How To Drive Customers Your Way Online
You’ve listened to the experts and other successful business owners. You’ve developed an interactive website with all of the functionality one could ask for. You’ve launched an engaging blog. You’ve established a social media presence by creating Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages. And you’ve provided customers with online tools that can make their lives easier, such as online appointment scheduling, payment processing or customer support.
You sit back and wait for them to converge on your website, blog and social media properties in droves. You wait and wait and wait…but the traffic does not meet your expectations.
How can this be? What happened? Isn’t everyone anxious to interact with you online, instead of contacting you over the phone or by e-mail?
Depending on the type of services your business provides and the characteristics and habits of your customers, this “slam dunk” of an action plan may take a more concentrated and focused effort to implement than you originally envisioned. To that end, there are several highly effective steps that you can take to ensure your customers visit your website and other digital properties not only once, but again and again and again.
Get Current Customers to Your Digital Properties
First, make sure that you truly are updating your website, blog and social media properties and providing customers with real value on a consistent basis. If you want them to visit and spend time with your brand online, you need to make it worthwhile and valuable to your customers. And this means continuously identifying and implementing ideas, functionality and offers that help them get stuff done, achieve a goal or eliminate a problem.
Assuming you are keeping your digital properties fresh and useful, look to your existing customers first. Attracting new prospects is always a popular topic and often the focus of a company’s marketing efforts. However, an often hidden goldmine that may not be as “sexy” a topic yet could produce substantial results for your business is to mine those who have already proven they find your services to be of value and to get them to interact and transact with your business online.
Make Them Aware
With this in mind, take a step back and put yourself in your customers’ shoes.
First, think about customers whom you believe are Internet savvy and regularly online. How would they know your website now has cool new features and functionality? Did you make them aware that they can now be a “fan” of your new Facebook page, or can subscribe to your YouTube channel or can follow you on Twitter?
You can’t assume that these customers will immediately gravitate to your online sites just because they’re online. Unless your business offers goods and services that customers cannot live without and unless they have been checking your existing website on a daily basis, you need to communicate this news to them. Use a variety of different means to do this, such as newsletters, e-mail messages, email signatures, over the phone and in person. Be sure to highlight new features in the message to incentivize them to check them out.
This messaging can actually be included with any customer touch point. You should consider including it on any type of promotional materials your business produces, such as advertisements, brochures and any stationary you give out, such as pens or notepads. The greater the reach, the more customers your message will reach.
The other type of customers you need to think about are those that are not tech-savvy and may be both unfamiliar and uncomfortable with online technology. This can be a tougher nut to crack, especially if you’re trying to get them to use an online feature that requires them to provide information about themselves. Educating them on the benefits of your new services and the security measures the new technology implements (obviously, this should be a requirement even before you started the project) can help ease their concerns. You may want to offer them some extra hand-holding in the beginning, as well.
Some individuals are just naturally resistant to change, so you may have to accept the fact that not every customer will take advantage of the new functionality you’re offering.
Give Them an Incentive to Visit
For a tried-and-true tactic for getting customers to visit and take a specified action on your sites and social media properties, do what businesses have been doing for years: Give them something!
And when we say “give them something”, we’re not talking about promotional t-shirts or coffee mugs (although you may indeed have customers that want these, too!). We’re talking about discounts or incentives for using a particular feature on your new site. For example, you could offer customers a percentage discount off of services if they book online, pay online, or sign up for a longer contract. Or, you could conduct giveaways for individuals who sign up for a newsletter or try out a new feature.
Regardless of the type of giveaway or incentive you offer, be sure that’s it appealing enough to garner customers’ attention and persuade them to check out your digital properties. Just as you determine how to inform them, put yourself in their shoes to determine what would entice you to take action and visit a company’s website, blog or Facebook page.
Launching a new website, blog or social media property is just one part of the equation. The other is effectively marketing it to your current customer base.