Your success as a small business can depend on how well you develop and maintain strong personal relationships with your ‘regulars’ – through quality personalized service, better products, and the specific needs of their niche in their market or industry.
So how do you get this happening?
The key is great communication: it’s a combination of what you say and when you say it. After all, there’s not much point in delivering a superior product or service if you can only tell people about it when they approach you in person.
How can you build and grow an online-based list of contacts that includes both your existing customers as well as a potential new business?
Make sure your website has a registration form
- Yes, the blatantly obvious one, but there are some simple yet important points to consider:
- Make sure the form is placed in a prominent position on your website homepage, that it stands out and is located on every sub page.
- Don’t make the sign-up process too long and complex. Consider the number of fields and information a person needs to enter, provide and type into a form to register.
- Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes and ask what kind of information you would be willing to provide. People tend to have a low threshold/patience; the more information they need to provide, the less likely they are to sign up.
Promote sign up and offer an incentive
Provide incentives for people to sign up to your contact list. Possible approaches could be:
- Price driven, such as ‘Sign up and receive 10% off your next purchase’.
- Bonus driven, such as ‘Get $10 off any purchases that total $100 or more’.
- Non-financial incentives can also be effective. Allow people on your contact list to be the first to get access to new products or services. You might also consider inviting them to VIP events.
Prompt people to sign up at relevant sections on your website
This includes at the ‘checkout’ stage if someone is purchasing a product or service from your website or in your shopfront. Also, start keeping a secure record of purchases made by each customer. This information will then allow you to segment your customer database and tailor communications to better match buying behavior.
Make all of your online content relevant, useful and engaging
People are not going to put themselves on your online contact list if the content fails to connect with them. But how do you know if the content is connecting with them?
Well, sometimes it is a simple case of asking for feedback from your customers/contacts by inviting them to complete a (short) survey or comment through discussions on your Facebook Fan page or other cost-effective social media channels.
And don’t be afraid to publish not-so-positive feedback alongside the positive comments. Highlighting comments that are considered to be ‘constructive criticism’ can be perceived by potential customers as ‘keeping it real.
Partner with other complementary businesses
Investigate the possibility of growing your online contact list by partnering up with other businesses. This may include suppliers, which your contact list may also be interested in, or other businesses that provide products or services that complement your own.
In any case, a partner should be a business that can provide a value-add to the products or services you sell. You may also like to consider co-registration on each other’s websites, but make sure this is clearly stated during the registration process (ie. that they are signing up to more than one contact list) and perhaps consider a joint communication plan to such people. #