Are you sending out those Christmas cards again this year? Well good for you – keeping up the Christmas spirit is important. Or maybe you’re sending all your customers and prospects a gift this year? Never hurts, right?
Christmas isn’t the only time business gifts show up at the door. Premiums and incentives are a huge business and promotions of every description are so common, we hardly notice when a business contact hands us a branded pen, USB key or hat. If you have attended any conference’s trade show floor, you know just how big a business it is. But what about the customers and prospects that you don’t meet? So how do you engage them and what’s the right CRM tool to do it right?
Connect With Your Customers
Many independent agents, sales people etc. use promotional devices to stay top-of-mind, but the question is, does this really work? I have a received a branded note pad every year from the same local real estate agent, but have I called him? Nope. Would I call him? Maybe. The only true value is I get here is for me.
It all comes back to reaching out and staying top-of-mind with current or past customers and customer prospects in relevant way. In marketing it’s known as building a strong customer relationship and indeed it is a form of a relationship. This process applies to communicating with your audience before and after sale in a consistent, timely manner in order build or retain their attention through the sales cycle. The questions are 1) what is the best way to do this and 2) what should the ROI be?
Surprising, the best online CRM tool out there is not the latest cloud based, CRM software (although it’s good too!) So what is the best online CRM tool for business owners? Experts agree: it’s online WOM or word-of-mouth.
Online word-of-mouth (WOM) is a positive outcome to building a strong customer relationship and staying connected with customers with digital media. It is a very socially connected approach too – as we know with the rise social media. Today’s social marketing is built on principles of WOM: where people share content – that is, free, helpful information, stories, media and news.
Experience Worth Sharing
In a study from the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication’s the results showed that “online WOM was found to lead to online forwarding and online chatting as an outcome.”* With the right solution, customers will share the online content and spread the word-of-mouth value, which actually magnifies the ROI.
Online word-of-mouth is a positive outcome to building a strong customer relationship and staying connected with customers with digital media.
Build A Great Experience
“If you build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.” – Jeff Bezos
But how do you build an online experience worth sharing? The trick to successfully inspiring customer and prospect engagement – and increase word of mouth – is to offer value to the online customer audience. Plus do it without an overt sales pitch – and do it consistently while recipients come around to become customers. Tough to keep up.
One way to do this to offer something of value at no cost that is easy to consume and to socially share online through email newsletters, e-magazines, social media, blogs or through visual media like video, images, or downloads.
Word-of-mouth is invaluable because it’s really your customer enthusiasm working here. They’re the ones engaged in sharing positive thoughts, feelings, information, inspiration and ideas with their friends, associates and – potentially new customers.
Here are the top three benefits of online word-of-mouth:
- It helps build a strong brand community for your business through online channels – email, social media etc.
- When you gift or reward loyal customers with the right online content and they share the love – they’re doing the soft selling for you
- You increase your chances of success when your name is front and center and you take advantage social networking – helping to keep your business visible at the time a prospect is ready to buy
So how do you evaluate the ROI of all this? We’ll have more on that key question – next time.
Thanks for reading.
Peter Freer is a digital and social media strategist with deep experience in traditional agency branding and marketing communications for Canada's Fortune 100. Known as 'creative problem solver' by clients, he is a contributing writer and podcaster for PROFIT Guide's web and i-Pad application on technology and marketing for B2B business owners and entrepreneurs. Clients include Assante Wealth, LCBO, Oral-B and WIND Mobile.
Peter is an undergraduate from York University and is certified in E-Marketing from Canadian Marketing Association. He is currently completing his MBA in Digital and Social Media from New England College.
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