You Can't Scale Your Startup If You Forget Your Customers
In the startup world, so much emphasis goes into scaling your business that the foundation of what started it -- lead nurturing -- is often lost in the push to be better, more scalable and more tech-driven than competitors. In the race to a billion, startups often forget the customer or end user that initially made them successful. But companies need to remember that success can be fleeting. There are plenty of opportunities for loyalty shifts in an ever-changing marketplace, which means that a startup now at the bottom might skyrocket past you by staying focused on the customer experience.
Creating an outstanding customer experience must remain the goal of every modern company. A customer-centric business model is the key to achieving massive success, especially since millennials, the largest demographic of the buying public today, expect companies to put their needs first. Seventy-two percent of millennials report they will cancel a service or end a relationship with a company because of poor customer service.
Provide an experience customers will rave about.
Social media has put startup success in the hands of consumers -- what they share, what they write about your company and the reviews they give you. Customers are likely to share purchasing experiences, good or bad. In fact, 61 percent of millennials and 65 percent of Gen Xers say they are more likely to share customer service experiences than they were five years ago.
Every customer who interacts with your brand possesses the power to alter others’ opinions of you. Startups that stay on top recognize this fact and model their marketing efforts to serve the needs of customers. The customer experience must remain a priority, from the relevancy of your social media efforts to the level of interactivity your website offers. Rethink your website, create an app, make your content shareable, personalize your brand and master social media marketing. It’s vital to maintain a customer-first mentality across all your touchpoints.
Master modern-day lead nurturing.
Lead nurturing and post-purchase relationship development are long-term investments in stability and agility. I’ve discussed how crucial outstanding customer service is for small businesses, and the seeds are sown during the early stages of a startup. Building and maintaining a crowd of loyal fans can keep a business moving forward.
In a marketplace that’s always looking for the next shiny new object, I’m going to bet that insulating risk through lead nurturing is your only guarantee to stay in the running. That means optimizing your website for user engagement, creating relevant content, making interactive apps, maintaining an active social media presence and other methods of 21st century customer-centric marketing. It’s easy to focus on innovative products and services, but your startup must pioneer efforts centered on the customer experience.
In essence, startups need something akin to fans for supporters. A glowing recommendation or share on social can ignite your business with a message that spreads beyond even your best sales pitch.
Social media marketing has never been more important than it is today. It reigns supreme on the list of marketing trends -- a platform completely built on the amount of likes and shares a brand’s content drives. In this social universe, a person promoting a brand can spread awareness by the hundreds, or even thousands, with a single post. Think of it as modern-day lead nurturing that everyone "likes."
Put the social in social media.
Consumers expect a company to show its brand in all types of customer-centric marketing. That means you must focus on social media marketing, customer-based business models, experience-driven website layouts, interactive media and every other outlet your customers use.
It’s obvious to me that today’s startups are finding the most success in increasing brand awareness when they take to social media. The best social media marketing efforts involve using monitoring tools to track your company’s success rates. This way, you can respond to social needs and alter your strategy according to real-time changes.
Consumers today expect companies to listen and interact with them on social media. In fact, 42 percent expect a response in under an hour. Taking the time to talk with customers who reach out to you on social media shows that you value each and every one.
Opening a dialogue with your customers is the goal of social media marketing. Social media is the outlet through which customers connect with others, and being open and authentic is how you show that there are real people behind your brand. Mastering social media marketing is the best way to organically spread your brand, gain referrals, pick up new customers and stay connected with existing ones.
My point here is that the goal of customer service is more than just increasing your output of social media posts. Customers must see that you truly understand their interests and strive to be responsive.
In today’s competitive marketplace, anything you can do to increase your relevancy will give you an edge over competition.
Dan Newman is the president of Broadsuite where he works side by side with brands big and small to help them be found, seen and heard in a cluttered digital world. He is also the author of two books, is a business professor and a huge fan of watching his daughters play soccer.