By Neil Patel
As a business owner, you need to communicate with many people on a daily basis.
You’re used to delegating tasks to your employees and dealing with merchants, accountants, lawyers, bankers, and everyone else who makes your operation possible.
Communication skills are also important in your personal life. You need to manage the relationships with your family and friends while running a company at the same time.
But how well are you communicating with your customers?
Effective customer communication is the backbone of your business. Your ability to communicate can make or break your marketing campaigns and determine whether you can optimize the customer experience.
You could have a great product, service, or promotion, but if you can’t communicate these things to your customers, your business could struggle.
The Internet has made it possible for brands and consumers to contact each other from virtually anywhere at any time. You need to recognize this reality and use it to your advantage.
With so many different distribution channels at your disposal, it’s imperative you apply your communication skills on all of these platforms.
I see this particular problem often when giving consultations to business owners. They know how to write a perfect email newsletter that converts, but their Facebook posts are awful. Or they have an awesome Instagram marketing strategy but struggle with blogging.
To be successful, you need to be able to communicate with your customers on all your distribution channels. I’ll explain what you need to do to make this happen.
Create an authentic voice
Your communication style and voice need to be consistent across every channel.
This helps create authenticity. The majority of consumers don’t think that brands are distributing authentic content.
Furthermore, 86% of consumers say authenticity is an important factor when determining whether they’ll support a brand.
What does this tell you?
Your customers want you to be authentic. Establishing an authentic voice will give you a huge advantage over your competitors.
All your content needs to sound as if it’s coming from the same person, even if it’s not.
For example, you might write your blogs, but someone from your staff may be in charge of email newsletters. A third person could be responsible for your social media content.
There is nothing wrong with delegating tasks this way, but it can create a discrepancy when it comes to being authentic.
The best way to overcome this hurdle is establish some ground rules. Create a writing guide that everyone who produces content can reference.
Here are some examples of things you could include in this guide:
- always spell out the word percent instead of using %
- write from the first-person perspective
- use the Oxford comma
You can even take this guide one step further. For example, you could say that every piece of content you produce, whether it’s a blog, email, or social media post, always needs to start with an inspirational quote.
If your writing is consistent, it creates authenticity.
That way when your customers engage with your brand on multiple channels, they’ll feel they’re listening to the same voice.
Monitor your comments sections
Part of having effective communication means being active on as many platforms as possible.
Your increased social media presence makes it easier for your customers to reach you. Don’t worry—this is a good thing.
But if you’re not constantly monitoring your comments, you’re failing your customers when it comes to communication.
Social media is one of the top channels for consumers to voice their complaints.
Put yourself in the shoes of your customers. You’ve got to understand their thought process and mindset.
They just experienced some sort of problem with your business. It could have been related to one of your products, services, or employees.
On top of the issue, they took time out of their busy day to let you know about it by commenting on one of your social media posts. Even though this comment might be negative, it’s still a good sign.
Why? You haven’t lost this customer yet.
Research shows that 96% of unhappy customers don’t complain. They just leave and don’t come back.
If one of your customers is complaining via social media, you still have a chance to keep their business as long as you respond in a timely fashion.
Studies show that 84% of consumers expect a business to respond to their social media comments within 24 hours of posting.
But this also depends on the platform. For instance, 72% of users on Twitter expect brands to respond within an hour.
I know what you’re thinking. How could you possibly keep track of all your social media comments each day while trying to run your company at the same time?
Those of you who don’t have a social media manager or the budget to hire one need to take advantage of my favorite time-saving social media marketing tools.
Certain tools can notify you whenever someone comments on one of your posts. You can get these notifications on one platform instead of having to monitor each social site individually.
Segment your email subscribers
For your email marketing campaigns to be successful, you need to make sure you’re delivering relevant content to your subscribers.
After all, your customers have different wants, needs, and preferences. It’s nearly impossible to create content that can appeal to all your customers.
That’s why segmenting your subscribers will improve your communication with everyone.
Here’s a staggering fact you need to take into consideration.
A person who works in an office gets on average 121 emails a day. Assuming they work five days per week, that translates to over 600 emails per week and more than 31,000 emails per year.
Now, let’s say you email your subscribers once a week, which is a reasonable assumption.
Your messages are just a fraction of a percent of the total number of emails your customers receive. If your content isn’t adding value to their lives, they won’t engage with it.
Surveys indicate that 73% of marketers say their top priority is to create more engaging content.
Segmenting your subscribers will make your communication with them more effective. Here’s why.
Let’s say you run an ecommerce clothing business. You ship products globally, but the majority of your customers are located in the United States.
Subscribers who are men living in Miami, Florida, shouldn’t be getting the same emails as women living in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Emailing a promotion for bathing suits and tank tops in December to all your customers is not an effective way to manage your communication. But if you segment your subscribers, it will help ensure your marketing emails are more relevant to each recipient.
Add live chat to your website
As a consumer, I love using live chat. It’s just so simple.
I don’t need to pick up the phone, wait on hold, and talk to someone. It also saves me a trip back to the store. Plus, I buy so many things online that it’s not even practical or realistic for me to visit businesses in-person after making a purchase.
Live chat makes things easier. As a consumer, I’m not alone in that preference.
In fact, 73% of consumers say live chat is their preferred method of customer service communication. This ranked as the top option.
Here’s a look at the reasons why people prefer live chat:
If live chat makes your customers’ lives easier and it’s their preferred method of communication, why aren’t you using it?
Some of you may just not know where to start. I get it. New technology can be intimidating.
But you need to be able to adapt and make changes if you want to survive.
Your live chat feature should be easily accessible on your website. Make sure you respond quickly to these messages. Your staff need to be knowledgeable and properly trained for this communication method to be effective.
If you need help setting this up, refer to my guide on how to provide better customer service by implementing live chat.
Use language your audience can understand
This relates to the concept of authenticity.
Your customers want to communicate with a person. It shouldn’t feel as if they’re dealing with a robot or some nameless and faceless brand.
Use language your audience can relate to.
Your content shouldn’t sound like it’s coming from a doctor or a lawyer, even if it is. Speak in terms your customers use every day.
Just make sure you keep it professional. I normally wouldn’t recommend using slang, but there are times when it’s OK if that terminology fits with your overall brand image.
For example, a company that sells surfboards might use terms such as rad, stoked, or gnarly in its marketing emails. This would resonate with its target audience as opposed to a formal greeting, like Dear Sir or Madam.
As far as the exact language you’re using, that’s a judgment call on your part. But I recommend keeping communication casual and conversational.
Make sure your brand message is clear
Why are you in business?
Outside of the obvious financial reasons, you must have other motivation for operating. You need to be able to tell your customers why you exist and how you can make their lives better.
That can be conveyed in your brand message.
But if you fail to communicate your message or if it’s too ambiguous, you won’t have a positive impact on your customers.
Here is a great example of a brand message from TOMS shoes:
Buying products from this company means you’re helping people internationally.
TOMS helps provide those less fortunate with shoes, clean water, vision needs, and safe births. The company even supports a bullying prevention campaign.
The message is clear.
TOMS has a dedicated landing page explaining what they give, and the message is on other parts of its website as well.
You don’t need to be a nonprofit organization or affiliated with certain charities to have a strong brand message.
For example, let’s say you have a meal delivery service.
Your brand message can convey something along the lines of helping busy professionals eat healthy.
Once you’re able to identify your brand message, make sure you can display it clearly on all your distribution channels.
Just like authenticity, consistency is also key when it comes to effective communication.
I mentioned earlier creating a guide to keep your writing style consistent on every channel. But you can take this one step further with all your promotions as well.
It all starts with your goal.
Before you run any type of marketing campaign, you need to clearly identify this goal. What do you want the result of this campaign to be?
It could be acquiring more website traffic, adding email subscribers, increasing your social media followers, or driving sales to your newest product.
Whatever your goal is, the easiest way to achieve it is by being consistent on all your channels.
If you run a promotion on Instagram, make sure your website shows the sale too. Otherwise, it can create confusion for your customers.
Take a look at this example from Jetblue:
The company posted this promotion on its Facebook page.
Its fall sale advertises flights starting at $49 one-way.
There are certain restrictions and conditions for the sale. Customers need to book their flights by a certain day and travel within a certain time frame as well. There are even a couple of blackout dates.
Either way, Jetblue clearly communicated this promotion in this Facebook post.
Now if customers navigate to its website, they’ll see the consistency:
As you can see from what I’ve highlighted, the same sale is being advertised.
All the terms and conditions are the same, and the ad uses the same phrase, “Get going, Pumpkin!”
Even though the style, placement, format, and images differ on each distribution channel, the message remains the same.
In addition to improving the way you communicate with your customers, being consistent will ultimately help you increase conversions.
Know which channels your customers prefer
You need to be able to communicate with your customers on all your distribution channels. This should go without saying.
However, it’s important for you to recognize which networks your customers are using.
Now you can prioritize this communication based on the platforms your customers prefer.
For example, let’s say you segment your target audience with generational marketing.
After doing this, you’ve discovered that the vast majority of your customers are Baby Boomers. Now you need to figure out how to reach them.
Based on this research, it wouldn’t make sense for you to focus on Instagram and Snapchat if you’re marketing to Baby Boomers.
This would obviously be much different if you were targeting Millennials or Generation X.
You should still have active profiles on as many platforms as possible, but you need to know which ones are reaching your customers.
Communication is an important aspect in both life and business.
As a marketer, you need to be able to effectively communicate with your customers on all your distribution channels.
Learn how to create an authentic voice.
Monitor your comments on social media and respond to those customers, especially if they’re voicing a complaint.
Segment your email subscribers to deliver the most relevant content to everyone.
Implement a live chat feature on your website.
Speak in terms your audience can understand. Make sure you clearly define and communicate your brand message across every channel.
Be consistent. Figure out which channels your customers use the most, and prioritize those means of communication.
If you follow the tips I’ve outlined in this guide, you’ll be able to improve your customer communication tactics across all your distribution channels.
How are you leveraging your distribution channels to effectively communicate with your customers?