One of the primary differences between small businesses and their larger counterparts is the ability to develop personal relationships with the clientele. For small businesses, ensuring that you make your customers feel “at home” at your business is crucial: not only will it keep them loyal to you, but it will also encourage them to spread the word about your business. Developing relationships with your customers allows the marketing takes care of itself. Here are six pointers for how to improve your relations with your customers:
1. Use website analytics to get to know their behavior
While the process may still be foreign to many business owners, learning how to use website analytics can provide a world of information about your customers and how people are finding your business. There are many programs available for your business to use to monitor your customers’ online behavior, including the famous free program Google Analytics. By simply incorporating a code onto your business’ website, you can tell the following stats about your customers:
- How they found your website (including what keywords they typed in if they used a search engine)
- Where they are from
- What pages they visited on your site
- How long they spent on your website
- and many, many more details.
This knowledge can help you craft your marketing strategy to specifically fit into the interests, preferences, and tendencies of your current clientele.
2. Always ask how they found out about you
If you don’t have a system in place to ascertain where your customers found out about you, you are missing out on vital information about how to bring in more customers to your small business. Learn what is working and what isn’t. Whether your customers walked into your business, called in, or sent you an email, you should always find a friendly way to ask them where they heard about you. This will allow you to put more time, money, and energy into promoting that medium in the future.
3. Be friendly on Facebook and Twitter
Facebook and Twitter are helpful for many reasons, but among the most important is their capacity to allow you to interact one-on-one with your customers. Using social media to actually be social is a cost-free method of small business marketing that your business cannot miss out on. Personally respond to all of their questions and comments on these sites. It will also show the rest of your followers that you encourage communication with your customers.
4. Give them something for free
Providing something free for your customers does not have to be costly for you. Here is one solution: start a blog (online web-log) for your business that gives advice, coupons, news, or other free resources to your customers. Blogs are generally free to operate and they help set your business apart from its competition.
5. Let them give you feedback
More and more, consumers expect to be able to contribute their own thoughts and criticisms to the businesses where they spend their money. Whether through online review sites, blogs, social media, forums, or simply via word of mouth, customers want to share their thoughts – so embrace it! Ask them to tell you how you could improve. Showing that your business is open to criticism will show your customers that you are confident in your business, and trusting of your customers’ opinions.
6. Allow certain customers to “stand out”
Selecting a “customer of the month” or something related is one of the oldest tricks in the small business marketing handbook – but it works! And now, there are many new ways you can feature select customers and make them feel appreciated at your business. For example, use Facebook to select a “customer of the month,” and incorporate a deal where being featured comes with some sort of free gift or coupon. Hosting a series online that features one customer at a time adds a personal layer to your business and makes it easier for your followers to share the series with their friends with one single click.