New customers are essential to growth, but loyal and engaged customers are the lifeblood of any successful business. Some customers will advocate for your business because they love your products or service. Still, you don’t want to leave engagement up to chance.
The foundation of a customer engagement mindset is understanding each customer in terms of their lifetime value (CLV) to the business rather than as a single transaction. CLV varies with each company. Understanding yours will help you balance and prioritize efforts between marketing and customer engagement.
What Is Customer Engagement?
Customer engagement systematically interacts with customers through multiple channels to deliver value and strengthen the relationship. A customer engagement strategy begins with the first contact and usually extends beyond the first purchase.
A business can use various channels to interact with customers, including email marketing, social media, the business website, membership forums, or any other platform that allows the business to share content and interact with its customers.
Bottom Line: Offer Value
While outstanding customer service and opportunities to spend more money with your brand are fundamental to improving customer engagement, it’s not enough. If your customer engagement strategy primarily focuses on ongoing marketing and upsells, it will feel transactional and not create the loyal relationship that fuels sustained growth and profitability.
Instead, the best engagement strategies demonstrate that you value your customer relationship. Providing high-quality products and services attracts customers and wins them over. Still, relevant content that offers them value and humanizes your brand is what keeps them engaged with your brand. Read on to find out how.
1. Personalize the Customer Experience
AI and machine learning now allow brands to personalize communications like never before. People love to feel special, and when you deliver tailored messages and offers, buyers feel seen and heard by your company.
Examples include using software that offers buyers recommendations based on their purchase or search history. Milestone messages, personalized emails, and customer surveys are all ways to build your relationship with your customers.
2. Use Live Chat
A live chat customer support feature on your website allows your agents to build rapport and engage with customers in real time. Instead of waiting in a phone queue or for an email response, customers get the answers they need immediately.
In a world where some big companies force customers to search deep into the website for any live support option, live chat differentiates you. It makes customers feel like they are your priority.
3. Support Your Customer Service Team
Less than stellar customer service will cost your company money. According to a Salesforce survey, nearly half of the customers report taking their business elsewhere after a subpar customer service experience. In addition, research by McKinsey & Company indicates 70% of a customer’s satisfaction is based on how well they perceive the company is treating them.
Happy customer service agents are more motivated, creative, and productive. Since they are critical customer-facing staff that can make or break customer relationships, investing in the technology, training, and reward systems is smart to help them be great at their jobs.
The most successful customer service teams embody self-empowerment and self-regulation. This means they have the necessary information, authority, and resources to decide on the spot.
4. Deliver Value Through Content
While content is part of an overall digital marketing strategy, content marketing serves many purposes. In addition to building your brand’s reputation and bringing in new leads, it helps you build trust by solving people’s problems.
If you think from the buyer’s perspective, they are usually solving a problem by purchasing your product or service. Understanding this perspective allows you to create volumes of valuable content that helps buyers answer questions and solve problems at every stage of their journey.
Videos, webinars, blogs, eBooks, FAQs, and videos are great ways to deliver value to your prospects and customers, building on your relationship as you do.
5. Interact on Social Media
Social media allows your brand to interact with your target community. Use it to build brand awareness, share valuable content, and announce new products, services, or events.
Another great way to use social media is through contests and giveaways. Ensure you can retain the entrants on an email list, membership, or another platform outside of social media to build on the gains.
People love to win free stuff. Contests and giveaways build a buzz around your brand.
6. Give Customers Many Ways to Shop
Delivering a seamless customer experience across multiple devices allows shoppers to buy your product or service in the easiest and most convenient way. While more shoppers are likely to buy a pizza on a mobile device than a car, the strategy applies in some way to any business. A car dealership with a fast and user-friendly mobile experience lets customers preview cars, schedule maintenance, and answer questions from any device.
Three out of four shoppers buy things from their mobile device, so having a seamless mobile experience is no longer optional. Make it effortless for customers to engage with you no matter their device.
7. Earn Goodwill by Supporting Causes
One way to differentiate your brand and build a loyal customer base is by demonstrating your company’s values through action in the world. Social responsibility matters to customers whether you offset your carbon footprint or donate to a meaningful cause.
According to research, 77% of consumers prefer buying from companies committed to improving the world, and 73% of investors say that a company’s commitment to social responsibility impacts their investment decisions.
Supporting a cause (and telling people about it) improves the public’s perception of your brand. It makes your customers feel like they are participating in something good when they purchase from you, and it can increase word-of-mouth marketing.
8. Humanize Your Brand’s Story
Sharing the story behind your company helps you stand out from the competition and build a deeper bond with your customers. Instead of just thinking of you as the business that sells a product or service, people begin to feel more personally engaged.
Conveying your brand’s story and ‘why’ in a relatable way will resonate with some consumers and inspire them to want to be part of your mission. A strong brand story and the personal connection it builds add to word-of-mouth marketing and customer loyalty.
9. Consider a Customer Loyalty Program
A customer loyalty program can increase customer retention and referrals if it makes sense for your business. It also makes people think twice about buying from the competition because they’ve invested towards rewards in your loyalty program and want to keep that going.
The essence of a customer loyalty program is to reward customer loyalty with discounts, redeemable points, or thank-you gifts. However, more than simply creating a loyalty program is required. The rewards need to be achievable and relevant to create the momentum desired.
10. Act on Feedback
Is the customer always right? Regardless of how often the customer is right, the people using your products and services have valuable feedback that can improve your company. While you don’t have to take all input to heart, it’s important to listen to feedback and act on valuable input when it happens.
Customer feedback helps businesses make informed decisions. It makes customers feel valued and heard. Most importantly, it can improve every level of how business is done, adding to profitability and fueling growth.
11. Highlight Positive Reviews
Social proof matters to customers. Most brands know that if you respond promptly to negative feedback, addressing their concerns and solving the problem, then negative feedback can turn around and become proof of your outstanding customer service.
However, fewer brands realize the power of responding to and sharing their positive reviews. If a customer takes time out of their busy day to let you know how great your products or customer service is, it’s gracious and good form to take a minute and thank them.
Sharing positive reviews is an effective way to let your customers do your marketing for you. In addition to highlighting positive reviews on your website, in pay-per-click (PPC) search engine marketing (SEM), and in your social media posts, you can use them in all of the following:
Nearly 90% of shoppers say they look at reviews before buying from a local business, and 62% say reviews play a ‘big’ or ‘moderate’ role when considering buying from a new brand.
Customer Engagement Drives Business Success
An effective customer engagement strategy translates into business growth. It reduces customer churn and ensures that more of the new buyers your marketing brings in will become long-term buyers and even advocates of your business.
Customer engagement, at its core, is relationship building. Instead of making every communication about promotion and selling, you build rapport and relationships by delivering value. You do this through customer service, loyalty rewards, problem-solving content, and personalizing your brand and its story.
You don’t have to implement every strategy listed here at all once. Add one at a time and adjust it until it’s working for your business. Each step will help increase customer engagement and retention.
As you build your customer engagement strategies, our expert marketers at J&L Marketing can help you bring in new leads and increase conversions. Connect with our team to find out how we can help.