One of the most important lessons bloggers must learn is how to build a relationship with their audience.
It’s all well and good to write great content and share it on your social media profiles, but if it doesn’t reach your readers on an emotional level all you’re really doing is taking up cyberspace.
When you create a relationship with your audience, you are also building friendships, and even an online family. I’ve seen this happen in more than one community I’ve been a part of over the years.
Here are a few ways to start building connections between you and your audience.
Get to know your readers
There’s nothing worse than a blogger that doesn’t care about his/her readers. Take the time to do your research and learn about the wants and needs of the people who are giving you their time.
Showing an interest in the people who are actually reading your content will make them more interested in what you have to say. You can do this easily by creating and sharing content that speaks to their wants and needs.
Some people call this the “know, like, and trust” factor. When you start to build relationships you are working at getting your audience to know, like, and trust you. PAC Expert Author Jacs Henderson has created a 3-part series on cultivating the know, like, and trust factor which walks you through the process.
Tip: Take notes when replying to comments on your blog. Pay attention to what your readers are saying, and not saying. This will give you a good idea of what topics they want addressed in future content.
Mind your ethics
Nothing will damage your relationship with your audience faster than if you lie to them.
Transparency and honesty go a long way to building a lasting relationship. So does being yourself.
Don’t be afraid to admit when you make a mistake. It’s much better to be honest about it, rather than try and cover it up. No one really likes a “perfect Patty”. Letting your readers know you’re not perfect will make you even more trustworthy and lovable to them.
The same thing goes for if you change your mind on something. You don’t want to be constantly flip-flopping on an issue so that your readers never know what you actually think, but offering up a different viewpoint based on new evidence or experience is something that people appreciate.
Learn to use the reply button
I spent years, pre-internet, as a customer service rep in the construction industry. The only option back then was to pick up the phone and deal with a customer’s issues head-on. So I get a little snarly when I run across bloggers and internet marketers who don’t believe in customer service.
When your customers have an issue with their purchase, they expect you to be there to help them. Reply to their emails and help desk tickets in a timely manner. You can – and should – also have your response times posted somewhere on your site so that they know exactly how long they might have to wait for an answer.
The only excuse for a slow reply should be a difference in time zones. But even then you can make it clear. And then go above and beyond to make sure you take care of the issue.
For example, one of my suppliers is located in Australia, and she makes it very plain on her help desk that because of the time zone difference it might be a few hours before answers. The first time I needed to use their help desk, I figured that based on my calculations I wouldn’t hear anything from her until about 7 p.m. my time. I was very surprised to hear from her at about 3 p.m. instead. When I mentioned it, she said it was 6 a.m. there, and she gets so worried about any tickets than come in overnight she answers them as soon as she wakes up in the morning.
Good customer service like that builds relationships with your audience.
Reward your existing audience
It’s tempting to always be going after new customers and readers, but don’t forget about your existing audience while you’re doing so.
It’s much easier to keep a customer than acquire a new one, so developing the relationship with your existing base needs to be a priority. One way to do this is reward them with surprise gifts, discounts, special webinars or other content that lets them know you’re thinking of them.
Treat your audience like people, not numbers
Marketing experts talk a lot about knowing your numbers. I do this too because it is important to know how big your audience is, what your conversion rates are, and other important statistics. But don’t get so caught up in the numbers that you forget there are real people attached to each number.
To build a great relationship with your audience, you have to treat each member as the individual person they are. Your audience is so much more than just a number on an analytics screen. It’s a collection of individuals, each with their own hopes and dreams and goals, who are collectively looking to you to help solve their problems.
Talk to your audience
It’s hard to build a relationship when you’re the only one doing the talking. Give your audience a chance to engage with you.
Blog comments are one way to get the conversation started. Another way is to do surveys and ask people what they want.
For example, if you’re thinking of creating a new product you could create a survey to ask what their biggest problem is, what type of product they would like, and how much they’d be willing to pay for it. This is the best type of market research you can get, and it lets your audience know you value their opinions at the same time.
When all is said and done, the best way to build a relationship with your audience is by being yourself.
You want to be real – funny when it’s appropriate, serious when it’s needed. You want to share enough that your readers get a sense of who you are, but not so much that you’re spilling all the family secrets. Let them know you’re human and not some faceless robot at the other end of the keyboard.
Building a relationship with your audience takes work, but it’s well worth it in the end. When you create an attachment between you and your readers you’re not only creating loyal customers, you’re creating friends and an online family that will support you and your business.
What’s your favorite way to connect with your audience?
Thanks for being here!
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