4 ways to connect with customers online

Posted in Business

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Whether or not your customers were spending much time online before the pandemic, they have likely taken on a more digital lifestyle while practicing safety and social distancing.

Has your business adapted at the same pace as your customers?

Here are four ways to reach customers online.

1. Local business listings.

Your website may be the No. 1 place customers go to learn more about your business and interact with it. However, a local business listing can have better visibility in Google or Bing search engine results. This means when someone searches for your business online, they may see your local business listing and interact with it first before they even go to your website.

It’s a great tool to help your customers find your business online.

A local business listing also helps customers quickly find useful business information, including:

  • Your location
  • Directions
  • Contact information
  • Hours of operation
  • Business description
  • Business updates
  • Photos
  • Customer reviews
  • A direct link to your website or important web pages, like a menu

If you haven’t already created a Google My Business or Bing Places for Business account for your business, consider doing so and make sure all your basic contact and business information is included.

Then, commit to keeping your local listing updated with accurate information, so customers can always know the status of your business and how to reach you. For example, update it with your holiday hours or days you’ll be closed. On Google My Business, you can also post updates with important business information, special offers or promote your latest blog content. Customers can also ask questions that you can answer.

If you want to take it to the next level, you can try paid Google Ads or Bing Ads to show your business to new potential customers on Google and Bing to help increase your sales and grow your business.

2. Customer reviews.

Earning customer reviews is a great way to help your business stand out in online search results, establish a positive online reputation and attract more customers.

Ask your customers — especially your most loyal ones — to write an online review for your business. You can ask in many different ways, and a verbal request can really stand out. However, you’ll make it easier for customers to write an online review by sending them an email or text message that includes a link to your business’s profile on customer review websites, such as Google, Yelp and Facebook. You can even add these links to your business’s email signature and include a brief message asking your customers to write an online review.

The best time to ask is after a transaction so they can write about their experience. If you’re sending an email, provide links to a few customer review websites where your business has a profile, especially those that appear in the top of search results for customer reviews for your business.

Then, monitor and reply to your customer reviews, thanking your customers for their feedback and star ratings and personalizing your response (i.e. don’t use the same response for every review). If it’s available through the review website, opt into receiving email notifications so you’ll always know when your business receives a new review.

What if you receive a negative review? Use it as an opportunity to showcase your great customer service. Respond professionally and offer assistance. If it’s appropriate, thank the customer for their feedback and for helping your business improve. Provide a phone number or email address where they can contact you offline to resolve the issue. When you handle negative feedback in professional and caring way, it can actually help improve your business’s online reputation.

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3. Social media.

If your customers are big fans of your business and they are hanging out on social media, then encourage them to rally around your business on social media and offer special perks, like offers or helpful resources, in your social media posts.

Encourage customers to follow your business on social media. Add social media icons on your business’s sales and marketing materials and add links on your website and in your email signature. Send an email to customers asking them to follow your business on social media.

You can even create private groups or events on social media and invite customers to join them. For example, you can host a virtual event on LinkedIn.

On Facebook, tell customers how to update the Follow Settings on your business page so they can choose to see your posts first in their feed and see them more often.

On social media, post helpful company updates, blog posts and behind-the-scenes photos and videos that show off your people as much as your products and services. Share special offers, run contests or conduct polls to learn more about your fans and followers. Pin important messages to the top of your social profiles.

Monitor your social media profiles daily and respond to comments and questions. There are many tools, free or paid, that you can use to monitor your social media profiles and pre-schedule social media posts.

It also pays to do hashtag research to learn which hashtags are relevant to your business and your customers, then include them on your social media posts to add your posts to that conversation.

You can also advertise on social media to reach a target audience, like existing customers, page followers or new potential customers to help grow your business.

4. Website.

A website is key for connecting with customers online. It’s the first place customers look to find helpful information about your business, products or services. It’s where customers go to learn how to do business with you.

If you’re just getting started, create a mobile-responsive website that includes:

  • A description of your business and its unique selling proposition
  • Contact information, such as your locations, hours of operation, phone number, email address and links to your social media profiles
  • Descriptions of your products or services, including photos and videos when possible
  • If applicable, an online store where customers can buy products or book a service
  • A blog or newsroom where customers can read helpful articles or learn the latest company news

Do an audit and add your business website to:

  • All sales and marketing materials (e.g., mailers and brochures)
  • Business cards
  • Email signatures
  • Advertisements
  • Press releases
  • Local business listings and directories (e.g., Chamber of Commerce)
  • Social media business pages or profiles

Identify content on your website you can use to entice people to visit your website. A good place to start is your blog and product or service web pages, which can be linked to in social media posts, customer emails, advertising or public relations to help bring current or potential customers to your website.

Finally, make sure your website is secure — especially if it has an online store or if you’re collecting information from website visitors. Have an SSL Security Certificate, which will protect user information that’s shared on the site. Additionally, have a plan in place to keep your information safe and talk to your independent insurance agent about adding Business Cyber coverage to your business insurance.

This article is for informational and suggestion purposes only. To learn more about Grange’s business insurance, coverages and discounts, including Business Cyber coverage, contact your local independent agent.

- Forge3

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