What is Customer Engagement?
Regardless of what you know about marketing, the concept of ‘customer engagement’ is most likely something you are already aware of. Although the term is thrown around quite a lot, it’s much more complex than meets the eye, and incorporates a few different definitions. As a critical part of any business strategy, customer engagement cannot be ignored - especially in the current market. Let’s take a closer look at the definition of customer engagement, and explore why it matters.
What Defines Customer Engagement?
Customer Engagement is the connection between an external stakeholder (consumer) and an organization (company or brand). It occurs through various online and offline channels, and hugely contributes to the relationship between the two parties. Mostly, it focuses on the positive interaction and experience a customer has with a brand, including their overall emotions towards it.
Businesses that put resources into customer engagement are subsequently creating brand value by giving their customers something more meaningful that just a monetary transaction. When executed well, customer engagement can foster brand growth and generate long-term loyalty with customers.
Offline Engagement vs Online Engagement
Online customer engagement entered the marketing world and became a huge social phenomenon with the rise of the Internet in the late 1990s. Ever since then, it managed to change the customer experience journey landscape forever. But how?
The Internet and all its subsequent digital platforms created new possibilities for customers to interact with not only a brand, but with other customers on a much larger scale. With this opportunity for vast, global conversation around any given company and their product, it’s easy to see how online customer engagement is not only different, but much more valuable than offline engagement in the current market.
For example, discussion forums and review sites are spaces where customers can easily communicate with one another in a way that can’t happen with any offline interactive medium. In these same spaces, businesses also now have the chance to directly engage in those conversations with their online customer communities, strengthening the bond between brand and customer. This generates loyalty (brand love) and eventually more sales.
Why Should I Care About Customer Engagement?
Simply put, the current marketplace has moved past pricing. Today, it’s all about giving customers value that goes beyond monetary transactions and average customer experience. To be able to stand out from the competition, businesses need to go above and beyond to create a long-lasting relationship with their customers.
Furthermore, as a business, you must have a strong marketing strategy that focuses on finding ways to engage with your customer base. This doesn’t only apply while transactions are being done, but also in the time in-between.
Having engaged customers can be extremely beneficial for your business because they can generate more revenue than one-time customers or even occasional shoppers. Not to mention, it can be more expensive to acquire new customers than to retain existing ones. Over time, customer engagement is what helps you keep customers, allowing your business to foster growth sustainably.
Generating Customer Loyalty and Brand Advocates
As mentioned, customer retention needs to go beyond high-quality service and products. Customers expect brands not only to anticipate, but to meet their needs in real-time. If done right, this type of dedication pushes customers to engage consistently over time. Ultimately, it’s about the customer’s need to feel heard and have their problems solved, as this is what forms personal connections between person and product.
Customer engagement and customer loyalty are related terms that should be actively present in your marketing strategy. Customer engagement focuses on creating deep-level interactions by making customer care about the brand and encouraging them to use the product actively. Customer engagement cultivates customer loyalty, which then creates brand advocacy through word-of-mouth (offline and online).
In the current market, having an engaged and loyal customer is the biggest asset you and your business can acquire. By focusing on customer engagement, you’ll able to encourage a healthy level of loyalty and brand love in your customer base, to the point where they’ll become brand advocates.
Developing a Customer Engagement Strategy
Customer-centric organizations are build off of solid customer engagement strategies. However, there isn’t one foolproof formula for customer engagement, as every customer base will require its own unique strategy. There are different levels of customer engagement because some customers are willing to have a deeper connection with your brand than others.
That means when you are creating a customer engagement strategy, you need to allow your customers to choose how and to what extend they’d like to engage. Here are a couple of things you should consider when developing your very own customer engagement strategy:
- Create your target customer profile - It’s important to understand who your clients are and the customer journey map they go through before reaching out.
- Identify key points of interaction - Reflecting on how your customers interact with you can help select which platforms can facilitate customer engagement - via social media, email, forums, etc.
- Have your own Brand Voice - Customers want to engage with a brand that has a strong unique voice and personality. Having a brand voice can help personify your company, making it more relatable and easy to connect with your customers. If your customer identifies with your values and message, they will feel closer with your brand.
- Engagement should be an open conversation - When creating spaces to engage, make sure your customers also have the opportunity to speak with your brand and with other customers. Having a space for open-conversation fuels engagement and furthers interactions.
- Keep your strategy flexible - From the moment you implement your strategy, observe how your approaches are working and then take any necessary actions to improve on or adjust it. By listening to your customers and their feedback, you’ll be able to create a better and deeper connection.
Every brand and company has the potential to introduce engagement strategies that will benefit not only its current, but its future customer base. These strategies aim to create such strong customer relationships that they can be considered brand advocates.
The main thing you need to consider with your strategy is its clarity in conveying that your relationship to the customer goes beyond their money. You should be offering something of value that keeps your customers around, beyond your products or services. Keep in mind that this is a rather complex and challenging process that requires multiple resources. However, when done right, you can expect to continuously build a loyal, powerful, and supportive network of customers that keep your company in check and help drive product innovation and development.