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.
Is Omni-Channel another buzz word? No, it’s actually been around for ever, just applied fractionally and therefore not very well. People have busy lives and are subjected to many messages of influence, both subtle and overt, through-out the day. There are also choices of shopping channels and the mesh that is the purchasing environment of today, means that strategy needs to have a strong thread of interconnectedness.
The movement towards Omni Channel is to have 1 clear campaign strategy rolled out to multiple channels with an adaptable communication method, and increase accessibility to purchase. i.e.) Web-to-store and store-to-web. The style used on a commerce platform is different to the style used in mobile or brick and mortar. The mistake that most bad executions make, is that there is a heavy reliance on tradition, and participation in online is as if to dip feet into the ocean…. Doing something to say that the brand has a presence. Adam Silverman, an author and opinion leader on Omni-channel says, “In the race to keep up with skyrocketing consumer expectations around omni-channel experiences, many retailers moved quickly to roll out omni-channel fulfilment capabilities without fully understanding the incremental expense of operating these programs. Today, retail executives are beginning to shift their focus towards profitability: moving from implementing to optimizing their omni-channel fulfilment initiatives.
Creating a unified customer experience that is crafted for the target market provides the best possible return and a lasting value perception. The foundation for this is a strong understanding of the full path to purchase so as to create interconnected touch points.
For example, An immune booster campaign crafted to develop the niche fresh vegetable and fruit juice health segment is rolled out in store with visual media, print in health magazines, digital with information sharing on Facebook, billboards and mall advertising. That’s 5 different channels of communication, but the real question is in the impact. The manufactures have used a small budget to make the product available in 2 major retail groups, health shops and an e-commerce mobi-site.
Below is an example, geared towards achieving an objective:
10 potential consumers, drive to work every morning and see the billboard message. The response is “I wonder what that’s about” or “How interesting, I didn’t know that”. The campaign should stimulate interest at this point.
6 of the 10 subscribe to a fitness magazine and see the advert again. The response is “I’ve seen this before”. The campaign should entice interest and maintain it… 5 readers are on Facebook and decide to join the vegetable fruit Juice page.
Facebook shares relevant information, frequently. The reader should get enough information to become a fan.
The 3 fans go in to a retail outlet after work and see the advertising in-store. This triggers a reminder to purchase. The other 2 readers go to a mall over the weekend and see the mall advertising giving the brand a trendy feel. They then go into store and are curious yet unconvinced. Tactical posts promoting a launch offer on the e-commerce mobi-site encourages the reader to trial. The 2 readers decide to go onto the site during a commercial break while watching TV at home to purchase the special launch offer. A case of the product is delivered to the door the next day with a coupon as a gift of the next purchase. Mission accomplished!! The rest relies on the brand to deliver at the 2nd moment of truth.
In this example, 50% of the sample size were convinced to purchase via a campaign that had frequent and relevant communication. The brand was also smart enough to provide an incentive to purchase at a time when the target market is relaxed enough to consider with the convenience of executing the purchase via e-commerce. Niche segments usually have higher loyalty, reducing the cost of recruiting consumers into the brand. The essence of impact rests in the quality of the campaign produced and in the execution.
The biggest focus on a new brand is to drive awareness and trial. If the communication plan creates enough structured hype across multiple channels to generate trial, and the product is available to purchase across platforms, the omni-channel strategy should yield results. In my opinion, Omni channel marketing will become mainstream, as brand owners realise the impact on influencing brand growth.