You’ve probably heard that people buy from someone that they know, like, and trust. It makes sense, after all. Would you buy from someone that you don’t know, like or trust?
But if you’re an online entrepreneur, how do potential customers get to know, like, or trust you? They aren’t meeting you in person, so you need to create an online relationship.
Creating an online relationship would seem hard when you’re trying to attract a large number of customers. How do you have time to meet with people individually? The truth is that you often don’t. If you’re selling high-priced products or services, you may bring people to a 1-on-1 sales meeting, but many online sales are completed without that personal touch. People buy from a sales page on your website or a link in your email.
There are secrets to creating relationships with people online. If you master these, your sales will increase, sometimes dramatically.
In addition, some of the relationships you create will turn into partnerships. These partnerships can bring you many subscribers and customers at a time because people trust a recommendation from someone they trust. (And you can recommend their products to your subscribers in return — maybe even get a commission for doing so!)
Here — in no special order — are 13 secrets to creating relationships. Please leave a comment if you have a question, want to add a secret that has worked for you, or have a comment.
1. Ask people to reply to you
In your autoresponders and broadcast emails, ask people to reply to you. When they do, reply back. Don’t worry, most people don’t reply, so you won’t be inundated with emails but the people who do reply are the ones interested enough in what you’re saying that they’re likely to buy something from you. In this way, you start a more personal relationship with your top prospects.
You can ask a question and ask people to reply. You can ask people to tell you what challenges they’re facing or what projects they’re working on. Whenever you do this, you’re creating the opportunity for a conversation, which can lead to a sales conversation.
Autoresponders are the first emails new subscribers see from you and they are the most opened emails you’ll send. So start the process of asking people to reply early in your autoresponder sequence.
2. Use an informal tone
We all write differently from the way we speak, but online marketing should be quite informal–closer to spoken speech than formally written content. The more informal you are, the more friendly you seem.
Here are some examples:
- Use contractions: Use “don’t” instead of “do not” and “can’t” instead of “cannot”
- Use first person: Use (I) instead of the third person (he or she) when referring to yourself on your About page. You can use “we” if you’re talking about the people in your company.
- Use active voice instead of passive voice: Say “I considered various sources for this blog post” instead of “Various sources were considered for this blog post.”
- Use informal punctuation: For example, use an em dash (—) instead of a colon (:) or semicolon (;)
- Use informal words: Slang and popularisms are fine. For example, you can use “kids” instead of “children,” and “newbies” instead of “beginners.”
3. Tell people about your personal life
Along with being informal, you need to tell people about yourself on a regular basis — not just on your About page. In your emails, let people know what you’re doing. Just remember to keep the details relevant to your message. For the most part, your subscribers don’t want to know what you had for breakfast — unless you have a food blog.
With a little practice, you’ll learn how to connect what you’ve done to your message. Here are some examples:
- You went shopping and got a marketing lesson from the way you were treated in the store
- You had lunch with an old friend and that reminded you about the importance of relationships, even online ones
- You went on a trip and are grateful for the fact that an online business gives you the freedom to travel
4. Tell people about successes of your customers and clients
With permission, tell people about successes that your customers and clients get from working with you. These are stories and people respond emotionally to stories. You can talk about your own successes and failures, too.
These stories help people get to know you more deeply and imagine what it might be like to work with you.
You’ve certainly seen and probably used testimonials, but they can often seem formal. When you tell a story, it’s more real.
If you include the struggle to get to success in your stories, people will be drawn in and see themselves in the story. This can be very powerful.
5. Use autoresponders with every opt-in and purchase
I mentioned autoresponders earlier but want to focus on them more. Remember, autoresponders are the emails that you set up in advance for each new subscriber to get. You should send several autoresponders to each new subscriber. You can also set them up when people purchase a product.
Because people’s interest is at their highest when they first connect with you, autoresponders are the place to cement a relationship. Ask people if they got what they requested. Add a few more tips so they can get more out of it. Ask them questions and invite them to reply. Offer an unannounced bonus. Tell them more about yourself. (See the item on video below for more on this.)
And then, go ahead and make an offer.
6. Offer 1-on-1 video meetings to prospects and as bonuses
It’s true that 1-on-1 meetings develop a relationship more than emails and group meetings, so include them in your marketing. You can offer 1-on-1 video meetings to prospects and as bonuses. As with asking people to reply to emails, don’t worry about too many people taking you up on 1-on-1 bonus meetings although it’s a shame that they don’t. The few that do will be good prospects to buy your products and services.
Zoom meeting is a great tool for this and the free version is enough for 1-on-1 meetings. Video beats a telephone conversation hands down for creating a relationship.
About page, opt-in pages, sales pages, thank-you pages, and delivery pages. Why? Video is the best way to create a relationship from one to many if you’re online. Do Facebook Lives regularly, too. Link to a video of you in your autoresponders. Here’s one that I link to in my autoresponders, telling the story of how Change the World Marketing got started.
8. Email subscribers often
You have to stay in touch with your subscribers! If you don’t, they forget who you are. Consistency in email is a key secret to maintaining the relationship, just as it is with friends. The frequency depends on your market but anywhere from 2 per day to 1 per week can work.
Your emails should be a mix of offers (free and not free), tips, and inspiration. I put a “Daily Hot Tip” in my emails so that there’s something valuable for free in each email. This encourages people to open the emails — and then they’ll see the offers.
Don’t be afraid to make offers of your own products and those of others. You can’t make a living without making regular offers.
9. Be consistent with your message and branding
The purpose of branding is to create a recognizable message and look so that people connect with you. Think about what makes you unique and how you can highlight that. Many people think that branding is all about your colors and logo, but that’s just the beginning. Actually, your colors and logo should come AFTER you think about your unique message.
You may have to do some brainstorming to figure out your message and branding, but it’s well worth the time.
You probably have certain brands that you stick with, for whatever reason. That type of brand loyalty is a type of relationship and it’s very valuable to you. Don’t be all over the map and don’t talk about topics that are irrelevant to your subscribers or customers. They came to you to solve a problem, so give them useful content to help them with that.
10. Do surveys, hold contests, and ask for feedback
–and listen carefully to it. Surveys, contests and asking for feedback are ways to engage your subscribers and customers. Feel free to offer a free bonus in return for filling out a survey or providing feedback. Contests almost always generate excitement. These techniques up the relationship level from blah to rah!
You can use Google Forms, SurveyMonkey or a similar service to create surveys.
Contests can be simple or complex. There are contest software/services you can use — I’ve used Woobox and KingSumo is popular. But a contest can be as simple as asking for entries, choosing the best one, and emailing the winner a free product. For example, over at ellenfinkelstein.com, I’ve asked subscribers to submit PowerPoint slides using a technique I explained. Just be sure to explain the rules carefully, set a deadline, and deliver the promised prize, if any.
Asking for feedback is important for any business. These days, even restaurants may ask you to fill out a feedback form. Ask for feedback in your products and periodically in your emails.
11. Offer prompt and helpful customer service
Misunderstandings and technical glitches happen. If a customer complains, promptly handle it according to your policies. One cause of complaints is a customer saying they didn’t get a product or freebie. We’ve discovered that a common reason for this is that the buyer used different emails for receiving and buying the product. For example, some people use a different email address to pay with PayPal from the one they monitor regularly. And emails from you can go into a Spam folder or the Promotions tab in Gmail.
In most cases, the problem can be resolved quickly and the customer will appreciate your assistance. This gains you trust, which increases future purchases.
12. Create high-quality, useful content
It’s pretty obvious that people come to you — whether they subscribe or buy — for high-quality, useful content, so be sure to provide it. In addition, any product that you recommend from someone else should also be high quality and useful. “Useful” means actionable and relevant to your target market.
You create this content in emails, blog posts, social media posts, books, products, webinars, videos, articles, etc.
If you’re having difficulty writing content, here are some resources:
- Ask your subscribers and customers what their biggest obstacle is and write about how to overcome it
- Look in social media groups in your area and see what questions people are asking
- Pick up on current events or holidays and relate them to your topic
13. Be honest and ethical
For people to trust you, you must be trustworthy. Honor your obligations, such as refunding people who ask for a refund. Deliver over and above what you promise and people will come back for more.
Stand for principles that you believe are right in your business and act in accordance with those principles.
Integrity always pays, if not immediately, then in the long run.
What has worked for you?
Please share this post with others so that they can benefit from this content as well. Don’t keep these secrets a secret all to yourself! Just use the Share buttons below. And please leave a comment — what has worked for you? which one resonated with you? how are you planning to implement these secrets?