November 19, 2008
The ongoing financial crisis and talk of recession has left a lot of Internet marketers worried about whether they will be able to stay in business over the coming months and years. Many people who now work from home on the Internet are also worried about whether or not they will be able to continue selling their products and services.
However, an economic crisis also offers opportunities as well as dangers. In times of anxiety and economic uncertainty the business that responds to customers’ needs and wins their trust is the one that will survive and prosper in the midst of doom and gloom.
Because of the interactive nature of the Internet it offers many opportunities for online marketers to get to know their customers and website visitors, learn what they want and respond to their needs by engaging them in a friendly, informal dialogue that develops into a relationship of trust.
This relationship building process can be done in several ways, for example by inviting people to comment on your blog posts and then responding with follow-up comments. Another option is to participate in forums that attract your target market. Social network marketing sites, email, instant messaging and Skype all offer the Internet marketer opportunities to communicate with clients at various levels of intensity in order to discover where they are coming from and build rapport with them.
The key is to build trust by listening and then following up with products and services that meet their needs at prices that suit their pockets. Remember, it takes time to build trust. Trust is a two way process that is both rational and emotional. You cannot win a prospect’s trust without putting in some preliminary spade work. Rushing at them with products first is not a great way to raise your credit rating with your prospects.
One good way of getting to know your target market better is to set up an online survey and offer your prospects an incentive to complete it. The great thing about online surveys is that they take full advantage of the interactive nature of the internet and are cheap or even free to run as well as being easy to set up. You can use online platforms such as Surveypro.com or Surveymonkey.com to set up and manage your survey from.
You can use a customer survey to find out about your customers’ impressions of the products or services you offer. Another approach is to keep the survey focused firmly on the customer. Either way, make sure you have a clear focus from the beginning so that everybody knows why they are taking the survey.
Offer your prospective survey takers an incentive to do the survey such as a free report or ebook that can be downloaded on completion.
Keep the survey short, invite “yes” or “no” answers by asking closed-ended questions, include some multiple choice questions and assure participants that any private information they give you will remain confidential.
When you look over the results keep an eye out for trends and surprises.
Publish the results of the survey on your website or blog and invite comments.
The whole process of survey taking and reporting should be treated as a trust-building exercise and an opportunity for increased interaction with your client base.
A successful survey campaign will also have brought you a lot of valuable information about your target market which you can now use to present your prospects with goods and services that more closely match their needs and win their loyalty.
So, in recessionary times, a customer survey is an excellent tool for building stronger ties with your target market, winning the trust of your clientele and thriving in the midst of recession.
Darrell Howell is an Internet Marketer and Blogger. Check out his Blog at http://www.blueridgemoney.info Sign up for a free Internet Marketing Newsletter here.