You may be working on a plan to start your business back up when the stay at home orders are relaxed, but it’s just as important to stay engaged with your customers now and maintain engagement going forward.
Continuous engagement with your customers will:
- keep your business fresh and essential in their minds;
- alert you to changes in their needs relevant to what you offer and how you offer it;
- give you the ability to react quickly to these changes, and anticipate other changes that may be coming;
- provide important feedback, enabling you to respond as needed.
The Best Platforms to Engage Customers Now
- Social Media
Bring your old social media accounts back to life. Let your customers know that you are there for their questions and to provide other useful relevant information.
Ensure your content is “relevant and remarkable” to really connect with the audience and increase the chance that they will share with their connections.
Come up with an idea for a series of content that will be useful and engaging to your customers and set up an automated “drip fed” campaign on your email marketing application. The campaign will deliver relevant content in the time frame you determine best for your customers.
For best results, only send to individuals that have opted in. If you don’t have such a list, start with an introductory email to your customers and request that they opt-in. In some jurisdictions, like the EU, it is a legal requirement to have permission in advance. In the US it is not, but it is still best practice in order to build trust with your audience.
If you normally engage with customers via telephone, continue to make calls that are inline with the communications you normally have.
At the beginning of the call, ensure that you ask if it is a good time to talk. If not, ask when would be a better time to talk or if is there a preferred method of communication. During the call, listen to the customer to sense how much they want to discuss their current situation versus discussing business.
Print up attractive postcards with a message relevant to your customers now, perhaps noting changes to the way you do business (hours of operation, limited services/products available, etc.). If relevant, provide a coupon/discount as a gift for customer loyalty.
A great design/layout and information useful to your customer may get you pride of place on the fridge!
- Online Survey
Show your customers that you are interested in what they have to say. Use an online survey application, like Survey Monkey, to find out if your customers’ needs have changed. If you use a third party to run the survey for you, ensure that their practices are inline with those of your business.
If appropriate to your audience, offer a reward for completing the survey — a discount, a gift or a chance to win a suitable prize of value equivalent to the effort to complete the survey.
Even if you don’t normally offer courses or presentations, webinars are a good way to provide relevant, useful content to a number of people at once. This can be pre-recorded, but going live allows attendees to ask questions which will bring greater engagement. You can also record the live session and use it going forward.
Ensure that you have a script for the webinar and practice with a few run throughs to ensure that you keep to the intended length and have sufficient time for Q&As if including this.
People are always looking for new podcasts to listen to while working out, driving, etc. Brainstorm a number of relevant ideas so you have content for a few weeks ahead. Start simple and if you find you are building an audience, upgrade your equipment and quality of your presentation.
If you are unsure about starting your own podcast, reach out to hosts of existing relevant podcasts and ask to be a guest speaker. You can return the favor by featuring that podcast on your channels and invite that host to be a guest speaker when you start your own,
- Online Community
Start a Facebook Group for your business or a topic relevant to your business. Here you can provide useful information and start conversations of interest to your customers to get them engaged or even go Live! This community also gives your customers an opportunity to interact with each other.
If you make the Group “private” you can make it exclusive to existing or new customers as an added benefit for them, but keeping it “public” may expand the reach and get the interest of potential new customers.
- Virtual Gathering
Determine a theme relevant to your business and schedule a session using an online meeting platform for interested customers to join together.
Act as moderator, or assign this task to another, to keep participants involved, on point and the tone inline with your brand and your audience.
Use a combination of these platforms to attract an audience and build a community of not only loyal customers, but also prospective new customers. Start with the methods you are already using and then look at those that will work well with those. For example: If you hold a webinar, get permission to add registrants’ email addresses to your email marketing database and use an automated campaign to keep the attendees engaged going forward.
Consider the following when deciding what platforms to use:
- already in use, even if inactive
- suitability to your content
- cost versus the return for your business
- ease to put in place and use on a continuous basis
- accessibility for you and your customers
- time to set up and deliver
- ability to get and give feedback
Gather data from your campaigns to see what is working and adjust your activities as needed to improve results. While sales figures are important, also keep an eye on which channels and specific campaigns sales come from and metrics, such as: traffic to your website, number and quality of enquiries from all platforms, likes/comments/shares, growth of email database, etc.
Use these platforms to engage your customers NOW and maintain engagement going forward to ensure strong sales and growth for the future.