Customer engagement strategies in the real world might include placing ads, putting up signage, and participating in community outreach. The idea, of course, is not only to gain awareness and entice visitors into your store, but to strike up a conversation so that you can find out what customers want and form personal relationships that turn into patronage. And while the tactics may differ in the online arena, the goals are mostly the same. Your end goal, if you’re like most businesses, is to make sales so that you can support your professional venture. And in order to do that in cyberspace you need to find ways to engage your customers. It’s not enough to get them in the door; you need to make them want to stay, return, and recommend you to their friends so that you can increase future sales. So here are a few tactics you may want to employ.
1. Offer opportunities to connect. You may be able to form a connection with some people based solely on the quality of your content, but most customers want more – they crave personal interaction. And it’s your job to find ways to open the lines of communications. The basics include contact information such as a phone number and email address for customers that have questions, concerns, complaints, or even accolades. But you might also want to offer a live chat feature that lets them ask or say what they need to with the instant gratification provided by live customer support staff (and no automated system to toggle through).
2. Manage social media outlets appropriately. Social media platforms offer an excellent venue for customer engagement, mainly because most people are set up to receive communiques at any hour and any location thanks to alerts on their mobile devices. The trick is to manage your social profiles accordingly, and this is where many businesses fall short. It takes a lot of time and effort to effectively manage Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and any other accounts you use. And when you have a business to run, you simply might not have the bandwidth. For this reason you should consider hiring a community manager to handle the job for you. It will free you up to run your business while ensuring that your followers don’t feel neglected or alienated.
3. Humanize your brand. One of the latest goals for many companies operating online is to shed the mantle of being a nameless, faceless corporation and become an organization made up of people who care about customers and want to interact with them. Even more than providing customers with stellar products and services, putting a human face (or several) on your brand can help convince consumers to invest in you on a personal level. So post worker bios on your website, encourage employees to blog, Tweet, and participate in social media on behalf of the company (within set guidelines, of course), and make your corporate family the face of your brand.
4. Keep the conversation open. The trick with engaging customers is that you have to keep the conversation going, and the onus falls on you to do so. This could mean updating your Twitter feed regularly, posting new content to your website or blog frequently, and even creating viral video campaigns to keep customers interested. But you need to provide some kind of value, so keep your efforts informative, entertaining, or ideally, both.
5. Utilize metrics. One of the best parts of operating online is the opportunity to track your efforts via metrics so that you can analyze the data and figure out how to improve. It’s nice to start with planning a website, signing up for social media, and using business directory software. But from there you need to move on to tracking the fruits of your labor. If you want to keep customers engaged and ultimately, make more sales, you need to keep track of hits and misses.
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