“Talk to the hand because the face ain’t listening” – most of us have heard this before ( hopefully not directed at us, mind you). And it makes you wonder; if your customers could say one thing after receiving your company’s last email, reading its recent social posts, or visiting its website, would they be using that phrase?
No matter how big or small your business, communication is one of the most powerful ways to attract potential new customers and retain existing customers. That’s why it’s critical to get your communications right - from the words on your website, emails campaigns, and your social media presence, see why it truly pays to communicate effectively and the best ways to do it.
Take a look at these 9 powerful tips on how to communicate better with customers and get your message heard.
1. Quality over quantity
Arguably the most important aspect of any customer communication is the quality. People today are time poor and want to know that what they’re reading or hearing is worth their time. Before sending anything to your customers, take a step back and ask yourself what value your customers will receive from the emails, phone calls, collateral, events and webinars or social media posts you’re about to carry out. Can you make your communications more concise while still maintaining all vital information you want to include? Are you using the right language and is the messaging relevant to the person reading it?
2. Speaking their language
When writing your communications think about the type of language you’re using and how your audience will relate to it. You may be quite the wordsmith with an extensive vocabulary, but if your audience doesn’t understand what you’re saying, it’s wasted time for you and for them. Similarly, using lingo or terminology that’s common within your business might not be so common outside of it, so be mindful of how your audience communicates with you and mirror this back to them.
3. Target practice
Whether it’s sending out marketing emails, social media posts or asking for feedback, you want to be targeting the right communications to the right audience. For example, you wouldn’t send a prospecting email to an active customer or send a customer satisfaction survey to someone who’s asked not to be contacted. That’s why it’s essential to know your customer and send them information that’s relevant to them.
A CRM system (Customer Relationship Management) can help with clearly identifying your customers. A CRM system acts as a central repository for your customer data, including preferences and details, and can be used to guide your customer interactions. This data can include details like which communications channels they are most responsive to, their product preferences, and purchase history. Using CRM software can help you better understand what messages will suit which customers.
"Before sending anything to your customers, take a step back and ask yourself what value your customers will receive from the emails, phone calls, collateral, events and webinars or social media posts you’re about to carry out. Are you using the right language and is the messaging relevant to the person reading it?"
4. It’s all in the timing
You might have just written the most interesting, informative email or social media post, but if you’re going to post it on Christmas Eve, is anyone going to read it? Sure, that’s an extreme scenario. But paying close attention to your timing is extremely important.
For B2B businesses, emailing customers about your new promotion at 6 am on a Monday morning may not get as much attention as it would at 10 am on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday – often the prime times for open rates. For B2C customers, Sunday nights may get you a better response – when your customer is at home, relaxing, and casually reading through emails. It’s about reaching your customers at the most opportune time for them.
Different social media platforms also have different peak times, again dependent on your type of customer. Business owners may read your social posts during an afternoon coffee break, whereas catching the attention of young professionals might be more successful in the evening. That’s why it’s important to know who your customers are, test out different timing and analyse the results to get your timing right.
"You might have just written the most interesting, informative email or social media post, but if you’re going to post it on Christmas Eve, is anyone going to read it? Paying close attention to your timing is extremely important."
There’s a wealth of information and statistics available on the internet discussing peak times for email and social marketing communications. But ultimately, you’ll want to track responses for your specific audience and develop your own best practices. A good ERP system which includes marketing automation functionality should let you see the open and click-through rates for your email campaigns. Also, many social platforms provide analytics to help understand the activity and interest in what you’re posting.
One tool that can help you get your timing right is a CRM system. By tracking where your customers are in the sales cycle, you can gauge when to send targeted messages that might aim to educate, incentivise to purchase, or delight with valued after-purchase information.
CRM software can also help you work out what worked and what to improve for next time. ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems like JCurve ERP include full CRM and marketing automation functionality. You can see the open rates and CTR (Click Through Rate) of your email campaigns, get tracking on how many emails bounced, how many customers unsubscribed, and more.
5. Too-Easy templates
Templates are a time-saving way to gain consistency across communications and speed up the creation process. They are commonly used for newsletters or emails which re-use common content and formatting. Without having to recreate each newsletter or email layout every time, you can focus on creating great content to share. Plus, regardless of who sends out the communication, it always remains consistent with your company branding and the look and feel.
With templates set up and some clever marketing automation, you can add dynamic fields like your customer’s name or job title to populate automatically within an email or newsletter. You could even use the customer’s purchase history to show a “Need more of XYZ product?” message or a simple “Thanks for being our customer since 2009” message, as an example.
"Templates are a time-saving way to gain consistency across communications and speed up the creation process. Without having to recreate each newsletter or email layout every time, you can focus on creating great content to share."
6. The vault
There’s nothing worse than emailing a customer to ask if they still need a special order-in product and finding out they already replied to your colleague an hour ago. Does your current system enable you to keep a log of emails, phone calls and other notes against one, central customer record? Or are notes about customers floating around in multiple systems, or worse still, in notebooks sitting on people’s desks?
A CRM system provides transparency on customer communications across the business and by everyone in your team. Being able to see a customer’s full communications history before interacting with ensures you’re always delivering a professional, consistent customer experience.
Having informed exchanges with your customers reminds them you’re valuing their time and not wasting it by asking questions they’ve already answered.
7. Get social
It has become crucial for many businesses to have a social media presence and strategy. If you’re communicating with customers on social media, have a look at the length and style of your posts. Ideally, your message will be concise, state clearly what it’s about straight away and appeal to your intended audience through language, tone, and their interests. What subjects and issues get your customers’ attention? What matters to them? Get people reading and sharing your social posts by using targeted, relevant messaging.
Imagery or video content that supports your social posts and themes also plays a big factor. For instance, tweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favourites and 150% more retweets than text-only tweets (source). Use visual content that will stand out, relate to your audience, and relate to your post.
Remember that customers are spending their precious time reading what you’ve posted so make sure it’s absolutely worth their time. Is your post going to help them in some way or save them time? The goal of any social media messaging should be to provide value to your customers and help them get to know your business.
"Imagery or video content that supports your social posts and themes also plays a big factor. Use visual content that will stand out, relate to your audience, and relate to your post."
8. Don’t let them sail away
Your website can often be the first place potential customers go to find information on your company and contact you. What are the key messages you’re promoting on your site? Have you concisely answered in the first few words what your company does or why someone would need your products or services? If you don’t start out by explaining the issues you can solve for customers, you may find your visitors quickly sailing away to the next site.
Using Google Analytics can help you identify how long visitors are spending on a page, if they’re leaving without exploring other pages (you’ll see this displayed as your “bounce rate”), which other pages they visit, and much more. There are also many heat-mapping tools available to give you a visual representation of what actions users on your site are taking. You’ll likely find that some tweaks to your messaging can significantly improve user engagement with your site.
When it comes to your website content, it’s a good idea to get some unbiased opinions from people who don’t work within your company. Ask them what they think about your company just by looking at your site and ask whether the messaging makes sense from their point of view. You might be surprised by how many improvement ideas you can gain from hearing a different perspective.
9. Staying committed
Whether it’s an email campaign, a social media post or your website content, one of the biggest factors to successful communications is commitment. If you have a Facebook page, commit to a regular update schedule so that your customers know they’re going to see fresh, relevant information when they visit. If you decide a monthly newsletter is a better medium to update your customers, make sure it actually goes out monthly. And if your website is where you want to focus efforts, make it a standard process to have it reviewed monthly and keep the content fresh. The more committed you are to keeping consistent, quality communications going out to your customers, the more likely they are to continue buying from you.
In a busy world that’s filled with marketing and social media noise, good communications are a critical component to effectively engaging with customers. To attract and keep your customers returning to you, keep your communications relevant, consistent, and focused on providing value.
An ERP system with full CRM functionality can help you know your target audience, identify which messages to send them and when, and figure out what’s working well or what may need tweaking.
The next time you pause to think about what customers receiving your communications would say about them, consider which of these 9 tips you’ve used to communicate more effectively. If you’ve ticked some of these boxes, chances are, your customers won’t be giving you the “Talk to the hand because the face ain’t listening” treatment. Instead, they’ll be looking forward to the next time they hear from your business.