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Most people who run a business are well aware that communication with customers is critical to success, but that is only partially correct: it is only successful if it is done in a way that not only engages customers, but also meaningful relationships builds up. According to worldwide research results from Sales team.
Today there are numerous ways to interact with customers, and in this digital age, it is an ever-changing field with a wide variety of means to connect and communicate directly. It can get overwhelming for companies trying to determine which channel is best for not only reaching customers, but also generating loyalty – as it goes back to the Pareto principle (or 80/20 rule): That loyal 20% of customers makes up 80% of your sales.
While this process can be difficult, it is something every business must embark on if it wants to grow and be successful. Especially when you consider that two-thirds of the difference in brand profits was based on consumer engagement, with companies at the higher end of customer engagement receiving higher win rates, according to a report van Hall and Partners.
Each communication channel has value and is well suited to a specific purpose, but each also has weaknesses. It is helpful to look at the best use of the different channels to improve communication with customers, as well as to understand the pitfalls of these individual channels and how to mitigate risk through best practices and enabling technologies.
Let’s list the six most popular and effective ways to stay in constant contact with your customers and what the limitations are:
Related: Why Customer Communications Make a Difference During Inflation
Ninety percent of customers are more loyal to brands they follow on social media, according to a recent report by Shoot Social. Why? Because customers want relationships with brands, and social media platforms provide a means for customers to know what a brand is doing at any time any day of the week, and most importantly, based on the consumer’s schedule. While social media platforms are constantly evolving, the only challenge is the competition for placement. Consumers are inundated with a deluge of content, and the fact that the platforms have algorithms in place to choose what content to display means that organically, only 2% of your followers see what you post on their timeline. So social media platforms are very powerful, but only if the customer “goes” to your page or is somehow directed to your site.
2. Difficulty driving traffic to your website
Websites have long been the common method for publishing content, business hours, company information, and much more. Providers like Google are constantly scouring the web and building huge indexes of the information they find on a website. However, like social media, websites are great when the customer comes to “search” for your information, but websites have no way of actively getting information into your customer’s hands. The challenge is navigating search engine optimization and a range of tactics to drive traffic to your site. The second challenge with a website is that the information is often old for several reasons. The most obvious is that the individual operator is not a website developer. And there is a cost and time involved in keeping the site up to date — especially for highly time-sensitive information, such as a band schedule or this week’s happy hour specials.
Related: 19 Experts Explain Why Your Website Isn’t Bringing In Customers
3. The Many Challenges of Email Marketing
Email is an age-old means of communication. One of the benefits of email is that it creates a reference that people can revisit (for example, a coupon delivered via email that can be picked up on a phone). The challenges are the sheer volume of emails, the timeliness of “seeing” the emails, and spam filters. In addition, inbox space is limited, messages must be short and delivery and compliance are not decisive. Even with a successful email model, the question is how do you get the email addresses of your valuable customers? These are not always easy or cheap to obtain and are often dependent on an outside source.
4. Character Limits in SMS Marketing
The main benefits of SMS marketing are that it is delivered quickly and facilitates interaction. It also has a much higher open rate than email. In reality, 98% of text messages are opened within 5 minutes. However, the messages are very short, only 160 characters, which limits the robustness of the communication. This can make a customer feel detached from your business and affect the personalization of your communications. And the phone numbers for SMS have to be purchased – so building a customer database takes time.
Related: 5 Ways to Use Texting to Grow Your Sales and Marketing
5. Digital signage lacks personalization
Digital signage provides a means of informing customers in physical locations. It can communicate specials, sell items, provide QR codes to follow, share social posts, and it can even serve as a digital menu board. While digital signage is certainly beneficial, it is not beneficial as a standalone tactic. Customer loyalty requires personalized, ongoing relationship building, so digital signage works better as an enhancement than a proprietary tactic.
6. Cost and time of podcasts
A podcast provides the opportunity for robust, personalized content and no time or length limitations. The biggest challenge with a podcast is growing an audience beyond the time spent planning, recording, producing and marketing the podcast. While a podcast increases brand loyalty, because of the amount of money and labor it requires, it’s not always the best choice.
With these six different ways to communicate with customers, each method has unique advantages. But generating customer loyalty and ultimately more sales is best achieved through not just one of these methods, but multiple integrated tactics to get the best results.
Related: Why You Should Be Using Blogs and Podcasts to Market Your Business
How Integrated Marketing Technology Works
Here’s an example: Charlie & Jake’s Brewhouse needed to fill their dining room and boost sales on Sunday afternoon. By capturing customer information through a free Wi-Fi hotspot, they collected phone numbers and texted them at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday with a free brewhouse pretzel with beer mustard that day. Customers just had to text the answer “PRETZEL” to redeem it. The result was a crowded dining room within hours of opening. It was real-time marketing, delivering real-time results by integrating Wi-Fi with SMS.
However, this can go one step further. Once proprietary customer data is collected, it can also be integrated with social media, email marketing, and digital signage. SMS can be used to send a message with a one-click link to follow your business on social media, or it can provide a link to your event on Facebook. By integrating Wi-Fi technology with various forms of communication, companies can deliver not only hyper-targeted and more personalized messages, but also communications delivered to the right people at the right time and in the right place.
In short, there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong form of communication when building customer relationships – it’s about using multiple forms of communication all working together for a purpose.