There are many ways for customers to interact with your company. Online, face-to-face, over the phone, reading blog posts, print advertisement, billboards, radio advertisements, search engine results – the list could go on forever. With so many avenues to explore, how do you know what’s suitable for your business?
Over the past 10 years, customer engagement has become more complex and sophisticated. This has resulted in new methods of customer engagement… but not without a lot of trial and error.
This is no more evident than the online world. For example, while website banners or pop-ups are considered a nuisance, many people have lightened up to the idea of location-based suggestions via smartphone apps. Understanding the benefits of these customer engagements is important to measuring the success of your own marketing strategy.
But first, what exactly defines customer engagement?
What is customer engagement?
In a broad sense, customer engagement encompasses all the ways a company interacts with their consumers. The primary goal of customer engagement is to start a relationship and develop it through various methods.
Successful customer engagement typically results in some kind of investment on the customer’s behalf, whether that be a sale, responding with an enquiry or sharing a positive company experience with other people.
This kind of relationship can be as direct or indirect as you like. This depends on the habits of your target market and the distribution channels they regularly engage with. Something as simple as leaving a customer review, or talking about your company in a Twitter post may not seem like “traditional” marketing approaches – but if it’s relevant to your customers, then you should be listening to them.
But how do we measure the success of these approaches?
Measuring success of customer engagement
To do this, establish a Customer Engagement Council (or Customer Management team). This typically involves a group of people representing different departments within your company, such as marketing, sales, communications and product management.
Determine your vision for engaging with your customers. What is your primary goal? How can you satisfy your customer needs in some way? What kind of relationship do you want to establish?
To answer these questions, you need to perform market research and learn about your target audience. Whether you do this online or face-to-face is up to you – sometimes a combination of both can yield the most accurate results. You can create an online survey to share with your social media followers, or perhaps survey people in your local area.
This information will influence a whole range of decisions your business will make. Here are some useful aspects to consider when learning more about your customers:
Culture plays a big part in what consumers consider to be appropriate. It’s important to consider whether your marketing approach clashes with traditional values – and if so, how will your customers respond? Does shaking up traditional ideas fit in with your overall brand and image?
If you’re selling a product, is your packaging appealing to your target market? Is your website or app easy for customers to navigate through? Does it capture the right ‘tone’ of your company?
How do your customers find out about you? If you’re targeting an older demographic, are they more likely to find you online or in the local newspaper? Choose wisely when deciding how to promote yourself and learn about your consumer habits before putting these ideas into practice.
How to increase customer engagement
By establishing a Customer Engagement Council, each team member can focus on their department and report back with useful ideas and information. When you’ve learnt enough about the kind of distribution channels and interactions your customers prefer, you can start acting upon these ideas.
Familiarise yourself with each kind of customer engagement
Create a map outlining each kind of customer engagement to form a journey. Where will their journey start and where will it take them? This is a great way to find out what your customers find frustrating, and what leads them to positive outcomes. It’s important to keep in mind customer-orientated goals for this exercise. By understanding this first, then you can decide how to turn these into business-orientated goals.
Monitor each form of customer engagement
Whether it be retail stores or face-to-face, call centers, social media presence or promoting your company in publications – collect data from each of these engagement strategies. Find out which approach is increasing sales, customer enquiries or increasing brand awareness.
By relying on a consistent stream of information and metrics, you can accurately measure the success of each one. You can make adjustments to departments that aren’t satisfying the right needs. And you can focus on understanding why other methods are achieving better results.
Establish a plan of action
Once you’ve learned which strategies are working for you; encourage some form of action. Whether you’re trying to increase sales, generate word-of-mouth, increase customer enquiries or spread awareness – it’s important you generate some kind of response from your customers.
One way to encourage a call-to-action is by giving consumers a time limit. For example, promote a sale for a particular product by emphasizing the deadline (‘Sale ends TOMORROW. Don’t miss out before it’s too late!’).
No matter which approach you take, be sure to encourage some kind of action – one that ties in with your customer and business-orientated goals.
Drive consumers to other areas of interest
This means directing your customers to places where other people are – or vice versa. Some examples include: promoting your own content on an affiliate website you’ve partnered with, or encouraging customers to discuss your company on an online review site.
It’s important to remember that your company has to provide a positive experience, or something of value first, before taking this approach. After all, you don’t have control over what is said about your company. So make sure you have something to offer first!