Connect Digitally with Your Customers
Four easy-to-implement methods for building relationships
By 2015, experts from Bloomberg estimate that 85% of purchases will be influenced by some form of digital experience.(1) It is becoming increasingly important for small businesses to create meaningful connections with customers through digital channels.
We have identified four ways that you can start connecting now:
1. Social Media Acquisition
You can move customers from conversation to conversion with the use of free tools like TweetDeck and HootSuite. They allow you to monitor conversations and keywords related to your business. You can then use this view of the conversation to identify prospects and begin engaging with them on a more personal level. Below is an example on how one company achieved this:
- A North Carolina community hospital, High Point Regional, needed to connect with potential patients about its new surgical equipment. They turned to HootSuite, whose technology allowed them to quickly and effectively demonstrate the powerful technology using multiple forms of media. They live-tweeted health tips and comments from the surgeon, uploaded photos and streamed live video, all from the operating room. The campaign resulted in over 40 re-tweets, 30 new followers and coverage from a local newspaper. But most importantly, it gave High Point a new platform to connect with its audience, and gave potential patients a front-row seat to the life-saving technology the hospital offered.(2)
For time-pressed business owners, tools such as Splash Cube, Sendible and SocialBlaster can automate the social media acquisition process and allow you to expand your reach. You can post messages to over 40 social networks instantly, schedule automated messages and even track customer sentiments in real time.
2. Geo and Business Directories
When customers want to find a local business they turn to their mobile phones. Google Maps has been called “the new phone book” based on mobile consumer usage studies. In addition to your website, it is important to make sure your address and phone number are listed in Google Maps and other online directories like the Yellow Pages and Merchant Circle.
- The staff at 853 Rehearsal Studios in New York, NY, realized the studio wasn’t visible to potential customers. So they claimed the business’ page on Google Places. Since updating their page with the correct address, phone number, website and location photos, they have seen a significant increase in the amount of email inquiries from customers and, most importantly, a 25-30% increase in business.
In an online video interview on xrumer.tv, owner/operator Judy Mason says, “It lets people know where we are located, gives us a presence and I think when people can see who you are, they feel more comfortable coming in.”(3)
Similarly, restaurant owners can submit their locations to Foursquare, Yelp, Urban Spoon, and Zagat. For an even broader reach, consider using an aggregator service, such as Localeze, which will help get your business listed in many of the directories mentioned above, as well as on AOL, Bing, Twitter, and even GPS/Navigation directories like TomTom.
3. Mobile Payment
In 2012, there will be more than $171.5 billion in estimated mobile payment transactions, according to research firm Gartner . Additionally, 94% of North Americans would be happy to complete payments through their phone if they knew the system was secure.(4) Services like Google Wallet, Square, and Intuit Go Payment allow businesses to easily act on this emerging trend.
- Instituting mobile payment has worked well for Columbus, Ohio business Allison Lehman Design and its customers based on a recent article on themetropreneur.com. Owner Allison Lehman started using the mobile payment service Square, and has since seen an increase in traffic from local clients who prefer to pay by card, versus out-of-state clients who pay by cash or check. She credits Square’s ease and convenience for her recent success. “It’s so easy to use - as soon as I swipe or manually enter my client’s card, I send the receipt to their email or cell phone.”(5)
Services like these are not just customer-friendly; they can also be affordable for small businesses. They reduce or eliminate cost-prohibitive processing fees, enabling your business to save money while providing your customers with a variety of ways to pay.(6)
4. Mobile Loyalty
The rapidly growing mobile audience has opened opportunities for small businesses looking to drive customer loyalty without the time commitment and financial cost of building a traditional loyalty program. Services like Shopkick and LoyalBlocks allow you to easily create a loyalty program that may include providing special offers to customers, while others like Punchd bring the traditional loyalty punch card to the digital space. Another benefit of using one of these larger loyalty services is that they feature big brands like Starbucks and Target and have millions of customers already interacting with them daily. (7)By simply establishing a presence on one of these loyalty platforms you can potentially expand your business to a new customer base.
With so much of the marketplace being influenced by what consumers experience online, small businesses need every edge they can get. By using tools like social media acquisition and mobile loyalty to connect with digital customers, your business can have access to the vast opportunity that digital and online channels present.
Solutions from Time Warner Cable Business Class
You may not be aware of all the solutions we have to offer. Now is a great time to speak with your Account Manager and see how our solutions can impact your business:
- High-speed Internet: Whether your business is changing or growing, we offer a range of affordable speeds to support your business. For more bandwidth-intensive needs, we now offer speeds up to 50 Mbps download (where available).
- Online Backup: We make it easy to safeguard your critical business data on your company’s computers in a secure, off-site location. Backups can be scheduled automatically to reduce manual workload and a user-friendly portal allows you to set up and manage multiple users. Plus, you can rely on secure, remote file access from any Internet-connected computer.
- Web Hosting: Choose the features that best fit your Internet strategy based on the amount of space your website requires, the traffic you expect, e-commerce needs and your existing Web hosting platform. Our Domain Name Services provides fast and complete domain name search and registration, enabling you to get your website up and running quickly.
- Business Class Phone with Voice Manager: Enjoy affordable and reliable multi-line phone service with unlimited calling plans. Plus, our online tool allows you to easily manage and update your business phone features online from any location, at any time. And it is free with Business Class Phone.
-Auto Attendant: This additional service, available with Business Class Phone, lets you designate a phone number to be automatically answered with a simple menu to help route incoming calls to the right person.