The aim of any online marketing strategy, as it is with any other form of marketing or PR, is to try and build emotional connections with your customers. If you can successfully achieve this, you can boost the average lifetime value of a customer by around 300%
However, the mistake that many online marketers make is to think that success is judged purely by the short-term impact of any recent campaign.  
People get so wrapped up in hitting targets and increasing conversion rates that they fail to see the bigger picture. Building strong relationships that last is the fundamental aim of any online marketing – and the results can be seen particularly starkly in the current climate. 
Online marketing should be about developing positive experiences that tie customers to your brand and keep them coming back for more. It’s a lot easier to keep an existing customer happy than it is to go out and find new ones. This should therefore always be a core principle of your online marketing. 
Of course, all of this is perhaps easier said than done. So, how do you go about creating the kind of relationships online that breed success? Below we have outlined several key areas of your strategy that should be an essential part of your online marketing work. 

1) Never let complaints hang there 

These days a lot of brand management is about dealing with the negative reviews. No business is perfect; mistakes happen. And sometimes you just get lumbered with a customer who is never going to be happy, no matter what you do.  
In the past there would have been few consequences of this, but in today’s world of online reviews and social media, one bad review can do a lot of damage. 
You need to address any negative reviews head on. Don’t just leave them hanging there and always try and be positive. If you lash out it is not a good look. Try and resolve the situation, be as reasonable as possible, and offer to discuss the matter in private. Studies have shown that nine out of ten potential customers judge a business by how well they deal with negative feedback. 
Be as fair and open as you can. Apologise for their negative experience and outline what you’re doing to make the situation right. People can forgive errors, but they will not be so tolerant about being ignored. 

2) User generated content 

Getting your customers to create and share their own content is integral for establishing trust and showing that you care about the people you serve. User generated content is far more influential in affecting a purchase decision than normal branded content. Customers who see other people engaging with your brand are more likely to develop trust and make a purchase. 
Your aim should be to try and build a community of contributors, by setting challenges, offering rewards and prizes, and giving exposure. The more there is to gain from being part of the campaign, the more likely it is that someone will join in. 
You can use the power of social media to go big on this, with hashtags and campaigns run across various platforms. You and your staff can also join in with the various campaigns to create a sense of unity. 

3) Reward loyalty 

People like to be treated differently. They like to think they are special. And this is a great way of building relationships with loyal customers. Those people who come back to make purchases again and again are invaluable, and you should reward them with something. This could be discount offers, access to special content or premium products. The idea is to incentivise people to keep coming back. 
However, you should try and keep the offers simple. Make the rewards too complicated and it will put people off. Again, you should be promoting these offers across all of your online marketing platforms. 

4) Learn from your customers 

Don’t ever assume that you know best. You might be an expert in your field, but the old adage is true – the customer really is always right.  
Their needs and expectations will develop over time, so you need to constantly ask them what it is they want and require from you as time moves on. You can use the various social media platforms to access this information. 
Or you can send out surveys and offer some kind of reward for completing them. This sort of data can be invaluable to a business, and the various online platforms make it easier than ever to get hold of. 

5) Engage on social media 

Social media is incredibly powerful. But it can be a chore to try and stay on top of all the various platforms. However, you need to make sure that you are engaging and open with people, answering questions and posting new content. It is a very visible medium and people who see that you are not showing an interest will make negative value judgements against you. 
Online marketing doesn’t have to be all about results and numbers. You should see it as a long-term strategy to build a community and develop customers who will grow with your business. Never take online marketing for granted and never forget the human side of it. 
Ideally, you want to be able to spread yourself over the various platforms of online media, including your website, email marketing, and social media. If you can’t find the time or don’t have the resources to bring your marketing in-house, then you can always get help from the professionals. 
We can help you to build relationships with your customers online and create content that engages your customers, by creating a custom designed and affordable website for your business that provides you with maximum opportunities for success.  
Get in touch today to find out more about what we can do for you. 
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