Business woman in Sweden working weekends at Ideations

SATURDAY MORNINGS

I work on Saturdays.

Contrary to the sacredness of weekends in Sweden, it’s something I offer because I have clients who need it.

They’ve worked all week on their business and they’ve set aside the weekend to grow and learn and develop.

It’s also a time when everything is still and quiet. I am un-rushed, un-hurried, and un-stressed.

Having such peace allows me to offer such flexibility to the wonderful women I work with.

What about you? How do Saturdays look for you? Are you working or not?

Customer Delight with social media interaction from Ideations

Customer Delight: How A Swedish Design Company Got it Right

If your business is implementing digital marketing strategies, chances are, you’ve already tapped into the power of social media to create connections with your customers.

Some companies are naturals when it comes to online engagement, but as an American living in Sweden, one thing I have noticed is that very few Nordic businesses understand customer reciprocity let alone engage easily with their customers online.

Not so for jewelry and design company, Syster P.

Case in point? Me.

HOW IT STARTED

I was scrolling through Instagram one day and found myself staring at this:

NOTE: Because I advocate businesses leaving authentic comments on their social media platforms when interacting with their customers, I decided to go with my first response to this image, too.

 

My Response: “Whoa!”

 

Now, I realize that not every business would know exactly how to respond to a comment like this, and truthfully, if I were to audit your Instagram stream to see where you could increase user engagement, I would actually recommend just letting this comment rest along with other user comments expressing similar sentiments.

However, I was so affected by the image, that I found myself morphing into my 13-year-old self (the one who used to kiss her Nick Lowe poster every night before bed, during my Duran Duran phase — #DontAsk), and following up with this comment.

 

My Follow Up Comment: “Any chance you’d sell one of these posters?” 😉 #VikingLove

 

 

THE MAGIC BEGINS

While wondering where I’d put a poster if they even had one, I saw this response from SysterP come in.

 

Syster P’s Response: “Send us your address info@systerp.se and we will at least send you the post card.” 😉

 

HOW I FELT

Pure, toe-curling, smile-producing get up and do the happy dance, delight coursed through me.

WHY IT WORKED

“Despite all the banner ads, mobile-optimized emails and programmatic advertising, talking to customers over social media and via comments is one of the best tactics to get fans excited …” Clint Demeritt

In the case of my interaction with Syster P, “excited” was exactly how I was feeling. I quickly sent an email and then told myself it was time to get over my crush and get back to work.

A few days later, I found a notification from the post office that I had a package to pick up. As I walked the two blocks from the post office to my apartment, I wondered what could be inside.

Seeing the return address indicating it was from SysterP, I wondered why they had used a box to send a postcard as they had promised.

Opening it, I couldn’t believe what I saw.

Inside the box was a framed picture of the Viking who had been the cause of my post-adolescent crush as well as a catalog and a hand-written note!

I absolutely could not wrap my brain around what I was seeing nor could I equate it with any Swedish customer experience I had ever had.

ENTER RECIPROCITY

What SysterP had done was to tap into what is known as “reciprocity”.

Kissmetrics describes in detail about reciprocity and other aspects of customer delight here …

but the bottom line when it comes to utilizing reciprocity is what Gregory Ciotti, mentions, “… small surprises that feel like they were ‘just for you’ can spawn some incredibly strong goodwill from the receiver.”

In the case of SysterP, the goodwill they triggered caused me to create a series of social media shares that created increased brand awareness and a lasting sense of brand loyalty that I don’t see leaving anytime soon.

In fact, when I’m in a store and I see a Syster P display, I take a moment to share this story with the person behind the counter.

People are amazed this was my experience with a Swedish business and they, too, start to realize there are new ways to create connections with customers that they can easily duplicate.

The Take Away

 

When customers leave comments on your social media platforms it’s a signal they’re open to hearing from you.

Think of it as opening up a two-way communication channel.

This is a prime opportunity to create connections that can have significant payoffs for your business.

 

By implementing social reciprocity strategies you can create relatively simple and cost-effective ways to increase customer loyalty and create customer relationships online.

Stop reading newsletters and digital marketing strategies to build your mailing list

Stop & Think Before You Create a Newsletter

Newsletters. Who really reads them, anyway, right?

And, why, as business owners, do we keep telling people to “build their list!” by having newsletters when we know people rarely read them?

The answer is because we’re scared.

We’re afraid if we don’t capture someone’s email, we won’t be able to SELL them something once we “win their trust”.

*shaking head and trying not to throw up*

I don’t know about you, but I do sign up for and read newsletters. There’s always a reason but they pretty much fall into three categories. Are you ready to read more?

Three Reasons I Subscribe to Newsletters.

1) Competitive Analysis: I want to see what people who are in my field are doing with their newsletters.

2) Continuing Education: I want to stay up to date on research and information from people who work both in and outside of my industry.

3) Prospecting: I want to see how potential clients are using newsletters/mailing lists and if there are ways I can help them do it better.

Newsletters aren’t evil.

If you’re a business owner, though, and you’ve decided to have a newsletter, may I gently recommend that you examine carefully your reason behind it?

If it’s to build your list, that’s not always the bad thing I alluded it to be.

For specific types of businesses, a newsletter can be a great way to connect with your supporters, grow your community, and share your services with more people.

Women shop on cell phones to find social media and content marketing ideas

To be clear, wanting to sell to people isn’t an evil thing.

The whole reason you’re in business is that you have something to provide that others – hopefully – need and want to buy.

Where I get slightly sick about the whole “build your list” thing is that it feels a bit backward, motive-wise. It puts our need as business owners ahead of the needs of our customers and clients.

I know the reason for this.

Telling people that they can’t count on social media platforms to always be around (so true!) and that if “Instagram were to disappear tomorrow, so would all your contact with your followers”, is very, very valid reason to have a newsletter and/or build your mailing list.

Except… I want us to start looking at how we create our connections online and how we use things like newsletters a bit differently.

Are we pushing sign-ups because we fear our connections aren’t strong enough?

Do we send out weekly newsletters because we think if we’re not constantly being seen in people’s inboxes they’ll forget about us and give their business to someone else?

Have we told ourselves the lie that if we’re not constantly pumping out content we’ll lose people’s attention?

I want us to rise above.

I want us to get smart and crazy strategic.

I want us to realize that every single piece of content we produce, every single part of our interactions with others, is not a one size fits all thing. We have to make it work for the people we seek to serve.

Woman reading content in library for customer connection and social media information

One way to do it that works.

One way to do it is to look at the wildly successful Joanna Gaines and the Magnolia brand. Do you know of her/it?

She doesn’t post every single day. She doesn’t send out weekly newsletters. She isn’t constantly asking people to sign up or pushing her products.

Instead, when she has something of quality to share, she does.

She OFFERS instead of SELLS and the results are that people respond.

Every. Single. Time.

women with mobile phones reading custom content that converts sales

Now, you might say, “but Leanne, I don’t have the audience she has and I don’t have the team or the budget to create the type of content that she does. How can MY posts get seen when I’m competing against an algorithm that seems to bury me in people’s feed?”

Hang tight. I’m going to be testing some things in the coming days/weeks and sharing them with you.

If you want to watch how I do this in real-time, follow me on Instagram. It’s my current “testing ground”.

In the meantime, where does this post hit you the hardest? Are you thinking I’m insane and full of it or are you nodding your head in agreement? Let me know either by commenting or by shooting me an email. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

Watch Those Hands!

So here’s a tricky one. See the fingers this woman is holding up? As an American, this is the nonverbal way to say, “peace”.

In England, it’s the “V for Victory” if the palm is facing outward but something considered very rude if the hand is turned the other way.

Which, if you’re creating content for a global audience (something you should be doing) means when you use stock photos you need to be especially careful to not send the wrong signal.

In fact, quickly Googling “hand signs around the world”, I found that there are so many ways you can get yourself into trouble that you need to seriously be careful when you select your stock photos!

Don’t believe me?

Read this article and then tell me what this photo means to people from Latin America.

Catching Their Eye

Where do you stand when it comes to standing out?

I’ve got to admit, personally, I’m the least likely woman I know to need or want the spotlight and yet … what I realize when I look at this photo is the same thing I realize when I look around my home.

Beauty, personalized and meaningful, stands out and grabs my attention every single time. If you come to my place, you’ll find things you might not see elsewhere that I’ve surrounded myself with. Things that have meaning and memory – even if not “designer”. That, to me, is the ultimate expression of beauty.

Translating that back to this picture, you may see a woman holding a plant. If that’s all you see and it does nothing for you, no harm, no foul.

But, if, like me, the first thing you saw was an “offering” or the giving of a gift, then maybe you also looked even closer and saw this wasn’t your ordinary plant and these weren’t your ordinary hands.

If so, then the standout part for you might be, like me, that you approach the viewing of things (and people) differently.

Which is where I’d encourage you to focus when you think about your business, your customers and how your content, social and digital marketing efforts are having the impact you want and shining a spotlight on what you’re offering to others.

Photo Collage, People, Devices, Digital Marketing, Customer Engagement

5 Easy Ways To Connect With Customers

With the advent of digital channels, customers now lead the sales process. Consumers are more empowered than ever when deciding which companies to connect with and give their time and money to.

Bhagvashree Pancholy writes, “LinkedIn statistics reveal that 78% of social sellers outsell peers who do not use social media. 51% of social sellers are more likely to reach their quota and 45% of them create more opportunities than their peers.

Learning how to connect with customers in an efficient and cost-effective way is something businesses can no longer ignore.

Yet, many companies, especially larger organizations who are still learning about social selling in the digital era, find they come up short with their content marketing and online interactions.

Connecting with customers doesn’t have to be so difficult.

When I work with clients on their digital strategy, one of the first things I do is run through what I call the “5 L’s”.

  • Learn
  • Listen
  • Look
  • “Like”
  • Leave (Authentic Comments)

How do you put the five “L’s” into practice? Read on, my friend, and I’ll tell you.

 


LEARN WHAT THEY LIKE


 

How can you learn what your customers like? Research, research, research! Do a bit of digging. Is there something your ideal customers seem to gravitate towards or respond to?

Are there always certain posts that they seem to “like”? What are they?

Analyze the style, theme and product to see where what they “like” overlaps with what you offer.

It’s an effective way of removing your own business blinders and product bias. It also helps you spot new ways to connect with customers.

 


LISTEN TO WHAT THEY SAY


 

If you want to connect with your customers, you need to listen to what they say. This may sound obvious, but I’m not talking about the comments they leave on your businesses social media platforms.

When I advise you to listen, I mean that you need to take the time to really hear a few things.

  • How do they communicate? Do they use emoticons, abbreviations and acronyms?
  • Do you share the same content language or are they non-native speakers?
  • What is the context of their communication?
  • What time zone and location are they commenting from?
  • Do you have a previous history with them?

These are just a few of the questions you can quickly run through before crafting your response to them. If you take the time to learn a bit about who they are, your chances of creating a connection that leads to a conversion increases.

As Maggie Fox, senior vice president with SAP notes, “At the core of this whole initiative is a culture change, to think of the individual customer in a different way. To produce content that is going to help somebody from their journey, not trying to push a journey that we have in mind for them.”

Obviously, you can’t know everything about your customer but there is no reason why you can’t take the time to find out. Even a quick look at their profile or timeline can give you information from which to operate.

Once you do this, you’re equipped with a deeper level of understanding that increases your ability to listen and hear people.

That’s when real connection begins.

 


LOOK AT WHO THEY FOLLOW


 

What can looking at who your customers follow on social media do to help you connect with them? It can give you a look at the people they choose to spend their time with. You can see who has been allowed access to your customer’s time and attention.

Doing this is key in applying creative and strategic ways to reach them with your service or product.

It’s been said that we’re like the people we spend the most time with. That counts for online interactions, too. Looking at who your customers follow can give you a deeper understanding of who they are.

From there, you will have a better chance of connecting with them because you’re more aware of who they follow.

 


“LIKE” THEIR UPDATES


 

If you want to connect with your customers then you have to do more then just return their “follow”. That means taking the time to quickly scan their feed or timeline after they’ve initiated a connection with you.

 

If someone comments on your Twitter account, for example, it’s a great idea to quickly click on their profile, scan their Twitter stream and “like” or re-tweet one of their posts.

“Liking” their posts and status updates shows that you’re willing to give them some of your time and attention. The idea behind this is that when it comes time for you to broadcast a message to them, they’ll be more inclined to listen because you created the beginning stages of connection.

According to Stuart Lauchlan, “Gaining a deeper, behavior-based understanding of customers allows marketers to be smarter in creating next steps along the customer journey.

As in any good relationship, which, these days, all businesses need to create with their customers, connecting requires a give and take approach.

You may not think of customers in the same way you would your other business or personal relationships, but I’d challenge you to reconsider what being social on social media is.

If the idea of connecting in this way seems overwhelming or too time consuming, take baby steps. Start with a simple “like”. You’ll be surprised at how well this works.

 


LEAVE AUTHENTIC COMMENTS


 

Connection with customers happens when you set the intention to communicate authentically. What this means when it comes to leaving comments on your customer’s social media platforms is that whatever you write has got to come from the heart.

This is why it’s so important to make sure the people in charge of your digital marketing and social media efforts have people skills and are naturally empathetic.If you don’t mean what you say and are simply commenting to give the appearance of being engaged with a customer, it will show. Maybe not right away, but at some point, people will catch on that you’ve either outsourced your marketing or have taken the lazy way out with auto-responders or tied the hands of your communications team to limited, pre-programmed responses.

Customers can spot insincerity.

They can tell when you’re acting like a robot or when you’re connecting with them like a real, live, human being. It’s the real, the human, and the authentic that creates the connection.

What about you? How do you create connections with your customers online? Leave a comment below, share this with others or message me to get the conversation started. It’s the best way for us to learn from each other, don’t you think?