As creatives and marketers, it’s our job to help customers see the solutions to their problems, and in doing so change their lives for the better.
But first we need to engage them. And once we do, we need to keep engaging them. The more engaged customers are, the more likely they are to buy and promote your products and services. Good business is about nurturing relationships.
But this engagement thing? It’s hard.
Because these days, consumers are moving as fast as their browsers or apps can take them. Different media devices and channels abound, and customers now navigate the digital landscape at their whim.
If you want consumers to give your brand the time of day, you need to be where they are when it counts.
And you need a customer engagement strategy to do that.
What is customer engagement, and why does it matter?
Before we talk strategy, let’s have a clear understanding of what customer engagement is.
In a nutshell, it’s the emotional connection between a brand and its target audience, formed over the course of the customer relationship lifecycle through online and offline interactions. See a Dr. Pepper billboard ad while driving to work? That’s engagement. Stumble upon a clothing brand’s website following a Google search? That, too, is engagement.
Now here’s the thing with engagement: it doesn’t automatically result in sales. You see, the modern consumer is tired of being sold to, and is predisposed to ignore every marketing communication as a result. No wonder it takes most businesses five to seven touchpoints to close a sale.
For those touchpoints to count and build up to a sale, you must engage consumers where they are. In other words, you need to provide them with relevant, meaningful, and timely content.
Again, it’s not easy. But employing the following customer engagement strategies will help.
1. Personalize your marketing communications
Customers will be the first to admit that they crave personalization. Think about it: consumers are getting bombarded by impersonal ads daily. What would make an impersonal communication from your brand any different? According to Infosys, 74% of consumers get frustrated when content has nothing to do with them. So, communicate with them like you would with a friend.
For starters, personalize by using their name. Then, continually deliver a highly targeted, relevant customer experience. Thankfully, current technology provides us with the tools to do that.
ASOS, for instance, uses cookie retargeting to track and monitor the browsing behaviors of their visitors, allowing them to customize the brand experience for each user. If you go to the ASOS homepage and head to the men’s clothing section on the first visit, you’ll be redirected to that same section immediately on the second visit, saving you a few clicks.
Email marketing has also proven to be an effective way to engage and convert prospects, and that’s thanks in large part to email segmentation tools that make it easy to send the right messages to the right people.
A benchmark report by Klaviyo shows that highly segmented lists generate three times more revenue per recipient than unsegmented lists. The same study shows that recipients of unsegmented campaigns are twice as likely to unsubscribe than those who receive emails from highly segmented campaigns.
This only goes to show that personalized marketing makes a quantifiable difference.
2. Take a data-driven approach to marketing
If you want your audience to love you, don’t just engage—make every engagement count. And to do that, you first need to identify what your audience wants based on data.
The problem with data, however, is that it can easily be misinterpreted and misrepresented, even more so when there’s too much data for you to sort through.
To understand your audience’s behavior and modify your communication accordingly, you need to put relevant data into proper context, and then derive actionable insights.
By gathering user data based on browsing behavior or product usage, data analytics tools like Leadfeeder, ClickMeter, and Domo allow you to understand your customers’ motivations and interests, helping you deliver laser-targeted messaging.
Protip: Delivering highly targeted content to a specific segment of your audience can be a challenge when you’re working with too many assets. Using a digital asset management (DAM) solution helps you gain better visibility and control of those assets, allowing you to tailor content for each of your target personas faster and with minimal effort. Bonus points when that DAM has AI-powered analytics seamlessly built in!
3. Be accessible
When customers reach out to brands, they expect a fast response. It doesn’t matter what platform or marketing channel they’re using; if you make customers wait too long, they won’t hesitate to take their loyalty elsewhere. Multiple studies show that millennials are more likely to stay loyal to brands that respond quickly on social media.
If you want to ensure customer loyalty, ramp up customer engagement and commit to accessibility. Keep your social media accounts always at the ready to respond to inquiries and concerns posted by prospects and customers. Your customer service department must also have enough staff to consistently respond to incoming call traffic and emails.
Another effective way to make your brand accessible to your audience is to add a live chat service to your website. According to a Forrester study, more than 30% of customers expect a live chat feature when visiting a website. That number increases to 62% for mobile users.
Live chat software can also work wonders when it comes to delivering better customer experience.
Movember Foundation, an organization that promotes men’s health, was faced with the tough task of scaling to accommodate its surging number of members. To keep up with increased demand, the non-profit organization used live chat software. As stated in a case study conducted by Live Chat, Movember “was able to raise their overall satisfaction levels to an amazing 97 percent over the course of 13,155 chats that happened during the campaign.”
As of today, the charity organization has raised $837 million after funding 1,200 projects in more than 20 countries.
4. Build strong communities around your brand
We all want to belong. That’s part of human nature. Consumers crave interaction with other people, even more so if those people share their passions and interests.
This innate desire to become part of a community is something brands can tap into. And they should. After all, a strong brand community strengthens a brand’s relationship with its customers.
Building communities around your brand doesn’t happen overnight. You need to continually engage your target audience and provide them with memorable brand experiences while delivering value every day.
If a company stays true to its mission, stays authentic, maintains brand consistency, and continues to live out its core values, communities dedicated to the brand will organically form. That doesn’t mean you can’t facilitate the process by creating communication channels such as forums, Facebook groups, Reddit threads, etc. where your customers can interact with each other, share their love for your brand, and form meaningful relationships.
Lego is one company that has successfully leveraged its community to further strengthen its brand. By staying true to their mission to “Inspire and Develop the Future Builders of Tomorrow”, Lego inspired thousands of like-minded individuals to share their love of building with each other. Online communities such as LEGO Ideas were made and LEGO conventions around the world drew large crowds year after year.
Mrs. Robinson of Mount Gambier, an avid Lego collector who also buys sets for her children, said this after attending a Lego convention in Melbourne:
“”It was really important to me to share my passion for Lego. It just brings lots and lots of people together.”
Many people think that to engage is to keep talking. We interrupt, shout our wares, deliver promises, provide suggestions, and more. But good engagement starts with listening. By listening to your audience, you’re not only discovering their desires and motivations; you’re also showing empathy. Act on that empathy and your audience will reward you with trust and loyalty.