In our current technological dispensation, it is common place for business owners to know that connecting with their client base is absolutely critical to running a successful business. In this age therefore, it is absolutely essential for your business to have an online presence. Whether it’s a website, an e-commerce platform, a mailing list, social media pages or a combination of two or more of these, or even all of them, getting your company online will reap great benefits for your business.
The veracity of the above has been seen and is being vividly explicated in recent times in our world with the current pandemic that has plagued a vast majority of the global space. This has resulted or forced a lot of businesses to shut down due to strict restrictions on movement and possible physical human interaction in most cities of the world. With this therefore, there has been little or no way for businesses without an active online presence to keep touch with their customers.
One of the primary goals of online media and social media in particular is building relationships. This is true for both individuals and businesses. Humans engage in building relationships all their lives, be it with their friends, family, employers, colleagues or peers; and of course, customers. Building sound relationships with your customers is one strategic key that should be employed in building a successful business.
Social media gives your brand a voice – it makes your company more “human” and relatable. Customers and potential customers can interact with your brand on a more personal level. It also gives you the opportunity to truly get to know your customers. This avails you the opportunity to build strong and lasting relationships that is potent although you may not be able to connect on a face-to-face basis. Social media is one of the simplest, yet most effective ways to get persons interested in your company and to form real relationships with real people.
A lucid example of how good customer relationship through online presence has resulted in unprecedented business success is seen with Zappos, one of the world’s leading online shoe and clothing retailing companies. In 2003, Zappos was a small company with 90 employees. The company was short on its working capital and struggling with the fiercely competitive challenges in the market. Today, this same business has the strength of over 1,800 employees and generates over a billion dollars in merchandise sales, becoming one of the topnotch E-commerce enterprises of the day.
How did this simple online shoe store fetch a $1.2 billion price tag from mega-giant Amazon? What was their secret sauce that made it reach super star status within the business world?
Admirably, it focused on how to build customer relationships and by placing the customer back into the heart of everything they do through an active online presence. CEO, Tony Hsieh encourages his employees to use social media as networks to put a human face on the company and engage with customers through the online media, following one of their core values which is to; “Build Open and Honest Relationship with Communication.”
In order to build lasting relationships with customers and leads alike through online presence, the following tips might be helpful for your business if they are duly adhered to:
Create an online presence for your business
This is not so difficult to achieve as it could range from simply opening a social media account, listing your business in business listing platforms to having a blog, website or an E-commerce platform. Once this is achieved, a channel of communication would have been created between you and your customers or leads.
Make your business visible to those that need it
This is related to the first point above but slightly different as a business could have an online presence, but not visible to those who can benefit from what is being offered. One way through which your business can be made visible is by creating a targeted SEO campaign. SEO simply stands for Search Engine Optimization and it is the mechanism through which your business can easily be found and accessed through search engines.
Create relevant content
The usefulness of appropriate content cannot be overemphasized in today’s online space. With the right contents, you are sure to appeal to your audience and give them the feeling of having a real time communication with you. This in turn will help you build relationships that will transcend to sales in no time.
Create an effective feedback mechanism
For communication to be effective, there must be appropriate feedback. It is therefore imperative to develop systems that would enable your audience give their feedback and also for you to give the right and timely response. Recent developments in artificial intelligence has even made this easier through channels such as bots through which automated messages can be sent in real time without necessarily having a human presence.
In today’s virtual world, even if you have a traditional brick and mortar business, an online presence is necessary to continue to grow and mark your true potential. The Internet expands business avenues. It is a powerful tool as most consumers analyze the market to make purchases, research new products and become better informed on the latest advancements on their favorite products.
Even if your company does not conduct business online, customers and potential customers are expecting to see you online. If they don’t see you there, you could be losing out on the opportunity to increase your customer base and get the word out about your business.