A customer engagement strategy offers the pathway to achieving key business objectives – nurturing loyalty, building customer ambassadorship, encouraging brand growth and increasing revenue. When your company engages with clients, it pulls them closer to your business. It motivates them to interact with your brand and participate in the experiences it creates for them or that they benefit from.
More often than not, brands are too occupied with attracting new customers, rather than keeping the happy ones coming back. They tend to forget the significance of quality communication at the moments prior to and after purchases, and the importance of an emotional connection.
Customers are the lifeblood of your business and how you treat them matters. To effectively engage them you should be able to connect with them beyond the touchpoint of the customer journey. If you do it successfully your customers will be able to respond better to your marketing initiatives and keep your brand at the top of their minds.
So, what does a customer engagement strategy include? Why is it so important? Which tools can you use to build it? And how does it look in action?
To answer these questions and more, we have prepared some tips and tricks on how to successfully build a value-added customer engagement strategy and create a purposeful relationship with your audience.
1. Meaningful Interaction Starts with Experience
The quality of your customer experience (CX) can indicate how well your customer engagement strategy is performing. According to Forbes, improvement in brand-associated emotions has the biggest effect on increasing loyalty. For both B2B and B2C companies, building a meaningful customer experience is the most effective way to foster positive emotions and keep customers coming back.
The more advanced your CX is, the stronger your customer relationship will be and the more trust they will have in your business. To ensure that it is a valuable asset in your engagement strategy, it’s important to have synergy between your company culture and the marketing, sales and customer support teams.
Analyze Your Customer Journey
Your client journey can tell you everything you need to know about how and when your customers interact with your brand. It can indicate key areas for mutually beneficial engagement and point out any issues.
When optimizing your customer journey, you can ask questions like: Can users easily navigate on your website? Do they find the emails you are sending them informative and helpful? Do your customers return after they have interacted with your business? How easily can clients reach your team and will the response be professional and friendly?
Ensure a Seamless Omnichannel Experience
Brand interactions happen over many channels – your website, search results, external links, social media, emails, and so on. For smooth customer engagement it’s good to make sure that the customer experience is enjoyable and consistent irrespective of the channel. Keep in mind that even one unpleasant or frustrating interaction can offset your engagement strategy. If not altered in a timely manner it can even result in losing your hard-earned trust and loyalty.
Be Aware of Your Reputation Score
Many brands measure the effectiveness of their customer experience with a Reputation Score. This indicates how well your brand is performing across every stage of the customer journey. It takes into account any factor that can affect your business’ reputation from product performance to how customer support queries are dealt with.
Pay Attention to What Your Customers Tell You
Buyers today are very vocal with their feedback and they expect that brands tailor their experiences to them. It’s important that you monitor what your customers have to say about your business, and when they leave a comment or a review.
Monitoring this score along with your customer satisfaction levels can help you identify customer preferences and problems, and help design guidelines on how to respond to them effectively.
2. Establish a Brand Voice and Personality
An effective engagement strategy goes hand in hand with an authentic two-way communication between your brand and your audience. Developing a unique brand voice and distinctive brand personality will allow you to differentiate yourself from your competitors, let your audience know who you are, and bring them closer to you.
How customers perceive your brand is as much influenced by the physical elements of your business as by the way you communicate. Every time a buyer receives an email, contacts customer support, leaves a comment or a review, your brand’s contribution to the conversation speaks volumes. Your voice should be consistent, though it’s possible your tone can change and adapt according to the situation and the communication channel.
To ensure synergy between support teams, document every point of contact in detail and use this information to create guidelines with instructions for your team members. This will help them incorporate the same communication practices at every single contact point – your website, social media, advertising and marketing materials, product packaging, product descriptions, public events, etc.
3. Be the Cool Kid on Social Media
Smart Insights reports that every day people spend an average of 2.5 hours multitasking across 8 messaging apps and social media networks. The study also found that around 46% of users, across all generations, use social networks to research products. This is also how roughly 30% of users discover brands. It’s safe to say, therefore, that social media is a big deal. However, since the conversations tend to be peer-to-peer by nature, businesses have to be sensitive when using it.
Social media can be a great place to unleash your communication creativity. It’s an excellent medium for expressing your brand’s personality and actively engaging with customers on a day-to-day basis. What is more, it’s effective for motivating customer interactions, building interest, and even creating viral traction.
Here is what your brand can do to reap the benefits of social media and improve its customer engagement strategy.
- Be active – Respond to your customers, ask for their option, follow live events and start your own conversation on the topic.
- Use analytic tools to get to know your customers more and even better than they know themselves. The data you collect can give you powerful insights on the things that may need improving and some useful ideas on how to do it.
- Keep a consistently positive tone and be mindful of the situation. It’s good to be aware when to be playful and when to get serious.
4. Adopt a Customer-First Mindset
Adopting a customer-first approach when designing your engagement strategy ensures that your business goals are focused on meeting customer needs. For this strategy to work, however, there should be synergy between the happiness of your employees and that of your customers. Undervalued employees won’t have much of an incentive to make customers happy, and dissatisfied customers will make employees feel unaccomplished.
To achieve such harmony and build effective engagement, it’s very important that your brand understands who its target audience is and which of their needs it is fulfilling. Once you have these locked down, you can adapt your content and marketing strategies.
For example, you can use customer purchase history to create a personalised experience like Spotify does where it personalises a weekly discoveries playlist based on each person’s listening history. Or Netflix which adapts trailers depending on what type of programming the individual is interested in.
5. Make Your Customer Communications Personal
Personalized marketing and messages improve customer experience and help brands form personal relationships with their clients. A report by Smart Insights and SmarterHQ found that 75% of customers would only engage with marketing communications that are personalized to their interests. Hence, serving relevant content to your customers based on their activities and behavior proves to be an important part of an effective engagement strategy.
Gathering the necessary data should be seamless without making your clients feel like you’re striping their data for profit. To ensure this doesn’t happen you can involve your customers in the process and thus have communication with them. You can, for example, ask them to participate in a survey, use social media polls, ask them to leave a comment answering a question, use forms to ask if the content users are seeing is relevant to them.
Communication personalization can take many forms. It can be an automated email to wish your customer a happy birthday or it can be a sophisticated algorithm that can predict new products and features they may be interested in. Regardless of the specific approach, the goal is to make customers feel welcomed, seen, and part of your brand’s conversation.
6. Practice Social Listening
While data can give you insights about consumer behaviour, listening to your customers will provide you with the necessary feedback and information about their experiences. It will also tell you how people regard your brand, even if they don’t mention it, and what their perception of it is.
With social listening, you can start the practice of engaging with your audience as soon as they share something about your brand online. Social media, in particular, can be a super effective tool for real-time listening. It allows you to immediately respond to your customers without having to redirect them to a different customer support channel. It enables you to tap into the feedback of a much larger audience compared to surveys that use a population sample. It can provide you with insights as to what your competitors are saying about you and if your loyal customers are really so devoted.
Additionally, while tracking your brand’s mentions, you can also track keywords, hashtags and buzzwords that are relevant to your industry. This way you can, for instance, discover influencers and communities who discuss topics relevant to your business and design your social media campaigns so that they spark the interest of these individuals.
7. Be Consistent and Don’t Force It
Customers evaluate their journey with brands based on their overall experience with them. So, for a customer engagement strategy to work effectively, it would require consistent internal and external efforts.
On one hand, it’s important you ensure that all delivered experiences and communications are consistent across different channels – website, social media, email, etc. On the other hand, it’s necessary that your team is well-trained on how to keep that consistency when interacting with your audience.
One thing to remember is not to force your clients to interact with your brand. Your customer engagement strategy should offer a variety of ways to interact with your customers, and it’s up to them to choose which ones to use.
As a company, you can only create opportunities and do the best you possibly can to inspire people to act on them.
All in all, building a customer engagement strategy is not the same as design ques for maxim attention grabbing. The key objective here is to create meaningful interactions throughout the whole customer journey. It requires continuous effort, great end-to-end communication and effective support. It’s about providing value-added customer experiences and building strong and long-lasting loyal relationships and advocateship with your audience.
We hope we have inspired you to incorporate a few of our suggestions into your engagement strategy. We look forward to your feedback.
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