So how do you connect with people who you have never met, who you are likely never to meet and who could just as easily go elsewhere as use your service?
Making people feel that they belong to a community is vitally important if you are to get them to engage with you and your business Sherry Dyson . When customers enter a shop, they expect the feel-good factor. They want an ‘experience’ that leaves them with a positive attitude and wanting to go back for more. They will remember how you, as the business owner, made them feel and whether they would bother spending their hard-earned cash in there again.
Doing this virtually means that you have to use other methods of making people feel good about the whole shopping/browsing experience and find ways of drawing them into your world to make them feel welcome and wanted.
Why not try the following on your websites:
1. A forum area – this is an area where people can leave messages and open up debates, chats and topics for discussion; leaving a thread of conversation for others to join in on. They feel that they can have their say about things which affect and relate to them. It is important that, as the site owner, you get involved too so that you are taking notice of what people are saying.
2. Live chat help – this is a way in which you can offer a customer support experience to clients and potential clients, in real time, giving them instant advice and guidance about the services and products that you offer. You are connecting with them on a personal level and giving them the option of getting in touch in their own time and at their own convenience. You have to be seen to be as helpful as possible to clients because poor customer service is a sure way to lose them. They will only remember you for the last thing that you did and if it’s bad, they will go elsewhere. Keep the customer service level high and exceed their expectations at all times.
3. News updates – have an RSS feed or any area on your website which allows visitors to read about what you have been up to as a business. Make the stories newsworthy and make the visitor feel that they have gained something useful from reading your website. Keep the news items current and keep the customer coming back for more. You will need to make sure that this area of your website is well written by someone who is familiar with creative writing styles.
4. Newsletters – similar to the above, why not send out regular newsletters? They will need to be well-written, with newsworthy items and they will need to entice the reader in without giving it the hard sell. What you hope to achieve from them is more sales and more customers, but what the reader must feel is that you are interested in them and that they belong to something. From this, you can then expect them to want to invite their friends to join you. You will need to make sure that you send out newsletters on a regular basis (one per month is normally enough) and that you make the “community” aspect of the message as high priority as possible.
5. Blogs – set up your own blog where you post comments and articles and let others comment on them. Again, get them to interact with you. The more they interact, the more likely they are to tell someone else about you.
There are other ideas such as online resource portals, competitions, and so on which can be explored so why not get out there and see what others are doing? Make your site as easy to interact with as possible and help your business community to grow. Make others feel that they are contributing towards your success and that you care about your customers.