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Top 5 Ways Small Businesses Can Increase Customer Engagement

How often do you connect with and interact with your existing customers? If you are not sure or do not engage at all beyond fulfilling their orders, you could be missing out on some valuable opportunities. When you take the time to connect with customers, you do more than create a quick touchpoint—you ensure that your small business or startup stays in the forefront of their minds; you position yourself as an accessible, go-to resource; and you even make it more likely that customers will recommend your business to others.

If you are in a competitive field with only small differences in your products' unique selling proposition (USP) and price points, then your engagement can help put your business at the top. You will also be able to retain your existing customers when one of your competitors launches an attractive sale or promotion; your clients will show more loyalty to you and be sure of the connection you have forged.

Three Reasons Customer Engagement Matters More Than Ever

Cost

It is far more expensive for your business to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current customer happy and connected. When you need to sell more of something to an established customer, you have far less work to do. They already know you, enjoy your product, and have experienced your service. If you have built a connection with them, then providing them with more items or marketing your newest launch to them is straightforward and inexpensive. You can market to existing customers in a variety of ways, and the more engaged they are, the more successful your efforts will be. Some ways to market new products or services to engaged, loyal followers and customers include the following:

  • New product rollouts – These customers and prospects already know you and are more likely to trust you when you rollout something new, particularly if you have taken steps to maintain a connection.
  • “More” items – If you sell consumables, then forging a connection is essential as your customer is already worth far more than an initial sale. Your continued engagement ensures a steady stream of revenues for your business.
  • Referrals – When you ask your connected, loyal customers to share your business' sale or products with others, they are far more likely to do so if they are already engaged. If they follow you on Facebook, interact with you on Twitter, or even connect with you on LinkedIn, then sharing your latest post or sale is as easy as clicking a button. Existing customers are far more likely to refer your business to other people if you already have a connection in place.

Buying Decisions Start Earlier than Ever

Medical brands picked this up a long time ago; patients often follow, visit, and read web content before they book an initial appointment. When you engage with, educate, and inform your prospects, they already know where to go when they need help. You do not have to be a doctor’s office to share useful and educational content that informs prospects and answers their most likely and frequently asked questions.

Position Yourself as an Expert

When you are accessible and interact with prospects across a variety of channels and provide the answers, news, and information they need, they will naturally come to see you as an expert. This positions your business as an authority and ensures that when a prospective customer has a need, they know where to go for help.

Five Ways to Boost Engagement with Your Customers

Forging a connection is essential to your success, but knowing you need to do it and actually engaging with your prospective customers are two different things. From providing a steady stream of relevant content and information to taking the time to ask about their interests and needs, you can take steps every day toward forging strong connections with your target clients.

1. Provide Useful Content

Your blog is a valuable selling tool and provides you with a platform for sharing relevant information that your prospects can use. Commit to serving up useful content on a regular basis and your clients will know where to go to get the details they need. You can post about far more than your own business; posting content that your visitors will enjoy and that is relative to your area of expertise ensures you have a steady stream of traffic and that you are adding real value. Need ideas about what to post? Try one or more of the ideas below.

  • How-to content – Content that explains how to use your product or service through written content, videos, or images makes it easy for your clients to understand what you do and to picture themselves benefitting from working with you. For example, if you sell dog treats, then showing training videos, sharing training tips, and showcasing happy customers working with their pets can help boost engagement and deliver significant value.
  • News and information – What is going on in your industry? Become a valuable resource for your followers when you share the latest news and insider information about your own area. For example, if you are a travel agent, then news about the latest theme park ride, beach destination, and travel warnings all fall into this category.
  • Behind the scenes – Shows like How It’s Made and Dirty Jobs are a success for a reason; people enjoy learning about the processes that go into making a product. Share some of your behind-the-scenes content, whether you make a product, plan events, or provide a service. For example, if you have an e-commerce store or are a beauty brand, then showing your latest product line in action or even in production can build anticipation and help engage your customers.
  • Offer insight – How do users find your website? If you are optimizing for search engines, then offering insight and advice into your area of expertise can help boost your rankings and give prospects a reason to return again and again. For example, if you are an attorney, then providing details on the legal process and what clients can expect (with a disclaimer that you are providing information, not legal advice) can help build trust and forge a connection long before they make that first phone call.

2. Get Social

Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn make it easier than ever to connect with your prospects—and they are free to use. Set up profiles on the sites your prospects are most likely to visit and update them regularly. You will begin to see people responding to your posts and will have a chance to interact with them directly. When you answer a question or interact with another user, you have an impact far beyond just that conversation; other users will see it and remember your level of involvement in the future.

The site you focus on depends on your product or service and the people most likely to buy it. If you sell a toy or game, then Pinterest and Facebook are likely ideal places to start. If you offer high-end office machines, then LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter may be your best options.

Target Audience

Consider where your target buyers are most likely to hang out and launch a campaign on that channel to engage with and influence your prospective customers and get the results you want.

You do not have to monitor your channels all the time. Free apps like Hootsuite allow you to schedule up to 30 posts in advance. You can post an entire month’s worth of engaging content in just an hour or two, and then just check in regularly. You will find engagement opportunities and chances to join the conversation without an overwhelming time commitment on your part.

3. Client Intake and Follow-Up

When someone reaches out to you for a purchase or appointment, they have taken the first step. The better your fulfillment and onboarding practices are, the more likely you are to make a great impression. If you are onboarding for appointments, having a friendly voice on the other end of the phone makes a big difference; an online onboarding process that is convenient for clients can also help drive engagement and satisfaction.

Following-up after a sale or purchase, even if you simply say “thanks,” is an ideal way to boost involvement. Whether you ask for a review, inquire about the user’s satisfaction, or simply thank them for ordering from you, you will be taking a significant step that many businesses simply will not take the time to do. Following-up can help set you apart from your competition and from others in your field and helps promote engagement and interaction with your customers.

4. Use New Media

Video content is one of the fastest and easiest ways to engage with your customers. When you film a video that explains a concept, answers a question, or introduces a feature, prospects feel like they are right in the room with you and are more likely to feel a connection. Last year, Facebook began to place higher priority on posts that contained video. As a result, businesses that use this appear more frequently in timelines and in front of prospective customers.

Your own smartphone and a tripod are all you need to film a video. Whether you talk to prospective clients about their needs, introduce your services, or provide answers to their common questions, simply adopting this new media can help you forge a valuable connection with customers and prospects.

5. Communicate

Email, phone calls, and even traditional mail can help you stay in touch with your customers. If you have an email list, then regular newsletters, targeted campaigns, and helpful tips can be sent via your Email Services Provider (ESP).

Simply following-up after a sale or communication can result in higher engagement; you will get another opportunity to interact with the person who purchased from you or inquired, and be more likely to form a lasting connection. Sending a personal note, making a phone call, or providing a regular flow of useful and relevant email communication will mean that staying in touch via one of these more traditional ways is a low-cost, high-return way to boost engagement and stay connected with your followers.

Measuring Engagement

It can be a difficult metric to measure in some mediums, but your blog statistics, your social media profiles, and your email provider all provide useful statistics about the impressions and interactions you make with your posts and content.

Learn from Your Metrics

By regularly looking at and learning from your metrics, you can get a very good idea of what your target prospects respond to.

When you know what they like, then you can serve a steady stream of the right kind of content and information to your prospects and customers.

Focusing on engagement can help you retain your customers, turn prospects into buyers, and even turn your loyal customers into brand ambassadors that will help spread the word about your products and services. Connecting on a variety of channels with consistent messaging ensures your business gets all the benefit of engagement and that you are making the most of this valuable approach.

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