It's the goal of every business to turn casual customers into raving fans who refer new customers, give great ratings and reviews, and are an all-around dream for marketers. But how does a small business guide customers up the sales chain? Obviously, having great products and services is key, but connecting with, embracing and educating these casual customers through multiple channels will also help the process.
When customers visit your website, do you make it easy for them to connect with you? A site with little information helps no one — including those customers who already have some relationship with you. Your website should offer links to helpful information such as support information, user communities and frequently asked questions (FAQs). A customer with a question who can easily find a helpful answer on your website is a happy customer.
Email marketing is also an excellent tool for engaging and educating customers when done properly. Regularly scheduled messages that are filled with content — tips, ideas, how-to articles — can help both educate customers and keep them engaged with your business. If customers are regularly getting useful information from you, they'll stay on your email list longer and your business will be top of mind next time they need to make a purchase.
Within your email campaigns, make it easy for recipients (i.e., your raving fans and customers) to share information with friends, family and colleagues with a forward-to-a-friend option. Yes, they could just use their email client's “Forward” button, but using the forward-to-a-friend option makes the message trackable.
In today's social media world, connecting, embracing and educating customers goes beyond just websites and email. A small business needs to connect with its customers at every possible touchpoint, social media included. Your Facebook fan page and Twitter feed can and should be used to reach out to customers and prospects alike.
While social media networks have an element of fun attached to them, they too should be used to communicate educational material to customers. Thankfully, those small businesses that already have useful information on their website, blog or email campaigns can repurpose the content for use on Facebook and Twitter.
All of these efforts should promote one another. Mention your Facebook and Twitter presence on your website and in your e-newsletters, and vice versa. Doing so provides fans and customers with multiple ways to connect, and lets them choose which touchpoints are best for them. As a business, you have to engage customers wherever they connect with you. Having a Twitter account with no tweets or an email campaign with little substance will provide little in return.
Those customers that connect and engage with you in multiple channels are well on their way to becoming raving fans. Continue to offer these folks value at every touchpoint. Make it easy to connect with you when they need it, and they too will be singing your praises to others.
Eric Groves is senior vice president of global market development for Constant Contact, a provider of email marketing, event marketing and online surveys to small businesses. You can follow Eric on Twitter @E_Groves.