Consumer behaviors have changed a lot in the past few decades and online shopping is expected to only grow, potentially as high as $370 billion by 2017. As consumers change, so have brands and the relationships between the two.
As technology changes, the ways in which people buy may change, but the fundamental truth that people buy from those they like and trust remains the same. Here are 11 ways to use the tools of emerging media to get to the root of sales — building trust with your consumers.
1. Build relationships.
I love these words by JP LaFors: “Consumers today, people today, are thirsty for brands to provide something more than just a product or service. They want relationships, especially amid our technologically immersed lives, where human interactions seem to be decreasing and digital interactions are increasing.” Emerging media offers many opportunities for brands to make meaningful connections with consumers, when brands remember that there are real people on the other side of the interaction.
2. Share your mission.
Well done mission-driven marketing can create an emotional connection between a brand and a consumer, increase loyalty and build brand equity. According to Dan Kennedy, you can’t be shy about sharing your story. Social media is a great venue for telling this story in a real and meaningful way.
3. Show behind-the-scenes content.
Speaking of social media, let’s not forget that social media is, well, social. Consumers want to see a brand’s personality shine through, and they want to feel like they are getting an exclusive look. Platforms like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, especially, offer unique venues for brands to leverage that opportunity. Don’t be afraid to show consumers why and how your company does what it does.
4. Give them valuable content.
When Outbrain outlined the “five most important content marketing trends for 2016,” Gilad De Vries said that “a true content marketing strategy is focused on adding value to the target consumer by delivering stories that make an impact on an emotional level and inspire and nurture them.” De Vries also explained that strategic marketers find a way to balance “the value exchange”–providing value to the consumer while meeting business goals. Ensure that you give consumers valuable content and they will be more likely to read your blog, engage with your site, opt-in to consumer tracking and refer you to others.
5. Be consistent.
According to Charles Edge, a good content strategy includes a “regular cadence,” so that readers know when to expect content and “that you’re going to be there for them on a regular basis. Consistency isn’t just about a schedule. While your tone may change depending on the digital platform, your brand voice should be consistent no matter where or how your consumer engages with you. Consumers will be more likely to trust you if they feel you are giving them a consistent experience and message.
6. Be responsive.
Emerging media is all about timeliness and many emerging media platforms, such as social media and blogs, are all about dialogue. If you aren’t responsive to your consumers, you will not build their trust. In fact, you may make matters worse by staying silent. According to Convince & Convert, about a third of respondents in a recent survey showed that they expect a response within 30 minutes of contacting a brand through social media for customer support and “42% expect a response within 60 minutes.”
7. Be transparent.
As more companies rely on data mining, consumers are becoming more concerned about their online privacy. Be transparent about the ways in which you may use consumer information and make it easy for consumers to learn more and to opt-out. Additionally, be transparent about policies, contests and anything else that may be a source of confusion or worry to customers. You will gain their trust by addressing their concerns and answering questions directly.
8. Personalize their experience.
As much as consumers are worried about behavior tracking, they also want a personalized experience. Offer customization that feels natural and safe to consumers; for instance, through self-segmentations and consumer opt-in opportunities. A personalized experience makes consumers feel like you know them and value their uniqueness.
9. Be accountable.
Companies, like people, aren’t perfect. And with emerging media, mistakes these days aren’t private. According to Forbes contributor Mark Zwilling, “success in any business is all about accountability.” Even after making a public faux pau, brands can regain trust and build relationships with consumers by being accountable for their words and actions.
10. Share the spotlight.
Building trust means knowing when to include others. Interview other experts on your blog, share content from community partners on your social media posts, highlight employees who have phenomenal stories and encourage feedback from your consumers. Doing so gives brand credibility, increases innovation through collaboration and builds relationships from dialogue.
11. Say thank you.
Acknowledging your customers contributions and recognizing them on social media are just two of the 13 ways Firas Kittaneh says you can show love to your customers. Consumers trust companies who value them and treat them like much more than a sale. Mobile rewards programs, discounts and coupons, and valuable content are just a few other ways emerging media can be leveraged as a thank you.
What would you add to this list? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!