Find out how and where to make that all-important human connection and take your online communications to Next Level.
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Has your IBD invested in an online presence, but you’re not entirely sure how to maximise it?
Good news: although it might seem a vastly different beast to convention retail, some fundamental principles remain the same. Number one is, of course, customer service. As is the case with most of life, clear, quality communication is key to exemplary customer service. However, here’s where things start to differ significantly between the virtual and real-world of retail, as there really are so many ways to communicate online.
We wrap our heads around some of the best and easiest wins for online communications superstar status. Before we see how and where to communicate, we should firstly understand to whom we are communicating. This helps inform the best communication channels for targeting this customer and the tone of voice and how we target/respond to them.
Understand your customer profile
Knowing who your customer is and what they search for or aspire to improves the likelihood of your conversion. There are some great tools you can deploy online to find out more about your customer. They include:
Don’t get bogged down in big data. Instead, run targeted reports that will give you insights you can then leverage to inform specific marketing campaigns. For example, your report might capture insights such as:
How visitors land onto your page (through an ad spend, organically, from a direct email, etc.)
What pages they visit and how long they remain on these pages
The flow of their journey once online – what might be shaping their behaviour
When it comes to reaching and communicating with your customer online, the wonderful world of widgets can open the door to enormous opportunities and options, including customer forms. These are interactive questionnaires that pose a small number of questions before funnelling the customer to areas of the site pertinent to their query. The secret sauce to successful customer forms is in keeping these questions short and sharp but shaping them in a way that will require a clear and unambiguous answer.
An example of a good questionnaire form on an IBD site might include prompts such as:
What are you looking for today?
What type of cyclist are you?
What is your budget?
Let’s say these three responses lead to a potential customer who is interested in a mountain bike for €2000 – €3,000. With such excellent insights, you can now target them with a bespoke landing page or, at the very least, more targeted search results.
Online customer service communications channels
OK, now we know more about our customer, we’re in a better position to decide where and how to target them. The main channels that should be available for customer communications are:
What is it
Marketing emails are distributed to a subscriber list.
Imbibes brand essenceCreates community/followingEducates/grows awarenessPotential to generate sales
Appears as a talking bubble on every page of the site, giving visitors instant access to a team member who can immediately answer their queries
Conversion rate optimisationPromotes excellent customer service by enhancing customer experience (easy, fast, bespoke service)
AI-powered messaging software now often deployed via Whatsapp Business, Apple Business Chat, Facebook, LINE etc integrations
Conversion rate optimisation Funnels enquiries Alleviates customer service
(email, phone, address, hours)
Provide all your key contact details (ideally email, phone and physical address, as well as opening hours for brick and mortar stores)
Customer expects this information Makes it easy for them to reach you Helps them understand where/when/how they can contact you
Think any third-party media platform such as:YouTube Instagram Facebook Messenger
Your customer expects to be able to find you everywhereExposes you to a wider audience Is a promotional tool Helps build tribe/following Promotes brand culture
Content is essentially the written word or visuals that help communicate on the site: Blog Landing pages Product listings Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Educates/entertains/informs Lead generation Search engine optimisation (attracts organic traffic) Helps manage workload for customer service team
A bespoke customer advisor service
Premium customer service Conversion rate optimisation
Ways to communicate online with your customer
Now we understand the key communications channels available to your site, let’s look more closely at how to leverage them.
Emails are a terrific means to maintain engagement with your database, grow your community, create sales opportunities and maximise conversion. Planning here is key. Images/video content will be acquired, copy will be written and edited in advance, and your social media channels (see below) will be working in conjunction to support any campaigns. If you’re starting out new, it’s a good idea to join up to a whole bunch of databases and see what arrives in your inbox. For successful newsletters, ask yourself questions like:
How often should I email my database without starting to feel like spam?
What should I use email for – to promote sales, to share engaging content, to highlight products available, a combination of all of these?
What template/layout best reflects my brand?
How can I make this as visually exciting as possible?
What snappy subject lines can I use to encourage an open rate?
Once your email campaign is underway, you can use analytics to better understand what is and is not working.
Immediacy is a valuable commodity. It could be the difference between a visitor to your site leaving, staying and/or purchasing. Live Chat makes customer’s lives easy and gives you instant exposure to them. You can set up your Live Chat so that an automated service funnels their query before it comes to you. EG by them answering a series of very quick prompts, your team member can know what their query is about before connection occurs. Customer satisfaction ratings are high when sites provide this feature.
Service content (FAQs/ contact us)
Customers will typically expect to see both your FAQs and Contact Us details either on the home page top bar menu or at the bottom of the home page as a quick link. Make this page easy to find – visitors expect to see it either in the home page top menu bar or as a home page quick link footer. There are a variety of sources you can use to inform your FAQ, most importantly your customer service / sales team – find out the questions they regularly have to answer. This not only helps you address common pain points experienced by your customers, but it potentially minimises the customer service team workload.
As we’ve seen above, social media can take many guises. Regardless of the platform, the fundamentals remain the same:
Always be responsive
Ensure the person managing the account is an appropriate spokesperson in terms of your brand values, ethos, tone of voice
Maintain professionalism at all times. This doesn’t have to mean being polished and perfect, but don’t descend into an argument for all to see – take the upper road and do your best to show you are trying to resolve a situation
Understand which assets work best for what social media (e.g. don’t put a wordsmith in charge of Instagram and a graphic designer in charge of Twitter!)
Be aware of the different communication tools you can deploy, depending on the channel.
When done correctly, blogs can serve so many purposes. Not only do they help imbibe the brand culture and create a tribe, but they can provide customer service solutions and deliver leads.
Think about how your blog can help your customer. Depending on the content, it may deliver any of the below benefits. However, the ultimate end-goal (and attainable reality) is you can use this as a communications tool to drive visitors to specific products and potential purchases:
Grow awareness – articles that champion your brand, communicate its vision and everyday achievements, celebrations, news, etc.
Educate – informative and original product guides that give the visitor all the information they might need; however, they might want to digest it (video, images, infographics, written word, etc.).
Engage – where does the heart and soul of cycling lie for your customers? Find it, communicate it and keep them engaged and coming back for more.
Inspire – who’s riding what, and what have they got to say about it? What cyclist just won a stage using which equipment? Why is European-made so crucial for this apparel brand? What new technology has been deployed to improve this product? Who just rode through Asia, and how did they do it? Communicate inspiring content to draw your visitor into the charm of cycling.
Convert – Buy Now buttons or effective call-to-actions can help turn awareness or engagement into a sales conversion.
An incredibly powerful tool for those who come to you overwhelmed or under-informed. The BikeExchange Concierge service is now an invaluable part of our customer communications. Visitors are asked to complete an online form that captures their intent, pain points etc. Using this, a BikeExchange concierge acts as an expert personal shopper and makes recommendations based on the parameters provided. This can be available online or via phone call, becoming a voice of reason and expertise that many customers value highly.
Are you effectively communicating with your customer online?
Do you think you could make improvements?
We’re here to help and provide more suggestions and ideas to ensure you hear and speak to your customer in just the right way! Contact us
BikeExchange Limited (ASX:BEX) is an international company, founded in 2007 in Australia. BEX runs 7 Marketplace platforms connecting consumers online with local bike stores and brands. BEX brings together millions of buyers and sellers around the world for cycling purchases, supporting the industry and the local bike shops.