The customers of today are not the customers of the past.
Today’s customers live online.
They’re one click away from shopping at all times.
They do in-depth research on products and services before purchasing. They consume media and advertisements continuously.
Capturing the heart of today’s customers is a tall order. But here are four things you can offer them to give you an advantage.
1. Give them transparency.
Customers want to trust you before they buy from you. Transparency is what wins that trust.
According to customers, transparency is defined as being open, honest and clear in communication. And an astounding 86% of Americans say transparency from businesses is more important than ever before.
That means it’s time to put aside a lifeless, disembodied brand voice and approach. Instead, brands need to learn how to authentically engage with customers online and offline.
While transparency looks different for each business, the goal is to be genuine and up-front with customers.
For KFC, transparency meant apologizing when it ran out of chicken in its UK restaurants. Rather than ignore the issue, KFC owned up to it publicly with a full-page advertisement in two major newspapers.
In the business-to-business market, a great example of transparency is “The Journey,” a video series from Social Media Examiner that showcases how the team develops and pursues marketing initiatives. Season 2 shared the process of the publication deciding to no longer service the creator community of YouTubers, podcasters and bloggers. Instead, they’re doubling-down on their larger audience of marketers. The announcement of this included an admission by founder Michael Stelzner that he had been fighting this change, and that it was still an agonizing decision for him.
2. Give customers engagement.
A one-sided promotional megaphone approach will not work. According to one study, 90% of people have used social in some way to communicate directly with a brand. In fact, social trumped email and phone calls for communication. It’s the first place most people turn when there’s a problem or an issue with a company.
The benefits of engaging with customers through messaging apps or by responding to comments are amazing. About 70% of people are more likely to use a brand’s product or service, and 65% of people have more brand loyalty after receiving a response to their comments on social.
Besides engendering goodwill, responding to engagements can often boost the performance or your posts. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds favor posts with a lot of engagement, comments, etc. So a post that garners a comment from a customer which then has a reply from the brand will likely gain a greater reach and more engagement.
3. Give them user-generated content.
People trust content from influencers and other users — like photos, product reviews, etc. — more than content created by the brand. One study even says that 60% of people consider user-generated content to be the most authentic form of content.
Additionally, an astounding 82% of smartphone users will consult reviews on a purchase they’re about to make in-store. And 45% of customers read reviews before purchasing a product.
Online clothing retailer Modcloth capitalizes on this desire for user-generated content on social media by featuring beautiful shots of #ModClothSquad influencers in trendy outfits, often with direct quotes.
On its website, Modcloth shows the products in user-generated photos. This provides a real sense of what items look like without the benefits of professional lighting, makeup and photography.
4. Give customers the right information.
Marketer and consumer data have shown that social’s true impact is in the awareness and consideration stages of the marketing funnel.
Within the awareness phase of the marketing funnel, customers look for well-produced videos, graphic or images about the product or service — especially if the posts entertain, tell a story or inspire the customer.
For the consideration phase, content that educates can provide the right opportunity to reach customers by providing value and building relationships.
The content doesn’t necessarily need to be product- or service-focused. But it should always be brand relevant.
Bank of America has done this well with its Bank of America and Better Money Habits Pinterest accounts. Its aspirational, helpful content caters to Pinterest’s future-focused audience with helpful pins that revolve around life events such as marriage, having kids and buying a house.
Their pins don’t focus on selling financial services. Rather, the content educates customers about life changes that also have financial implications. This positions the brand front-of-mind when it’s time to make a decision while also providing relevant links.
Give the People What They Want
Providing customers with transparency, authenticity, engagement, user-generated content, and content that assists them in planning and decision-making will look different for every company. But addressing the current desires of today’s customer is a must to stand out and be successful in this oversaturated marketplace.
If you’re wondering how to connect with the customer of today through SEO, social media and digital marketing, we’re here to help. Contact our digital team today to get started now.