The internet is an excellent container in which users, through search engines like Google, can find all the information or products they are looking for. However, some sectors are more saturated, and it is difficult for a small business owner to stand out and compete with large distributors / online service or product providers.
To stand out, businesses need to focus on cultivating relevant traffic that they can convert in paying customers that are satisfied (fans). So here are three critical pieces of advice on how you can create satisfied customers and ultimately build a fan base.
Build your credibility
Credibility for a small business that wants to do sell online is crucial, and credibility starts to be built when a prospective customer first visits your website. Firstly to create a good first impression and start building credibility it is essential that a website is up to date. Secondly, there needs to be the possibility for the user to directly contact your business, thirdly the layout of the site is simple and intuitive, fourthly there’s a professional brand. Finally, it needs to be easy for the users to find the contents or answers they’re seeking quickly (the latter being in relation to optimised landing pages arrived at by search queries).
One extra tip is to include testimonials of previous customers to increase trust in your business to be able to deliver a high-quality product or service on time. Finally, being able to connect your businesses data silos, people, operations and customers using a platform like Microsoft Dynamics 360 can give you an edge (user guides at Usedynamics.com if you need more information on why and how). All this will allow you to start turning prospective customers into loyal fans who consistently buy from your brand and promote your business.
An online business has no future with loyal and passionate fans
Fans are a group of “loyal” customers who promote your business typically by word of mouth. Having fans is very important as at the same price, people prefer to buy from those they know and trust or can be vouched for. Satisfied customers can be the main ambassadors for your business and will allow a small business to acquire significant amounts of new customers through word of mouth without spending a marketing budget. Additionally, fans can create a “social shield” for a company, protecting and drowning out any online criticism a company may suffer (whether warranted or not).
So how you do cultivate fans and turn them from loyal customers to fanatics? Start by sharing your values, provide excellent customer support before, during and after the sale, and involve customers by asking their opinion and listening to their suggestions.
Listening to fans online
“To be able to build an online business that works and is sustainable, it is essential to understand in the most precise and rapid way possible the needs of the community of people you intend to sell to”. The Internet offers many tools that enable businesses to listen to their fans carefully and actively (for example by directly asking them questions). Mediums/ tools to do this include: newsletters, comments on online content, social media channels, thematic groups, webinars, forums, customer support and chat and messaging channels.
Don’t focus on traffic
As highlighted in the first paragraph of this post, the goal of a company that wants to do business online should not be traffic but converting traffic into paying customers. Yes, you have to source relevant traffic via search marketing, social media marketing, email marketing or other methods but for that to be worth the effort you need to make sure you’re converting those visitors (prospective customers) into satisfied customers (loyal fans).