More than just getting prospects and customers to purchase, this is the season to celebrate your customers, followers, and lurkers. As marketers with business goals to achieve, we need to take a break from our frenzy to drive sales and increase social media engagement to remember that there are real people at the other end of our marketing communications and social media outreach who deserve to be treated with respect.
13 Ways to Spread Holiday Cheer to Expand Your Social Network
To help you celebrate your audience including prospects, customers, followers, and lurkers, here are 13 tips to make them feel special. Remember, to make these initiatives effective you must have a relevant call-to-action and related promotion code.
Remember their birthdays. Use this opportunity to do something special for your customers and others in your audience. To maximize the number of people who participate, only ask for the month of their birthday and promise not to make it public. (Remember, not everyone wants others to know when their birthday is!) Many stores send a card or e-mailing during the month of clients' birthdays with a special offer.
Give them something to celebrate. This tip is great for bringing out your lurkers who may shy away from public recognition. Offer your audience something for free. It can be an e-book, music, or pattern related to your offering. Ensure that it's not promotional blather but has value to your customers.
Make them an offer they can't refuse! Here's another way to get your lurkers to raise their hands. Give them a related offer such as a discount or free shipping and handling on a future purchase.
Celebrate your audience's special milestones with your firm. Think in terms of number of purchases and years as a customer. Be creative, such as 100,000th customer. Your goal is to make your shoppers feel special for buying from you.
Call them! Want to stand out from the pack? Give your customers and followers a call just to say hi. This is not a sales call! One senior executive I know called his top customers and gave them his private mobile number. Talk about one-to-one marketing.
Spotlight customers' photographs. Use images of children, pets, travels, and other events that relate to your company and/or offering. Make it like an old-fashioned photo album. In addition to your website, Facebook page, and/or blog, include Flickr so others can add photographs and comments. For example, Canon has a user group on Flickr where members share their photographs.
Highlight customers' projects. Such as scrapbooking, quilting, gardening, or cooking. Let them show how they've used your products. Incorporate a list of ingredients with links to your website's purchase pages. This is popular for hobby-related sites. Both Fiskateers and Two Peas in a Bucket have member galleries.
Feature a customer of the week or month. Use your website, social media outlet, or store bulletin board to highlight one of your customers, followers, or employees. If you're using someone's likeness, make sure that you get their permission, especially if children are involved. Oreos does this on its Facebook page where participants have photos involving, you guessed it, Oreos.
Interview customers. Put on your reporter's hat and talk to your following. Have a set of questions that are consistent across interviews. These discussions can be live or via e-mail. Also, use video to capture more of the interaction. Lion Brand spotlights a customer project using its product on its blog every month.
Give them room to brag. Give your loyal fans, customers, and followers space to share their victories, small and large, with a broader audience. Becky McCray of Small Biz Survival uses this approach every Friday. What a great way to show your empathy for those in your circle.
Ask for helpful hints related to your offering. This is an opportunity for your customers, followers, and the public to strut their stuff. Give them a platform to be the expert.
Promote followers. This can be a great way to get new social media followers involved. Thank your newest followers in a tweet or other form of social media recognition.
Answer customers' questions. Also, let customers, followers, and the public respond to these queries. Use your website, social media outposts (including Facebook, Twitter, and your blog), call center, and retail establishment to gather inquiries. This provides the basis for creating content that you can post on your website, blog, Facebook, e-mailings, and handouts in your shop.
Remember your goal with these tactics is to show your audience that you care about them and appreciate their patronage, participation, and time. Understand that a good proportion of your following won't want public recognition (that's why they're called lurkers!) and make sure that you respect their anonymity.
6 Metrics to Track Your Celebrations
As with any marketing initiative, it's important to monitor how effective your tactics are in achieving your goal. Here are six measures to assess your holiday celebrations.
Audience size. How many people are you currently reaching with your marketing communications, social media outposts, and retail traffic? Depending on your business, these measures may vary.
Engagement. How are customers, followers, and lurkers interacting with your marketing offering? One of the most important indicators is time spent on your website or social media platform.
Social sharing. Is your content shared by your audience? Assess tweets, Facebook likes, and other forms of sharing. Do your followers appreciate your support? Remember that only a small percentage of your audience will share content and less will express themselves with comments and the like.
Brand sentiment. Did prospects and the public feelings towards your brand and/or company change for the better? If not, what are the issues?
Revenues. Did these initiatives drive incremental sales? Were you able to sway prospects to buy from you?
Expense. How much did these initiatives cost? In many cases, these suggestions can be integrated into your existing customer service and marketing communications.
Don't be a scourge this holiday season. Help make your customers, followers, and others interested in your firm's day a little brighter by recognizing them. Bear in mind that, at its core, social media is about people talking to people. Your kindness sets a good example for those in your social sphere.
Heidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies, an interactive marketing consultancy. She has over 20 years' experience helping clients increase profitability by developing innovative marketing programs to acquire and retain customers based on solid analytics. Clients include New York Times Digital, AccuWeather.com, CheapTickets, and the UJA. Additionally, Riverside Marketing Strategies has worked with numerous other online content/media companies and e-tailers.
Prior to starting Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi held a number of senior-level marketing positions at The Economist, the Bookspan/Doubleday Direct division of Bertelsmann, and Citibank.