Customer engagement is one of the most important parts of business. If you cannot connect with your customers, you are not going to be very successful. In this article, we're going to define the term customer engagement and help you understand how to be more effective in engaging customers. We’ll be looking at it from a marketing perspective for business owners and marketing professionals.
What Is Customer Engagement?
The term is somewhat self-explanatory since both of the words are very common in the English language. However in a business sense what customer engagement really means is opening a channel between the consumer and the business in question.
Offline Customer Engagement Versus Online
Customer engagement offline is much different than customer engagement online. The way a customer interacts with a brand is different than the way that they interact online. That's because there simply is a huge difference between the way that people approach these things. If a customer came into your retail store and you went up to them and ask them questions about your brand as sort of an informal focus group engagement, you would notice that their answers would be totally different from the same question if it were posted to them on company forums or another online medium.
People tend to be much more honest online than offline. People are able to communicate online more effectively as well because they are writing down their answers instead of coming up with them quickly and verbally. In addition, customer engagement online is much more of a social phenomenon than a formal interview. Prior to the adoption of the internet as a primary method of communication, customer engagement was very difficult.
Customer Engagement in Marketing
Customer engagement is one of the most effective tools when it comes to marketing. Marketing practices that are able to influence customer behavior and increase conversions can be done much more effectively when engagement is the primary goal instead of the conversion. One of the ways that businesses are encouraging engagement is by allowing for the addition of user-generated content. Amazon is a perfect example of this. Amazon allows for any customer to post a review of nearly any link they choose on a product page. This is a product page that may be seen by millions of people and it is a risky move for Amazon because if the product is bad then the reviews are going to reflect that and sales are going to be very poor.
However, what has happened instead is that the Amazon brand has grown and conversions are up. That's because people trust products that they buy from Amazon based upon the reviews. It is also good for Amazon, because they can stop selling products that customers don't like and only sell the ones that customers love.
There are lots of ways that brands can encourage user-generated content. Allowing reviews on product pages is just one example of that. Companies can also solicit customer videos of them actually using the product, images sent through social media that can be posted on the company website and any other content that businesses think customers would enjoy creating and sharing.
Customer Engagement Strategies
If you are going to use customer engagement to market your products and services than you are going to want to use strategies that work. Here are some of the most effective strategies out there for using customer engagement to do marketing and advertising.
Make your customer experience your first priority. Again, you can look at Amazon to find out how to do this correctly. Amazon has a number of features, all of which are geared towards making the customer experience better. From the way that their website is set up to how you can search for items, organize them and even add them to lists for later instead of your cart, Amazon is all about the customer experience. Even after the sale, if you have a problem with an Amazon product, they accept the product back and refund your money with nearly no questions asked.
If you want to inspire customer engagement than you're going to have to entertain people on social media; no one is going to want to follow a boring social media profile that does nothing but talk about products or services. In fact, you want a fresh voice or a team of them to make your social media profile appealing and entertaining. That's why many companies now hiring millennials to run their social media accounts. These brand ambassadors love the company they work for and the customers that follow the company's social media profiles. This shows in every tweet and every post.
Find humanity in your brand if you want people to look at you as more than just a faceless partner in a value proposition. Customers want to know that you understand what their needs are and they want to be able to relate to you. But they can't do that if they think of you as a faceless Corporation. Faceless entities are not relatable. Make sure that you are doing things that promote the actual humans behind your brand and let people get to know them.
When you're communicating with your customers, make sure that you are speaking to them personally. Customer personalization can be one of the best ways to bring out the humanity in your brand and build customer loyalty. Things like sending an email on a customer's birthday with Nno agenda other than to wish them a happy birthday can be extremely memorable. However, you also want to be careful with this. For example, if you send out Merry Christmas emails to customers that do not celebrate Christmas and actually may find the holiday offensive, due to religious preferences, you're going to do the opposite of personalizing customer communications - you're going to alienate them instead. Customers know when you have given the email sent to them a little thought even if it is auto generated.
But those benefits aside, the reason that you should be creating content is to improve your customer’s lives. For example, if your company sells some type of food item, then having a blog where you post different recipes with each blog post is going to be something that customers find useful. If you have a computer company and you are continually posting blogs about how customers can clean up there hard drive or improve the speed of their computer, they are going to find this extremely relevant and useful.
Finally, make sure that you were listening to what customers say. For example, customers may become extremely frustrated when a problem happens and they cannot get in touch with anyone to complain about it; but just an acknowledgement on social media that you understand their problem can make all the difference.
Basically, you want to make customer engagement your number one priority in business. You are not a vending machine. You are not just waiting for customers to come up and give you money and you give them an item. At least, if you want to be successful in compete in today's world you do not want to be that type of business. Customers want to like the companies that they do business with. They want to engage with you and be entertained by you. They want to be able to interact with you on social media and know that you understand them and that you live in the same virtual space that they live in.