Are you annoying your customers?

With technology advancing at what often feels like warp speed, it is easy to forget that on the other side of any type of communication is still a human being. We have so many opportunities to instantly express our thoughts and opinions and so many outlets to post to, I think we may have lost sight of why we engage in the first place – to communicate.

So much of our business communication is decidedly one-sided and often, a little ego-centric. Think about it – how do you communicate most often with prospective clients or customers? Email? Twitter? Facebook? LinkedIn? A blog? There has been a lot of talk in the past couple of years about how push marketing is dead and it is now all about engagement. While I agree that engagement media (think Twitter and Facebook) have certainly risen in popularity and sophistication, there is still plenty of room in your marketing mix for good old-fashioned push marketing (think Email or blogs).

Whatever channel you choose to communicate with your customers, make sure that you are always putting THEM first. It is so easy to forget this simple philosophy and just bombard people with messages that are all about you and not all that interesting to them! I often suggest to clients that they think about their own behavior when we are discussing a new marketing concept or delivery method. Granted, your target market may be very different from your client and those differences are important to recognize, but there are certain types of behavior that are pretty universally annoying.

Are you guilty of any of these?

  1. Obnoxious Frequency. Sending the same email blast out every other day for two weeks because your open rates are low. Tweeting about every little thought that comes into your head all day long.
  2. The Hard Sell. Are all of your communications all about how wonderful your company or product is?
  3. Not Listening. Do you ever reply to people who do try to engage with you or do you leave them hanging?
  4. Being Intrusive. Social media can be tricky – just because you or your company was mentioned, does not always mean you need to jump in to a conversation.
  5. Not Asking for Permission. Do you add people to your email list, or worse text message list, without asking? Do you get permission for one thing and then automatically sign them up for everything else?
  6. Abusing Trust. Do you share email addresses with other companies?
  7. Not Taking No for an Answer. Do you make it easy for people to disengage with you if they so desire?

Engaging in great communication starts with you and it is easier than you might think. How can you avoid being guilty of the above offenses?

  1. Take a hard look at your email content and/or your email list segmentation. If you have low open rates, ask yourself why. Perhaps your information is not all that interesting or useful. Make it better!
  2. Ease up on the blatant sales language. Start to build a reputation as a connector of people or a source of useful and topical information.
  3. Build social media listening into your social media strategy – spend time reading what others are writing and when appropriate, join the conversation.
  4. Use some restraint and avoid being creepy! Just because you or your company were mentioned in a post does not automatically mean it is appropriate or welcome for you to directly engage and jump into someone else’s conversation.
  5. Follow sound opt-in procedures and be clear about your policies when someone is signing up to receive communication from you.
  6. Treat your email list, followers and connections like gold – because they are! If you’re not sure about a particular behavior, you probably shouldn’t do it.
  7. Make it easy for people to unsubscribe and if you do step over the line in the social space, apologize quickly and sincerely and then go away.

If we all take a moment to think about our audience and put ourselves in their shoes, our communications can’t help but be better!

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