Marketing + Web
How to Engage Customers Online
March 31, 2020
Online customer engagement is an important best practice for businesses that can have great implications for marketing, sales, and public relations. Social media has completely changed the customer service landscape. Consumers today expect the brands that they’re interested in to be quickly available at a few taps of their fingertips. Businesses need to be ready to create opportunities for two-way conversations with their customers—whether that be on social media or online review websites. These relationships will have a significant impact on your ability to generate qualified leads online.
Engagement in your digital marketing strategy
Make online engagement a part of your digital marketing strategy. How you navigate online engagement must be a component of your digital marketing strategy. A solid plan will expand and enhance your digital footprint in profitable ways. In our first post of this digital footprint series we suggested that you run a quick Google search on your brand name to see what comes up. If you have a profile with Google My Business, you should see your profile, pictures, and reviews on the right side of your screen. The first result you should see on the left is your company’s website, followed by business profiles on various online review sites and social media channels. All of these elements are part of your digital presence.
Maybe you saw comments about your business on websites you didn’t know existed. Or perhaps you noticed an outdated address or phone number on a directory listing. Either way, all of these elements affect your digital footprint and need to be addressed within the context of an overall strategy to ensure consistency with branding and messaging.
Creating Business Profiles
Create business profiles on Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook. Proactive social customer service begins with creating opportunities for conversations you can steer in a positive direction. Creating and managing business profiles on Google My Business, Facebook, and Yelp are good places to start. All three of these platforms offer opportunities for you to share photos, product descriptions, special offers, and other types of content that you create and control. Additionally, each platform includes space for online comments and reviews.
Regularly posting fresh content to these business profile pages keeps them ranking high on your digital footprint, giving you a home field advantage when responding to comments. If you need help setting up business profiles on Google My Business, Yelp, or Facebook please let us know, we would be glad to help you out with that!
Always Respond to Online Comments and Reviews
Oftentimes companies don’t look at online customer reviews until they have negative ones that need to be addressed. We understand that online engagement may feel a bit cumbersome but we need to embrace it even if it feels like a necessary evil. Here’s why:
Say you run a bed and breakfast in New England. You have a beautiful website with professional photos and customer testimonials. This is fine and good, but if the second result of your digital footprint is a link to TripAdvisor.com with a host of poor quality images and negative reviews, your potential guests will take the word of past customers over what you have on your website and keep scrolling to the next choice.
So how do you respond to negative or inaccurate comments online?
- Always apologize and express empathy. Remember that your customer is the hero of the story and you are their guide helping them win the day. A gentle response often helps diffuse emotion and begin to regain trust.
- Do not get into an argument online. Always offer them a way to contact you directly. The honest reviewers will almost always take you up on the offer to talk about it offline and the troublemakers and trolls won’t bother.
- Have standard language you use for negative reviews e.g. “Your comments are important to us. Please contact us directly so we can learn more about your experience and work to improve.”
- If you ask them to email you directly, be sure to respond to that email quickly when it comes through. It will be much worse if you invite them to contact you and then drop the ball behind the scenes.
Customer reviews can be frustrating because sometimes they are legitimate and sometimes they are not. Either way, it’s smart PR to have a customer service strategy in place to respond so that others watching this conversation unfold see that you are doing what you can to make things right.
Make The Most of Every Opportunity to Connect
As inconvenient as navigating online reviews can seem, these are opportunities for your brand to make a lasting impression on your customers. Whether that’s a positive or negative impression is up to you depending on how you respond. Even customers who are unhappy will appreciate the effort you make to reach out to them and give them a chance to be heard. Embracing this new way of social customer service will help improve your digital footprint and ultimate win over more customers.
We can help you get a handle on what people are saying about your brand online and construct a digital marketing strategy that includes proactive online engagement. Please get in touch if you need help getting your arms around cultivating a more robust digital footprint. We would love to help!