There are many ways to communicate information to your customers. The last decade has seen an influx of digital communication methods. Traditional advertisements, blog posts, videos, and press releases all communicate information. However, thanks to new technologies including social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, to the growing popularity of blogging, there are several new ways for customers to get information online.
With more and more channels opening daily, consumers today have far more choice about how they get their information. Which sources of information are trusted? How do customers get their information in 2017?
Social media is one of the most impactful trends of the last ten years. Everybody (even sometimes their grandmother) uses social media in some way. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have become a primary source of information for consumers across all segments. The most recent research suggests that 62% of adults get their information from social media. 70% of consumers are more likely to use a local business if it has information available on a social media site. A social media presence is especially important for providing information to millennials. 88% of millennials get their information from Facebook, and 47% say social media influences their purchase decision.
Even if your business chooses not to advertise on social media platforms, merely having an organic presence will help your business gain visibility. If you aren’t on social media in some fashion, you will fall behind your competition.
The bottom line is, your business needs a social media presence, especially if you are looking to attract local clients.
Customer references include testimonials, case studies, and online reviews. They allow prospective customers to gather information about your business from people who have already done business with you.
Customers find other customers more trustworthy than salespeople. They gain little to no benefit from your decision, and as a result are less biased towards your product or service.
To ensure customers can get information about your business from other customers, you should gather case studies and testimonials. Having testimonials and case studies will allow you to control some information the prospect sees. Testimonials and case studies are ways that customers can gather information about your business from other people.
Creating a program that allows your most satisfied customers to provide information in the form of case studies and testimonials will ensure that YOU control the flow of information between your business and prospects.
Online reviews are harder to control. While some steps can be taken to manage your online reviews, there is only so much you can do to suppress negative sentiments. These steps can help you manage your online reviews:
Track your reviews
Review sites like Yelp and others allow you to sign up for notifications every time somebody rates your business. Other options for tracking what is said about your brand online include Google Alerts, Google My Business, and a plethora of social media monitoring tools. Being notified of reviews will allow you to remain aware of what’s being said about your brand online, enabling you to:
Respond to positive reviews
Responding to positive ratings online will show your customers that you appreciate their positive sentiments. There is no need to offer incentives or rewards to those who leave positive reviews, simply an acknowledgment and “thank you” will go a long way toward building customer loyalty.
Manage negative reviews
Managing negative reviews is usually a more intensive task than responding to the positive ratings. The goal of managing negative reviews is to minimize potential repercussions that stem from a negative review. How can you do that? By responding politely, promptly and trying to take the conversation offline. Negative reviews can be an excellent chance to show customers the quality of your customer service. If you take negative reviews seriously and do what you can to salvage that particular client’s experience, you may save a relationship with a customer.
Encourage positive reviews
Several steps can be taken to increase the number of positive reviews you receive. Ask your customers to leave reviews on websites like Yelp and make it easy to find the review page. Unless a customer has an extremely negative experience, they will not go through many hoops to leave a review. As a result, if it’s hard to find your review page, the reviews will lean to the negative. By asking your best customers to leave a review (and making it easy to find), your review page will be a good source of information for potential clients.
Vendor Authored Content
If there is one way that a brand can authentically communicate information to their audience, it’s through content. People love quality content. The average consumer engages with 11.4 pieces of content before making a purchase. Today, 70% of consumers trust content authored by the vendor. Content on a branded website is especially attractive to younger consumers. Gen Z millennials, and generation X (AKA every segment under the age of fifty), all have high levels of trust in branded websites.
Consumers tend to depend more on vendor authored content than they do a salesperson. In 2017, 39% of consumers rely on vendor authored content when making a purchase decision, compared to just 19% of consumers who depend on a salesperson. If you have not started content marketing yet, it’s time to consider making the jump. For more information on inbound marketing, check out our eBook, Unlocking Digital: How Financial Companies Master Modern Marketing.
People are more likely to trust another person than a brand, especially when they already have a relationship with that person. When a reliable source gives a positive recommendation, it can motivate action.
For example, if your best friend (who you trust very much), tells you about a great experience they recently had with a financial advisor, you will trust the authenticity of that experience. If you heard the same story from the financial advisor in question, it is likely that you would question it more. Why? Because they have a reason to promote the quality of their own experience. Your friend does not.
People will trust their network over almost any other source of information. Trust developed between individuals is stronger than anything a brand can build.