A lengthy article extolling the myriad virtues on digital marketing would probably not prove very useful to the tech-savvy readers of this site. Having a solid SEO strategy, linked-up social media campaign and a user-generated content scheme are all well and good for trying to get people to notice you, but this alone does not create a customer. If a potential user is unable to formally connect with and use your business online, you’re in trouble.
If a customer’s only way to use your services or connect with your business and staff is by picking up the phone or even worse, having to travel to a physical location, then your chances of success are considerably weaker. A good business should allow comprehensive use and access for customers via the internet, even if the primary service you provide is physical, as in a restaurant or hotel. Here’s why and how the internet should always be the first port of call for customers of your business.
While setting up a website may for some seem like business foundation 101, a shocking 1.9 million, or about 40% of all SMEs in the UK do not have an online presence of any kind. While this may work fine for some businesses, for the majority of modern start-ups, having no website is suicidal. Beyond this, your website should never just be a digital signpost for your business, it should be a way that customers can contact you.
That first contact is absolutely essential to dictating whether a customer will actually use your business, so it should be as simple as possible to be contacted. While having a phone number and email address is a decent start, you should be going much further than this. A live chat function, similar to the highly successful versions rolled out years ago by the likes of Virgin and HSBC, will facilitate customer contact exponentially (source: Digitalmarketers.ph).
Beyond that first contact, customers should be able to digitally connect with your business, preferably at the single click of a button. This might be as simple as having a “subscribe” button on your homepage in the way that retail giants like Tesco do so that customers instantly become linked to the business via newsletter and emailed discounts.
Alternatively, for a business with a physical service model, like a bingo hall, digital connections points should exist to expedite the physical experience and allow customers to use your services as quickly as possible. Take, for example, how the nationwide bingo chain Buzz Bingo allows people to sign up for a membership online, taking away the time-consuming need to do so in person when you arrive. This means that customers can get straight on with playing, and they will appreciate the convenience.
Most business should allow customers to pay and receive goods and services entirely online. This means having a secure online payment system on your website, as well as an established delivery network. You’ll want to be using user-friendly options such as PayPal to maximise customer experience, then you’re all set.
Don’t believe anyone who tells you that the Internet makes the business-customer interaction impersonal. On the contrary, it improves the user experience in a way that will encourage the customer to develop a relationship with your business.
See also: Important tools for small businesses