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Customer satisfaction is all the rage for a good reason … because without it, your ship is sunk.
Whether you run an actual shipping company or offer software as a service (SaaS) to your clients and customers, you already know that brand loyalty depends upon happy buyers and users.
There are many ways to accomplish this. Such strategies include sending out surveys to your customer base, ensuring a broad series of touchpoints throughout and beyond the sales journey, and judiciously employing metrics for analysis. These lead to weightier and more successful marketing, sales, and post-purchase service.
However, successful customer engagement depends on more than reducing churn and drumming up more referrals. A customer-centric business model requires actively interacting with the people who matter most to your bottom line.
So, how can you use customer engagement strategies to increase customer retention? More importantly, what is customer engagement? That’s what we’re here to talk about.
This post will explore essential definitions, dig into the most effective customer engagement strategies, and answer FAQs. By the time we’re done, you will have valuable takeaways to bring to your operations today.
What is Customer Engagement?
Contrary to popular opinion, customer engagement is more than just a way to measure customers’ connection with your brand. Instead, it is an umbrella term for the different processes used to create, build, and maintain customer relationships.
A business that increases customer engagement focuses on creating value from a great product or service, offering excellent after-sales support, and devising effective communications that solidify the consumer’s experience.
Every business needs a customer who will act as an expert ambassador for your brand, one so engaged with their company that they’ll want others to share that experience.
Customer loyalty is all about turning someone who bought your product into an active promoter who:
Interacts with your target audience on social media
Engages in your forums
Encourages subscribers to sign up
Shouts about your new products from the rooftops
Actively participates in your customer loyalty program
Uses a wide variety of your CRM features (if applicable)
If you can create this emotional connection with your customers through various types of engagement platforms, then you’ve cracked the code. Let’s look at some ways companies like yours can do precisely that.
Why Are Customer Engagement Strategies Important?
Keeping people engaged throughout the customer journey (including your post-sale existing customers) allows companies to build brand loyalty and improve critical sales metrics. These include upselling, cross-selling, and CLV (customer lifetime value).
Ultimately, an actively engaged customer will buy a brand’s product more frequently and with greater longevity. Individual customers are just the tip of the iceberg, however. Genuine customer engagement creates brand experts who can attract new customers, rekindle lost relationships, and build upon existing ones.
This helps you to:
- Continually meet customer expectations
- Curate a more robust customer loyalty program
- Bring potential customers who’ve stalled out back into the fold
- Cultivate more brand awareness
- Pull material from customer success stories for case studies
Each of these has a distinct profit motive. Beyond just the bottom line, however, engagement is a valuable data-driven activity. Why?
Because engaged customers interact more often with brands, providing you and your company with priceless information about the individual and the broader market.
Using these insights effectively can lead to better decision-making for your marketing teams and help you to develop customer engagement further.
It’s a self-fulfilling strategy you can’t afford to neglect, so we’ll now focus on seven of the most powerful ways to attract new customers, deepen relationships with old ones, and make customer support more effective.
Ways To Increase Customer Engagement
Customer success stems from so many different sectors. These include your workflows and theirs, your digital marketing endeavors and incentives, and whether you have an active team working on various engagement campaign efforts.
All effective customer engagement strategies have something in common, but the desire to make your audience feel like they matter is essential. You can do just that through conversations, providing resources, being available, and training them to use your product well.
Let’s examine how this plays out at successful companies with high brand loyalty.
1. Create Superior Customer Experiences
Customer engagement starts with improving the CX (customer experience). Your product or service can be the best thing since sliced bread, but without positive engagement, it will fall short of the mark.
One great way to improve CX is to enhance your customer service. No matter the type of business you are running, customers will interact with your company on some level … whether that’s in person, over the phone, or through a chat window.
These interactions will shape your customer’s perspective toward both the individual product and the brand as a whole, and the quality of these experiences must not be overlooked.
For example, when your sales representatives ask potential customers to establish their requirements, ensure they frame their questions with context. Don’t just ask, “So, what’s your budget?” Instead, try something like, “We have a range of solutions tailored to different budgets. Did you have a price in mind?”
While both examples lead to the same answer, the latter provides context for your question and a more comfortable introduction to discussing budgets. The change in phrasing and framing of the question elevates the conversation from invasive and direct to inviting and collaborative.
With just a few changes in wording, the interaction above became more genuine, leading to an overall better experience. You can apply this mindset to most CX pathways in your marketing, sales, and support departments.
2. Genuine Connection Is the Best Customer Engagement Strategy
It’s easy to think you can’t genuinely connect with your customers because you are trying to sell something. However, this simply is not true. Unfortunately, that mindset is why many companies struggle to relate to their customers.
The legitimacy of your customer relationships starts with you and your teams. Elevated customer experiences come from exemplary service and the feeling that the interaction was sincere.
To help improve these interactions, encourage your team members to act as their authentic selves. You want your customer base to see them as genuine people who value helping solve problems and see your products as solutions.
When learning about the customer, make sure to:
- Listen and engage: The best way to solve a customer’s problem is to understand it. That means hearing what they have to say, even if it means work or change on your end.
- Show your appreciation for their value: Demonstrate your understanding through genuine and relevant responses. While scripts and rehearsed lines are convenient, most consumers can tell the difference.
- Be patient: Like most things, building personable customer relationships requires time and effort but leads to better results.
3. Build Customer Relationships Through Communication and Customer feedback
Regular communication with a client will always provide more effective levels of customer engagement. To maintain existing customers, as well as attract new ones, you must figure out what the most effective methods of communication for your specific brand are.
As discussed above, effective communication is all about understanding your customer. How do they like to be communicated with? When are they most available? What is the best way to reach them with the budget you have for branded outreach?
There exists no shortage of examples of effective engagement, but below are four proven methods to consider:
- Newsletters: Give customers updates about your business and products through targeted and relevant newsletters.
- Surveys: Make your customers feel their opinion is valued by asking for feedback through relevant questionnaires.
- Customer Loyalty Programs: Encourage and reward loyalty through early access offers, discounts, and more.
- Workshops: Train your customers on how to get the most out of your products or services so that they are more invested in them.
4. Fine-Tune Your Social Media Marketing
Content marketing is the act of teaching people about your brand, products, and services through the creation of valuable content. There are many ways to push that content into the world, from paying for ads to using keywords to draw organic traffic.
Both are effective, but both also rely heavily on social media. Sure, you can run ads without including Facebook and Instagram, but should you? And you could post lots of quality content to your blog without promoting it on social media, but why would you do that?
Social media has been a mainstay of digital marketing for years now. You're way behind the competition if you’re not using it to engage.
Social platforms allow customers to engage directly with your brand, which you can tailor to their wants and needs. The better you tune your channels to your customers, the better engagement you will see.
Therefore, getting the most from your social media starts with refining your message and the avenues you use to deliver it, including the platform and type of media. Social media options include LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and TikTok. Even “serious” businesses now leverage the power of teeny-bopper platforms like the latter two.
Similarly, you have many content options, from blogs to white papers, webinars to real-time live streaming, and infographics to short social media posts that employ powerful images.
Whatever forms you choose, remember that social media is all about engaging the customer – actually keeping them on the page long enough to learn about who you are and what you do. That requires an emotional connection, no matter how specific or omnichannel your approach.
As an outward-facing element of your business, ensure your social media interactions are timely and consistent. This will help build engagement with the individual who interacted with you and acts as a public forum to show others that you are quick to resolve issues and that your brand is committed to exemplary customer service.
That, in turn, leads to excellent word-of-mouth marketing, as well as helping you to lead customer behavior in a specific direction – i.e., with more trust for and interaction with you.
5. Personalize Your Service
Personalization is precisely what you think it is: offering products, services, and communications tailored to an individual or group. An Experian study found that personalized emails generated six times the transaction rates of generic ones.
The idea is simple: a customer is more than a number in a database and wants to be treated as such. However, just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it is necessarily easy.
So how do you personalize your service to ensure that customers have the best possible experience when working with you? Ideas include:
Beyond traditional emails, gamification offers a fantastic way to improve engagement through a personalized space. A customer can rank up, seek achievements, and boast to their peers about what they’ve accomplished, all while investing further in your brand and giving you more individualized consumer information. This data, of course, can be used to develop your marketing strategies further.
Getting customer feedback is another powerful way to level up your engagement game. This works for two reasons.
First, the information you get about customers’ needs is valuable for course-correcting your approach to maximize customer interactions. What works for them? What doesn’t? Is your call center ticking people off (more than usual)? Do your templates sound canned? What products are you missing?
… and so on.
Multiple Communication Channels
Obviously, you need a phone number and an email address customers can use to contact you. If you’re a larger organization, ensure these are clearly organized by department because no one wants to be shunted from line to line for an hour.
Using chatbots and notifications is the next step. You want to give customers many options for reaching out while not harassing them.
Again, if you use templates for any of your communication, you absolutely must take the time to train your team in how to tailor those templates on the fly. As we’ve already discussed, no one wants to feel like another statistic in your spreadsheet, so build flexible use of scripts into your employee training programs.
A quick note about automation: while it’s a fantastic addition to your marketing, sales, and customer service suite, always provide a quick route for every customer to get to a real person. That way, loyal customers don’t feel sidelined, and you don’t miss out on customer relationships because people give up.
6. Build a Customer Academy
There is no better way to keep your customers interested in your product and mine customer engagement metrics than by creating a digital academy.
This model, pioneered by Hubspot with its founding two decades ago, simultaneously supports the user’s efforts to employ your software and keeps them invested in you. By giving them a way to achieve milestones and get better at your product, you make them feel good about working with you, and they want to stay.
Despite the proven results of this model, only a few software companies train their users well. At most organizations, onboarding is more of an icky duty than a valued engagement tactic. Those that do offer a robust onboarding process often do it through a rehabbed internal learning management system, which was never intended to train external users.
This approach misses a huge opportunity because you’re foregoing the chance to sell your customers on the amazing value of your product. Yes, even your existing customers.
Most companies assume that, since those customers already made the sale, they’re in the bag. Unfortunately, the truth is much grimmer: many customers will leave within the first few months. This churn dramatically decreases your bottom line and undercuts your other customer engagement strategies.
Instead, you should treat every customer – existing and otherwise – as a new one who needs support and guidance in using your product. That’s what an online academy does, offering milestones, certifications, and live interactions to manufacture a sense of bonding between them and your company.
It’s also your chance to show people how much more you can offer them, which leads to upsells and cross-sells.
7. Identify Metrics to Measure Customer Engagement
Renowned Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman once said, “What I cannot create, I do not understand.” If you cannot devise ways to measure your engagement and repeat the tactics that work, you don’t really have a handle on your strategy.
On the same note, if you cannot recreate the circumstances that made customers fall in love with you, you have limited ability to perpetuate and reliably forecast your income. That’s why gathering as much customer data as possible and comparing it to your business's KPIs (key performance indicators) is so important.
Of these, revenue is most certainly the most important. Your profits will dictate whether you survive as a company and get investors to back you and innovators to work for you.
Others include software subscriptions, renewals, upsells and cross-sells, newsletter signups, and social media follows. You can look for other metrics that help you identify customer engagement by digging through any data that results from various campaigns, new internal software or updates, and customer surveys.
Together, these seven strategies will help you level up your engagement game so that you go from interacting with those who make your business run to delivering a genuinely great experience in everything you do.
Customer Engagement Strategies: Final Thoughts and Next Steps
We cannot understate the importance of customer engagement and how building it will positively impact your business. Regular, quality communication is the key to building better interactions, regardless of the platform.
Achieving better engagement can be done in a plethora of ways, including creating a superior customer experience, finding effective ways to connect, using conversational marketing, emphasizing retention, personalizing your service, and genuinely engaging customers with meaningful messaging.
Whether we’re talking retail stores, call centers, or online marketplaces, every interaction with a customer will impact engagement. Making those interactions genuine and positive is everything. The more you do so, the more you will see an increase in your bottom line, better conversion rate metrics, and higher overall marketing strategy effectiveness.
Want to learn more about engaging your customers through excellent post-purchase training and service? That’s what Raven360 is here for, so get in touch today.
Frequently Asked Questions About Customer Engagement Strategies
Q. What does increasing engagement mean?
A: To increase engagement is strengthening a customer’s relationship with your brand. This can be impacted by the number and the quality of interactions they have with your business. Building your brand's relationship with a customer can lead to higher revenue and profit while reducing costs.
Q. What are customer engagement strategies?
A: Any activity that seeks to improve your business’s relationship with your customers is termed a “customer engagement strategy.” It can include any interaction with a customer, whether a social media conversation, an email survey, or customer service.
Q. Where Can I Find Customer Engagement Data?
A: Customer engagement data comes from a wealth of places. Any metric that quantifies the satisfaction and participation of your audience is a potential source. Think of the satisfaction surveys from your customer service department or the graduation rate of people from your online academy. Other sources include social media statistics, blog traffic, resolved tickets, newsletter subscriptions, or participation rate in your customer loyalty program.
Q: What are the essential customer engagement metrics?
A: While many metrics matter to engagement, CLV (or customer lifetime value) is likely the most important. This measures how much an individual is worth to you over the lifespan of their relationship with their company. As this number rises, you can assume your engagement strategies are bearing fruit.
Q: What customer engagement strategies does MY audience need?
A: This is a question only you can answer. For most companies, valuable free content and a social media presence are essential. For almost any SaaS company, though, you can be sure there is at least one thing they all need: good training and support post-sale.