No one ever reads the part before the numbers so let’s get right into it.
1. Start talking to people.
Stop asking your audiences to buy something every single time you tweet and start using your social media pages, blog and e-mails to have two-way conversations with people. Inbound marketing is about bringing a customer-centric approach to everything that you do versus the old-school approach of talking at them with sales, promotions and product features. Rather than relying on raw intuition or extra sensory perception, go directly to the source and ask questions through polls and (very) brief surveys to identify what challenges your customers face and what they value and enjoy. Ultimately, you will want to create unique customer personas and content tailored to each of them, but getting those conversations going is a great starting point.
2. Start being yourself.
Choose a voice for your business that will help you connect to your customers on a more personal level. If you are running a new business, one of the greatest challenges is being taken seriously. You don’t want people to think that you are somehow unprofessional so you may lean towards using what you think is more ‘appropriate’ business language. The truth is, whether you are focused on business to business (B2B) or business to consumer (B2C), all communications are fundamentally P2P, people to people. If you’re a small company that’s just starting up, own it. Be that. If you are naturally a little bit witty or tend to overuse puns, do that! While your dreams of getting big might make you think you should walk and talk like the big boys, the truth is that there is a real demand in most industries for more personable and genuine consumer experiences. I still have not met one person who actually prefers listening to an automated voice on the phone over speaking to a person.
3. Stop yelling. (please)
Be respectful of every moment that you have your customers’ attention. When was the last time that you clicked a banner ad? Maybe never. That’s because the ads on that page you’re reading are not what you came there for. They’re extra, in the way and sometimes interruptive. Some forms of advertising (if done right) can gain you exposure but it’s important to note that out of all the ‘impressions’ your advertiser is promising, only a small percentage will actually end up buying anything from you. While services like Adwords allow you to target specific groups of people, your ad will still be irrelevant to a lot of them. Frequent sales posts on social media can also annoy your audience. Remember that each ‘impression’ you gain through an ad click or post like is exactly that, an impression, so make it a positive one. If every interaction that somebody has with your company is just you pushing the purchase, you are going to miss out on befriending a whole lot of people.
Additionally, don’t try and stuff all of your contact info and every feature of your product into everything you post. Less is always more. Be likable and people will look into your features when they’re ready. Also, please stop using all caps on Twitter. Please.
4. Make somebody’s day.
Show people that you see them as more than a business transaction. Send a series of thank you notes to your old customers with no strings, sales or promos attached. Feature a returning client on your profile, not to make them into a good PR story, but just to make them feel good. Put a little inside joke somewhere on your website that your customers will get. Be the business version of the person that your target customer would love to have a beer with. Delighting people with little things like this is what makes them say “aww, I love (your company)” and is a key component of good inbound marketing.
There is probably a whole list of things that you are already doing to bring joy into your customers’ lives and we’d love to hear about them. Post some of the ways you make your customers smile in the comments below.