Customer engagement is not a term that is used a lot anymore. It has now given way to customer service and crisis management. Improving customer engagement is the key to building strong customer relationships, which in turn boost revenue.
Your customers are everywhere; from Instagram, Facebook, Twitter to WhatsApp and more. Today’s businesses need to understand that customer engagement is an important part of their business growth strategies. The ability to connect with customers seamlessly across these channels will help you succeed in your customer engagement journey, which is our core offering at Sendchamp. Also, the competitive landscape is more crowded than ever before and being able to form meaningful relationships with customers is essential in the long run.
So, what does customer engagement mean? What are the main benefits of customer engagement? And finally, what are some of the best customer engagement strategies out there?
Customer Engagement Meaning
It is the interaction between clients and a company - whether it’s a response to an inquiry, onboarding a new customer or offering customer support. It mostly happens through communication and can be referred to as customer interaction.
But customer engagement is much more than this; It is the overall experience a customer has with a brand. It includes everything from the first time they learn about your organization all the way through potential future transactions and interactions. And if done well, it can propel purposeful relationships between businesses and customers. A study by Gallup revealed that customers who are fully engaged represent an average 23% premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth compared with the average customer.
Today’s customers want more from a company they buy from. They want to see businesses supporting a cause, they want to be associated with businesses that have a mission they can identify with, they want to feel a connection throughout their purchase journey. All these are what drive significant engagements. And as a business, you want a customer to feel like they are part of something bigger than just buying your product or service.
Customer interaction begins with knowing your customers. It is about bringing your brand into the heart of your target market with the purpose to listen to them and understand their interests and needs. It is the secret sauce for building meaningful relationships. You'd see why it’s important shortly.
Why customer engagement is important
There’s a lot you can learn about a person from interacting with them. This is why when you meet someone that interests you, you put the effort into getting to know them. As you go about texting and calling (interacting), you are gradually building a connection until you get to the point where you know them like the back of your hand. You know the things that upset them and the things that excite them. This knowledge helps you succeed in your relationship with that person. Your customers are not far off.
Relating with customers provides a wealth of information about them which can help to drive worthwhile engagements. This in turn leads to building meaningful relationships, improving customer experience and driving sales. According to Forbes, 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience and a report by Oracle revealed that 57% of a purchase decision is already complete by the time your customers actually engage with you.
Customer engagement also helps in brand awareness, improved market knowledge, increased leads, as well as increased conversions. Brand loyalty and long term revenue growth can be achieved through active engagement as well.
There is a lot of talk about engagement with customers, but it's not enough to know the term. You need concrete strategies to boost your engagement with customers.
Customer engagement strategies
A customer engagement strategy is a plan of action that informs your approach to engaging with customers. Engaging with customers is not limited to the digital landscape, engagement can also be achieved offline.
In this article, we highlighted proven customer engagement strategies that work as well as examples of businesses that were successful with these strategies. Whether you are a B2B or B2C company, you are sure to find this insightful. Read on.
Aggregate your communication channels
Communication is the basis of all forms of customer interaction. By interacting seamlessly with customers across various digital channels, the engagement process is simplified.
Aggregating your communication channels brings all the channels where your customers are present into one place so you can communicate effectively with them.
Whether you are sending emails, putting a call through to customers for feedback, chatting with a customer on WhatsApp, announcing a loyalty program or sending an SMS, you can carry out all of these activities easily from one place with Sendchamp and continue to build meaningful relationships.
Social media offers people the ability to express themselves, in something as simple as sharing a tweet.
Today’s digital landscape gives anyone the power to share their thoughts on any subject matter; your customers are not left out. In a report by Sprout Social, 46% of people have used social media to “call out” or complain about a business.
Leveraging social media listening is a great way to build customer relationships and engage with customers in real-time. This involves scouring social media for conversations about your business. This may be an expression of dissatisfaction, sharing a great experience, sharing suggestions on areas of improvement, and more.
An example of customer engagement can be seen in Netflix. Netflix took social listening a step further by incorporating customer feedback into its marketing strategy. It went beyond the regular responding to and reposting conversations about its business.
In response to the meme trend of ‘Netflix and chill’, Netflix created a video ad that showed customers how to make DIY socks while ‘Netflixing and chilling’ youtu.be/Fi6RLrJrjLQ
Another example is in Mailchimp. Everyone, including businesses, was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through its annual report, Mailchimp connected with customers in this period by providing proven ways on how businesses can engage with employees virtually.
Understand your customer journey
To build an effective client engagement strategy, knowing where your customers are in their purchase journey will inform how you interact with them. A customer journey describes the series of steps it takes a customer to make a purchase decision. To understand your customer journey, start by drawing up a customer journey map. For many businesses, a customer journey map will include the following steps: Awareness, Consideration, Conversion, Retention and Advocacy.
The experience you create for customer A who recently discovered your product/services will be different from customer B who bought from you. As customers move from step to step, your interactions with them change.
Take, for instance, you may choose to offer discounts, set up a rewards program, or offer exclusive incentives to members of your community to retain customers. You cannot offer all of these to customers at the Awareness stage. Also, you'd typically send welcome emails to new customers, not customers who have fully adopted your product.
Starbucks is one example of a business that has seen a significant increase in revenue from engaging with customers. In 2020, the company set up a rewards program to incentivize customers by awarding stars that could be redeemed as rewards for free food and drinks.
How do you engage with a customer who has had a good/bad experience with your product? It’s by asking for feedback.
By collecting feedback, you’d discover a wealth of information about what you are doing well and where you need to improve. More importantly, you’d learn how to communicate better. Are you sending promotional emails to distraught customers? You can avoid this by simply talking to customers.
Ask about their experience, how they discovered you, the type of content they’d like to read, etc. You will not only gain insights into how customers perceive your business, but you’d also be able to align the gathered information with meeting their needs and providing an enhanced experience. When customers enjoy a great experience, they are more likely to stay. According to research by Qualtrics XM Institute, 94% of consumers who give a company a “very good” customer experience rating are likely to purchase more products or services from that company in the future.
From the gathered feedback, you can create customer groups and tailor an email campaign to specific groups on the Sendchamp platform. This way, you are communicating based on unique customer interests.
The sales cycle has evolved so rapidly that customers now expect to be treated specially and develop an interest in a business that demonstrates that it cares. In a survey by HelpLama, 89% of consumers only consider brands that show they understand their needs and care about them. In a report by Salesforce, 52% of customers expect offers to always be personalized — up from 49% in 2019.
While using first names in emails is a good start, there are other ways to personalize engagements with customers which can only be achieved when you know your customers.
When you know your customers, it’s easier to share personalized content, offer personalized solutions based on their unique needs and create a personalized memorable experience. According to Smarter HQ, 72% of consumers say they only engage with personalized messaging.
One example of effective consumer engagement can be seen in the Coca-Cola Share a Coke campaign. Coca-Cola encouraged customers to share a coke with friends and family by placing popular names on Coca-Cola bottle covers. Talk about personalization. Per Coca-Cola, “The purpose of the campaign was to create a more personal relationship with consumers and inspire shared moments of happiness.”
Another way to create an effective customer engagement strategy is to make customers feel like they are part of something bigger than buying your products/services.
Ask them to suggest a feature, organize company events, ask for their thoughts on new updates. Make them feel like they are a part of the business.
Update them on new happenings and share promotional announcements. Sendchamp’s bulk SMS feature lets you send text messages to customers at once.
Promote a social cause
To an increasing degree, customers want to engage with businesses that portray a corporate social responsibility and businesses want to partner with such businesses, which is a win-win for companies. What’s more, promoting a social cause fosters meaningful engagement between businesses and customers on a different level, beyond the bottom line.
To drive meaningful engagement, businesses should support causes that align with their brand purpose.
Microsoft’s mission which is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more saw the company promoting environmental sustainability. In 2020, the company announced plans of becoming carbon negative by 2030, understanding the impact that carbon emissions have on the environment. According to Microsoft, “while the world will need to reach net-zero, those of us who can afford to move faster and go further should do so. That’s why today we are announcing an ambitious goal and a new plan to reduce and ultimately remove Microsoft’s carbon footprint.”
Another example by which businesses can drive customer interaction is in alleviating the negative effect of their product. Telecom companies for example can drive engagement by mitigating the impact of new technologies like 5G on the environment.
Share beneficial information
Customers no longer want to be sold to, they want to be educated - they want to know how your product solves their problems. One company that does this well is Hubspot, a B2B company that helps businesses grow. The company is renowned for its content marketing efforts across blog posts, videos, podcasts, newsletters and more.
When you offer value to customers, they’d not only be willing to pay you, but also engage with you.
Whether you are sending helpful blog posts as emails or on social media, Sendchamp’s messaging tool makes sharing information seamless.
We'd end this article with a clarification that engagement is a two-way street. Customer engagement is achieved when both a business and a customer have the same expectations of each other. Essentially, this goes to show that customer engagement is about building relationships and that the best strategy for achieving this is by communicating effectively. Sendchamp makes communication easy by bringing all your communication channels in one place.