When you work with clients and customers purely through online channels, sometimes it can seem tough to show that genuine appreciation and connection. But there are ways to connect with your audience online and build a strong community.
To help you start fostering those relationships online, we’ve put together 10 strategies for building a community that your clients and customers want to be a part of.
Let’s dive in!
1. Use Social Listening
The first idea is to pay attention to what your audience is saying online about your industry and what their problems are. This is called social listening, and it’s the perfect way to be proactive about what your audience wants from businesses like yours.
Take advantage of social listening tools to help you track certain keywords, topics and users. Tools like Mention are the perfect solution for watching conversations online.
Keep an eye on the online interactions surrounding each of the items you decide to track in order to learn more about what your clients are interested in and what they might want to learn more of from your business.
Then, solve those problems and address those interests any way you can. This doesn’t just have to be through your services. In fact, you can offer a resolution through your giveaways, content marketing, add-ons and more.
2. Create Community Groups
One great way to create genuine and authentic connections with your clients is to launch online community groups.
There are several online spaces that are perfect for hosting a community for clients and other interested parties to join, like Facebook or LinkedIn groups, Slack communities and more online community building platforms.
Brands like Visme host online communities for their users, providing informational content and product insights, as well as giving them a chance to discuss projects with each other.
Create and promote a community for both clients and potential clients to join. Start discussion threads, share valuable information and build an online group/networking area.
It also enables your brand to create a word-of-mouth funnel for generating new leads. People will refer people to your community and they will want to work with you after seeing the value you already offer.
3. Promote an Open Feedback Channel
Create a way to get honest, anonymous client feedback. Put together a forum, web page, email account or whatever is best for your workflow exclusively for accepting feedback. You can also consider using chatbots to collect instant feedback on your website.
Moreover, make sure to pay attention to the feedback you receive and implement any necessary changes to better serve your clients.
There are many different ways you can create open feedback channels and welcome client concerns.
First, make sure to be open from the get go with your clientele so they feel comfortable leaving feedback and information in these channels.
Second, consider your target audience and the way they prefer to communicate. You want your feedback area to cater to your audience and be easy for them to use.
If they prefer email, send out anonymous surveys or provide a contact email specifically for this type of communication. If they’re tech savvy, you could create an open forum or embed a form on a web page. You could also create polls to share with your clients.
Be sure that you let all of your clients know about this channel for expressing concerns anonymously as well so that the chances they take you up on it are much higher.
4. Showcase Clients in Social Media Content
Talking about client success stories and your biggest clients is a great B2B marketing strategy. There are a number of different ways to do this.
First, consider creating case studies to showcase clients who have seen major results due to your work. These are effective selling tools and allow you to highlight your clients and get them more exposure as well.
You can also share client social media posts onto your own feed or simply promote their products and services, like we see in this example below.
For B2B and tech industry clients, using Twitter marketing tools. For more visually-oriented clients, sharing photos on Instagram can be a great way to lead your audience directly to your clients’ websites and social profiles.
If you hop on this strategy, you can measure engagement and clicks on those posts as one of your social media KPIs, and even let your clients know how each one has performed. They’ll definitely appreciate the added gesture and exposure.
Consider creating social media ads and PPC campaigns as well for even further exposure.
5. Create a Loyalty Program
Have you had a handful of clients for a longer period of time? Show them you’re grateful for their loyalty and continued business by creating a loyalty program.
This is a great way to reward return clients each time they sign up for services, when they reach major milestones or when they refer new clients your way.
There are many different types of loyalty programs and rewards you could offer, from discounts to cash bonuses, as well as simply asking long-term clients how they would prefer to be rewarded.
Another option could be to create an affiliate marketing program to give clients who refer to work your way a portion of the profits.
6. Check In With Clients
The best way to build a great rapport with your clients is to be incredibly communicative and upfront. There are a few different ways you can go about this.
For instance, create regular update meetings or emails to let clients know about your progress while you work on a project. Another idea is to be fully transparent about any clauses you may have in your contract.
Also, if any obstacles come up, be clear and communicative with clients from the get go. They’ll be much more appreciative to hear about delays beforehand, rather than after the deadline.
And if you’re waiting on a client for something, don’t be afraid to send a follow up email or two in order to help move the process along smoothly.
7. Put Together a Regular Newsletter
A fun strategy for both strengthening your existing client base and opening up an opportunity to gain new ones organically is by starting a newsletter that you send out to your email list.
Sending newsletters with valuable content can help your clients feel even better about working with you because you obviously know your stuff. Come up with a topic or structure for your newsletter that you can easily update with new information each time you send it out.
You also want to make your newsletter easily shareable so your clients can send it to others who might be interested, generating new leads for your list.
Also, be sure to promote your newsletter across your own online channels, like your website or social media profiles, in order to reach an even wider audience, just like this freelancer did on Twitter.
8. Offer Exclusive Discounts/Sales
One way to make return clients feel valued is by offering exclusive discounts or sales every now and then.
While you never want to sell yourself or your business short, occasionally hosting a flash sale or placing a discount code on a random web page can be a fun Easter egg for your clients.
Choose different outlets each time you decide to do this, like a blog post, a web page, a social media post, a newsletter, or even at the end of a webinar. Disappearing posts, like Instagram and Facebook Stories or Twitter Fleets are also the perfect platforms for announcing a limited-time only sale or a discount code.
9. Create Valuable Content
Content marketing is huge for creating connections – as long as you’re consistently creating valuable content for every step of the customer journey.
Not only that, but content marketing is also a great way to reach an even wider audience, both through social shares of your blog content and the organic traffic that your SEO content can generate.
Valuable content isn’t just limited to your blog, though. Creating video content, podcast episodes, infographics, SlideShares and other types of unique content are great ways to expand your network as well as share your knowledge.
You can further engage your audience through enticing YouTube intros, interactive content and the like.
10. Show Your Brand Personality
Being genuine and authentic in all of your communications, both with clients directly and in your online content, is a great way to build relationships and community foundations.
Social media marketing is all about building connections and being your authentic self, and you want to show your followers who you really are and what you really stand for.
Part of ensuring you show off the brand personality you want to convey is putting together a brand voice. This should embody your company mission, the traits you want your brand to emulate and the reason you do what you do.
Here’s an example from TOPOL.io where they showcase their brand personality through emoji and friendly, relatable messaging.
Look for ways you can convey the same fun, energetic voice in your own copy and online content so you can let your own brand personality shine.
Strengthen Your Own Client Relationships
Building stronger connections is key to long lasting client relationships, so it’s time to start putting a few of these strategies in place. Determine which ones make the most sense for you and your business, whether you’re a freelancer or solopreneur, or you’re representing an entire company.