Do you need customer engagement? An engaged customer is more likely to be loyal to your brand over a longer period of time, and to spend more money on average, than an un-engaged customer. So if you really expect your customers to buy into what you’re selling, yes, you need customer engagement.
How is this different from just making your customers happy? Customer engagement means getting your customers to feel like they’re receiving more value from you than simply “saving money,” and to feel more personally connected with your brand. Customer engagement means you deepen your current customer relationships and establish new, high-value relationships that fuel business growth over the long term.
Sounds like a lot of work – is this worth it? A McKinsey Quarterly article emphasizes that today, customer behaviour is a rapidly evolving, constantly moving target – especially online – and concludes that on an organizational level, “all of us have become marketers” and that “customer engagement is now everyone’s responsibility.” What’s the result? More time to focus on (just) making your customers happy, providing them with products and services they want and need, and spending less time on securing new customers – because your existing, engaged customers are spending more time and money with your business, and are helping you advertise through word of mouth, online or otherwise.
How does a business start building a successful customer engagement strategy in today’s digital environment?
Get insight: Study your customers and ask them questions to see what they’re looking for, and what their personal priorities and interests are. You can do a customer survey, and track behaviour patterns and trends with a loyalty program, e-marketing, and the generated reports; you can also track who’s clicking on what, with QR codes, in addition to other forms of tracking and analytics. Remember, everyone’s a marketer now. A good business development/sales person will try to successfully close the sale through understanding what the customers actually want and seeing how their values and lifestyle affects their choices – that’s really why realtors initially show you such a wide range of properties, and ask you so many seemingly unrelated questions.
Maintain your brand identity: Ensure your brand is not only clearly recognizable, but that it stays consistent and relevant to your customer, regardless of what the market or your industry is doing. You may be an established brand, but the market is always shifting; remember Kodak? Where are they now? When digital technology revolutionized their industry, they didn’t make enough of an adjustment to stay relevant to changing consumer tastes and demand. Do a periodic brand refresh or promotional campaign, then track the results to see who’s paying attention – or not. Ongoing brand maintenance can be as simple as changing the colour of your product packaging, or featuring one of your products every month – there’s no need to always roll out a completely new product or service, or conduct a total overhaul of your offerings, to maintain your brand.
Be where your customers (and potential customers) are: Where are your customers when they’re not in your store or on your website? Does your customer survey/mailing list drive – cleverly disguised as the sign-up process or form for a product giveaway – reveal that most of your customers are using some form of social media? If yes, make sure your business has a presence there so that you can keep your customers thinking about you – and engaging with you – in their social space of choice. Customers appreciate genuine interaction, and can talk a lot – about a really great offer or deal, a truly amazing customer service experience, cute kittens and good looking women and men, and also about their negative experiences with products and services. We’ve all seen cases where a publicly tweeted or posted service complaint, generates seemingly instant results – whereas a formal complaint through traditional channels can go unresolved. Any business is smart to monitor the digital space so that they can take advantage of positive feedback, and do damage control on anything negative that comes up.
Maintain your messaging: What is your brand telling people – on your website, business development pitches, advertising and other collateral, and social media blasts? Is it consistent and relevant? Does it encourage your customers to care more about what your business is doing, and feel good about being associated with your business? When your messages are on-brand, they establish and gain consumer trust. Potential customers often have to see the same incentives and “Buy Now” button several times before they actually click on it, and sometimes even longer before they actually “Proceed To Checkout.” Are they more likely to do this if they feel your brand stands for environmental responsibility or is promoting social causes? Yes, as discussed in a previous blog post on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Turn your employees into marketers, and everything into a marketing tool: As mentioned in the McKinsey article, customer engagement is now everyone’s responsibility, both online and offline. To help you get your business started with a customer engagement strategy, work with a digital marketing platform like Global Coupon. Sign up is free for businesses (using promo code GCPROMO100) for a limited time, and is as low as $10/month for a local area marketing reach that includes creating and posting online business listings and product/service offers, QR/bar code generation and tracking, built-in social media advertising, and a loyalty program for your customers. If you choose, Global Coupon will also donate to a designated charity on your behalf, based on your total annual spend on the platform.