Once upon a time, there was a girl named Ellie. Ellie had the fervent wish to purchase a pair of jeans. She logged into a search engine and spent a good afternoon searching for a pair that fit perfectly. After a while, all her social media accounts were filled with sponsored ads selling the perfect pair of jeans. Can you relate?
Ellie found one brand that was promoting this clearance sale, another brand trying to give her a free pair of jeans on the condition that she bought another that didn’t really work for her.
The brand that Ellie really fell in love with was the one that made her feel special – that one that danced only with her and knew exactly the kind of sustainable, organic, comfortable jeans she was looking for.
Now, tell me, even if you aren’t a Disney princess, when you go out to buy something with your hard-earned money, would you prefer purchasing from a brand that you care about and one that you trust, or one that is trying to trick you into buying free-but-not-so-free stuff? Establishing authenticity and trust is a big deal. Trust is foundational when it comes to making your target audience feel connected. Truth be told, there is no magical customer loyalty unicorn that comes out to play when you sprinkle your money into the air. Regardless of how deep their pockets are, businesses can build customer loyalty brick by brick with the help of authentic connections.
Customers drive your business, but the connection is what drives customers to interact with your brand. Retaining and acquiring customers is really a matter of how special and connected you can make your customers feel. At Vantage, we train our writers with one simple golden rule – write for humans, not screens. Regardless of what product or service you are selling, unless a human being reads and connects with the content you create, ain’t nobody going to make a purchase today.
An improved digital experience is what sets businesses apart in the chaos of content online. Finding customers is easier than ever before, but how do we retain them long enough to build relationships? All those graphics, digital marketing and content tricks are just tools to help your customers connect with the heart of your brand.
There was this interesting insight in an article that we came across in the Business News Daily, “I think it’s important for brands, especially brands [that] are really consumer-centric, to stay connected,” Jessica Alba, founder and CEO of The Honest Company, shared at the American Express OPEN Success Makers Summit for Business Platinum Card Members. “Customers tell you so much from their behavior and how they shop with you.” Yes, Jessica Alba of the Fantastic Four fame. Hey, if it works for her, it works for us too! Celebrity or not, treating your customers like a Disney princess is key!
No, but really, while we don’t literally mean dressing your customers up in a pink tutu ( or blue, if you are a Frozen fan), you do need to have a clear pulse on your target market at all times. Speaking of Frozen, if you go all Ice Queen on your customers, they may quickly jump on to other brands offering better services and a personalized connection. These are some serious badass princess moves to help you win customer’s hearts.
- Realise they are worth it
A happy customer provides high value to the business in the long run. Outbound Engine claims that acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer. This means, retaining a customer is easier than acquiring one. High CLV means each customer will bring in more revenue for your company.
Example: There is a newly opened cafe in my neighborhood. I love to explore new cafes and so one day, I found myself trying out their coffee. I started meeting my friends over there and gradually, the customers progressed geometrically.
- Don’t be a damsel in distress
Many businesses start out strong. You make a business plan, execute a great marketing campaign and onboard customers quickly. However, if you constantly take on projects but don’t meet the demands of your customers, you will be stuck in a revolving door of distress as you try to hunt down new customers from a diminishing pool.
Example: That neighborhood cafe was getting a bit monotonous now. Eventually, I was getting bored with it and the manager noticed that. One day, he came up to me, introduced himself, and had a good conversation about the cafe and their journey with customers. That moment of attentive service made me feel special andI fell in love with the cafe all over again. As a result, they gained a loyal customer.
A survey done by Forbes on more than 1000 customers proves that
- 44% of consumers say they will likely repeat after a personalized shopping experience.
- On average, 7% expressed some level of frustration when their experience was impersonal.
- 49% bought items they did not intend to buy due to a personalized recommendation from the brand they were doing business with.
The statistics above throw light on the necessity of building customer relationships upon the central tenet of trust. To better understand the concept of personalization, let me illustrate with examples of a friend named Jack who is looking to make different decisions. After keeping in mind all the following factors, we’ll see in the end if we influenced a successful relationship with Jack or not.
First, let’s talk about the digital marketing aspect.
- Focus on the things that matter
Treat your customers as a priority, even after-sales. As we said before, treat your customers as people and not as businesses. Be there for them irrespective of how your business is performing. Customer inquiries and complaints show your seriousness towards them. Responding to customer concerns builds trust. If you want customers to trust and respect you, you need to earn it by proving your dedication to making them happy.
Example: Jack is facing some issues in his life which you can resolve. Being a good friend and for future relations as well, will you continue living your life ignoring his problems or will you show your willingness to help him out?
- Show your good side
Just like having a website is not enough (read this blog to know about such myths in detail), creating social media accounts is not enough. You need to engage with people so they know who you are. A recent Marketing Dive survey shows that 40% of users expect a brand to respond to them within the first hour of connecting, and nearly 80% expect a response within the first 24 hours. So, not only do you need to show them your authentic side, you need to do this in a fast-paced environment.
Example: You are in the same town as Jack. A friend tells Jack about your amazing services. Jack logs in to a social network (or two) but all he sees are inactive social media accounts. Jack reaches out to you, but you fail to respond on time. Boom, you’ve just lost potential customers.
- Build bridges of gratitude
Always exceed customer expectations. Going the extra mile for them will make your consumers feel important and help you stand out in a noisy crowd. Satisfied customers are gateways to more customers. Even today, few businesses have loyalty programs to encourage customers to come back and brind in other people in their network. Studies show that happy customers show gratitude for the extra mile of service.
Example: Jack drops you off at your office every day. He even goes the extra mile by grabbing an extra coffee for you at the drive through. When Jack needs someone to vouch for him as a referee for a new job interview, would you be happy to help him?
- Ask. Create. Give.
It may not be easy to stay informed about what your customers want. Surveys are a great tool to help you identify and deliver services that are currently in popular demand. With a bit of analysis, you can also use past data to alert them to relevant special offers on related products or improve your overall product or service offering. When you are tuned in to your customer’s wants, needs and pain points, you have the extra leverage to give them exactly what they need.
Example: you invited Jack for dinner. Jack hates aubergines, but you didn’t know that, so you went to a lot of trouble to make baba ganoush. Jack is now in an uncomfortable situation. If you took the time to learn about Jack’s likes, dislikes, allergies or favorites, you would have made something that Jack would have actually appreciated and raved about.
In the previous section, we saw what happens when you throw away your ‘seller’ hat and just look at customers as people. While that personal touch is crucial, it is also true that what you show is what you sell! Creating a positive brand image is less about smoke and mirrors on social media, and more about tuning into your audience’s deepest desires to ‘show’ them what they really want.
- Lasting impressions
At first glance, the quality of your visual message and brand tone will determine if the customer is going to spend additional time reading your brand story or not. Your images and other media products should be attractive and catchy enough to grab the attention while you have it. A positive impression may not guarantee a sale but will open the window to having one in the future.
Example: You are hosting a party at home. You publish the pamphlets all over your (now maintained) social media accounts and local newspapers. No one plans on attending, not even Jack, because you didn’t take the time to craft a clear message about who is invited, what appetizers will be served and how much fun it is going to be.
- Be their Prince Charming
According to Make Digital Group, social videos generate 1200% more shares than text and images combined. Even while scrolling through your social media accounts, don’t you stop for a second when there’s a video playing? Impact Plus says that viewers retain 95% of the content they see in a video, compared to the 10% they are able to recall via text. However, you don’t want to create just any message. You want to create a special message that is meant only for your special audience. It pays off to charm your audience with a custom message crafted with just their needs in mind.
Example: You posted about that party again. You messaged Amina who loves reels through her instagram messenger talking about the gorgeous sunset party you are hosting. You messaged Jack who loves Whatsapp with a quick graphic invitation talking about how you haven’t seen him for so long and would love to catch up. You messaged Burt who is always busy working via email saying you know he is busy, but you have some interesting new ideas for his project – that he can drop by your party to discuss. Next thing you know, Amina, Jack and Burt are chomping on some delicious mini-tacos and you have a house party on your hands!
- Stories can be magical
Make Digital Group, in another observation, stated, “People who attempt to follow directions using text and illustrations do 323% better than people who try to follow directions using only text.” Indeed, if you merge this approach with some thoughtful storytelling techniques, you can literally turn your marketing rags into closing riches. Stories help viewers to break down information better, as they can live and experience your message, instead of dry numbers.
Example: Jack is a fan of your barista skills. What do you think will help Jack more; a ten-page written recipe or a ten-minute video of you making your signature iced coffee?
Unleashing your authentic voice
Do you see how throwing away that marketing hat and just connecting with real people as a real person can help you build deeper relationships and establish trust faster as a brand? If you follow us on our social media handles, we talk a lot about empathy marketing – because we believe in it. A strong brand voice shines bright through with content that is authentic. Here are some ways in which you can create an authentic connection with your customers and keep your marketing real:
- Personalized approach
If you want your customers to feel special, approach them personally. If you generalize your consumers, it will showcase inauthenticity. Try to personalize relationships through tailored communication. Instead of sending numerous unrelated messages, send one that matters to them. According to a statistic published by Outgrow, 72% of consumers say that they only engage with personalized content.
Example: For your annual Christmas cards, would you send a general “Happy Holidays” to everyone or a personalized message with a picture of your family?
- Make them feel special
Further, in the article by Business News Daily, Peelu Shivaraju, the owner and operator of a Money Mailer franchise in Michigan, says being more personal with customers strengthens your bonds with them. Rather than being aggressive when selling, try to be more consultative and conversational, so clients understand your intentions are pure, Shivaraju recommended. Don’t just sell for your own benefit but also remind the customers that you care.
Example: Would Jack like if you contact him just when you need a ride to the office and the rest of the time he feels non-existent?
- Cultivate empathy
Though we have talked about it earlier, empathy marketing is too important to miss. Empathy is the most defining quality of human beings. After the world suffered a pandemic together, it only makes sense that the brands also develop such content that is empathetic to their readers. Content is the voice of the company. Ensure that the customers are happy about it. Put on the empathy filters the next time you interact with customers.
Example: Show empathy even when Jack is feeling low about an unrelated topic. Let him know that you see his discomfort and understand that tough things are happening in the world right now. This tone works especially when creating sensitive content addressing current events.
The focus of your business development should be on building strong customer relationships. From probable consumers, dissatisfied consumers to existing customers, everyone loves being heard. Even one complaint left unaddressed can make you look like you are just out for profit – and in an increasingly disconnected world, such an image can be lethal for brands. In today’s digital age, the impact of developing stronger customer relationships spreads further than you can imagine. Customers are sharing their reviews and opinions, whether positive or negative online. Should you be concentrating on giving your customers the attention they deserve or should you focus on strategizing to expand your business? I’d say you need to do the first before you attempt to do the latter! The work your company puts into maintaining and strengthening relationships can help your business grow dramatically. If you have any questions about empathy marketing, be sure to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Caramela, Sammi. “How to Connect with Customers” Business News Daily, 23 Feb, 2021, www.businessnewsdaily.com/10330-connect-with-customers.html
- Hyken, Shep. “Personalized Customer Experience Increases Revenue And Loyalty.” Forbes, 29 Oct, 2017, www.forbes.com/sites/shephyken/2017/10/29/personalized-customer-experience-increases-revenue-and-loyalty/?sh=488ba9d94bd6
- Landis, Taylor. “Customer Retention Marketing vs. Customer Acquisition Marketing.” Outbound Engine, 6 May, 2020, www.outboundengine.com/blog/customer-retention-marketing-vs-customer-acquisition-marketing/
- N.A. “19 Personalization Statistics you Need To Know In 2021.” Outgrow, 28 Jan, 2021 outgrow.co/blog/personalization-statistics
- N.A. “HOW MOTION GRAPHICS HELP YOU CONNECT WITH PEOPLE.” Make Digital Group, 31 Jul, 2018, makedigitalgroup.com/2018/07/31/motion-graphics-help-you-connect/
- Sukhraj, Ramona. “14 Reasons Why You Need to Use Video Content Marketing [2019 Infographic]” Impact Plus, 28 Sep, 2019, www.impactplus.com/blog/video-content-the-importance-of-video-marketing
- Williams, Robert. “90% of people buy from brands they follow on social media, study says.” Marketing Dive, 5 May, 2020, www.marketingdive.com/news/90-of-people-buy-from-brands-they-follow-on-social-media-study-says/577882/