We’re living in a multi-platform retail environment and that’s a great thing for marketers, mostly.
On the one hand, there’s a wide variety of ways to interact with people and drive sales. If a potential customer doesn’t respond positively to emails, they may be more willing to connect with your firm on Facebook, for example.
But the downside is that consumers have far higher expectations, particularly of the bigger brands. If you aren’t catering to their platform of choice, you risk frustrating them and devaluing your company.
Here are a few of the main platforms your customers may expect you to be actively using – and how you can meet their expectations.
Your corporate website
Clearly a poor website that’s hard to navigate is a major turnoff for customers and will make your brand seem shoddy.
But it’s not just the pages of your site that matter. It’s very common for people to navigate to a website through search engines instead of by typing the address.
So you need to make sure you’re ranking top for your brand name (this should be a given) and also ranking highly for the most obvious search terms.
If you’re a major brand and you don’t rank on the first page of search results, you won’t look like a major player. Leaving aside the lost traffic, that’s going to affect how consumers see you.
When customers rant about specific brands via Twitter, they are probably expecting a response.
Major brands particularly should be monitoring for mentions and acknowledging both criticisms and praise from their consumers.
If you’re not doing so then you look unconnected. Worse, the customer might imagine that you’ve seen their outburst but simply don’t care enough to respond.
Monitoring Twitter is a must. It’s so easy to do that even small brands can easily keep an eye on this platform, even though they are less likely to be mentioned.
Done well, an email marketing campaign can drive enthusiastic customers to your pages and build loyalty. You can highlight promotions and offer exclusive discounts.
But customers also expect you to treat their inboxes with respect and this can be a balancing act. Contact them too often and you risk them complaining about spam, contact them too little and you risk them forgetting they signed up to receive your messages in the first place.
Aim to send regular marketing emails that contain offers your customers will want to receive.
Customers also expect it to be easy to unsubscribe and that you’ll protect their information. These are two very easy ways to keep your customers happy.
Fewer people expect brands to be active on Facebook but it can be a great way to connect with them.
That’s particularly true for younger, cooler brands like Innocent Smoothies or Subway.
If you’re a popular brand then you probably already have a few customer-created fan groups – but you can’t control the content on those. That makes it important for you to set up your own official page for people to ‘like’.
Then you can increase loyalty by friendly, informal interactions; competitions; and exclusive offers.
With so many web-based platforms, it’s very easy to forget that sometimes customers expect to speak to a human.
Make sure you don’t alienate these clients by ploughing all your energy into online contact options. It might be easier for you but it won’t always be best for them.
If you can afford to do so, make sure there’s a phone number on your site for people to call when they want more than an online interaction with a faceless brand.