According to a recent survey by Pew Research, the commercial use of the Internet among Americans continues to grow: 58% of US adults say they conduct research online about products and services, up from the 49% who said so in 2004, while roughly one-quarter (24%) have posted comments or reviews online about products they buy. (thanks to MarketingProfs for posting)
I am one of the 58%. I am a research nut who conducts online searches for both personal and professional products and services several times a day. I came across two companies yesterday while conducting online research. One of them is now a contender for my business. The other, sadly, lost terribly.
Here is some background. I am looking for a new washing machine since mine has decided that it no longer wants to clean my clothes. At this point, I don’t want to search by features, colors or price. I need to know which ones will fit into the predetermined and unalterable spot for the washing machine. All the major and local appliance stores’ websites offered the same search parameters: color, price, most popular, highest rated.
I went to Google and typed in “appliance by size.” The results listed, among others, a site that “aims to make it as easy as possible to find the products that fit your space – be it furniture, home electronics or even large appliances. You can find all the products you need for your new apartment in a size-friendly search environment.”
Great! I thought, that’s exactly what I’m looking for, so I went to the site and entered “washing machine” in the search box. The auto-fill suggested the following: combination microwave & wall ovens, convertible dishwashers, countertop microwave ovens, double wall ovens, waffle irons (aside: how big do they get?), and wall air conditioners.
When I typed in “washing machine,” I received the reply “no entries found.” What I did find was that I was annoyed that the site didn’t work. I would have been happy to spend lots of time on the site looking for what I needed. This might have provided them some ad revenue and perhaps some affiliate income if I purchased on line. I likely would have highly recommended the site if it worked. Instead, I went back to the google search results and found www.ajmadison.com. Kudos to them on a website well done! Not only is the site super easy to navigate and search, (they allowed me to search by appliance size!) but they have also embraced social media. The highly informative and engaging social medial channels are FREE and cost them only their time to assemble and post content. Under the AJ Madison Community umbrella, they have the following channels and descriptions listed. From the AJ Madison site:
Facebook: The AJ Madison Facebook Fan Page is updated every day with the latest deals and product specials. The AJ Madison Experience (found under the “Boxes” tab) presents a simple, ever-changing interface with deals and links to the site, while Shop AJ Madison allows you to browse and buy from our entire site, all while logged into Facebook. Become a fan today!
Twitter: For information about promotions, as well as general appliance news (and some surprises), follow us on the official AJ Madison Twitter page (@AJMadison). On average, we tweet several times a day, and deals are normally announced in the morning.
YouTube: We periodically update our YouTube channel with new informative product videos. In the near future, we’ll have a steady stream of content and new videos to keep you apprised of the latest appliances and how to use and maintain them.
Tumblr: Every weekday, we update our Tumblr page with information on a new “just-in” product. This is a supplement to the New Products RSS Feed, with our own views on the featured appliance thrown in for good measure.
Flickr: Each week, we showcase a new product from the AJ Madison showroom on our Flickr page, giving you original images and in-depth looks at our newest appliances. Subscribe to our Flickr stream or follow us on Twitter for the latest updates.
Appliance Authority (blog): You’re on AJ Madison’s Appliance Authority blog right now! We update our blog several times a week with how-to guides, top rated product spotlights, buying tips and more. Check back here every weekday for a new post, or you can also follow it via this RSS Feed.
Google Buzz: We’re proud to be one of the first companies on Google’s new Buzz network. Though we’re currently experimenting with this brand-new platform, Buzz integrates all of our other profiles (Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and more), and we add daily deals, news and information right from our Brooklyn office. If you’re a Buzz or GMail user, or just generally curious, visit our Buzz profile and follow us today!
And, it gets better! I tweeted, “@AJMadison I love your website! So well done and informative. If I still lived in NYC, I’d be purchasing my new washing machine from y’all.”
In less than an hour, they responded, “Thank you, friend! We still deliver to your neck of the woods.”
By being on top of their social media channels, they created a direct, personal, immediate dialogue with a potential customer that lives 800 miles away. That kind of responsiveness makes them a top contender for my business.
Key takeaway points:
1. If you sell a product or service that people are likely to research, write rich content and reviews and create lots of search parameters that will attract researchers to your site.
2. Leverage social media channels. Distribute all that great content through Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, etc.
3. Monitor those channels. Read and respond to potential buyers. Read and contribute to discussion boards and forums in which your products and or services are the subject. Become a trusted authority.
4. Provide solutions. I tweeted that I would buy from them if I lived closer. They responded, “no problem, we can do that.” I went back to the site and saw that FREE DELIVERY was offered to my zip code on the item I was considering.
5. Read the bad stuff, too. You might find that unsatisfied customers posted their complaints online. If possible, try to reach out to them and resolve the problem. Research shows that customers who complain and are satisfied with how the complaint was resolved are up to 8% more loyal than if they had no complaint at all.