If you can’t engage your customers, you won’t sell to them. Customer engagement comes from meaningful interactions between company and audience. Defined in different ways, the majority of these definitions involve loyalty, trust and lasting relationships.
This article will look at effective ways to boost your customer engagement strategy, citing both classic techniques that have stood the test of time, as well as new ones adapted to an ever-changing digital landscape.
Know your customers
To build a relationship with your customers, you’ll need to understand who they are, what they like and what they respond to. Look at forums, social media comments and search query data to get insights. If you already have an audience, ask them questions about what they like and do not like about your product or service. All this combined allows you to create comprehensive customer profiles.
Once you have these, you’ll realise how much influence they have on your operations. Customer profiles affect the type of content you use, which platforms and your brand’s tone of voice. Take the latter, for example. If you’re a streetwear clothing brand targeting 18-25 year old men, your tone will be different to a hedge fund trying to attract recent retirees.
In terms of customer engagement, piercing the masses is futile when you’re a small brand. Be comfortable that most people will have never heard of you, or if they have, they don’t care about you. Prioritising your attention to those who do care will only increase relationships and trust. Humans have a tribal instinct, so creating a sense of community is a surefire way to boost engagement.
Experiment with new content styles
When it comes to content style, change is inevitable. You must be able to adapt to the new trends as they come and go. Again, knowing your audience is crucial for this, mainly because it narrows down which platforms are most suitable to use for your business strategy.. If your audience is Generation Z, for instance, you’ll be wise to look at emerging platforms like TikTok, where over 60% of its 700 million active users were born after 1996. In this case, you’d need to master video, and figure out what kind of content is native to the platform and recognisable to the consumer.
Some forms of content go under the radar in terms of how effective they are. Infographic videos, for example, are a great option for businesses looking for unique methods to display meaningful information. They present content in a simple, digestible and entertaining way. Infographic production company Frantic notes that: ‘Provided you do your research into what information your customers will need to know, an infographic video can be an effective marketing tool. Careful planning and research into these viewer and consumer needs will make it likely that your infographic video will be shared and understood by your audience.’
Be more personal
Customers have become accustomed to personalisation when engaging with brands, and expect it from every business regardless of size. Being personal builds stronger relationships and creates better experiences that have a measurable pay off in terms of ROI. Put simply, companies that don’t create a personal experience for their audience get left behind.
But there’s a difference between being personal and personalisation. A personal experience isn’t about getting your customer’s first name right then spamming them with automated messages. Just because an email is addressed to your customer doesn’t make it personal. As Seth Godin says: “Too often modern companies mass customise and try to steal the value of actual person-to-person connection. Don’t waste your time and money on this. You’re wasting the most valuable thing you own— trust”. Modern consumers spot inauthenticity in an instant. Don’t be naive to think they won’t see through ingenuine messages with their name tag on the front.
True personalisation is having a deep understanding of your customer’s journey, which is why it’s so important you know your consumer. Once you understand what they need, you can serve them the right message at the right time, and drive business results. Stop sending mass emails. Get personal.
Being personal is difficult to scale, but not impossible. Gary Vaynerchuck, CEO of VaynerMedia, gave useful advice on scaling personal interactions with your audience: “Reply to reviews, especially the bad ones. Read Facebook comments and reply to those as well. Join conversations. These are things that need to be done to let your fans know the experience they grew to love won’t be lost, and show new customers this is what they will get. But they aren’t things you can do alone. The fact of the matter is, to boost engagement, delegate.”
Use different offers and promotions
Offers and promotions are a crucial part of any business. Not only can they drive sales, but also help get rid of old stock (if the businesses sell physical goods). But there is a right way to do them.
There is a case for businesses to limit sales as much as possible. Do them too often, and they lose their effect and can damage a brand cultivated on quality. Each time a consumer sees a discount it is added to their reference price used for future purchases. The higher the frequency of discounts for a brand, the more likely that the sale price will become the new reference price. This reduces consumers’ willingness to buy the product at full price. Customers aren’t stupid. They will learn that if they wait, they will eventually get a better deal.
Contemporary direct-to-consumer brands have found success in this method. Gymshark, for example, only has two sales a year: one in the summer and one on Black Friday. These are both designed to combine ‘art and science to grab people’s attention and convert that into sales’, according to their CBO, Noel Mack. The scarcity of these sales can boost customer engagement, with genuine anticipation for them. This is helped by a well-executed marketing plan, including information on the sale through opted-in email lists and social media.
Experimentation is needed to see which approach resonates best with your customer. Understanding the case studies of other businesses will help you make a decision, as trends associated with certain demographics will translate into other areas of commerce. Learn from the mistakes and successes of other brands to inform your process.