7 Tips for Better Online Business Communication
In business school these days, you’re just as likely to learn about online marketing and communication techniques as you are to learn about more traditional advertising techniques for businesses. The world of the internet has created entirely new forms of communication – as well as new communication problems. Business communications in an online format can be tricky because they are typically one-dimensional; you don’t have the ability to read the other person’s expressions and tones in order to gauge their responses. But communicating well online for your business isn’t impossible. These seven tips will help:
1. Declutter Communications with an FAQ Page
One major problem with the age of the internet is an overload of communications. Because customers can so easily contact your business, they’re more likely to contact you with simple, frequently asked questions. Setting up an FAQ page on your website to cover all the questions customers ask most often can help cut out some of the excess communications that are just about routine issues, leaving you more room to focus on communicating well with customers who have trickier questions or problems.
2. Add a Forum for Customers
Have you ever heard of the term “web 2.0”? If not, you need to get familiar with it! The concept is essentially that you allow your customers to add more content to your website through a forum or similar format. Forums on your site can allow customers to talk with one another about your products and services, answering questions for one another. Since you don’t have to pay for the answers, you’re, again, working to declutter communications. Just make sure that you have an administrative account or two so that your own representatives can answer trickier questions or redirect conversations that might reflect negatively on your business.
3. Stay Connected with Personal Emails
One of the other major issues with internet communications besides the clutter can be the de-personalization of communications. It can be tempting to do all your business communications through mass emails and Facebook page updates, but this is a bad call. You can really set your business apart by communicating with clients through personal emails. Send an email after someone has bought your product or used your services thanking them for their purchase, and you’ll be more likely to get that customer to come back again in the future.
4. Practice Being Concise
Business communication classes have always taught business communicators to practice being concise, but it’s even more important online. Most people won’t read through an email packed with words or a huge web page that’s nothing but copy. It’s more important than ever that you learn to get your point across in as few words as possible.
5. Remember that Professional Doesn’t Always Mean Formal
In all your business communications, you should remain professional, but this isn’t always the same thing as being formal – especially when it comes to online business communications. If you can, read emails or web pages by those who are very skilled in business communications to learn how to strike a balance between professionalism and personality. In the internet age, it’s all about the social, and your customers want to see you as a real person, rather than as a stuffed suit.
6. Switch Important Conversations to the Phone
It can be tempting to take care of almost all your business communications online because it’s just so simple, but this is a mistake. As stated above, online communication takes away your ability to read another person’s body language and intonation, which handicaps all parties in an important conversation. If something is truly important, schedule a time to talk about it in person, on Skype, or over the phone.
7. Put Your Marketing Dollars Where They Count
Businesses spend huge amounts of money on advertising each year. According to eMarketer, advertisers spent about $29.4 (£18.53) billion on online advertising alone in 2010. The problem is that online advertising can be incredibly competitive, and it can change at the speed of light. Make sure you stay on top of the latest trends in emarketing, and update your online business communications accordingly. Using a business credit card with rewards can help you foot the bill for short-term ad campaigns, but in the long term, consider investing your marketing dollars into an excellent website, a great social marketing campaign, and a few solid ways to communicate with your customers.
Your customers expect excellent, frequent communications, whether through email, social media, or your website. Use these seven tips to improve your online business communications and make your online business even more successful.
Written by Daniela Baker, Social Media Advocate at CreditDonkey.