Truly, one of the most important ways to increase your return-on-investment (ROI) is to ensure that you're cultivating, developing and sustaining your customer relationships. Your goal with email marketing should be to ensure that you're constantly in communication with your customers.
What does this mean?
Provide clear communication channels. This not only means that you're offering ways for your customers to contact you with questions or concerns, but also a means that your company has mechanisms in place to respond accurately and in a timely manner.
Always include a direct line to your sales or customer service representative, whether it is through email, telephone, instant message (IM) or a Skype account. Give as many opportunities as possible for your customers to reach out to you if and when they've any questions, comments or concerns.
Ensure that each and every one of these accounts is business-related (not personal!), and if the designated person isn't available, then always assign another staffer to ensure that the channels are covered.
Make it easy.
One of the booming customer relations tactics is implementing Twitter. This quick and easy method allows instantaneous connection and communication with your customers. However, there is a serious drawback with using Twitter: there needs to be regular monitoring of direct messages (DMs) to you.
If your company is able, then set up a Twitter account devoted to customer relations, say MyCompany-CustomerRels. This separate account frees up your main Twitter account for industry news and product announcements.
Some industry leaders are providing full-time staffing to monitor and maintain social media sites.
Fundamentally, if you have a Twitter account or a Facebook page and have made the investment in social media, then you have an obligation to maintain it. Of any form of online activity, social media is king and the most personal means of communications.
Don't answer questions generically, your customers can see right through it and dismiss it.
Make it personal.
Seriously, maintaining all of your links and landing pages is key to customer relations. If, say, your customer relations page is down for any reason, this is discouraging customers to contact you.
Further, ensure that your links to any contact forms are updated, accurate and processed quickly. This is the place where you can have instant messaging (IM) with a customer representative, email forms or even a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page.
There is nothing worse than a link that goes nowhere or links to a page that is irrelevant.
Make it direct.
One of the best ways and best practices that email marketers use are surveys. There are several different types of surveys, but for customer communications, there really is only one type that has been proven effective in retaining and sustaining customer relationships.
By allowing anonymous comments, your company learns not only how to improve products, services, and contact, but taking the pulse of your customers.
Further, always give your customers an option to name themselves and permission to contact them for additional comments.
These surveys are meant to be short, to the point and easy to fill out. Keep it to a handful of questions, no more than four, and included in your emails. As an additional incentive for your customers to fill out this easy form of contact — include a promotional item or an elite customer coupon.
Make it relevant.
Watch for more tips on email marketing, Twitter, autoresponders, and other online strategies in future blogs.