Top Small Business Marketing Channels to Start Customer Conversations

July 30, 2019 Kirsten Burkard

When you’re choosing marketing channels for your business, it can be tempting to put  limited time and resources into acquisition tactics. At face value, these channels seem like the easiest way to grow your business. However, while paid acquisition can help you drive more short-term sales they often attract customers driven by discounts and limited-time offers. 

That’s why the most successful ecommerce businesses invest in marketing channels that help them build emotional relationships with their customers. These channels establish a two-way exchange of value between them and their prospective customers. Using these tactics fosters emotional relationships with new shoppers that help you acquire customers that see value in your brand, extending beyond a purchase. 

Here are the types of channels you need to prioritize in your small business marketing stack.

Live chat integrations can help start conversations

Think about a time when you visited a store for the first time. Did anyone offer to help you find what you were looking for, or did you have to struggle through the store on your own?

This experience should be no different for your customers online. Both new and returning customers should know that you can and want to help them. 

Live chat makes your brand more accessible and approachable.

As a result, conversational commerce tools like live chat are extremely effective marketing channels for your small business. They’re visible, accessible, and familiar, opening up organic opportunities for customers to engage with you and your brand on their terms.

 

Building brand familiarity leads to more conversions

Conversational marketing channels, like a live chat option, make your brand more human. By creating an environment where customers feel they can reach out, you’re breaking down the barrier of being separated by a screen—turning an impersonal encounter into the beginning of a real relationship.

Customers who have conversations with brands before making a purchase spend 10% more and have a conversion rate of 40%.

In fact, these marketing channels significantly increase the likelihood of a higher customer lifetime value. Forrester found that customers who engage with brands on live chat before making a purchase spend 10% more per order, with a whopping 40% conversion rate! On that same token, other studies have found that customers who engage in conversations are worth 4.5 times more than those that don’t.

Each of these statistics provide tangible evidence that these relationships and marketing channels are definitely worth investing in. 

Small business marketing channels - NaturAll Club - live chat

For example, NaturAll Club has integrated a simple live chat option on their website that features a single-click button on the right-hand side of the page. By clicking the green messenger icon, the chat box opens. Right away, you’re able to interact with NaturAll Club to ask questions. This gives customers the assurance that the brand is ready to support them as soon as they open the website.  

Social media gives customers a voice

People love sharing their experiences: whether it’s a new purchase, a trip, or exciting news, we can’t wait for others to hear about it. This is what makes social media popular as an effective marketing channel for every small business to take advantage of.

Moving your products outside of the confines of webpages and check outs with branded hashtags and user-generated content gives customers the opportunity to share their experiences with you and their friends. This shows potential customers how much people love you, increasing their desire to buy from you.

Social Media puts your customers front and center, letting them tell the story of their experience with you in their own words.
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small business marketing channels - inkbox gallery

Take Inkbox’s user-generated gallery for example. As a brand that treats its loyal customers as part of the family, Inkbox features its Inkfam members on its website. Through the use of a branded hashtag, customers are able to interact with the brand online for a chance to be featured on their website. With this integration, customers are able to inspire one another through their social media posts. 

Inviting customers via referrals helps inspire reciprocity 

Referrals encourage customers to talk about their experience with your small business and bring more friends into the conversation, especially if you’re willing to reward them for it! With an incentive on the table, you inspire your customers to return the favor. This reciprocity loop develops real connections with your customers.

Give customers a chance to share their stories so that they'll keep contributing to yours.

The customers that are referred to your brand are more likely to make a purchase. With real value on the table, they’ll be compelled to respond to your brand’s generosity by exploring your products and placing an order. This need to reciprocate, combined with how much they trust the friend who referred them, is why referred customers convert 30% better and have a 16% higher lifetime value than customers who discover you through ads alone.

Small marketing business - Happy Way - Referrals

Australian organic health brand Happy Way is the perfect example of how referrals motivate customers. With a simple message reading “Give $10, Get $10”, they’ve made the value of their referrals clear. Returning customers are motivated to share the brand in order to receive 1000 points, and new customers will trust the recommendation coming from their friend. Referrals are the perfect way to let your most loyal customers do the marketing for you. 

Deliver value with a content marketing strategy

The most effective digital marketing channels for growing your small business are going to add value, not demand it from your new and returning customers.

Value-add content marketing draws attention toward the brand community and creates an outlet for conversation and engagement.

This goal makes value-add marketing the perfect solution. When you invest in creating content that brings customers deeper into your brand story, values, and products, you open up a slew of marketing channels that otherwise wouldn’t be an option. From blogs to videos,  webinars and everything in between, value-add marketing creates numerous opportunities for you to encourage customer engagement in low-touch, but highly impactful ways.

Consistent communication keeps you connected

By creating content on a regular basis, value-add marketing also helps you stay connected to customers in between purchases. With resources like blogs, emails, and guides incorporated into your content marketing strategy, every piece of content  establishes trust in your expertise that will compel them to revisit your store more often.

Small business marketing channels - MudLove - Blog Content

MudLove is a great example of a store that updates their blog on a regular basis--about three times per month. Their blog features stories about their workers, fact listicles, success stories and more. Aside from their blog updates, they also include a section on their website for customer stories, and a page for others to come and share their stories to be featured on the website. Not only is the content relevant to their brand and offers an engaging experience, but it also covers a variety of topics to peak the interest of any reader. 

Each piece of value-add content you create further enhances the emotional relationships you’re trying to build. No matter what form it takes, content gives you the chance to show off your brand’s personality and tone of voice, helping every customer better understand who you are and why they should invest in you. Each of these factors will not only help acquire new customers but also retain the ones you already have, setting you up for sustainable growth and retention. 

Key Takeaways: 

  • Integrating a live-chat option allows you to engage with your customers right away.
  • Interacting with your customers on social media continues the conversation beyond your website. 
  • Leverage the value of the reciprocity loop with a referral program. 
  • Creating content ensures you stay connected with your customers by updating them on a regular basis. 
Looking for specific strategies for each of these channels?
Get all of the details in our expert’s guide to small business marketing.

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