Businesses offering web services such as web design, SEO, web development and hosting can be seen by customers as a
commodity. Quality is viewed as the same across the board, with price being the differentiator.
The challenge for any service provider is to establish an emotional connection with customers. By stimulating loyalty, brand evangelism and engagement, businesses can show customers there is more to them than low prices.
If you can become an essential part of your customers’ lives, you won’t just have a customer base - you’ll create a community that’s active in recommending you to others and receptive to everything that you do.
Showcase your personality
Injecting your personality into your brand isn’t just a matter of changing the copy on your ‘about us’ page: it requires a holistic approach to everything, including your website, your social media channels and the way that you speak to your customers.
A consistent style and voice will help people recognise, remember and identify with your brand. It can be extremely tempting to try emulating another successful company because you aspire to be like them. But by standing up and shouting about your particular area of expertise, your own style, values and individuality, you will begin to connect with your audience and speak directly to them, rather than just at them.
Consider your tone of voice when speaking to your customers. A great way to ‘humanise’ your brand is to use informal and inclusive language to lighten the mood. Also, using pictures of yourself and anyone else who works with you on your site showcases the people behind the brand and lets everyone know that genuine humans work there.
Offering real-life examples and scenarios is a good way to connect with someone looking at your website: it demonstrates how your service can assist them. Customer stories, case studies, testimonials and positive tweets all help to paint a picture in your potential customers’ heads about what to expect, which helps them relate your services to their own personal situation.
Brush up on social skills
One of the biggest complaints about businesses using social media marketing is their coming across as automated or robotic. Regurgitating industry news and statistics is all well and good, but, ultimately, what benefit does that have?
Being social is all about involvement. How does this piece of news affect your audience? What do they think about it? Creating debate and conversation is a great way to get customers interacting with each other to create a buzzing community. Once more customers are involved that community, they’ll be more inclined to listen to what you say as the authoritative voice.
Loyal fans and active community members will become brand evangelists and leap to the defence of your company should someone say something untoward or inaccurate. It’s engagement that you can’t put a price on.
Interacting with people on a personal level via Twitter and Facebook can be as simple as using their name or asking how a recent project or event is going. These steps tell others there’s a person on the other end, rather than just pre-scheduled posts with no relevance to what’s actually going on.
Be honest about who you are, what you do and how you do it. There are lots of ways you can look at developing this kind of relationship with customers. Essentially, it’s about letting your brand be an extension of yourself and talking up the key values that make you unique.
More than a commodity
Standing out and telling your customers about your business is an ideal way of humanising your brand to develop a deeper connection with your audience. If your customers can interact with you and see you as more than just a commodity, you will build stronger bonds with them, making them more loyal, more responsive, and more likely to recommend you to everyone that they meet.
Jonathan Brealey is the co-director of one of the UK’s largest hosting companies, Heart Internet.
This article originally appeared in net magazine issue 245