Online Public Relations: Building Personal Relationships With Customers In The Digital Age

Online Public Relations: Building Personal Relationships With Customers In The Digital Age

Posted on 05. Jul, 2011 by + in Business Publicity

As I write this, Christine and I are flying to New York City for a business meeting. Besides the obvious cool factor of being in one of the best cities in America, I think I am most excited about seeing Christine and spending a few days working together, side by side. What you might not realize is that even though Christine and I talk 6+ hours per day and seamlessly run two online businesses, we are thousands of miles apart. She is in California and I am in South Florida. This system works really well for us – but nothing compares to seeing each other in person.

The reason we’re headed there in the first place is to meet with a client face to face. While we do 99% of our business via internet, there’s just something different about being able to look someone in the eye and shake their hand. In today’s digital age, it has become very common to do business with people we may have never met — but that doesn’t mean that the personal connection doesn’t matter. Unfortunately, it seems a lot of online businesses have forgotten the critical importance of personal connection because it is so easy to do business virtually today. I believe that if your company can find ways to bring that personal connection to the digital space, that you will have positioned yourself miles ahead of the competition.

This got me thinking – what are some ways to connect with people when you can’t see them face-to-face? If your business has an online presence, most likely you are communicating with people and customers who you will never see. Here are some tips that we’ve found work really well in bringing people closer:

Conversational Web Copy and Email Correspondence

It can be easy to fall into the trap of wanting to sound very technical in your website copy and email correspondence. After all, you want readers to know how smart you are, right? Conveying that you are knowledgable in your field is essential, but connect with people is also critical. Although we live in a digital age, we’ve found that people still want to do business with people that they genuinely like and trust. The best way to accomplish this is through your conversational, easy-to-read copy.

Read through the copy on your homepage and ask yourself “Does it explain my product or service the same way I would explain it to my neighbor?” If it doesn’t, then there might be an opportunity to do a quick rewrite and establish better rapport with potential customers. When writing an email — even if it’s a mass email to your list — try to envision the person on the other end of the email and speak to them. Once you have an individual person in mind, the email often takes on a whole new life.

Skype

Skype is really great for having a face-to-face conversation with a colleague or even family far away. What some business owners don’t think about, however, is that it can be a great way to talk to customers too. Many times people want to talk to a real person before making a buying decision. Imagine the impact if they could see you and hear you. When we use Skype, particularly video Skype, we’ve found that it tends to take email and phone relationships with customers and strategic partners to the next level. How could you use Skype to take customer interaction to the next level?

Photos on Your Website

People like to do business with other people. If you don’t have a photo of yourself or your team on your website, you could be missing opportunities. It doesn’t have to be front and center on your homepage, but it should at least be part of your ‘About’ page. Even better – include a ‘Meet the Team’ page so that you can have the space to really talk about yourselves and the passion that drives your business. Passion is contagious. We’ve had numerous clients over the years tell us that what “sealed the deal” on choosing to work with us, is that they could see that we were “real” people by the photos on our website. Do you have pictures of you and your team on the “About” page of your website?

Webinars / Teleseminars

Another great way to connect with your customers online is to host free webinars or teleseminars. Who doesn’t love getting something for free? Your customers will appreciate the free information and will undoubtedly get to know you a little better in the process. You can share ideas for using your products, include guest speakers, talk about industry news and updates or even host a Q&A session.

Regular webinars and teleseminars are something that we at Online PR Media plan on implementing in the second half of 2011. We want to take our commitment to education to the next level — and hopefully get to know you all better in the process!

Videos

Skyping with customers is great, but it isn’t always feasible for a lot of companies and business owners – at least not all of the time. A great alternative is to make videos. You can tackle many of the same topics in a video series that you can do with a webinar. By posting the videos on your website and using a YouTube channel, you are also taking advantage of important SEO options – which will help you attract even more customers to your website. This is another area we plan to beef up throughout the year. What can you create videos about? Think of the most common questions that you get from customers and potential customers and create short videos that answer those questions by video. When you do this, the videos work for you in two ways — they allow you to build a stronger connection with your customers and can reduce the number of customer service inquiries — now that’s a win/win scenario!

Social Media

If you haven’t jumped into social media, now is the perfect time. Twitter and Facebook in particular are excellent venues for talking directly with your customers. You can monitor what people are saying about your brand, work to get more people introduced to your brand and share just a little bit more about who you are and what makes you awesome.

Offer incentives to your social network – special deals, promotions and contests just for them. That’s what we do! If you aren’t following us on Twitter or Facebook yet, this is a great way to ask questions, get press release tips and ideas, and build relationships with other like-minded people.

How Do You Build Personal Relationships with Customers in the Digital Age?

What have you found to be the best system for personally connecting with your customers?

7 Responses to “Online Public Relations: Building Personal Relationships With Customers In The Digital Age”

  1. Liyya

    05. Jul, 2011

    Tara & Christine – first off – what a GREAT photo in the middle of Time Square…how exciting!!! :)

    I couldn’t agree more with all of the digital age suggestions of making a personal connection with your clients. Every single one of these should be at the core of any digital based business.

    Another idea that I think is really dynamic to any business, digital age or not – are video testimonials. What a great way to be at the digital forefront with videos, but not just videos of you and your team but videos of current clients/customers ranging about how awesome you are! I believe that’s a true digital connection that will help any business! :)

  2. Amber K

    05. Jul, 2011

    These are GREAT tips!! I really like your suggestion about making email conversational.

    I think sometimes people are overly cautious when writing emails and are very dry and factual for fear of miscommunication. This makes is very hard to feel like you’re talking to a real PERSON sometimes! :)

    If a natural opportunity presents itself in my email communication with clients I will relate a personal story and leave the door open for them to share something as well. I’ve found that I have much better rapport with clients when we’re able to relate to each other on a personal level.

  3. Katie

    05. Jul, 2011

    What a wonderful post! It’s definitely difficult to insert personality into a mostly online business. So much comes through over the phone, with videos or in person that can be missing in online-only communication. I agree with Amber, I try to insert a little personality into my correspondence and it’s almost always well received.

    Having a picture and being able to have someone in your mind when emailing back and forth, whether it’s a customer or a business I’m dealing with.

  4. dave steck

    10. Apr, 2012

    hello. I found you on twitter. are you a PR firm? I am a new start up, and have a very small budget, and am in Tampa, and am looking for a little PR help. Thanks.

  5. Christine OKelly

    Christine OKelly

    12. Apr, 2012

    HI Dave — great to meet you! We are not a “traditional” PR firm per se, we give people the tools and information to generate their own publicity! One of our goals is to empower those that don’t have a big budget, but that do have a lot of heart and passion, to generate visibility without spending the type of money that it costs to hire a traditional PR firm.

    What kinds of things are you struggling with? We’d love to hear about the types of challenges you’re facing so that we can create educational materials and systems to help!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Building Personal Relationships With Customers In The Digital Age | iWoman Magazine - July 20, 2011

    [...] Building Personal Relationships With Customers In The Digital Age [...]

  2. Marketing through the Web: How Information is Power « BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas - November 11, 2011

    [...] job to take on a new role: personal researcher. As Tara Gessinger, states in this Online PR Media blog post on Online Public Relations: Building Personal Relationships with Customers in the Digital …, you need to keep the online conversation with your clients going through email as you would in [...]

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