Communication is currently the baseline for creating strong, lasting relationships with one another in every aspect of life. It’s a necessity in creating a successful brand, however, most of them still don’t know how to reach their customers effectively.
Communication is, most simply put, an exchange of facts, ideas, opinions or emotions by two or more persons. At the same time, it’s the only thing that allows us to connect with people. And with the rapid development of technology circa 1940s, there are no boundaries of human connection. We use social media, phones, and emails to send updates, build awareness and talk. Creating better connections is also one of the most important aspects of strong marketing tactics. Still, the art of effective communication can be elusive for some. That’s why we created a comprehensive guide on how and why you need to connect with your customers to improve your business.
Why should I stay in touch with customers?
The answer is simple - to improve. There are a few different ways that you can make better products or services. Connecting with the customers is hands down the best one. Below are three main reasons why keeping in touch with your recipients is so important.
You may think that you alone are responsible for advancements in your company. Sure, there are employees that can weigh in on the changes. Still, all the decisions are being made only by people working in the company, not outside of it. It is true that you have a deciding vote on the services and products you want to sell. However, considering your audience as an important part of decision-making is critical. Opening a dialogue with a customer can give you a fresh perspective that you and your coworkers are unable to provide because you are too attached to the brand.
If you don’t listen to the audience they may turn away from the product, as it didn’t meet their expectations. At the same time, if you never asked them about their experiences, you will never know what issues there could have been. The problem will stay but customers won’t.
Have you ever purchased a product from a company you’ve never heard of, without any hesitation? Or did you check the reviews and opinions online to make sure this is a reliable business? I’m guessing most of you are doing the latter. Afterall nobody likes spending their hard-earned money on poor products or services offered by a shady brand.
Now, imagine it would be your business, that would receive negative reviews from unhappy clientele. If you choose to ignore these reviews, it can break your traffic count or even worse. It can make you close the company down completely. Communicating and connecting with customers no matter if happy or upset, can build your reputation. And all it takes is to simply reach out.
An important part for every brand is gaining trust among its audience. With established credit, customers are more likely to make multiple purchases, support the company and recommend it to other people. But that is not all.
Nowadays trust is something more than just sales. According to the Edelman study more than 81%, when asked about top factors they consider while making a purchase, stated that they “must be able to trust the brand to do what is right”. That means that the majority of consumers have high expectations of the companies they trust. Currently, businesses should take a stance, on various issues like the environment, free speech and so on. A simple advertisement doesn’t cut it anymore. Consumers need to have a dialogue with a brand in order to trust it.
What are the rules of successful communication?
Reaching out to your audience is one thing. How you’re connecting with customers is a completely separate issue. You see, it’s not only a matter of sending a quick email and calling it a day. There is a set of rules you need to follow in order to maintain a lasting relationship that won’t cross any boundaries. Lucky for you, we listed the most important rules of successful communication etiquette that, if you should obey, will greatly improve your delivery.
You might be tempted to send a few emails a day to your recipients, in order to entice them with new offers and updates. After all, they subscribed, so they must be interested in every little thing that happened on your page. On the contrary. This behavior is the easiest way to land your emails straight to customers’ spam folder. And as soon as a customer will mark your email as spam, you can be sure that sending your next messages will be a waste. Instead, opt-in to follow some tips to avoid the spam folder and resist the urge to launch four campaigns at once.
Inform in advance
If you have ever set up a meeting with a friend for a specific time, you know how impolite it is to show up late without letting the other person know. It’s exactly the same when it comes to the relationship between the brand and a consumer. If you are making any changes to the product, your policies or the address of your headquarters, it’s only right to let your customers know in advance. Especially if by updating your terms, some of the users might be at risk of getting banned or terminated. If you fail to do so, they might reconsider using your products, due to your lack of transparency. Furthermore, such practices can backfire and because of one rapid decision, you could lose more than just one person.
Also, it’s best to keep any emails related to changes clear, so the recipient will know what happens right away. Trying to “hide” such information can have a negative impact on your reputation as well.
We currently live in modern times, where most of the things happen instantly or with a 24-hour delay at best. Anything longer than that makes us impatient, and we are more prone to abandon it for the sake of faster alternatives. That’s why it’s necessary to reply to your customers as fast as possible and ideally, with all requested information. If it’s a more complicated case and you know that you won’t be able to help them with everything right away, it’s better to let them know that you got the message and are working on it. Bottom line is, you should always let the customer know, even if you don’t have all the answers. Without your confirmation, a consumer might think, you’ve never received their message and simply move on to competition.
Speaking of competition, the market can be quite saturated, depending on the type. It can offer similar products, and due to this, customer rotation is hard to avoid. However, even with users coming and going, it’s a great practice to make a lasting impression, by always appreciating their visit.
Were you aware that around 68% of customers leave because they feel that the company doesn’t care about them? This is a big number that can, especially in small businesses, be critical for your revenue. And for such a simple reason too! That’s why it’s so important to not only be thankful but to take a proactive approach. According to the study made by Andrew Wali and Bright Opara, by implementing a defined customer appreciation strategy you can influence their loyalty. This can lead to increased business growth. Although this approach is mostly catered towards connecting with existing customers, it’s worth considering newcomers in your messages as well, since a good impression can only be made once.
How to stay connected?
Talking to your customers is important, and currently, it’s a baseline for any successful business. Without any sort of dialogue in this day and age, your company might get less traffic and recognition that equals less revenue. Excluding communication from your marketing strategy is losing opportunities to grow and improve.
Since we already covered the most important rules of correct communication etiquette and reasons why reaching out to the customer is necessary, the only thing left to figure out is how. There are countless ways to create a connection with consumers, but which ones are the most efficient for your business in the long run?
We’ve brought together 11 proven tips that will elevate your communication with customers and bring more dedicated, loyal and happy users to your brand.
Email is the biggest e-marketing platform on the market and has a lot of advantages that can be used in day to day communication. Firstly, unlike any other e-marketing channel, it is more personal and you can truly cater the content to an individual. Secondly, it has a higher conversion rate than social media. According to Monetates’ Ecommerce Quarterly report, it drove more conversions than search and social.
And lastly, I believe, most importantly - you own your list. Unlike any other social media, you alone control your contacts base. There is no algorithm that decides who, where and when sees your content. So, if you want to better connect with your customer, make email a primary channel.
Treat the customer as individuals
The best way to make your customers feel appreciated and important is to treat them as individuals. Personalization is the key to maintaining a good connection and it really doesn’t require much effort. Fool-proof way to start is by including a person's name at the beginning of an email. If you want to go further, start collecting more data on the customer to further personalize their experience - of course, with their permission.
If you want to inspire yourself, we also made 9 email personalization examples that show the potential of customizing content to your recipients.
Nowadays companies run various channels to promote their brand and build their personality. But did you know that posting pictures and spending your budget money on ads is not the only way to bring some attention to your company?
By simply responding to the comments people leave on social media, answering their questions and talking about things that are not related to your brand can showcase you as a responsive, active business that takes interest in customers. More and more companies are starting to realize that creating a firm is not enough to connect with customers and use the potential of social media to make themselves known. The important part is to find your voice to stand out among other companies that run their own socials. Wendy’s is a great example of being visible outside of email and advertisements. They consistently run clapbacks at Twitter users, show appreciation, and are generally laid back business, that the younger generation really enjoys.
Below is a great example of two brands exchanging compliments on Twitter, which resulted in overwhelmingly positive reactions from their audience.
Get them backstage
There was a time, where brands could just advertise the product and keep the anonymity of what happened behind the scenes, but that is no more. Now in order to advance as a company, they need to show themselves, not as inanimate entities but as humanely as possible, so customers will grow emotionally attached to them. That emotional connection is exactly what you need to induce customers' loyalty to the brand.
This is why it's important to invest in building trust through humanizing the brand. And now, living in privileged times, where digital channels reign supreme, it has never been easier to do so on such a big scale.
While sending emails to recipients you can include a picture, information or detail about what currently happens among your employees. If you’re a family company, show it by including a family photo in the holiday email. If you have a dog, cat or any other animal that your colleagues love, include it in company photo and dedicate a short paragraph about them. You can go even further than email, and use social media to humanize your company even more. Show your followers around the office. Introduce each member of your business and include some details about them that make them unique.
The best way to gain consumers' trust is by showing that you are not only a business. You are also a community. Celebrating birthdays or special occasions with employees will not only improve your brand reputation among recipients but boost morale in the office. So it’s a win-win situation.
Tidio created a great example- a live chat and chatbots software creators. They made a separate Facebook page called Tidio Backstage where they share photos from celebrations, meetings, and achievements. They’re doing a great job of humanizing their brand by showing real employees. That results in more trusting and loyal customers.
Write a newsletter
This one might seem like an obvious tip, but companies can forget about newsletters. They’re already busy with hundreds of transactional emails, onboarding messages, and special offers. But sending weekly, bi-weekly or monthly newsletters can be very beneficial for business if done smartly.
The current format of newsletters might not be enough to grab customers' attention. The challenge is to create a message that will offer personalized content based on the customer lifecycle stage. You can start by implementing a few email trends to your emails and test the performance. Then just build upon it creating segments depending on people’s preferences, needs, and interests to create a newsletter 2.0. An improved, more engaging version of the original.
Birthdays and special dates
Stores often offer special discounts for people who shared their birthdate with them, as a gift. Why not use it to build a better connection with the customer as well? Creating a special email with best wishes on recipients' birthday can be a great way to show that they are valuable to the brand.
In the email you can include a promo code, free gift, anything you feel will be appropriate. By monitoring the join date of each customer, you can even create a loyalty program that will offer tiered rewards for continuous support.
Offer sneak peeks
With building loyalty, you can establish various ways to show appreciation. One of the options is offering exclusive content that only some will be able to view.
You need to specifically cater content towards your most-valued customers to make them feel special. Therefore, using personalization is again an important factor. If you sell different types of products, research which ones are the most popular among your “VIP” customers. Cater special sneak peeks of new content based on this data to not only make them feel special that they get to see it first, but also because they are actually interested in the products.
If you’d rather go with a simpler option, just send behind the scenes emails to your whole special segment, but try to include an optional survey asking about their opinion. Through this, you will be able to work with new information that your users shared with you to improve their experience.
Meet in person
Humanizing the company might happen literally by showing yourself in person. Various brands offer meetups or announce their presence at job fairs, so people can check them out. Although it can be usually directed towards new hires, it doesn’t mean that existing or potential customers won’t visit.
Organizing a local event can attract customers that you have locally, and build awareness of the brand. For example, we hosted Inbox Szczecin meetup a while ago to demonstrate our brand to the neighborhood, and show the potential of email marketing to attendees. It’s also a great way to build connections with other businesses you have in your city.
As I mentioned before, consumers want to support a brand that they can trust to do things right. That means you should have an opinion regarding current issues happening around the world and react to them accordingly. It’s called cause-related marketing, a concept created in the 1980s, and it’s really effective.
There have been many studies related to this topic that prove it works, and it’s worth implementing in your marketing tactic. If you support a noble cause, like donating to animal shelters or a pro-environmental charity, consumers have a more positive attitude towards a brand and are more likely to make multiple purchases because of it.
There are many other beneficial aspects of donating besides connecting with your customers. In most countries you can deduct tax, it boosts employee morale and it’s good for the community. If you can, search locally as there are plenty of organizations that need help. If you want to take a more technical approach, you can also pinpoint the country where your biggest number of subscribers is from and find a charity there.
Ask for feedback
This needs no introduction. Ask for feedback in regard to everything and seriously take into consideration what the majority of your users say. Customers always like to be listened to, and see that their suggestions helped improve a product in a certain way. They could even give you an idea of a new feature or merchandise
EA games recently created a The Sims 4 survey after noticing growing frustration with some elements in the game. There, they included many options that were already talked about by the community. So far, the reactions were mostly positive. That’s a great example of a simple act of asking for feedback can influence people's opinion.
A good way to maintain connections with customers is to turn the tables around and place them in the position of expert. Ask them how they would change your product, invite them for beta testing and even ask them questions about services unrelated to your brand. Asking customers about which software you can use, or a location for a new office is a great way to connect and make recipients feel that you truly value their opinions.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying, “Honesty is the best policy”. In the case of running a company, it is quite literally, the best policy you can take. Trying to do something quietly or not admitting a mistake publicly can have tremendous repercussions. Especially in this era, where everybody's actions are visible and commented upon online. The best thing a business can do is show transparency in their processes and if they mess up, apologize.
A great apology needs to have three elements. Specificity, remorse, and next steps. You need to know what you’re apologizing for, be sincere, and promise to do better from now on.
In 2011, Netflix transitioned from DVD delivery to a streaming device, but not without a hiccup. First, they decided to treat those options as separate entities. Then, they changed the pricing, from $9.99 for the all-in-one package to $7.99 for each product. Understandingly, people who wanted both were upset with over 60% price increase and spoke up. As a response, the CEO Reed Hastings, issued an open letter. He admitted the mistake, apologized and promised to fix the problem he created. With a well-done apology and immediate action, Netflix is still very much relevant and poses as an example for other companies who made a mistake.
We’d like to hear from you!
On Friday the 17th, we celebrated Ask Your Customer’s Day and we would like to better connect with our audience. Because of that, we wanted to ask you about your experience with Elastic Email. What are the features that you love and what, in your opinion, could use a little polish?