It’s funny how cyclical customer tendencies can be. For most of human history, person-to-person interaction and engagement were any business’s most critical selling point.
With the rise of technology, customer engagement shifted to email marketing, website design, and other digital strategies. Get your brand in front of as many eyes as possible, and you will succeed.
In recent years, customer engagement has come full circle and returned to its roots. Businesses now understand the importance of creating a personal connection with their market and maintaining a robust online presence.
Customer engagement can no longer be considered an afterthought or extra step; instead, it’s essential for any business that wants to stand out from the competition.
So what does it take to build a successful customer engagement strategy? In this article, we’ll cover the following:
- The benefits of customer engagement
- Strategies to build a successful strategy
- How to measure customer engagement
Ready for the full guide? Let’s dive in.
When businesses focus on strategic customer engagement, many benefits come along with it. Here are some of the most significant advantages.
Improved reputation & likelihood of referrals
Customers that feel engaged and connected to a brand are more likely to recommend it. When people have a positive experience with your business, they’re much more likely to talk about it – on social media, in person, or even just by word of mouth.
The value of referrals cannot be overstated. Most marketers believe they have the lowest cost-per-lead of any channel, and they convert leads at a much higher rate.
Simple engagement initiatives like responding to customer reviews or providing helpful advice in forums can go a long way toward building your reputation.
Sustainable, predictable growth
By routinely engaging with customers, businesses can create sustainable and predictable growth. Customer-led growth has become a hot trend in marketing circles, as it allows businesses to focus on the customers they have – rather than spending money on acquiring more.
Engaging with customers helps you understand their needs and keep them loyal over time. It also gives you valuable insights into how your product or service is being used in the real world so that you can tailor your messaging accordingly.
A good customer engagement strategy doesn’t just improve your reputation – it can also directly impact the bottom line. It has a positive effect on:
- Customer Lifetime Value: As customers become more engaged, they tend to spend more and stick around for longer.
- Customer Retention: Engagement helps you create loyal customers who will come back time and time again.
- Conversion rates: When potential customers feel like a company is listening to their feedback, it can have a positive effect on whether or not they decide to purchase.
It can also help you increase customer satisfaction, reduce churn, and improve your overall customer experience.
It’s an easy sell to say that customer engagement is important, but implementing it can be a challenge. Here are 11 strategies businesses can use to improve their customer engagement efforts:
Create a brand community
Ever thought about CrossFit? In 2000 when it was formed, it was just another fitness brand pushing products. But the brand’s engagement skyrocketed by creating a community of athletes, coaches, and enthusiasts who could connect to discuss their shared experiences.
Suddenly the term CrossFit wasn’t just a gym in Santa Cruz, it was a lifestyle that millions of people worldwide were living. Customers woke up and spread the word for free, and the brand engaged them with events, challenges, and tools to help them reach their goals.
It can be difficult, but building a community of advocates is the most important part of any strategic customer engagement plan.
Create a customer education strategy
The most valuable customers are the ones that become experts in your product and can answer questions for the next generation of users.
You can build this expert base by creating a customer education strategy that includes tutorials, webinars, online classes, and other resources to help your clientele become more knowledgeable about your product.
Creating an environment where customers can learn from each other is invaluable in building loyalty and engagement, but you’ll have to provide some support to get them started.
Importantly, not every interaction can be from a stock email template or automated message. It’s important to personalize each interaction as much as possible, from the subject line of an email to the content of a direct mail piece.
Customers will be more likely to engage with your brand if they feel you’re talking directly to them and not just sending generic messages.
That said, you can do some aspects of personalization on a larger scale with customer segmentation. Segmenting your customer base into smaller groups based on location, gender, or purchase history will allow you to tailor your messages to each group, making it seem like you are speaking directly to their needs.
“Pregnant mothers,” for instance, is a segment that could be targeted with special offers for baby products or content geared to parenting.
Empathize with your customer/user personas
Remember, as you segment and develop your campaigns, you are speaking to real people. Your personas should represent the type of customer you want to attract; it’s important to empathize with their needs and wants so you can create a meaningful connection.
Imagine yourself in their shoes, and try to visualize the things that keep them up at night or their frustrations with other products. If you can tap into those feelings, you’ll be able to create a much more meaningful connection and engagement with your customers.
Meet them where they are
The next key strategy for user engagement is to meet your customers where they are. That means creating content tailored to the platforms and channels they use, such as social media, email newsletters, and even traditional print media.
A streetwear brand isn’t going to spend big on newspaper ads, but they are likely to invest in influencer marketing and social media campaigns. That’s what their customers use, so that’s where the brand needs to be.
Remember that even the most niche market isn’t limited to one channel. Your customers are likely using multiple platforms and devices to interact with your brand, so you must ensure that each one provides a consistent experience.
Customer success strategy
Customer success is all about helping customers get the most value out of your product or service. It’s not just about customer satisfaction – it’s also about helping them achieve their goals.
Developing a comprehensive customer success strategy can help you proactively identify and address any issues that may arise, as well as provide resources to make sure each customer is getting the most out of your product or service.
You have to be just as invested in their success as they are.
Understand your customers
This tip is in every guide from sales to support to marketing, but it’s worth repeating: you must understand your customers. Knowing who they are and what they need is the key to creating a successful customer engagement strategy.
Here’s a mini step-by-step guide on getting a better handle on your customer base:
- Identify your target audience: Even if Bill Gates said, “a computer on every desk,” your brand probably can’t serve everyone. Find your niche and focus on it.
- Conduct market research: Use surveys, focus groups, and other methods to gain insight into your customer’s needs.
- Build customer personas: Create customer personas that represent the different types of customers you have and design your engagement strategy around them. “Single-parent Sam” or “Multi-millionaire Molly” can help you lay the groundwork for a successful campaign.
- Analyze customer feedback: Use customer feedback to identify areas of improvement and develop targeted strategies.
Once you know who you’re trying to engage, it’s time to put the plan into action.
Provide lots of value upfront
Free trials are great, but that’s not what will drive client engagement. You need to go above and beyond and provide lots of value upfront. That could mean offering discounts, exclusive content, or a personalized onboarding experience.
The goal here is to give customers something they can use right away and show them the full potential of your product or service.
Give, give, give (then take)
Not just once, either. If you want to build customer engagement, you have to keep giving—and not just discounts or freebies. Give your customers advice, helpful resources, and tips, and answer any questions.
The more you give, the more likely customers will stick around for the long haul. When it’s time to take something in return (e.g., an upgrade or renewal), they’ll be much more likely to do so if their experience with your brand has been positive up until that point.
Listen to your customers
This may seem obvious, but too many companies ignore the feedback they receive from their customers, believing they know better.
Get down off your high horse and listen to what your customers are saying. Their feedback can give you invaluable insight into how they use your product, their expectations, and the areas where they feel let down. All of this information can create a better customer experience and build more engagement with them.
Remember that not every customer will have the same access to technology or the same ability to interact with traditional content. The last thing you want to do is turn away an interested lead, just because your video didn’t have closed captioning or your website wasn’t optimized for mobile.
Make sure your content is accessible to everyone at all times.
Create a customer-centric culture
If your users become the focus of the brand identity, suddenly, you don’t have to sell customers on why they should engage with your product. It will become part of the culture, and new clients will naturally be drawn to it.
- Fostering a customer-centric mindset within your team
- Providing excellent customer service
- Encouraging customer feedback
- Rewarding customer-centric behavior
Make sure to celebrate your wins and successes with customers, as this will make them much more likely to continue engaging with your brand.
Creating interactive content
With technological advancements, interactive content is easier to create than ever before. Below are some examples of interactive content you can create to engage your customers:
- Online courses: Teach your customers how to make effective use of your products and services to reach their goals and find “success”
- Quizzes and surveys: Ask your customers critical questions that will help you learn more about them and their needs.
- Videos and tutorials: Create engaging videos that teach your customers how to reach their goals with your products and services.
Creating these interactive learning experiences through content for your customers can enable them to feel more knowledgeable in your product and service and develop a long term relationship with your business.
Okay, you’ve decided to invest in customer engagement and success. Now what?
The next step is to focus on how you measure your efforts and determine how to adjust your strategy as needed.
Why measure customer engagement?
Nothing is worth doing without measuring it, and customer engagement is no different. It’s important to measure customer engagement to:
- Understand effectiveness
- Identify areas for improvement
- See how your efforts impact the bottom line
- Analyze customer feedback to better serve them
You aren’t just going to guess what works and what doesn’t. You need hard data to support your efforts and show you the way forward.
Metrics to track customer engagement
There are a few key metrics that you should be tracking to measure customer engagement.
- Time spent on website/app: This is a great indicator of how engaged your customers are with your product.
- Average daily users: Even if they’re spending a long time, if they’re not coming back, it doesn’t help.
- Time to value: How long does it take for customers to see a return from your product? If it takes too long, they may give up and move on.
- Click-through rates: Are your marketing efforts effective? Are customers clicking through to your website or app, or are they just ignoring the messages?
- Conversion rates: Once engaged, are they taking the desired action? Are your calls to action effective?
- Repeat purchases: Are your customers coming back and buying more? This is a key indicator of customer loyalty.
- Net promoter score: Are your customers recommending your product to others?
- Customer lifetime value: How much money are your customers spending with you throughout their lifetime?
By tracking how your engagement strategy is affecting these metrics, you can make adjustments and ensure that you’re getting the most out of your efforts.
Tools to measure customer engagement
Luckily, there are countless tools available to track and measure customer engagement. Here are some of the most popular.
- Thinkific Plus: Deliver educational content to train your customers on the effective use of your product and service beyond just the basics and measure their engagement with your content using Thinkific Analytics.
- Google Analytics: Track website visits, page views, and time spent.
- Appcues: Measure onboarding time and effectiveness.
- SurveyMonkey: Send out personalized surveys to generate qualitative customer feedback.
- Hootsuite: Track and compare social media analytics, and A/B test to find the best times and methods for connecting with your customers.
- HubSpot: Master CRM and received detailed reports on customer behavior.
- Intercom: Use automation and artificial intelligence to increase the volume of customer interactions.
Best practices for measuring and improving customer engagement
That’s a lot to take in. Before you go, let’s break down a simple, six-step process that can be the backbone of your customer engagement measurement strategy.
Use multiple methods
A single method of measurement is not enough. You need to use multiple methods, such as surveys, polls, focus groups, website analytics, and customer service logs to get an accurate picture of how customers are engaging with your business.
Ask the right questions
Don’t just ask, “did you like your experience?”
Instead, ask specific questions about the customer’s journey and how they felt throughout it. This will allow you to get detailed feedback to help you make informed decisions about your strategies.
Measuring customer engagement needs to be an ongoing effort. It’s not enough to just measure once and forget about it. You must continuously monitor trends to stay ahead of the curve and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Regularly review and update measurement methods
As your business and customer engagement strategies evolve, it’s important to periodically review and update the methods you use to measure. New technologies, trends, and approaches will always be emerging, so being able to quickly adapt is key.
Set clear metrics
You need to set clear metrics for success, such as customer retention rate, time spent on website pages, or email open rates. This will help you determine which strategies are working and which need improvement.
Once you have the data, it’s important to analyze it on a regular basis. This will allow you to identify patterns and trends that can help inform your decisions and strategies.
Customer engagement is more than just a buzzword – it’s essential for any business that wants to succeed in today’s competitive market.
Here are some key takeaways from this article:
- Invest in a customer education strategy to help customers become experts in your product.
- Personalize each interaction with customers as much as possible.
- Create interactive content to engage users and create a more immersive experience.
- Measure customer engagement so you can understand what works and what doesn’t, identify areas for improvement, and analyze customer feedback
By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating an effective customer engagement strategy for your business!