In a perfect world, the customer service you provide in real life – would be mirrored online. However, many small businesses struggle to provide personalized, attentive customer experiences in the digital realm.
That’s why Buzztime and GoDaddy came together, to hook you up with 4 strategies for mastering online customer service, along with digital marketing tips.
We shared these tactics on an August 15th webinar, and now we’re giving you the full recap! But first, here’s a quick overview of the 4 steps…
The 4 Steps to Mastering Digital Marketing and Customer Service
- Establish an online presence and create high-quality, engaging content.
- Create in-venue digital marketing opportunities to enhance the customer visit.
- Instill trust by encouraging feedback and responding to reviews.
- Keep the conversation going post-transaction with email, text, and surveys.
Step 1) Establish an Online Presence and Create Engaging Content
Give Your Social Media Pages Some Personality with Riveting Photos
If your business’s social media pages are not set up to elevate your online presence, reach new customers, and engage your loyal fans, then you’re missing out on valuable digital marketing.
An excellent way to improve your digital marketing is to take captivating photos that highlight what’s unique about your brand personality. HOW you take every photo matters. Use these 3 tips to master your photographic digital marketing:
- Framing: Look for simple surfaces or backdrops that compliment – rather than overpower – the subject you are photographing. Newer smartphones come with portrait mode…use that and the background gets automatically blurred. The same blurring effect can be achieved using Instagram’s “Focus” button.
- Lighting: Today’s digital marketing is all about being natural, authentic, and approachable. Apply those concepts to the lighting in your photos! Use one source of natural light, like an open window. Avoid flash and artificial lighting.
- Angles: Digital marketing also involves variety. Keep things interesting with different photo angles: above, standing on a chair; straight on; zoomed in (also known as macro photography); or wide angle.
Shine a Spotlight on Your Team
Vary your posts and get some engagement by showing off your amazing team in your digital marketing. Not only will your followers love seeing familiar faces in their feeds, but your employees will appreciate the shout out and share the post with their family and friends. This gets new eyes on your business and could result in potential new followers.
Curate Content That Matters to Your Customers
Think about the kinds of content your followers want to see – and when they want to see it. For example, if you own a gym, let your customers know when you get new coaches. Get strategic with your digital marketing: post photos of the new coaches to draw people in after work.
Digital Marketing Shouldn’t Look or Feel Like Marketing to Your Customers!
Your customers, and particularly your millennial customers, don’t want to be sold to — because it feels inauthentic.
Research shows brands who make too many promotional posts on social media are highly annoying to customers! What do promotional posts look like? They’re the in-your-face marketing that pushes a sale, instead of offering up something interesting or informative.
Most promotional posts talk about discounts or a specific product. It’s like a party guest who only talks about themselves. Instead, aim to engage others and be authentic with your digital marketing. Be like the person at the party who starts conversations with questions and listens to other guests. Then, the occasional “humble brag” won’t seem so annoying!
Get Real with Instagram Stories
Brands are integrating Stories into their Instagram digital marketing strategies like never before. Why? Stories are great for deals, company updates, or just plain playful content. Stories are something you should strive to create on a daily basis. After all, 70% of Instagram users watch Stories on a daily basis. For starters, Stories enable you to “skip the line” in your followers’ feeds by putting your account at the front of their Story queue. Furthermore, time-sensitive content taps into your customers’ sense of FOMO (fear of missing out). Authenticity and transparency are very trendy right now in digital marketing, so take your followers behind the scenes to create meaningful connections.
Step 2) Enhance the In-Venue Experience with Digital Marketing Tools
Customers are Hungry for a Tech-Enhanced Experience.
They use tech all day…and expect their in-store visit to MIRROR their lifestyle. In fact, 73% of today’s customers believe tech enhances their in-venue visit. Worried that digital marketing tech will result in a depersonalized experience? The opposite is true. When used correctly, digital tools can take both your in-store and online customer service to the next level. Let’s take a closer look at 4 types of customer-facing digital marketing platforms:
- Touchscreen Tablets
- On-Screen Entertainment
- Digital Signage
- Free Wi-Fi (with Benefits)
Touchscreen Tablets: Put Everything at Their Fingertips
Tablets are the latest trend in many industries from retail to restaurants. More than just digital marketing devices, these touchscreen tablets enhance the in-store experience. For example, at the Rent the Runway stores, customers sign in on tablets and put themselves on a virtual wait list for fitting rooms. They’ll get a text alerting them when a room is available. It’s all about convenience.
Those conveniences carry over to the bar and restaurant world, customers use handheld menu tablets to place orders and even securely pay – right at the table. While waiting for a table, or for food to arrive, customers can play arcade games and trivia. Finally, a key benefit of touchscreen tablets is the digital marketing power they provide: you can easily collect email addresses and even launch surveys.
On-Screen Entertainment: Add Interactive, Social Fun
While handheld tablets are one way to ramp up your digital marketing game while boosting customer engagement, sometimes it is better if customers are left to their own devices…literally. The best example is mobile trivia. Here’s how it works: Customers can compete in trivia with others in the room and across the country by downloading an app and answering trivia shown on your venue’s TV.
Digital Signage: All Eyes on Your Business
Digital marketing signage software turns your own TVs and screens into “customizable billboards.” It’s visually exciting – adding energy and brightness to your atmosphere while showing customers you’re tech-forward. Ultimately, this on-screen signage is one of the best digital marketing opportunities today.
In fact, a Nielson study found digital signage at the “point of sale” (when guests are with you) increased sales of items featured by up to 33%. To put the power of this digital marketing medium to work, promote your events and offers along with a “Customer of the Month” program. Some venues even
Free Wi-Fi: With Benefits
Today, customers expect FREE, unlimited wi-fi…and it’s gotta be fast! But why fork up the cash for the free wi-fi? What’s in it for you? Tons of digital marketing benefits. That is, if you use a 3rd party gateway service like Yelp Wi-Fi.
When customers attempt to connect to your free wifi, they are sent to a “gateway” web page where they enter their email, “check in” on social media, or are prompted to take a 1-question survey. This gateway page can also be used as a digital marketing opportunity. You can advertise the day or week’s special, a sale or upcoming event…anything you want.
Only after the customer either provides you with their contact info or views your digital marketing, can they access the wi-fi.
Step 3) Instill Trust by Encouraging Feedback and Responding to Reviews
Did you know that a whopping 90% of people’s buying decisions are influenced by online reviews?
So if you aren’t making an effort to encourage your customers to leave ratings or reviews of your business on sites such as Google, Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook or TripAdvisor, you’re missing out on a big digital marketing opportunity.
Ask for the Feedback!
It’s the most obvious one, but you should really make sure both yourself and your staff are asking customers for their online feedback whenever possible. Digital marketing research also shows that 70% of customers are happy to leave a review when asked.
Put Out a Display
A really easy way is to put out a small countertop display, like a tent card, that asks your visitors to review. Even a sticker on your front door mentioning that you’re on Foursquare, TripAdvisor, or Yelp can remind people to check in or leave a review. Or, use digital marketing on your TVs to remind customers to leave a review.
Send ‘Em an Email
Send an email reminder a few days after a customer’s initial purchase or visit with you, asking them to leave a review. You can even automate this digital marketing process with tools such as Square Marketing.
After Successfully Resolving an Issue
After you or your customer service staff resolve an issue, ask if the customer wants to review your business on Google or Yelp etc. When you make this digital marketing step a part of your customer service process you will surely see an increase in reviews for your business.
Ask your fans or followers on Facebook to review your business once every once in a while.
Personalize Responses to Positive Reviews
It’s digital marketing 101: you must respond to all reviews…the good, the bad, and yes, the ugly. When it comes to positive reviews, personalize your response for more elaborate positive reviews.
For example, let’s say a customer calls out one of your employees for offering exceptional customer service. You could curry good feelings your staff with a response that praises your employee for a job well done.
Yes, You Must Answer All Negative Feedback!
So, your business got a negative review. Now what?It’s tempting to let your emotions take over. Instead of responding emotionally, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. You’re not just responding to a single upset customer, you’re sending a message to potentially thousands of customers who will read your response! That’s why it’s critical to focus on handling negative reviews in digital marketing.
Mastering digital marketing means you know how to handle a negative review. Use this foolproof formula to get started:
R – Respond Quickly
E – Eliminate Emotion
S – Say You’re Sorry
T – Take it Offline
It’s almost impossible to remove negative reviews, so you need a digital marketing strategy for dealing with them.First off, let’s get the big question out of the way: do negative reviews even matter? The resounding answer is yes. Here’s why.
In the past few years, online review sites have replaced window shopping, Yellow Pages, and old-fashioned word-of-mouth. In fact, today 97% of people read online reviews and 88% trust them as much as recommendations from friends and family.
If that’s not proof that handling reviews should be a priority in your digital marketing plan, how about this fact? A single negative review can cost your business up to 30 customers.
People have always said negative things about businesses. They’ve just never shown up on the internet until recently. The good news is that you can respond – and deploy strategic digital marketing strategies that improve your changes of overcoming that negative press.
Every time you respond to a negative review, you increase the odds that customer comes back (70% will give you a second chance). You also send a positive message to anyone else reading your response. Even if the customer’s review is inaccurate or unfair, take the high road in your digital marketing – and keep your response short and sweet. Post your contact information so you can take the conversation offline.
Step 4) Keep the Dialogue Going
Digital Marketing Tools to Build Repeat Business
Ready for an awesome statistic? If you can improve guest retention rates by 5%, you may increase profits by 25-95% according to the Harvard Business Journal. We’ll cover 3 digital marketing tactics that will improve the odds customers come back again: personalized email campaigns, loyalty programs, and surveys.
Personalized Email Campaigns: Segment + Trigger
Start by using an EMS (email management service) like MailChimp or Constant Contact. Then, use “variable data” like the guest’s first name, to personalize emails. Once you have that data, you can “trigger” pre-written emails to send at set times. For example, if you’ve collected birthdays from each guest, use digital marketing tools in your EMS to send emails to every customer a week before their birthday with a $10 coupon.
Loyalty Programs: Reward Visits and Spend, Focus on Non-Monetary Rewards
Loyalty programs are a key element of any digital marketing plan. Start with your POS provider: Many now include loyalty programs. Other loyalty options include a mobile app (your employees scan customer’s phone to earn/redeem rewards) or a phone/email activated program (customers enter their # or email to earn/redeem rewards).
As you seek out a loyalty program to integrate into your digital marketing, look for one that lets you decide how customers earn rewards: number of visits, or reaching spend threshold
Steer clear of paper or plastic loyalty cards – people always lose them!
So, what sort of rewards do customers want? A digital marketing study by VISA and Bond Brand Loyalty of 50,000 people found 85% of customers want “alternative” rewards. Examples include VIP access to events/tastings, “first to try” a new product, perks like best seats for reservations, complimentary glass of wine.
The “Unsung Hero” of Digital Marketing and Customer Service
Surveys show customers you care – and value their input! In return, you are able to gain valuable analytics through this digital marketing tactic. The best ways to administer surveys are via email (try SurveyMonkey.com) or in-venue on tablets.
Simple, informal surveys are effective: Try Facebook Polls and Instagram Story Polls. Only ask for data you’ll actually use. Keep surveys short – very short – no more than 5 questions. Offer rewards whenever possible, like a chance to win a gift card.
Now, you’ve learned the 4 steps to providing awesome online customer service and how to rock your digital marketing. On behalf of all of us at GoDaddy and Buzztime, we wish you the greatest success in your business!