Across every industry, the digital component has continued to grow, thrive and ultimately take over. It’s no longer that digital communication is a driving force behind relevant businesses; instead, it is the force. While it’s tempting to add “May the force be with you,” in an attempt to be culturally relevant, truthfully that would be a disservice.
Because the reality of the situation doesn’t just call for an acceptance of what’s to come and a hope that it’ll go well, businesses that thrive will only manage to do so when they decide to grab their customer communication strategy by the horns.
As the Harvard Business Review writes, “For several years now digital has been an appendage to ‘business as usual.’ But recently, digital transformations have reached the tipping point where digital has become ‘business as usual’; the tail has become the dog. Digital is not just part of the economy — it is the economy.”
Every day, every consumer sees hundreds of forms of communication vying for their attention — so many that, unless it was their full-time job, they could never wade through all them. Thus, the way you decide to communicate is everything. It’s live or die.
So, instead of saying “May the force be with you,” I’ll say: Read below and find out how your company’s communications department can become a force to be reckoned with.
Communicate via All Platforms
Those with the job of communicating with customers need to utilize every single platform available. The key is not to pick and choose where; it’s to become a master of how you’re communicating.
We know, across the board, that social media is a crucial component of any marketing strategy.
However, it’s also important to remember that though there are murmurs of emailing becoming obsolete, there is research that verifies the fact that email is still a beneficial part of any valuable marketing strategy in the digital economy.
Recommended: How to use Social Media Platforms for Your Business
How to Communicate Effectively
This comes down to knowing who your customers are and demonstrating that you’re worth their time. Because the digital economy is so pervasive, you have to operate with the understanding that all customers have access to every kind of marketing, content, and communication under the sun.
According to the mass communication experts at Find Your Context, “Communications is a diverse field that overlaps with marketing and advertising, public relations, public affairs, journalism and the media, and corporate leadership.”
Thus, communication with customers is happening all the time, at virtually every point of their contact with technology. Not only that, but customers also have easy access to companies who are doing a world-class job of it.
i. Be concise:
In the words of Farhad Manjoo for Slate, “We live in the age of skimming.” If you are not concise in your communication, you need to recognize that means the majority of people won’t see most, if any of it, before bouncing. If it’s going to take more than a few seconds for them to absorb your main point, they won’t get it.
ii. Choose your voice:
Carefully consider the primary adjective you use to describe your brand’s ideal image and then work to match the tone of your communication with that descriptive word.
Your voice should remain consistent across all forms of communication, and you should write as if you’re talking to an individual instead of the whole of your audience. Doing so will create the impression that you value customers as individuals.
iii. Amplify your product, covertly:
This does not mean that all of your communication showcases your product. Instead, your marketing will be far more fruitful if you promote the lifestyle of your target audience.
Take a hint from a brand like Patagonia, whose brand blog — The Cleanest Line — produces a wealth of curated content on the adventure and the intrinsic value that comes from a life lived primarily outdoors. Even when you opt to go straight to their general homepage, there are no products unless you opt to shop.
This communicates the fact that you care about the things that your customers care about. You’re interested in their quality of life, more than their financial contribution.
Innovation is one of the pillars of customer interest. You should be utilizing this not just in customer communication but in every aspect of your business.
Are you constantly developing products and services that go beyond what you’ve done before? Are you considering cross-organizational collaboration? Do you utilize the power of influencers? What are you doing in a novel way to bolster your company culture and the health of the community your business operates on, both locally and globally?
Keep Organizational and Client Data Safe
If we’re going to talk about communication within the new digital economy it’s important that we also talk about the one thing that can completely derail your efforts, and that’s a breach in your cybersecurity.
No matter what type of organization you’re operating, there are hackers who will be interested in targeting you. Most cybercriminals have specific skills and interests that match with specific industries.
Healthcare organizations have historically lagged in applying cybersecurity technology. Small businesses have more information than individuals, but often take fewer precautions than large businesses. And large companies? Well, if a hacker can gain access, the end reward will likely be the sensitive information of millions.
As Jim Karagiannes, Ph.D., a professor at DeVry University College of Engineering & Information Sciences, writes, “It’s important to protect yourself by taking personal responsibility for your data; we can’t expect banks or other institutions to do it for us. We lock our doors and take other security measures to protect our home and car. We need to also take precautions with our personal security and information."
Consider implementing these easy steps to ensure you’re doing all you can to protect your website from hackers. Preemptively equipping yourself can make all the difference.
Ultimately, while customer communication in the new digital economy does present many challenges for businesses attempting to cut through the massive amounts of similar content, it also provides a measure of the agency that previous generations of marketers only dreamed about.
The pursuit of those end goals not only sets you up acquire customers but to keep them. Customer retention is one of the best things you can accomplish for the health of your company.
According to WorkflowMax, “It’s seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one.” If you’re not communicating well, if you’re not reminding customers that you’re the smartest choice, you won’t retain them.
The options present a potentially powerful opportunity; the question is whether or not your business has equipped itself to successfully optimize that opportunity. Your strategy should include generating right content, distributing it correctly, and engaging those who see it. If you manage to do that well, you’ll create the type of communication that is vital to an organization’s success.
Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her with any questions or suggestions.