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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

7 ways to keep the conversation going

Dear brands: Why are you so freaking anti-social?

Companies and organizations put a ton of time, money and hard work into attracting potential customers to their web site. But then those big brands abandon you: They seem to say "buy now, or we'll ignore you forever". That's not very friendly.

The average Fortune 500 CEO will growl that Friendliness doesn't count, Lurie, and until you've been in my shoes you should shut your mouth.

OK, let's talk dollars and cents, then.

Getting a previous, non-purchasing visitor to return to your site and buy costs 90% less than getting a new visitor to buy.

In other words, if you spend $1 to get 1 me to visit your site, and then I leave without buying, you've got two choices:

You can go find another person, for $1.You can get me to come back and buy something, for $.10Hmmm. Let's see.

Assuming your job is to improve corporate earnings, Ms./Mr. CEO, you'll want to keep me around a tad longer. Here are a bunch of ways to do it, in no particular order:

I mean, really ask. Don't bury the e-mail signup in the footer, or make it a teeny tiny link. This really doesn't make me feel wanted:

toys r us e-mail signup

Pottery Barn isn't great either, but at least I can find it:

Pottery Barn e-mail signup

Just ask me, nicely. Don't mumble. Don't grunt. And don't yell. Ask.

Hee hee. Get it? A Tweet. It's like a treat, but on Twitter...

If you're a typical, consumer-focused business, then Twitter is not your best selling platform. Most of your customers don't use it. But it can't hurt to have a Twitter account and invite folks to follow you.

Just a few quality Twitter followers can do a lot for your brand and your sales.

Again, make it easy. Put a nice, obvious Twitter button on your page. And, as Dan Zarrella pointed out, you should tell people to follow you. Don't ask (sorry, Dan, I couldn't find the link to your test).

There are more consumers on Facebook than Chihuahuas on Rodeo Drive. So yeah, you want to be on Facebook. But more important, you need to make it easy for me to subscribe to updates from you. On Facebook, that means I have to 'like' you. A nice, simple Like box on your site can do the trick:

Ironically, I haven't had time to build my own Facebook page yet. So the one above is, uh, rudimentary.

You can create a button with a few clicks, then a quick cut-and-paste to your site. Visit the Facebook developer site to see how.

Once I click that like button, updates you make to your Facebook page will show up in my News stream. Nifty, huh?

If you don't know what RSS is, don't worry about it. Just tell your developer you want an RSS feed that contains the same stuff as your e-mails.

For those of us nerdy enough to use (and love) RSS feed readers, you'll be a hero.

Once you have 1-3 in place, offer me something. Nothing that requires shipping or hard dollar costs for you. Try something digital. For momAgenda we started a printables program: Simple PDFs that folks can download, print and use for tracking their week.

The printables drive e-mail signups, Twitter follows and Facebook likes. momAgenda doesn't even require visitors to register or subscribe. They just say "If you liked this, give us your e-mail address and we'll let you know when we've got more".

People hate spam, or anything they think is spam, or anything that slightly resembles what they once heard could potentially be spam. So don't do anything remotely like spam. Be predictable:

Tell people how often they'll receive e-mails, Tweets or Facebook updates.Tell them what they'll receive in those updates.Don't do anything else.

Avoid being defined as a spammer. Don't play the rules lawyer, either: If 100 of your subscribers report you as a spammer to Twitter, it won't matter if you technically weren't spamming them. So think about what your customers might think is tacky, and don't do it.

Every now and then, reward me for being a subscriber. Give me a little discount, just for being one of the Inner Circle. Even better, just send me a note with a tip, a hint, or a special downloadable something that no one else will get.

You don't have to spend money. Just make me feel a little special. My ego resembles a small, damp piece of lint.

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