Creating customer engagement is easily one of the most prominent objectives a brand has, as this engagement drives just about every bottom line.
Because this is the case, you’d be hard-pressed to find a brand not laser-focusing on formulating new, fresh, and successful customer engagement strategies.
The good news is that new opportunities to drive customer engagement are around every turn, existing within the assets you already have!
What Is Customer Engagement?
A brand is successful when they’ve created an expansive base of loyal customers, and there are few key reasons why this customer retention is important:
- The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70 percent. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20 percent.
- 80 percent of your future profits will come from just 20 percent of your existing customers.
- 65 percent of a company’s business comes from existing customers.
- 32 percent of executives say retaining existing customers is a priority.
That said, stoking brand loyalty requires consistent interaction that engages customers.
This engagement can be defined as virtually any active touchpoint between your customer and your brand. If a customer opens your email, that’s engagement. If they share your post, that’s engagement, and if they’re clicking through your site pages, that’s engagement.
Essentially, any contact your customers have with your brand is them engaging with it. Naturally, the more engagement you can create, the more brand loyalty you can secure.
1. Optimize Social Media as an Engagement Tool
When most people think of customer engagement, they fixate immediately on social media engagement of posts. While this is certainly is one way to stir engagement between your brand and your target audience, the truth is that isn’t the only way to engage customers on social media. Honestly, that type of engagement isn’t even that meaningful if customers aren’t taking any sort of action outside of throwing you a “like.” Opt for a few different creative strategies to maximize engagement on social media outside of consistent posting.
Host Fun Activities On Social Media
A sure-fire way to stir engagement on social media is to host fun activities, giveaways, and more. For example, if your brand is a restaurant, you can grow your email list by giving away a free catered lunch and encouraging customers to sign up, like, and share.
Something a bit more small-scale could be creating a fun poll, or giving customers a chance to be featured in your profile picture if they send a picture of themselves with the product.
Share Customer Stories On Social Media
Word-of-mouth marketing is effective and influential, and you have the power to spark those effects by sharing customer stories on social media.
Be sure to work in a few posts a month in your content strategy that focuses on sharing customer stories. When you do, be sure to tag the customer so their network can see the post. You can even drive more customer stories by offering the chance to be featured, along with another favorable incentive to sweeten the deal.
2. Use In-Product Messaging
According to Wikipedia, in-product messaging means:
“Content, and related media delivered directly to a user’s internet-connected device or software application, with the purpose of informing, gathering feedback from, engaging with, or marketing to that specific user or segment of users at often-higher engagement rates than other digital marketing and online marketing channels.”
If you’ve ever used an app where a message popped-up asking you to rate your experience so far, then you’ve experienced in-product messaging. This is a sure-fire way to engage customers when it’s most relevant– while they’re using your product.
4. Nurture Free Trial Prospects
Your free trial prospects are customers in training. They’ve tried your product and now just need to be nudged toward an upgrade.
The author states, “starting a relationship through a free trial influences usage and retention behavior, how these free trial customers respond to your marketing messages, and ultimately how long the consumer will remain with the service.”
While companies still struggle to convert free trial users into paying customers, it’s not impossible if you know how to engage them. The best way to do this is by nurturing them toward a product upgrade via email marketing with personalized messaging, which we’ll cover later.
3. Create Engaging Content
In 2020 and beyond, content is king, meaning good content is one of your most powerful tools in engaging your customers.
Define a Clear Brand Voice/Tone
Before curating a plethora of content to empower and engage your customers, you’ll want to make sure you have an established brand voice and tone. Your brand voice and tone should be one that resonates directly with your customers and will be used to guide the messaging in your copy and content.
Customize Content To Address Customer Questions
Once you have a clear brand voice, one of the best ways to engage your customers is to create content around specific questions they have and provide ways to answer them as instantly and actionably as possible. This is known as “custom content” which varies from the traditional content in that it targets and nurtures existing customers.
Why is this important to know? Because 78 percent of CMOs think custom content is the future of marketing, and that 61 percent of buying decisions are influenced by custom content.
A prime example is Squarespace’s Squarespace Circle; a hub of articles, tools, videos, and other content directly centered on the various uses of their products.
4. Create Conversations Between Customers And Your Brand
Considering the fact that just last year, 56 percent of online shoppers said they still appreciate the in-person experience over digital retailers, you can get a good idea of how important it is to create meaningful conversations between you and your customers. This is especially relevant today now that all non-essential shopping is conducted online.
Drive Conversation With a “Listening Center”
The reason why so many said they appreciate the in-person shopping experience is likely because there’s a real human on standby ready to help. You can create this same experience online with a “listening center.”
A “listening center” is simply an open line of direct communication with your brand where customers can ask their most pressing questions and your team can provide quick responses. With a listening center, you can provide a dedicated area where customers can have real conversations with reps from your brand, strengthening the customer-brand relationship.
Provide Opportunities For Direct Communication
A listening center is just one way to provide opportunities for direct communication with your brand, but in reality, there should be multiple ways that customers can make contact. This might be through chatbot, email messaging, a designated customer service rep, or even by making it known that your brand encourages customer responses in its messaging.
Exchange Rewards With Actions
Customers are more likely to take a desired course of action if you provide them with a can’t-turn-down incentive, so in instances where you’re trying to create a positive feedback loop by encouraging customer reviews, be sure to offer some sort of reward. Overstock does this effectively with their Rewards-for-Reviews system in which they reward customers with points for every review they leave that can be used toward future purchases.
5. “Humanize” Your Brand
Driving that human element is key in creating a genuine connection between customers and your audience. Why? Because people favor interacting with other people rather than brands.
Show The People Behind The Brand
Your ace-in-the-hole for humanizing your brand is to show the people behind it. Share images of your team and staff bios on your site, and sprinkle behind-the-scenes material in your content strategy.
One great example is Etsy’s team page. It does a great job of showcasing how important their team is, and isn’t afraid to give a personal look at key members.
Personalize Your Communication
Where applicable, provide personalized communication experiences for your customer. This could mean sending an email blast from your company’s founder or customizing chatbots to speak directly to customers in a personal, nurturing way.
Personalizing your communication also means using customer data to specifically touch on personal details such as their name, past products they’ve purchased, etc. Anything you can do to tailor a message specifically to that customer is what makes your communication more personal.
Customer engagement is a critical factor in driving brand loyalty and customer retention, which is how you grow your brand.
These strategies are only a few of numerous ways to create customer engagement within the existing assets you have. The truth is that driving customer engagement is a journey that never stops, but it can be a successful one with a little creativity and a customer-centric attitude.