You cannot be best friends with everyone
If you try to satisfy everyone, you will end up satisfying no one at all. Your customers are special and you should treat them as such. Additionally, your product is probably meant for a certain kind of person. You have a niche and your customers like you because you are unique. Stick to serving your target customer and they will reward you with their loyalty. Try to be all things to all people and your core group of customers will begin to realise that you are not meeting their exact needs anymore, and you lose what made you unique as a business.
What this means is that you need to choose your target customer. Who are you truly trying to appeal to? Do you sell wedding gifts? Your target audience will be women aged 21-40. Their favorite social networks are Facebook and Pinterest. They will likely be interested in beauty, clothing, interior decorating, DIY crafts and weddings. With this information, you can focus your marketing efforts and content on this group. Know what appeals to them and tailor your marketing as appropriate.
If you are uncertain of who exactly your target audience is, you can use analytics to help you find out. Monitoring analytics on a regular basis is also useful because you might find new information about your audience that you did not know before. Sources such as Google Analytics are helpful because they can tell you where your customers are coming from, as well as the keywords and content which convert best.
Once you know who your target customer is, what they want and where they spend their time, you can focus your efforts accordingly.
Have a good story to tell
Every business has a story. It is part of what makes your business unique. You should really use that to your advantage, as it will help people feel a connection to your store. Maybe you had the idea to sell the photographs you make like Mathias from holzbildchen.de. Maybe you were out camping and decided that you needed a better sleeping bag pillow, so you created one. Whatever your story is, be sure to share it with your audience so that they feel a human connection to your business.
Your story is the foundation of great content. Build around this story and create a message around your brand. You will then have a narrative that people can follow and relate to. This kind of affinity for your brand will set you apart in the competitive online marketplace. Make sure your stories are authentic and show customers how they can solve their problems. After all, customers are buying solutions, not products.
Create a community
After defining your target market and crafting a good story for your business, it becomes easier to build a community. The most important thing is to get people involved in the conversation and there are a few ways that you can do this.
Create a community for help: Do you run a bike shop? Create a Facebook community or some other sort of forum where people can share ideas for bike trips, their new favorite bikes or advice on bike repairs. Stoke the fire and get people to participate and make it a key part of your brand.
Respond to comments on your social media pages: directly participate in conversations with your customers. Add value, and they will feel a closer affinity with your brand.
Hold contests: Do you sell hiking equipment? Hold a contest where people post their most beautiful hiking photos. Allow your community to vote on the photos (and encourage contestants to share your page to gain votes). Whichever photo gets the most votes wins an exclusive new set of hiking gear.
Ask people for their opinion: Directly ask your users what they think of certain events in your industry, product features that you have, etc. Conduct polls so people can see what everyone else is thinking too!
Use innovative ways to stay in touch
Your social media pages are great places for users to post queries and get their questions answered. Be sure to encourage users to ask questions on your Facebook page and tweet questions at you. Also, participate in forums where your target customers hang out and provide valuable insights for their problems (without pushing your product too hard – maybe only a gentle nudge every once in a while if it’s relevant).
Videos can also be a creative way to reach out to your audience. Create videos giving expert advice, product demonstrations and information guides in order to add value to your audience and keep them engaged. For example, GHD does a great job of this with their videos related to their specialist hair products.
Don’t let the friendship get cold
Finally, be sure to maintain a strong relationship with your customers. In addition to building your community, employ these tactics as well.
Leverage your email list to stay in touch with your customers. Send them valuable content. Entice them with offers during certain holidays to give them a reason to come back to your store.
Create a loyalty program. It costs 5-10x more to get a new customer than it does to sell to one you already have. This can be done with a simple points system, where customers gain points that they can redeem for products as they make purchases. It can also be something more complex, like a paid loyalty program for free shipping, a tiered loyalty program where customers get additional benefits as they spend more, or a loyalty program in collaboration with a partner selling complementary products. For more on loyalty programs, check out this article.
Watch your customer loyalty statistics. Check in how often customers are returning to your store. Look at the rate of returning versus new customers. Is there a particular reason that customers are leaving your store? Have they experienced problems with shipping (check your average order processing time and order cancellation rates), is customer satisfaction low? Knowing these statistics will help improve your customer loyalty keep people coming back to your store.
By using these strategies, you’ll be able to turn your customers into your friends. Be relatable, get to know them and offer relevant content. If you can appeal to them, they will reward you with their loyalty.
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