Out-of-the-box Ways to Connect With Your Customers

Out-of-the-box Ways to Connect With Your Customers

Your customers today are exposed to more and more emails, social media posts, and advertisements than ever before. The American Marketing Association (AMA) reports that consumers are tuning out traditional advertising. In this crowded and competitive environment, you need to find creative ways to attract and retain the attention of your audience. Barraging them with pitches and hype will no longer suffice, instead, find creative ways to connect and engage with people. The following are some out-of-the-box suggestions to separate yourself from the crowd and ensure that your customers listen to you.

Engage Your Audience in Real Time With Live Stream Video

Facebook Live and other live streaming video platforms allow you to engage with followers in real time. While many businesses are aware of this and even broadcast on occasion, the real secret is to find ways to make your audience feel like they are part of an exciting event. If you use live streaming videos to promote your products, your broadcast will come across like a traditional TV commercial. Your objective is to connect with people and make them feel part of an exciting event or movement.

Consider how the TV show The Amazing Race Asia uses Facebook Live to include viewers in action. In addition to broadcasting from multiple locations, the producers arranged to broadcast meet and greet sessions where fans could participate in person as well as online. Of course, the average business cannot attain quite the drama of a worldwide televised race to broadcast. However, you can make clever use of what you have available and even create your own events. For example, organise (perhaps in partnership with other businesses) a 5K race for charity. Another option is to broadcast live from an exciting event that you're attending, such as a convention, festival, outdoor concert, or parade.

Another way to get more people to tune into your live streams is to interview experts and influencers in your industry. When holding such events, be sure to publicise them beforehand on your social media channels, via email, and on your website.

VR and AR Provide an Immersive Experience

One way to give your customers a more intimate and engaging experience is to incorporate virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and 360-degree video into your marketing. Such tactics are especially helpful when you're promoting something with strong visual appeal. VR is very popular in Asia, and there's every reason to believe that this it will continue to grow. A 360-degree video ad by Hong Kong airlines turned out to be 35x more effective than a typical 2D ad, a strong indication that today's viewers are receptive to this technology.

Companies in the travel and hospitality industries, for example, can give consumers the feeling of being right there in a property, cruise ship, or hotel room. Gaming, of course, is also a natural match for VR. However, these techniques can also be leveraged by almost any type of business. A 360-degree video can give viewers a greater appreciation for a restaurant, retail store, or showroom.   

Make the Most of Your Mobile Customers

As more and more people use mobile devices to search for businesses, learn more about products, and seek customer support, it's essential that you provide a mobile-friendly environment. Most companies are already aware that they need a responsive website so that people on smartphones and tablets can access all features. Here are some creative ways to engage better with your customers on mobile devices.
  • Use SMS marketing. SMS marketing is a powerful yet still not widely used way to connect with your customers. This is permission-based text message marketing that works in a way similar to email lists. However, text messages have significantly higher open rates than emails. When you have your customers' mobile numbers, you can send them updates, coupons, invitations to join contests, and the latest news about your business.
  • Make use of mobile wallets. More and more consumers are enjoying the convenience of making payments with mobile wallets. Asian countries are rapidly embracing digital wallets and businesses that offer this option will have a competitive edge.
  • Create an app that motivates customers to engage. To be effective, an app has to give users compelling reasons to connect with your brand regularly. A good example is the Nike+ Run Club app, which encourages members to exercise and share their accomplishments. This app doesn't directly promote products. Instead, it taps into customers' everyday lives.

Take Advantage of User-Generated Content

There are a few key advantages to generating UGC. First of all, when people contribute content such as comments, questions photos, or videos, they're demonstrating a real interest in your brand. Readers often find this kind of social proof more persuasive than ads. UGC also takes pressure off you to create all of the content for your website and social media pages yourself. Finally, as your followers generate content and share it, this helps you build your audience faster than you could on your own. UGC is an economical way to get engaging content for your website and social media pages. The following are a few ways to encourage customers and followers to contribute their content.
  • Ask your followers to post photos or videos taken at your business or using your product. Keep in mind that people love to post selfies and other photos to social media even if they can't win a prize. On sites such as Instagram and Twitter, use a relevant hashtag to go with the campaign. Always respond to entries as this encourages others to participate. For example, Virgin Holidays ran a successful Seize the Holiday campaign in which customers sent in photos of themselves on holiday along with the hashtag.
  • Run a contest. You can make it even more tempting for users to send in their content by offering a prize. You can create contests where winners are drawn randomly or based on the best blog post, photo, video, or caption. On social media sites, be sure to follow the TOS of each site. For example, if you run a Facebook contest, you can't force people to share your post to enter.
  • Build a community. Discussion forums and social media groups are useful for generating UGC but only if you succeed in building a community around them. Examples of active online communities include Lego Ideas and Sephora's Beauty Insider Community. Customers are motivated to contribute their ideas and suggestions and enjoy interacting with others who share their interests.
These are some ideas on how to increase customer engagement. As you build your business, never forget that one of your highest priorities is to keep your customers interested and engaged. When people have good reasons to spend time on your website, social media pages, or other channels, they are more likely to keep coming back.

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