Be a SMART brand on digital relationship building

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When I think of brands, I think of the stories behind them. When I need to buy something, I tend to choose the brand I know/I like/I love. When I make a purchase, “brand ” gives me a sense of trust and security. That’s how brands have a connection with me at times like that.

Recently I read an article “To keep your customers, keep it simple” by Harvard Business Review that points out people don’t necessarily want a relationship with brands.  The study analyzed more than 40 variables of how people interact with brands and found “decision simplicity” (the ease to gather trustworthy information about a product and the efficiency to weigh purchase options) is what customers really want. The study shows that people’s top reason to connect online are: to get information and discounts and to buy things. Understanding what customers want and keep their purchase journey short and simple will win their purchases.

Another article from New York Times Riding the Hashtag in Social Media Marketing holds a different point of view. It suggest that brands need to involve customers, keep connection with customer and finally win their heart and purchases.

What do you think? Is simplicity enough for keeping the customer in a long run?

In my opinion, simplicity is crucial to maintain “stickiness” of a customer but it is not enough. Both of the articles have strong logical reasoning behind conclusions, but I think the two of them combine make a better strategy. Make the process simple and easy for people “stick to the brand”, then engage them with contents/stories to keep them around. When brands think building relationship is not as important as transactions, then they are only think about short-term goals. Digital relationship building is for the long-term. It may not increase your profitability in a short-term, but the customers connection may keep you in business.

Three key factors to build digital relationships

1What-do-your-customers-really-want.Understand what customers really want.

When customers use social media, what do they really want? Do they want discounts, information, brand stories, channel to give feedback, or a way to interact with brand? Learn their needs and give them what they want with simplicity in mind. Also know about what content your customers want to share. A New York Times study show that people are more likely to share valuable and entertaining contents to other and share causes that they passionate about. The more you understand what they want, the more they share, they like and they support your brand.

2.Building trust, building relationship is the cornerstone of digital marketing.

People tend to choose a brand that is known and well-liked than a lesser known brand. When a customer do not even know your brand, he/she would probably choose others over your brand no matter how simple the purchasing process is. Just as the article Riding the Hashtag in Social Media Marketing mentioned, Gary Vaynerchuk creates conversation that make people know about his brand VaynerMedia. When people see others are actively engaging with a brand,especially people they know, they tend to have stronger trust in the brand. So creating buzz on social media, sometimes will open the door to customers’ heart for you.

3.Reciprocity in Digital Marketing is important.

We tend to like a person more when he/she do something kind for us. Same thing apply to brands. When a brand share/retweet its fan’s content, that fan must be excited and LOVE that brand more. That fan would probably become a more active supporter of the brand and make repeat purchases. Treat your customers/ followers better. Give them little surprises or customized discount when you know what they want. Give, Give,Give then ask for a favor. A favor can be as small as retweeting, generate ideas for new product or even convince them to become part of the loyalty program. Brands can use digital marketing to interact with customers and make them evangelist of your brand.

 

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