Customer engagement today is very different than that of the past. Today, people have a lot of choices when it comes to the number of interaction mediums due to the large number of technological advancements, and customers expect brands to anticipate and meet their needs in real time.
Let’s ask the most difficult question – how does a brand go about engaging a modern consumer?
The customer experience is about so much more than just the sales journey — it’s about feeling heard, getting answers to questions, having problems fixed, and feeling a connection to the brand. In addition to marketing and customer service, brands need to be thinking in terms of customer engagement.
What is Customer Engagement?
Customer engagement is about encouraging your customers to interact and share in the experiences you create for them as a business and a brand. When executed well, a strong customer engagement strategy will foster brand growth and loyalty.
Businesses that focus on customer engagement are focused on value creation, not revenue extraction. They give people something meaningful beyond a sales pitch: a brilliant end-to-end customer experience, great content, or interactive, real-time customer support.
Customer Engagement Statistics
Here are some customer engagement statistics that might explain why so much focus is being put on engaging customers:
- “Companies with the strongest omni-channel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, as compared to 33% for companies with weak omni-channel strategies.” – Aberdeen
- “Customers who are fully engaged represent 23% premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth compared with the average customer.” – Gallup
- “58% of executives reported not having a formal customer engagement program in place, and 60% didn’t know how many customers they’d lost over the past year.” – Convero
- “70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.” – McKinsey
- “Only 25% of Millennials are fully engaged customers, and their engagement is highly dependent on technology. In order to attain their attention brands much achieve excellence in every channel.” – Gallup
Here are seven customer engagement strategies that can build a loyal customer following:
- Listen to Your Customers
Mobile apps give companies amazing opportunities to learn more about their customers. Using surveys consistently will allow you to get feedback from your customers, which you can then use to improve your offerings. And though you might not like to hear it, negative feedback is the most valuable because it shows you where you can make changes to better engage your customers. The key is not to just gather the data. You have to act on it.
- Embrace the Omni-Channel Concept
Customers connect with companies via different channels. They have a wide range of channels to choose from and few use just one channel. For example, a customer might start with the brand’s print catalogue, graduate to the brick-and-mortar shop and make the final purchase online. This is the way the consumer operates today and you need to align with their needs, which means offering them multiple channels and an excellent experience across all of them.
- Get Involved
Regardless of the platform you use, you need to get involved. Don’t just talk at people, bombarding them with promotional messages all the time. Actually engage in conversations with them. Listen to their problems and learn from those issues. And respond. By responding, you show your customers you care, which can go a long way towards building that ever-important loyalty. Looming over your customers like a faceless corporation will not win you any brownie points, so get involved in the conversation.
- Engage them on social media and other online platforms
What’s the best way to get up close and personal with a customer? It’s on social media. Tag them, call them out, thank them, or offer them something to catch their attention. Not just on social media, use other online platforms and communities like Yelp.
But wait, don’t stop there! Share customer reviews and testimonials on your own social media pages to give attention to them.
- Use a Rewards or Loyalty Program to Charm Your Audience
There’s one thing everyone wants to get in on – rewards! Just the mention of the word lightens up the mood. And, people love it if they get something in return for their actions. Why not supplement your efforts by having a rewards or loyalty program in place? It’s a sure-fire way to increase engagement!
Host an Event and Invite Your Audience for Exciting Activities
Most companies perform some level of market research about their audience, mostly for marketing campaigns. Why not use that to host your own little event with only your audience as the attendees? It will make them feel special, and show them that you really care about them. Give your VIP customers personalized passes they can use to enter the venue, and then have someone greet them to offer them a taste of royalty.
- Invest in Employees
Your staff is your most important asset. The more qualified and experienced they are, the better they will be at engaging with your customers. And you need to promote a culture of engagement that focuses on creating an outstanding customer experience so that everyone in your organisation is on the same page.
- Use Customer Data Effectively
Relevant customer information is vital because you can use it to develop other strategies to engage your customers – ones that are tailored to your target market, which will make them even more effective. You should analyse customer behaviour and demographics. Don’t assume you know your customer because the reality might be starkly different to your perception. If you don’t conduct an analysis, you will end up making mistakes that will cost you in the long run.
Use all the tools at your disposal, from customer engagement measuring software to customer satisfaction survey tools, to get an accurate picture of your customers and what they want or need. The more information you have, including customer engagement metrics, the better able you will be to craft and implement effective customer engagement strategies.
Engaging customers is not as easy as it sounds. You have to connect with your audience on a much deeper level emotionally and build trust. Most importantly, it’s about going out of the way for them. We at Prana hope the above customer engagement ideas and strategies help your brand engage audiences of all sizes.
Top 10 Customer Engagement Strategies
Across radio, print, web TV, and mobile, marketers invest advertising dollars, creative energy and time into targeted messages meant to trigger an emotional response among consumers. For their efforts, marketers hope they may improve the general sentiment towards their brand, convince new audiences to buy their product and encourage existing customers to complete repeat purchases. Their success, of course, is contingent on their ability to influence customer behaviours which makes doing marketing an exercise in consumer psychology.
The influential role of emotion in consumer behaviour is well documented:
- Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) shows that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences), rather than information (brand attributes, features, and facts).
- Advertising research reveals that the consumer’s emotional response to an ad has far greater influence on their reported intent to buy a product than does the ad’s content — by a factor of 3-to-1 for television commercials and 2-to-1 for print ads.
- Research conducted by the Advertising Research Foundation concluded that “likeability” is the measure most predictive of whether an advertisement will increase a brand’s sales.
- Studies show that positive emotions toward a brand have far greater influence on consumer loyalty than trust and other judgments, which are based on a brand’s attributes.
Emotions are the primary reason why consumers prefer brand-name products. After all, many of the products we buy are available as generic and store brands with the same ingredients and at cheaper prices.
Advertising companies use psychological tactics to get buyers to fall for their trap and buy their goods or service. So, it makes us curious: what truly influences buyer’s decisions in today’s message-cluttered world? Here are three techniques marketing agencies use to influence human behaviour.
Some call it subliminal advertising, some just call it influence. I like to call it priming. Priming happens when you are exposed to one stimulus, and it affects how you respond to another stimulus. Here is an example o
Imagine an advertisement for a gel that elevates joint pain. This ad shows middle aged people experiencing lower back pain symptoms, having difficulty with activities requiring manual dexterity, etc. At the conscious level, this ad will be most effective when viewed by people experiencing the exact symptoms described; indeed, advertisers try to target examples that resonate with the maximum number of viewers. One can also speculate, though, that there’s also priming effect happening. As all viewers watch the images of struggling middle age actors, they will identify in some tiny way with what’s on the screen. To the extent that the message resonates with these viewers (e.g., showing images of youthful vigour returning after using the pain relief gel), the company may be effectively reaching a wider market than middle aged people with back or joint pain.
What’s this got to do with marketing? Well, lots. Using subtle priming techniques, you could help your website visitors remember key information about your brand and maybe even influence their buying behaviour. If you give customers or visitors a favourable impression of you and your business, they will keep coming back. There is a reason that supermarkets have flowers in the front of the store. Flowers have a positive association that reminds people of freshness. This is something consumers see every day that they don’t even notice. The goal of priming is to influence the person, in this case the consumer to start thinking about the product in a certain way and to keep them coming back to a website or place.
The next technique advertising agencies use is social proof. Social proof is a psychological and social phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behaviour in a given situation. Everyone wants to be a part of the “in-crowd.” People follow the leader. No one is dancing at a wedding until the first group of people do, and then everyone joins in. If you hear that people are camping out overnight to get the latest I-Phone, that makes more people want to get that it. The restaurant that if fully booked for months on end is the restaurant people want to check out.
Social proof influences our actions. Social proof makes things easier to buy because it builds trust. An example of how social proof works is with social sharing and follow buttons that display the number of followers your accounts have or the number of shares a piece of content has. People see that others have already shared your content so they feel more confident in sharing it themselves because they trust the content is quality. Word of mouth is a great marketing tool. Most people who get a recommendation from a friend or family member will trust that recommendation.
I was at Dion Weird recently at the Blue Carpet Sale looking at the Mac Book Air 13 and talking to an Apple sales representative. I wasn’t 100 percent sold on buying this because of the price so I said “I’m going to shop around.” The sales rep quickly said “well that’s the last in stock at that sale price,” like the world was going to end. Scarcity is part of a simple principle called supply and demand. The more rare the opportunity, content, or product is, the more valuable it is. This sales rep wanted me to buy the Mac Book Air they had in stock because it would be the best price and me saving a R1000.
Companies use scarcity to get customers to buy all the time. On Take a lot do you ever notice Shop our amazing deals every day and get up to 60% off. Fast …” That’s a psychological technique that makes buyers want an item even more than normal. Everyone wants the last one. A tip to consumers would be don’t lose sleep over not getting the last of any product or brand. There are deals every day online through various website. Don’t be deceived.
These three tactics are used every day by companies, so the next time you’re shopping, take a look around and ask yourself “why am I buying that?” You might be surprised at the answer.
Marketers and brand developers are often cited as “selling things” and creating demand to place products in consumers’ hands when they do not necessarily need it. Consumerism in today’s society is incredibly high in affluent societies and there is no longer a clear distinction between a want and a need. In fact, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has jokingly been redesigned and shared widely on social media platforms to cite WIFI as a necessary function before any other human need.
Have marketers done such a good job in creating demand for internet connectivity that WIFI is more important than Food and Shelter?
The question that begs answering then, is have marketers in fact done such a great job in getting people to buy stuff that the deeper meaning in all of this is negated? Is it really about rands and dollars in profit and sales? What about the impact all of this has on human beings (not human wantings) in terms of human consciousness, on civilisation, on human values, on caring for the planet and protecting our environment?
Is Marketing Bad?
Marketing in and of itself is not bad. It’s a necessary tool, which can be used with responsibility or not. If used well, it can get medication into the hands of the unhealthy, saving lives. It can get food into the hands of the poor, saving communities. It can get knowledge to those who need the education to make better choices, allowing greater freedom. Marketing, when used well, can be very powerful.
But, conversely, marketing can also trick consumers into believing untruths and half truths. Messaging can be deceptive, and play into human neuroses that buying a particular product or brand can make the reader have a better life – think of the big screen smoking TV commercials so well known in the 1980s – (eg. the Peter Styvesant Ad 1980).
The question to ask – Is it really Win-Win?
The question that should be placed ahead of each new product launched, each new marketing campaign run and each promotion done, should be “How does this benefit the consumer in a meaningful way?” If there is any doubt that the message being sent undermines someone or is a sale based on driving profits more than consumer value, the motive should be questioned. Is the short term gain in this really worth the long term loss. Because consumers will always and ultimately eventually want what it good for their personal growth and something that helps better their families and communities.
If there is any WIN-LOSE situation, whether short term or long term, the business should be reassessed.
Marketing for Good
You may be thinking, this is all very well and good, but not realistic. The world turns on profits not on goodwill. And this is where I challenge you.
Why should it continue to be this way? If as business people, consumers, shoppers, human beings with hearts and souls, we want change, we should be the custodians to this change.
The choice and responsibility lies with us. In each decision, in each brand, in each marketing campaign, we have a choice of how we communicate and what we do. Let’s make it good. Let’s make it better.
Customer Relationship Management is the relationship between a seller and buyer. It is a holistic process of identifying, attracting, differentiating and retaining customers. The process involves all members of a company to form a culture of relationship building. Customer relationship management is the life blood of a company.
A CRM Guide – Download Here
If you don’t have a social media strategy for the year as yet, now is a good time to start and if you do have one, it’s important to know what’s coming up to ensure that you’re allocating your time and efforts appropriately. Planning for the year is on top of the list for most so here’s what social media managers and business owners should expect in 2017.
1) Video Marketing 360
All you need to do is take a look at how your Facebook stream has changed over the last year to realize how popular video in social media has become; in fact social media is replacing TV: “41% of pay TV subscribers (cable, satellite, etc.) Are planning to either cut back on or sever completely their subscriptions in the near future”(Forbes, 2016).
Video viewing is most popular on smartphones and is estimated to make up 75% of mobile traffic by 2020 (wsj.com). And of coarse mobile is the best for three new trends in video, 360-degree video, spherical video and VR:
At first these videos look normal – if you keep still, however if you move your phone to the right, the video scene will move with you as if your phone was a camera into a new world. Move left and you will see left of what you can see now, spin around and you will get a 360-degree view of where you are standing in the video.
Spherical videos are one up on a 360-degree as you can look upwards to the sky and down to the ground too.
Virtual Reality (VR) is the master suite offering complete submersion in the video world. You no longer have to look through a small smartphone screen, held at arms length, because VR headsets strap your phone like goggles onto your eyes and the video world will not only move with your head but becomes your entire line of sight.
2) Socially Interactive Videos
Part of what makes these three new video trends so attractive is that they are interactive. You can spice up any form of social media (or a blog) by including a quiz, live polls, surveys and contests.
Live video (such as Facebook Live) has kicked off so well because it allows the audience to like and comment as it is being filmed so that questions can be answered in the video or suggestions can be adhered to. For example “could you move the camera a little to the right?”
3) Market Saturation – Reaching the right audience
People like to be included and entertained but they also have very limited time and there is so much on the net calling for their attention.
As marketing in social media becomes increasingly saturated, to reach customers organically gets harder and harder and businesses will pay to get their content seen.
If you are going to pay to get seen you want to make sure that every rand is well spent. Offering products or information to people who are already looking for these answers is the best way to go.
4) On the go Apps and CTA
If you want to keep an audience on social media or in content marketing, you need to be respectful of their time and make life easier, better and faster.
E-commerce on social media
One example of this is social commerce. Previously social media led buyers in store or to an e-commerce site but wait for a new page to load when you can click buy right there? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. have all included a ‘buy now button’ to place next to your content.
Waiting times, limited hours and public holidays, just wont cut it for customers who are used to being connected to all the answers 24/7. Chatbots are AI (Artificially Intelligent) programs that can take the role of a sales assistant – only they don’t need days off!
5) Native – People Are Selective
As audiences become more and more ad savvy, assaultive advertising can do more damage than good to your brand. Businesses are therefore moving towards offering people useful and quality content and then subtly weaving their products within this.
Other ways you can make advertising less assaultive are:
People build better relationships with other people than with abstract brands. People are drawn to brands through positive communication with employees over email or text but also enjoy content posted by a particular person. For example, a poem by an employee.
Even better than hearing about a business from a person, is getting a recommendation by someone you trust and admire. You Tube stars and other celebs recommendations are incredibly powerful because fans believe that the star would not work with the brand without truly believing in it.
People are becoming more and more selective about what they spend their time on and more and more discerning between sites and content that add value to their life and those that don’t.
The most important thing will therefore be to continue to create engaging, innovative and interesting content that can be found easily and navigated intuitively.
Prana Social Media Trends 2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfX4gjcj1GA
A customer journey map is a visual representation of the experience customers have with your brand. A customer journey is not as simple as you offering something and your customers buying it. Customer journeys are complex and in today’s integrated and technology-focused world customers come into contact with your business in a multitude of ways and from many different starting points.
Becoming customer centric means ensuring all customer facing functions provide a consistent seamless experience – read more about how the Customer Journey Map can benefit your brand here. Journey mapping helps bring customers stories to life. It challenges preconceptions, and can help change perceptions, acting as a call to action and contributing to a culture change. The insights that it generates can help shape strategy and policy, leading to a better customer experience and more efficient government. It can transform businesses into customer centric businesses giving them competitive advantage and longevity. Remember a customer journey is centred on your customers, and should thus be drawn up involving your customers.
There are certain customer journey must-have’s, such as:
- Personas: the main characters that illustrate the needs, goals, thoughts, feelings, opinions, expectations, and pain points of the user.
- Timeline: a finite amount of time (e.g. 1 week or 1 year) or variable phases (e.g. awareness, decision-making, purchase, renewal).
- Emotion: peaks and valleys illustrating frustration, anxiety, happiness etc.
- Touchpoints: highlights the customer actions and interactions with the organization. WHAT the customer are doing.
- Channels: where interaction takes place and the context of use (e.g. website, native app, call center, in-store). This is the WHERE they are interacting.
- Moments of truth – An interaction that leaves a lasting impression (positive/ frustrating)
The following steps can help you draw up your customer journey map.
1. Define your objectives
Identify what it is that you want to accomplish – for instance, do you want to fix current problems or build a new experience?
2. Clarify ownership
“From the start, you need to know who will own what part of the outcome,”
3. Conduct Internal Research
Review all relevant user research, which includes both qualitative and quantitative findings to provide insights into the customer experience. This could include customer support/complaint logs, web analytics, social media listening, and competitive intelligence.
4. Conduct Customer Research
Speak to different target customer segments using methods such as customer interviews, ethnography & contextual inquiry, customer surveys and competitor reviews.
5. Touchpoint and Channel brainstorms
As a team, generate a list of the customer touchpoints and the channels on which those touchpoints occur today. Then brainstorm additional touchpoints and/or channels that can be incorporated in the future journeys you will be mapping. For example, the touchpoint could be “pay a bill”, and the channels associated with that touchpoint could be “pay online”, “pay via mail” or “pay in person”.
6. Draw up empathy map
Empathy maps are a depiction of the various facets of a persona and his or her experiences in a given scenario. Empathy maps provide a deeper understanding of the customer’s experiences, drawing out surprising insights into what customers need. The goal is to understand the persona’s experience, specifically focusing on what they’re thinking, feeling, seeing, hearing, saying and doing.
7. Brainstorming and drawing up affinity diagram
The goal of brainstorming is to generate as many ideas as possible in a short period of time. This involves organising ideas and concepts. Affinity diagramming helps us shift from casting a wide net in exploring many possibilities, to gaining focus on the right solutions for this audience. All team members should put their ideas generate, have someone sort the ideas into categories and label them. As a group, begin to consider where you might combine, refine, and remove ideas to form a cohesive vision of the future customer experience.
8. Sketch or draft the journey
It’s now time to put together all the pieces: timeline, touchpoints, channels, emotional highs and lows, and all the wonderful new ideas the team generated for how to improve the future customer journey.
You could bring in a graphic designer who can transform your journey map sketch into an impressive artefact that you could use to share with colleagues across the organisation.
10. Start executing
Remember to always keep it simple. A customer journey map is not meant to be remain a fancy document it is meant to be executed and should be understood and executed by everyone in the organisation.
The first thing to remember is that there is no standard blueprint when creating a customer journey map. This is unique to each company; however the above guidelines will help you get started. Customer journey mapping has a positive effect on customer satisfaction and service levels, increases loyalty and your competitiveness, and in turn your bottom line.
Want to know more?
Contact a consultant at Prana on email@example.com