By Shanon Roberts, on 28 April 2021
Customer engagement is one of the most important aspects of doing business today. Customer service and retention are no longer sufficient, brands need to engage with customers across a variety of channels in ever more creative ways to stay relevant. So why is customer engagement so important and how can we optimize our social media marketing strategies?
What Is Customer Engagement?
Customer engagement is the continuous process of communicating with consumers through various channels throughout the customer life cycle. From social media to emails and rewards programs, brands can use any number of communication methods to maintain customer engagement. This begins with a first exposure and continues on past the point of sale with customer retention strategies. Brands must understand where customers are in their purchasing journey and build strong, lasting relationships with them.
Why Is Customer Engagement Important?
It may go without saying, but a strong customer engagement strategy is one of the most important objectives for any competitive brand. In fact, 72% of businesses say improving their customer engagement is a top priority. With so much of our communication happening online, brands are expected to have a presence across multiple social channels and provide an ongoing positive user experience.
Besides offering high quality products, brands now need to deliver valuable, engaging content to their audiences. Think about your favorite hobby or sport: do you follow related brands on social channels? Do they continuously share high quality content about athletes and products?
The answer is probably yes and it’s likely content that’s highly engaging and interesting for you as the customer. That’s because brands also use personalized marketing to reach target audiences and personas.
As a customer, having marketing tailored to you makes you feel heard and understood. These customer engagement strategies keep customers updated, loyal, build B2C relationships, and create a competitive advantage. Follow this up with great customer support and you have a winning strategy for sustainable business growth. If that’s not enough to make customer engagement a high priority, remember that it costs 5X more to create a new customer than to retain an existing one!
How to Optimize Your Customer Engagement Strategy
A good customer engagement strategy requires continuous optimization. As trends shift and customer demands change, brands need to regularly update their methods of connecting with leads and customers. Here are a few tips for building sustainable brand loyalty with a solid customer engagement strategy.
Create a Seamless Omni Channel Brand Experience
Consumers can begin their customer journey on one platform or device and switch to others during the process. Therefore it’s imperative that brands deliver a consistent user experience no matter the channel or technology being used. This could even include in store visits or phone calls. Customers trust brands that consistently provide a positive, cohesive experience no matter the location.
Participate in Social Media Conversations
This may be a no brainer but when users tag or make comments about your brand or your industry on social media, try to be an active participant. This lets people know you’re interested in what they have to say, you can answer their questions and possibly solve their problems. By doing this consistently, you become an industry authority and a go-to for users interested in what you’re offering. Being active on social media and conversing with customers also goes hand in hand with social listening, an excellent strategy for discovering what consumer sentiment and pain points are in your niche.
Use Live Chat to Directly Engage with Customers
Live chat gives you the ability to answer customer questions or address concerns immediately. As a customer, especially a paying one, nothing’s worse than not being attended to in a timely manner. Live chat gives brands the opportunity to provide exceptional customer support in a highly responsive and personalized manner. This might sound like a lot of work but that’s where chatbots come in. Chatbots can give a personalized experience based on customer history, provide 24/7 support, and save resources.
Create Personalized Content
Personalized content can be served up to customers based on their purchasing history and/or behaviors while interacting with your brand. A great example is Spotify’s Discover Weekly which gives users a weekly playlist curated by the Spotify algorithm based on their liked songs and activities. Personalized campaigns like these give each customer a unique experience.
Examples of Great Customer Engagement
Nike Plus Rewards Program
Besides being very active on social channels and interacting with users, Nike continues its engagement with the NikePlus rewards program. The program includes workouts (and rewards for successfully completing them), exclusive playlists from Apple Music and special promotions all personalized to members. This keeps customers engaged and loyal long after a sale is made.
Salesforce’s Trailhead Gamification
Gamification is a growing method for increasing user participation and delivering unparalleled customer engagement. CRM giant Salesforce has jumped on the bandwagon with Trailhead, a game that helps you learn IT, business, and communication skills all while having fun. You can sign up for free and start accepting challenges to earn points. Gamification is a developing market and many brands are joining in to attract and keep customers.
Ralph Lauren’s Welcome Message
A simple and effective method of thanking customers and sharing content, products, and services with them. Welcome messages achieve higher opening rates than other communications as they’re not seen as spam but rather as a follow up. This is a huge opportunity not to sell but to share content or opportunities people may be interested in. Ralph Lauren’s welcome message is an excellent example of how to welcome, thank, and encourage customers to explore more.
Customer engagement should be a top priority for any brand wanting to stay competitive. The customer first strategy is the present and the future of business as people demand more options, content, and rewards in exchange for their money. Great products and services aren’t enough. You need to create a compelling and cohesive customer experience through all stages of the customer lifecycle. It may sound like a lot of work, but a sound customer engagement strategy will reward you with sustainable and profitable business growth.