By Lisbeth Calandrino In an ideal world, the customer would look for a product online and run straight to your store to buy it. Unfortunately, the straight line is filled with starts, stops and curves along the shopping journey. The road is complex with sophisticated competitors looking for ways to redirect the consumer away from your business and straight to theirs. Hence the importance of staying top of mind among consumers during the initial shopping phase. It’s what Google refers to as the “Zero Moment of Truth,” a reference to the critical juncture in the buying process when the customer researches a particular product or service prior to making a purchase.
The key, successful marketers say, lies in acquiring and utilizing effective lead-generation and lead-management tools to ensure you make a connection (and, more importantly, maintain that connection) with consumers contemplating a major home improvement purchase.
Following are several methods you can employ to stay connected to your customer along the path of her shopping journey:
Put yourself in the shopper’s shoes
Try to imagine the customer’s buying journey through your store or through another business and examine all the points that influence your purchase. Ask yourself the following questions: What influenced your decisions as you continue through your journey? Where did you encounter bumps in the road?
Imagine the customer’s journey, do it slowly and methodically as if you were a detective looking for clues. In this case, you’re looking for buying clues.
Continuously measure engagement
Observe how customers are using your social media and your website. What are they talking about? What kind of posts do they respond to? Are they sharing your content? Are you engaging them or do their comments fall on deaf ears? Remember, by engaging your audience you have a great opportunity to demonstrate your expertise.
E-commerce has transformed the customer experience; every customer leaves a digital footprint on your website. This is the new normal. If you’re not set up to collect these footprints your digital presence will suffer.
Build a rapport/trust with the customer
Trust is built through a combination of reliability and expertise. Ask yourself, is your business trustworthy? Have you been with your installer on a job? Do you continue to build the relationship by sending your customers handwritten “thank-you” notes?
Many business owners talk about the importance of loyal customers, but so many underestimate the power of these relationships. That’s why it’s more important than ever to focus on customer engagement and retention. When times are good, they can help you grow quickly. Likewise, when times are bad, they can help you stay afloat. In many ways, loyal customers are your best brand advocates. In many respects, that loyal customer is the gift that keeps on giving. And given the fact that you’ve already spent money, resources and effort to obtain this type of customer, it’s unlikely that you’ll need to spend significant marketing dollars to retain this customer; it’s just a matter of knowing how to reward repeat customers to make them feel valued while keeping them in the purchasing loop.
Lisbeth Calandrino has been coaching business owners and promoting retail strategies for several years. If you want to learn how to get this done, connect with Lisbeth about the workshop, Managing the Customer Experience. Email [email protected] or go visit lisbethcalandrino.com.