As everyone in business knows, getting a new customer is only half the battle. To create repeat customers is where the real hard work begins. With a near endless amount of competitors on the web, it’s important to communicate with the customers you already have so they remember you the next time they are looking for the products and services you offer. Since a lot of the products and services you offer won’t change that much over time, your content will start to become a bit stagnant. In effect, potential repeat customers may not check out your site while they’re “just surfing the net”. That is why it’s a good idea to try and add a news/blog section to your site. This will give current customers a reason to visit your site on a fairly regular basis, as well create communication channels for prospective customers. In turn this blog can assist in turning you into the “expert opinion” discussed in Create Original Content – Part 2, that customers like. There’s a general consensus that when delivering content on your chosen social media platforms its a good to follow the 1/3 rule; talk about you, your industry, and other topics of interest. As this shows the general public that your not too self obsessed. When it comes to your web site, you can be a bit more focused and discuss your business and industry.
So what is a blog and what sort of things could you write about?
Well a blog is short for web log and is basically an online journal where people write about what interests them and what is happening in their lives. So instead of writing about your personal life and interests (though I’m sure there would be some overlap), you would write about what’s happening in your business.
Keeping it simple, some topics could include;
- New Products and services your business is now or soon to be offering; as this will encourage your customer to view more of your current product/services listings. As well as give them a reason to return to site in the near future to see what you have to offer.
- Upcoming promotions that may coincide with holidays or industry events; similar to discussing new products and services, it will give customers a reason to return to your site when those dates approach.
- New staff and acquisitions; will enable customers to know what is happening in your business on a more personal level.
- A project you’re proud of; this is probably more for service orientated business, but if your business has recently completed a project that you think your company particularly excelled at, highlight it. Let your customers know what it was, who was involved and what your customer thought of the experience.
As well as talking about your business, it’s a good idea to discuss what you think about yours and similar industries. Where do you think it’s strengths and weaknesses are and where do you see it heading in the future, are topics you could start with. These sorts of articles will be handy for good points of reference when in discussions on social media and industry forums.
Though you may discuss what you think about your industry in your blog, it’s a good idea to discuss what it happening in your industry as a whole. This could include whats new in your industry be it, new product specifications or maybe new techniques for accomplishing something. Commenting upcoming or past industry events is also something to consider. When discussing industry news it’s good practice to always link to the original article and where applicable make a comment on the articles page, briefly noting what you expand upon on your site.
The use of RSS feeds and StumbleUpon are two great ways to scan and aggregate industry news for you to discuss.
Being the internet, most communication is done via email. I.E. you are notified by email when someone places an order for a product, books your time to perform a services or just wants to ask a question via your contact form. Hopefully you have stored this email address somewhere for future communications and have been polite and asked for permission to email them your newsletter. As this email address is the holy grail to communicate with potential repeat customers, enabling you to put your correspondence right in their inbox. Which is a place most people check at least once a day.
Depending on how much you blog about your business and discuss about industry news, you may send out a newsletter weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly. It’s important that you don’t abuse the trust the customer has given by allowing you to email them your newsletter. Keep it relevant and focused, by ensuring the content is mainly about your business. Do a quick introduction, then display a handful of the articles you have written, with the title and a brief excerpt about the new products, event or staff member, with maybe a link to one industry news article.
I can’t stress this enough, DON’T abuse the use of this email address, it is sacred. If you send them too many emails, the customer will stop reading them and delete them when they get to the inbox, unsubscribe from your newsletter or even worse, mark your mail as spam. If too many people start marking you as spam bad things can happen.
Ok, this is a huge topic, so I’m just going to cover it briefly now and write a dedicated article on it in the future. There are tonnes of social media platforms out there but for the case of keeping things simple and stick with the big guns. Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.
I’ll be honest for a moment. until recently I never really understood the “why” of social media. I knew the “what it was” and “how it worked” but never the “why is it important” as all I saw was the same information pretty much across all the platforms by those that I followed. Then I read “What the Plus” by Guy Kawasaki and in a single description everything became clear.
- Google+ is for passions
- Facebook is for people
- Twitter is for perception
- Pinterest is for pictures.
In a recent speech of his someone noted that he finished off by saying that “LinkedIn is for pimping yourself” (though I can’t confirm this)
To me this was important, because it explained the different ways to communicate across the social media landscape. It meant the way you introduce an article on Google+ should be a bit more technical than the way it is introduced on Facebook, which will be more personal and Twitter to the point.
So if you are fortunate enough to get your customers to follow you on a particular social media platform, think about the different introductions you are going to use to entice them to read more of your article. When people comment be sure to interact with them, that way they know that you are active on that platform. Sometimes there maybe someone who is particularly active on your social media pages, think about following them in return and see what else they are interested in and interact with them on their pages.
Forums in general are starting to take a back seat to the “locomotive” that is social media, but when it comes to people looking for answers, more than likely they will head to industry specific forums. This is because a wealth of information has accumulated over the years and if the question hasn’t already been answered, there is someone there who can.
If you spend a little time each day trying to answer those questions (even one), over a short period of time you may become “the expert” that I have discussed previously. When doing this, it is important to be open about who you are and your commercial interests in the industry. There are some forums that require you to pay a subscription if you plan to promote your business. Don’t always promote what your company does but also indirect competitors, as in general you won’t always be the best solution to a problem. From a forum community point of view , it’s not looked upon highly when someone is continuously self promoting.
So Stay Busy & Stay in Touch
In the end it’s up to you how much time you spend to create repeat customers. Even an hour a month getting involved on a selected social media platform or forum could snag you a couple of new customers. Or releasing an industry based article once a quarter may ensure a few current customers check in on your site on a regular basis. From my experience it’s that constant trickle of new and returning customers that can get you through those seasonal down times that happen in pretty much every industry.
Till next time,