shows that you’re interested in the customer and that you care about them personally, which will make them more likely to want to keep working with you.
6. Ask for feedback
You need to make your customer feel important. Show them that you care about their opinions by asking for their feedback. Send them a survey after they have done business with you to find out what they were happy and unhappy with. Have a call-to-action on your website that welcomes customer feedback. You might find something that you didn’t realize was an issue and needs changing. And if a customer can see that you have done something to change it, they will feel appreciated and listened to, and more likely to do business with you again.
7. Follow-up offline
Good online relationships are important, but meeting face to face makes the relationship all the more solid. Personal interaction makes it easier to keep the trust that the online relationship has built. Make the transition from online to offline as smooth as possible. If you know an online contact will be at the same conference as you, make a point of introducing yourself. If you find out that they’re going to be in your town, invite them for coffee or lunch to introduce yourself. They’re more likely to think of you next time they want to do business if you have made the effort to keep the customer relationship strong.
The online world is more popular than ever when it comes to people doing business, and it’s important to utilize it properly if you want to keep your customers happy and loyal to you. Connecting to people and keeping these connections strong is the best way to do this. Build trust with your customer and they are far more likely to keep coming back to you.