7 Ways To Make Passive Customers Active
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A a brand, there’s one audience I bet you’re constantly racking your brain to reach. No, it’s not a new market segment, it’s what I call the Silent Majority. This group comprises all the customers who are satisfied, but not passionate. Customers who you know exist but leave no other trace and make no interaction beyond the purchase. It’s almost as if this silent majority doesn’t care about your brand beyond the products they buy from you. And if you’re looking to get more from your current customers, this is a big problem.

You’ve likely seen statistics on how customers are more likely to share a negative experience than a positive one[1]. And if you’re keeping track, you might also have observed that the customers who interact with your brand most often – whether through writing reviews or commenting on blogs/social media posts – constitute a small group of “regulars.” Taken together these two groups represent a relatively small part of your total customer base.

If you’re looking at where your greatest opportunities for growth are, you can’t afford to ignore the silent majority. The trick is to get them to stop ignoring you.

1) Let Them Know You’re Listening

One place to start encouraging interactions with your silent majority is to demonstrate how your brand reacts to interactions. This means acknowledging those who are already commenting. Bonus: when you make your responses open ended or ask a question, you can continue to keep the conversation going, possibly encouraging others to join in.

2) Cultivate The Conversation

This is an obvious one, but I’m talking about more than asking for a like or a retweet. If you want people to interact with your content, you need to give them an in. If you’re posting “complete” thoughts that the average person can only nod in agreement to, you’re not likely to inspire them to pen a response. The burden is on you to start the conversation.

3) Don’t Be Boring

Whether they love or hate you, customers who belong to your vocal minority feel strongly about your brand, product, or content. In other words, they care what you’re saying enough to take the time to respond. If you’re cranking out content that doesn’t have the capability of making your most ardent supporters care, how do you think all those people in the middle are going to respond? (hint: they won’t). Talk about things you care about and have a point of view. Don’t be afraid to be a bit controversial (again, within the limits of your brand). Also, never use the word “interesting.”

4) Don’t Become Boring

This point addresses desensitization. If everything you post is controversial, eventually people turn the volume down on you. Plan variety into your content. Introduce some brand/audience/channel appropriate controversy. Invite your customers to disagree with you by letting them know you value their feedback.

5) The 90% Rule

You don’t have to have all the answers. In fact, a little humility – asking for help – is a way to show your brand’s “human” side and create more opportunities for people to connect with you on an emotional level. Instead of offering a complete solution or presenting your blog post as the definitive statement on a topic, try presenting 90% of the solution or issue and let your readers fill in the rest. People love to show what they know.

6) Share the Spotlight

Everything doesn’t have to (read: shouldn’t) be about you. When you take the focus off yourself, you create more opportunities for people to relate. Whether you’re singling out an exceptional employee or an all-star customer people like to be made to feel special. Just make sure you’re respecting their privacy or else this tactic can backfire.

7) Engineer Interaction

Turning to technical matters, the interaction options (or lack thereof) associated with your content could impact how many of your customers are willing to join the conversation. Your attention should be on reducing friction – making it as easy as possible for a reader to, say, leave a comment.

Another key in generating more interaction is deciding what kind of interactions you want. Limit the number of ways your customer can interact with your content to get more of the interactions you want. Channeling your customers’ attention goes hand-in-hand with creating a good experience.

Why It Matters

As I said before, the majority of the customers who are interacting with you online either love you or hate you. However, most of your customers don’t feel particularly strongly about you. They’re satisfied, but not passionate. And this is dangerous for brands.

On a recent GainSight post[2], Lincoln Murphy wrote, “your ‘happy’ customers – you know, the ones you never hear from or interact with, the ones that never complain or contact support – they’re actually the ones to be worried about.”

Customers you’re not interacting with are customers you will have a hard time preventing from leaving. If you’re not connecting with them in a way that inspires them to respond, react, and even complain another brand will. And you’ll never see them leave.

Written by Edward Baldwin

Edward Baldwin

Never content to live on just one side of the brief, Edward has spent the last seven years immersed in both creative and account services. This ambidextrous approach has helped him develop, maintain and apply brand strategy and voice for companies selling everything from software to salsa. Whether he’s writing or planning, loud music is probably involved.

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