Ten Ways to Attract New Customers Online: Part Three

Apr 23, 2014
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Ten Ways to Attract New Customers Online: Part Three
In our previous post, we asked this question:
How many truck driving jobs were there in Canada in 2012?
Answer: 
According to one analysis, in 2012 there were over 240,000 truck driving jobs in Canada—an increase of over 6% between 2010-2012. 
Did you know that?
Now for this post’s question!
The airline Virgin America has an official customer service goal: They will respond to Tweets within ___ minutes. But often, they’re able to respond within ___.
Check back for the answer in our next post!
In Parts One and Two of our series on attracting new customers via online marketing, we examined a variety of things that businesses should be doing in order to attract potential customers in the modern digital age. The five points we’ve covered so far are:
1)Be available to your customers.
2)Track everything, all the time.
3)Usability is key for success.
4)Serve your mobile visitors.
5)Don’t overextend yourself.
But that’s not all! There’s always more to keep in mind, and room to keep improving as you find ways that work best to draw new customers toward your business. If traditional marketing is doing that for you, great… but you’re among the minority these days.
Trial and error makes perfect, sure—but you have to try first, in order to fail and improve. So, let’s look at a few critical things to be aware of as you’re moving into the digital age with your marketing strategies.
6)Be Professional.
“No kidding,” you’re thinking. “Isn’t that a no-brainer?”
Yeah, you’d think so, wouldn’t you? But consider the nature of online marketing: Information disseminates quickly, to many people, and it can’t be controlled. And how much more likely is a customer to complain online about customer service—where the complaint can be both non-confrontational and anonymous—than they are to praise that same business for a good experience?
Maintaining a personable, knowledgeable, and logical demeanor throughout all interactions is critical, whether you’re interacting with a customer online or in-person… because a negative experience may spawn an online reputation that is very difficult to get away from.
You may remember a little ditty from 2009, called “United Breaks Guitars.” The song was spawned after a real-life experience by a musician on a United Airlines flight. Due to careless baggage handling, the airline broke his guitar… and after he complained, the airline responded in a less-than-tactful manner. The song became a huge hit, and the story was covered in newspapers across the continent (dare we say, across the globe?).
Two more songs were subsequently released as the musician continued to try and seek compensation with the airline for his broken guitar. The song and handling of the situation was—and still is—a public relations embarrassment for the airline.
On the flip side, once you have an online presence, you must maintain a sense of professionalism there too. Yes, you can be more “personal” with your customers and potential new customers, but that’s no excuse for bad grammar, text speak, or angry responses to commenters who complain. Respond with courtesy and in a timely manner.
For example, the Color Me Rad 5K fun run organization maintains a Facebook page that has been full of both positive and negative comments. Last year, an article began circulating that complained about for-profit fun runs and their marketing “schemes.” Many people posted this article on the Color Me Rad Facebook page and demanded an explanation.
Rather than respond in anger, condescension, or ignoring what were legitimate concerns for some participants, Color Me Rad respectfully addressed every single person who posted. They spoke to the concerns and presented their position, resulting in a positive experience for both the company and the commenters. It’s also rare that a post by a participant on their Facebook page doesn’t get responded to by Color Me Rad—they’re engaged with their customers and potential customers, and they do it in such a way that maintains a sense of professionalism with a personal touch. This draws people in and helps to develop a sense of loyalty from potential customers before any money is ever spent.
7)Be Different!
It’s one thing to learn all these online marketing strategies to attract new customers, but it’s quite another thing to stand out from the crowd. Just like with traditional marketing, “same old, same old” is going to apply with online marketing. If you don’t have a message or strategy that stands out, no one is going to remember you. No one is going to click through, or follow your social media page, or care about what you have to offer them.
So, while it’s important to see what your competitors are doing—so that you know where to enter the playing field, so to speak—it’s even more important to look at what they aren’t doing. What is your competition not doing that would benefit your customers? Where is the gap in service or message? What void can you fill with your marketing that everyone else seems to have missed?
One simple way to “spy” on the success of your competitors’ marketing strategies is to observe their social media profiles and see how the customers and potential customers on there are responding to what’s presented. Look at their websites—what’s lacking? Is there an issue with usability that could be improved on your website? If someone gets frustrated with a competitor’s online shopping cart and comes to yours, will they stick with your product because you’ve just provided an easy, convenient experience that no one else offers?
Listen to your customers, and be there to fill the gap. Stand out by being different, but in a way that serves the people you want to reach—not in a way that’s just flash and no substance.
While at first glance these two points seem like familiar territory—after all, it’s common knowledge for every business that it’s necessary to be professional and to try and be different—but it’s the approach to these concepts that makes the difference when trying to reach new customers in an online marketplace.
How you serve those customers—and whether you make that service memorable in a good or bad way—is what will help you stand out from all the other options available to your potential clients.

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