ADOTAS – People instinctually read body language, and back when most business was conducted face-to-face, the in-person dynamic helped develop personal relationships and drive strong loyalty. However, people today are wired in a different way, preferring to connect more and more via online communications. Companies – and successful marketers – must develop strategies to maintain and increase personal engagement in an evolving online world.
Appealing to Customer Preferences
Despite our tendency as marketers to treat prospects and customers as numbers, the contact behind the number is a human with needs and wants. Marketers should continue to appeal to emotions, no matter the communication vehicle, by capturing and tracking interests and behaviors to build out a “person-level” profile.
To truly connect, it is important to ask customers which channels and frequency of contact they prefer, and to honor those preferences, e.g., email, phone, direct mail, social media channels. Taking a non-strategic blanket or blast approach increases the risk of customers dismissing your communications, and your business.
Creating a Personal Relationship
Developing a one-to-one relationship with your customers is critical. For digital communications, each “record” in your database should be addressed by name, but make the effort to go beyond merely personalizing your greeting.
- Send a birthday message each year.
- Send an annual note of appreciation.
- Thank customers for their business a few times a year at random intervals.
- Offer exclusive benefits.
Be sure to nurture all of your prospects and customers and continually ask for feedback. Building a dialogue helps you understand what success looks like and what your customers expect from you. If customers have a channel to provide feedback and know they can shape your offering, then everyone wins.
Defining Customers’ Interests
To really determine your customers’ preferences, you need to go beyond demographic profiling and look at behavioral data. Just because a customer recently got married doesn’t mean he or she is ready to buy a house (and will welcome daily blasts of your latest mortgage rates). If a prospect consistently opens newsletter articles about getting the best rates, that is reliable data to act upon – and a targeted sales call will be better received.
As you develop individual profiles, make full use of dynamic content triggered by tracked interests and behaviors – the technology is available. Keep it simple initially, with just a few dynamic content options, but make delivering relevant content (articles, images, data, video) your end goal.
Combining Social Media With Other Marketing Channels
Social media is very effective in increasing interaction with your brand, building communities, and enabling avid customers to help participate in the selling process. Social can also be great for building email lists, driving awareness and even improving SEO. While social is hot and new measurement tools are released almost daily, organizations need ready access to hard data on what drives consumer response and helps businesses meet specific goals.
For marketers, email still remains the chosen solution that delivers data and metrics necessary for effective marketing. It’s easily measured, facilitates quick and easy split testing of messages, offers, pricing, etc., and enables one-to-one connections.
Email is ideal for private, targeted communications that help foster relationships over time, making it invaluable for preserving the personal touch. And when coupled with social and mobile delivery channels, email yields increased customer interactions where customers prefer to communicate.
Ultimately, knowing your customers’ needs and preferences will make communication more effective and allow you to build meaningful and long-lasting connections. Using a variety of marketing vehicles based on stated preferences and measured behavior is critical to successfully engaging customers in the digital communications age.