Every experience a potential or existing customer has with your business leaves an impression. That impression can be the difference between a happy customer and one whose negative viral review results in a tarnished brand. If you're investing time and money into offering a product or service, it helps to keep an eye on your business's reputation.
One way to do this is by reviewing your business's customer touchpoints. A customer touchpoint is any time a potential customer or an existing customer comes in contact with your brand—before, while or after they purchase something from you.
These customer touchpoints happen throughout your customer lifecycle, but four common places they occur are through your media types: paid media, earned media, owned media and shared media.
Paid media is defined as sponsorships or partnerships. Earned media is public relations or word of mouth. Owned media are the assets under your company's direct control, such as your website or blog, and shared media, or social media, is a blend of earned and owned media.
If you are looking for ways your business can increase customer engagement or improve customer retention, a quarterly review of your media types can be a good place to start.
1. Paid Media: Your Partnerships and Sponsorships as Customer Touchpoints
Collaborating with other businesses and organizations is one way to build brand awareness, but it is only beneficial if the partnership helps enhance your brand.
Being associated with a business or organization that has a negative public perception can do more harm than good. Because public perception can, and does, change often, consider evaluating your partnership customer touchpoints quarterly.
A partnership evaluation can be as easy or in-depth as time allows. You can begin by evaluating your partner (or potential partner's) website and reading through their blog and social media posts to make sure their messaging will resonate (and more importantly does not turn off) your target customers.
You can also evaluate the impression a partnership may have on your business by looking at customer reviews or reading articles written by influencers and the press. Evaluating your paid media opportunities frequently helps ensure a partner's negative public perception does not impact yours.
2. Earned Media: Ratings, Reviews, Testimonials, Journalists and Influencers as Customer Touchpoints
Customers can be more loyal to businesses that they believe share their values. One way customers learn about you is through others. Influencers, news reports, journalists and customer reviews can all leave an impression on a potential or existing customer.
If you have a public relations team, they should be keeping an eye on your public image and addressing issues as they arise. If you do not have a public relations team, you may want to consider doing some public relations outreach quarterly.
You can do this by creating a relationship with the journalists and influencers in your industry. You could send them product samples, share news about your business or invite them out to coffee.
Consider addressing customer reviews by setting aside time every quarter to review and analyze negative responses. You can also look for patterns in the negative reviews. Maybe they can be fixed with product or service enhancements or with operational changes at each earned media customer touchpoint.
3. Owned Media: Newsletters, Website and Mobile Apps as Customer Touchpoints
Owned media, such as your company newsletter, website, mobile apps and blog posts, is another popular way to connect with customers (new and potential).
These platforms can be powerful ways to connect with your target audience when they are kept up to date. Quarterly media reviews can help you ensure your business is leaving an impression that will resonate.
You can start by reviewing your website for outdated content and broken links. Then you can move on to sales pages that may no longer be relevant and need to be disabled.
From there consider looking at your newsletter and evaluating your content strategy. You can use this opportunity to think of ways you can increase customer engagement or customer retention. For example, changing up the layout of your newsletter, your blog post format or incorporating a new media platform (for example, videos) to increase customer engagement.
4. Shared Media: Your Social Media Accounts as Customer Touchpoints
Social media is a blend of owned and earned media—making it an important, and somewhat complex, platform to monitor. Customers can develop a relationship with you via social media, so it's important that your messaging is consistent and true to your brand.
Because things change so quickly in the social world, a quarterly review of your social media customer touchpoints strategy and engagement reports can help you control the way your brand is perceived.
Start by reviewing your social media strategy to make sure it is still relevant. A few questions you may want to consider every quarter are:
- What's trending within our industry?
- What does our audience find useful?
- What didn't resonate with them?
- How can we improve our response time?
- Is there a way we can increase our customer engagement?
Of course, if you're able to monitor these media touchpoints more than quarterly, go for it. But for most of us, quarterly is a manageable frequency that can help us ensure we are using these customer touchpoints to our best advantage.
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