3 Ways to Build Deeper Customer Relationships

3 Ways to Build Deeper Customer Relationships
The digital landscape has changed dramatically in the last several years. Here's how you can rethink your approach to reaching customers and adapt.
by Maya Rollings Mar 12, 2024 — 4 min read
3 Ways to Build Deeper Customer Relationships

The digital landscape has changed dramatically in the last several years. With the introduction of a new social media platform seemingly every month and the dominance of new technologies such as AI, consumers are overwhelmed, and as a result, their communication preferences are quickly evolving. A new study by Gartner predicts that consumers will significantly limit their interactions with social media by 2025 (i.e., really, really soon). With social media in flux, it’s important for businesses to adapt in order to reach customers and deepen the relationships that make it possible for them to succeed. 

Because, at the end of the day, customers still want to hear from the businesses they frequent. In fact, the 2024 Square Future of Customers report found that 91% of global consumers are interested in communicating with the businesses they frequent. But with a plethora of channels available to businesses and customers alike, it’s important to understand where the digital landscape is in order to maximize the opportunity. 

Why is the communication landscape changing?

Several thought leaders in the digital landscape have gone on record as saying that social media is essentially dead. But in a society where 76% of social media users have purchased something they saw on social media, and 90% of users follow at least one brand on social media, businesses aren’t willing to give up on the platforms just yet. While media consumption in and of itself hasn’t decreased, what consumers do with content from businesses and how they engage with content has changed. 

Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, has publicly admitted that while users are spending time on the app, most of their time is being spent in their direct messages (DMs) as opposed to Instagram Stories or in-feed posts. With messaging in mind, the number of global WhatsApp mobile users has increased 26% from 2020 to 2023, and instant messaging platforms like Discord have also seen an increase in users, with its monthly active users being up 25% from the previous year, echoing this growing trend toward private conversations and niche communities.

For businesses, this means word-of-mouth marketing, personalized communication, and different social media tactics will be imperative toward future success.

How to break through to customers

1. Use social media differently. 

The social aspect of social media is shifting, but that doesn’t mean businesses should bail on it. Square data found that 52% of customers are interested in communicating via social channels, and the majority are interested in communicating directly through direct messages (DMs). The generational breakdown showed that 31% of Gen Zers prefer DMs compared to 32% of millennials, 24% of Gen Xers, and 10% of baby boomers. The key, however, is using DMs as a connection point and not a sales pitch. 

To connect with customers via DMs, use social posts to gauge which customers are open to connecting more directly. For example, on your Instagram story, ask customers about their thoughts on a new product launch or feedback on an event and encourage them to respond directly. This instantly creates a two-way conversation between your brand and the customer, which can help build the relationship. 

When it comes to niche communities, explore what it would look like to build and engage with your target audience on platforms like Discord. Fast-food giant Wendy’s combined their debut on Discord with the launch of their new Ghost Pepper Ranch Sauce with spicy nuggets, ultimately creating The Spice Club. Within the Wendy’s Discord community, customers have written and created Wendy’s-inspired poetry and art, shared memes, and had the opportunity to win free nuggets.

This connectedness can work to create deep brand affinity and loyalty, giving your customer retention a welcome boost. Promote and advertise your social channels on your website so customers are aware of all of the ways to connect with your business.

2. Stay loyal to email.

Email is the holy grail of staying connected with your customers. As other marketing platforms continue to emerge and evolve, keep email marketing top of mind for your business. Not only is it a tried-and-true method for businesses, but research shows that customers still prefer it most. The 2024 Square Future of Customers report found that more than half of customers across generations prefer email marketing over other channels. The breakdown found that 56% of Gen Zers, 64% of millennials, and 65% of Gen X and baby boomers prefer email. So, regardless of your target audience and generation, continue to build and grow your email subscriber list and test out different ways to set yourself apart from competitors. 

Square Marketing allows you to segment your audience, tap into generative AI elements, and utilize alluring design templates to help your communications stand out. Take your efforts a step further and implement email marketing best practices to help your business truly thrive.

Get started today

Keep learning how to build deeper customer relationships by downloading your free copy of the Future of Customers Report, which surveyed over 4,000 consumers on what they want from their favorite businesses in 2024. You’ll uncover strategies for how to create meaningful connections with customers through email, social media, text messages, and more.

3. Embrace text.

Similar to email marketing, text message or SMS marketing is also key to connecting with customers and deepening the relationship. The 2024 Square Future of Customers report found that global customers also appreciate text message marketing across generations. 41% of Gen Z consumers cited text messaging as a preferred communication channel, with millennials and Gen Xers following closely behind at 37% and 34%, respectively. Baby boomers were the least interested, at 23%. 

Because text messaging is a more direct way to engage customers, it’s important to treat your messaging as a conversation. GIFs, memes, and images in general are crucial to gaining customer attention. Research shows that we process visuals 60,000 times faster than we process text. With this in mind, don’t be afraid to spruce up your SMS outreach to maximize impact. Square SMS Marketing supports images to help you build engaging campaigns. The tool also allows for personalized communication like birthday rewards and abandoned cart reminders to show customers they’re more than a sale.

To understand more about how customer preferences are shaping up in an ever-changing landscape, dive into the entire 2024 Square Future of Customers report.

Maya Rollings
Maya Rollings is an editor at Square where she writes about all things customer experience, from building a solid customer base to leveraging tools and technology that meets them where they are in their journey.


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