We live in a digital world and the Internet is playing a significant role in the buying process of our prospects. The buying process starts when prospects recognize a need and search for information that will fulfill the need. Today, this invariably happens with an online search. When customers go online and seek information, they are inundated with a lot of information. This is what I call the digital deluge.
There are e-commerce sites (where customers share their reviews), product comparison sites (where your products are pitted against those of the competitors) and then, you have your own website which will have the product information. The product that is well presented and provides clarity to the customers as “THE ONE” that fulfills their needs will eventually win. So, how do organizations ensure that their product wins by not just gaining the attention of prospects but also enabling them to make a purchase decision and become advocates of their product?
Online customer engagement is the key. It ensures you connect with your customers earlier on in the buying process.
Here are some ideas on how you can actively engage with your customers.
Have an interactive social media presence
Organizations need to be where their customers ‘hangout’. So, if you target customers are Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram users, you need to have an account and engage with your customers on these forums. Very often, organizations do have an account and presence on these social networking sites but they are not active. The key is not to have your voice heard all the time, but you need to get your existing customers or prospects to interact on these platforms. Get them to share their positive stories, their experience with the products, have contests and so on. It has to be a vibrant and active forum that educates your customers and not bombard them with too many advertisements or promotions.
Keep tabs on independent forums and e-commerce sites
Most of the e-commerce sites where your products are sold have customer reviews. Ensure that there is someone keeping track of these sites and responding to customer reviews – thanking for positive reviews, responding to negative feedback and queries. This shows that you are a responsible organization that cares for customer service. Sometimes, you could have wrong information that is circulated and when you keep track of these sites, you will be able to check them and ensure that the information is corrected before it does major damage to your reputation.
Make use of the power of videos
Videos are the most popular media on the Internet. You can have short videos of products on your website that gives prospects ideas about their features and benefits. Some organizations have a dedicated YouTube channel or an online link on their website with product videos giving product demonstrations, troubleshooting tips and so on. If you go to YouTube, and run a search for a consumer product, you will invariably find someone from somewhere in the world posting unboxing videos. Wouldn’t it be better that your prospective customer first hears about your product from you instead of a third party source? If a customer is treated to a well-cataloged and attractive product information, online demonstration right on your website or social media channels, they are more likely to be impressed with your product. They may still go to third party sources but that would serve only as reinforcement.
Internet is an opportunity where you can steer your prospects and customers to sites giving authentic and valid information about your products. It is not adequate to have a one-way interaction where your organization uploads videos, posts and tweets every day. The key to any online presence is engagement. Active engagement happens when your prospects respond to them and share their views, ask questions and refer your site to their friends. While it seems obvious, you will be surprised to learn that many organizations are yet to exploit this medium to the fullest. Similarly, you need to be vigilant about any negative information about your organization or products and respond to it immediately to avert any viral spread. Videos are popular and therefore have to be used effectively. They have the potential to engage with customers the maximum. It is in the interests of organizations to make the most of this medium.