Effective business communication begins when you are present in places where your audience is. Gone are the days when a customer support desk alone used to be sufficient to answer queries or register complaints. People now have access to a plethora of tools and technology which means they expect you to be there too.
So what should you be doing to seamlessly connect with your audience and distribute information related to your business in 2019?
Begin by finding out what is important to your audience
The wonderful bit about technology is that not only does it let you get your messages out on several platforms simultaneously, it also allows you to discover who your audience is. You can build buyer personas, construct customer journeys and drill-down in granular detail where they come from, what they like, what they respond to and which channels they are present on. Analytical tools from Google and Facebook will even tell you when your content was most read or viewed, what percentage found it through organic searches and how many went on to click and land on your website. Such information is critical in determining what you should be talking about to your audience.
Make chat support a live feature
Millennials and Centennials are more likely to chat with a company’s representative online, rather than picking up the phone and dialing a hotline number. When faced with an issue, people prefer to get their problem resolved immediately through a click of a button. Integrating chat support into your website can help you address this need. According to this article on PageCloud, it typically costs around $250 to integrate a live chat feature into your content management system. On the other hand, if you’re using a website builder, you can probably do-it-yourself.
While legacy communication channels like snail mail and faxes may not be as frequently used today as they were a couple of decades back, these systems are still necessary in several industries. It is a good idea to invest in a virtual office system that brings snail mail, faxes, telephone and live chat in one place. Such solutions are cloud-based and help your organization scale up while retaining the legacy channels that are preferred by some customers and stakeholders.
Focus on communities
The proliferation of social media has made almost everything public. If you hope to effectively reach your target audience you need to be open, transparent and maintain constant communication through public forums. Groups are a great way to create a community around topics of interest. Get innovative and in addition to maintaining a presence on the traditional social channels like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, engage with users directly on communities such as Quora and Reddit. For instance, you can start a subreddit on your industry or brand and create an exclusive community of highly engaged users. Not only is this a smart way of drawing in a sustainable volume of visitors, but you are also more likely to gain customers who remain loyal long beyond their last transactions or interactions with your company. Bear in mind though, that building communities is about educating the audience and fostering trust, so keep the hard sell to a bare minimum.
It has long been established that audiences engage a lot more with videos than with images or written content. Vlogging is a great way to maintain authenticity, give your audiences an insider’s account and engage in a dialogue with them. The range of assets you can churn out is vast – everything from how-to instructions to senior management interviews to thought leadership pieces can be turned into vlogs. Ensure that you invest in good equipment and the videos are shot professionally. The last thing you need is shoddy videos that your audience doesn’t find attractive. Make the content engaging and ensure that it addresses some pain point or need of those who will be watching your videos.
Another non-negotiable requirement of audiences is instant access to information. Nobody wants to wait to log in to their laptops to visit your website, which is why investing in a mobile responsive website is one of the top priorities of businesses in 2019. You must ensure that all channels of communication, like links to your social media profiles, are seamlessly integrated into your website and accessible from every device. You may also consider investing in progressive apps which blur the lines between apps and websites.
Making communication more efficient
One of the primary reasons why many businesses fail with customer engagement is because of poor internal collaboration. Despite the multiple communication channels that businesses have with customers, the internal resolution team is essentially the same. Desperate customers tend to reach out through multiple channels at the same time and this creates multiple tickets that reach the resolution teams independently. An efficient internal collaboration system would ensure that issues are not duplicated and thereby help with shortening the resolution turnaround times.
Create brand ambassadors through events and meet-ups
In-person interactions fare far better than talking to someone who you can’t really see. Go one step further from social media, and get social for real. The spontaneity inherent in real life conversation can lead to the discovery of new avenues and opportunities. It also establishes a more emotional connection between the audience and the business. You can organize company-sponsored meet-ups, attend networking events, find speaking opportunities or simply throw in a casual coffee meet-up over weekends to talk to small groups of people and gather valuable insights from them.
Building an audience takes time and connecting with them is a continuous exercise. By leveraging the right marketing tactics and technological tools, you can reach out to your target audience much faster and keep engaging with them on a frequent basis. Instead of having someone look out for you, you must aim to be present in spaces with high visibility, both online and offline, and make it easy for everyone to connect with you.