Using a single channel of communication with your clients has a moderate value; let us imagine that it creates a one-in-ten response rate. Adding a second method of contact or communication increases it (according to various sources) by between 20 and 60 percent (improving from 10 percent to as much as 12-16 percent); adding yet another method does something rather remarkable. Specifically, it raises it by between 60-125 percent, resulting in a 16-22½ percent response rate.
Why this spectacularly large jump? The fact of the matter is that you are keeping your name (or that of your company) in your customers’ minds, and (if you’re not, you should be) providing them with a useful service, or information, at no cost. When the time comes that they need your paid product or service, they will be very inclined to think of yours, not only first, but in a highly favorable way.
In a single year, you could as much as double your business income going from 10 percent to over 20 percent Return on Investment (ROI). Interestingly enough, according to the Direct Marketing Association, the typical ROI for e-mail marketing is around 4,300 perecent—that’s right—a $43 return for every dollar you spend in your e-mail marketing plan.
So, where should you focus your efforts to strengthen your revenue streams? Here are half a dozen ways that help you connect with customers, and help them see you in a favorable light.
Social Media Branding
One person (or a fixed team with carefully defined responsibilities) must be in charge of your social media presence. Consistency between platforms isn’t just important—it’s essential. Having one face on Twitter and something else on Instagram or Facebook is a serious no-no.
Always have the same message
Consider a company like JetBlue that has thousands upon thousands of customer interactions every single day. If they have a flight delayed or grounded, or some other reason that a customer may be unhappy, that customer might take to social media to complain about it. That can gain a great deal of traction within a very short period.
JetBlue is very smart about it though because they have assigned someone to monitor all of their social media throughout the day. If people have something to say, they respond to them in less than 15 minutes.
Getting the customer a meal-ticket, hotel, a refund, a new flight, or simply a human response to their problem keeps that incident from snowballing into a social media disaster. Instead, they have a delighted customer that recommends their airline to anybody that will listen. Follow their example and be highly responsive to your customers.
Search Engine Optimization is decreasing in efficiency. That is almost entirely because many people do not understand Google’s Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird. If you’re scratching your head right now in saying “What do animals have to do with anything?” you may very well be one of those people making life difficult for yourself.
These “animals” are some of the bigger “named” patches to Google’s search engine. It used to take weeks or months (in the early days of search algorithms), for updates to be rolled on to the public. Now, since the Caffeine update came out in about 2010, Google possesses the capability to update its search algorithms on a daily basis and does so.
In 2011 Panda was launched to help people get higher quality results with their searches. Sites that stole desirable content from other pages to rank higher were penalized. Panda examined the websites to see if they were well-edited (grammar/spelling), or sloppy. Was a report even and unbiased, or heavily slanted? Was the information useful or simply something designed to garner a high position in a search engine? Would this type of site generate complaints from visitors or is it trustworthy enough to provide your credit card information? Was it excessively loaded with advertisements and many other factors?
This one came along in 2012. Penguin deliberately penalized sites with “purchased” or unnatural back-links. How well a site is connected to other sites directly reflects the quality of the site, but some site authors assumed that “more is better” and began to pay people to create artificial links to their website, often from fake accounts.
They also seriously penalized other tricks such as writing unnatural keywords in the same color as the background so that they could not be read by a site visitor. The spiders or web crawlers from the various search engines could still see them, however.
Having Ford, IBM, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Intel, and other high-value search terms, repeated over and over again all over the page would (in the old days) fool a web crawler into ranking a site very highly. Someone trying that nowadays would see their site completely vanish from a Google search result because they tried to cheat.
Nowadays, articles need to have a longer word count to maximize their ranking; as long-gone are the days of 250 word blog posts. However, a 1000 word article must be quality informative writing; not simply text for the sake of text. Nevertheless, keyword loading can seriously decrease your position on a search engine. Basically, what you present on your site needs to be useful and organic, with no sign of artifice.
This one had very little impact on most people. It wasn’t tinkering with the algorithm like Panda and Penguin; it was largely a new search engine that used the reliable parts of the previous search engine. In an outsider’s eyes (since Google does not reveal the contents of its search algorithm to anyone), Hummingbird interprets queries more effectively, generally without errors, and gives users the results they want, even when they don’t phrase their questions properly.
Everybody has something to say about their business; something that they wish their customers or clients understood better. Blogs don’t have to have a sales curve; it is perfectly fine to toss in a CTA (Call to Action) at the end, such as “For additional insight, feel free to sign up for one of our no-charge webinars” or an invitation to “Sign up for our newsletter to learn even more about X”.
Just supplying useful information builds your credibility, while enhancing your reputation as an authority figure that can be relied upon. If it is apparent that you were not trying to nickel-and-dime them for every possible dollar, they’ll be much more willing to spend when it becomes necessary.
Speaking of newsletters, they can be monthly bi-weekly or whatever interval you deem to be appropriate. This is your opportunity to talk about your product or service and show practical examples of how it can help people. You don’t even have to direct it specifically at your audience; just provide useful information, and they’ll figure out a way to apply it to their situation.
This is also the perfect opportunity to provide coupons, promos, and offers. Again, this is not a hard-sell. This is simply an opportunity to familiarize them with your product or service and aspects of it that they might not be aware.
Google’s MyBusiness Page
Did you know that Google provides a free website for your business? When someone opens Google Maps, it is immediately populated by many of the businesses that exist on that map. If you are specifically looking for a bakery, it will show all the bakeries that are visible in the area you’re looking at (provided it’s small enough, of course) while deemphasizing schools, gas stations, and so on.
Every time someone looks for a business like yours, you’ll be listed right there, too. Who wouldn’t want that? What if you’re open one hour earlier or later than the one they looked up? What if you have attractive or appropriate pictures that catch their attention? You can edit and change the listing as often as you want, so maybe you have something on sale that particular day or week that makes them forget all the others. It would be insane not to take advantage of this if you knew about it (and now you do).
Don’t forget to start a dialogue with your customers. If you’re providing a product or service that doesn’t quite meet the needs of your customers, would you like to know? Not everything can be customized, but when demand reaches a certain level, it’s certainly worth investigating whether a change would be worthwhile, or whether you should develop a new product to satisfy that need.
More importantly, interaction gives you an opportunity to tell your customer base how you are making the world a better place. Sometimes your place in the community is just as important as what you sell.
So what are the big secrets?
- Don’t confuse people with your message. Be clear and consistent in everything that you present to the public.
- Use SEO properly, by creating useful, organic content with perfect spelling, grammar, and style, and avoid short “junky” pieces solely to provide “new” content. Quality counts more than quantity, but try to make sure they are more than 1,000 words unless it is essential to be succinct.
- Develop more routes to connect with your customers such as e-mail lists, Blogs, Newsletters—and then provide no-charge useful information. That cements your reputation as an authority.
- Engage in interactive relations with customers. Be responsive to their needs, hopes, and desires. Feedback means they’re interested.
- Get your free MyBusiness Page from Google all setup, and keep it up to date with fresh content. Have your hours of operation posted; make sure to include your phone number; add attractive offers, if possible. The more people see you, the more opportunities they have to do business with you.
Understand your customers’ pain points, the outcomes that they desire, the obstacles they need to overcome, and then show exactly how your product or service is going to help them.
Solving their problems will give you a customer for life.
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