7 Robust Strategies That Boost Customer Engagement
Startups or globe-spanning enterprises — customer engagement is equally important for all kinds of businesses. In fact, for modern businesses, it is a make-or-break factor. Gallup reports that fully-engaged represent a 23% higher share in profitability, revenue, and relationship growth.
In fact, a McKinsey study found that more than 69% of C-Suite execs, digital customer engagement is paramount in both strategy and spending. In fact, they are willing to earmark at least 62% of overall digital-budget spending for improving digital engagement.
There are several benefits that have put customer engagement one among the top priorities of C-suite, startup founders, and almost everyone else operating a business.
Great customer engagement offers several benefits — namely, it makes customers buy more, spend more, and also tell their loved ones about their shopping experiences. The customer-focused approach will also help you build lasting customer relationships.
Needless to say, customer engagement is critical to business growth. Improving it should be on the growth agenda of every business.
But, first — What is Customer Engagement?
Customer engagement is the ongoing interactions between the brand and customers. These interactions could be across the funnel — it could be the first-time stumbling on a digital ad or an in-app experience that only active users can experience. Basically, any instance of a customer engaging with the brand can be referred to as customer engagement.
The purpose of customer engagement is to delight customers. It gives them more than just a momentary resolution to a question or a problem. Instead, it makes them attached to the brand in a meaningful manner. It is this unique emotional appeal of customer engagement that has made it a value creation tool for businesses of all sizes and scales.
Now, that brings us to the question: how to engage customers?
In today’s digital world, the lion’s share of customer interactions happens digitally. There is little or no face-to-face interaction. This makes it challenging to heighten customer engagement.
Building a customer engagement strategy
Like everything challenging, a strategy can help overcome challenges and achieve the desired results. A customer engagement strategy is not a single document plan, but a combination of several elements.
Elements of a customer engagement strategy
- Customer journey map — How does the customer travel from being a prospect to becoming a paying customer
- Points of customer interaction — Which channels and in what frequency does the customer interact with the brand
- Brand messaging, tone and voice — If the brand were a person, what kind of language, slang, tone, voice would it use to communicate with its customers
- Customer feedback management — How does the customer manage its customer feedback and how it acts upon it
When all these elements are put together, it forms the overall customer engagement strategy. This strategy will have further down tactics which help in improving customer engagement.
If done right, these strategies can help improve customer engagement significantly.
1. Create a Target Persona
The first step towards improving your customer engagement is knowing who your customer is. This might seem like a fundamental and straight-forward task. However, most businesses do not have a clear-cut target persona.
A target persona is a fictional idea of your customer. It lists down what their role in an organization would be, the company size in which they work, the industry in which they operate, what their buying concerns and motivations would be, and the goals that they are trying to achieve.
Mapping your target persona will give a clear-cut picture of their needs and what needs to be done to solve their problems. It will also help you look at gaps in the current customer engagement strategy that can be solved.
If you are not sure how to get started creating your buyer persona, here are some ways to do it:
- Create a fictional character — What’s your ideal customer’s age? What would their professional designation be? What kind of social traits do they exhibit?
- Assign revenue criteria to them — In monetary terms, how much revenue would your target user persona be earning? What are their spending pattern and priorities like?
- Use analytics to determine demographics — Which part of the world do your customers belong to? If they are globally spread, where is the maximum population? What kind of culture do they follow?
- Forecast and validate customer behavior — What makes your target users tick or flip? What excites them, what annoys them? What is missing in the market right now that they are looking to solve with your business?
2. Embellish your website’s digital experience
For a modern digital business, the website is like a calling card and a virtual representation of the business. It should be good enough to create a first impression. In addition to its visual aesthetics, a website should also be engaging enough for the user.
A good website must provide adequate information about the business, the people behind it, and also its USPs compared to competitors. This is the basic purpose of any website. However, to maximize customer engagement, it is important to make the website navigation as simple and intuitive as possible.
This calls for creating the right menus and submenus and sections where information can be hosted and easily found. Ideally, this is something that should be planned and implemented in the early stages of app development and design.
Why does this matter? In online transactions, customers equate the website experience with the physical experience. It is the closest that they get while navigating the website from anywhere and anytime. Any slip in the website experience can have a detrimental effect on customer engagement. A great website experience, on the other hand, makes customers feel welcome to do business with you.
Some pointers to embellish your website’s digital experience:
- Make sure the website loads faster, at least in 4 seconds
- Ensure the layout is easy to navigate
- Create proper headings and subheadings to facilitate easier reading
- Use inter-linking efficiently to guide users towards useful content
- Use CTAs strategically. Don’t splash them throughout the web page
- Keep distractions like slide-ins, pop-ups, push notifications, etc. to a bare minimum
Neal Taparia, the founder of FreeCell Challenge, redesigned his gaming site to drive a better user experience. “We found that a simple redesign of our FreeCell games, where we used friendly fonts, colors, and bigger images not only decreased our bounce rate by 20%, but it improved overall engagement and time on site. Ultimately this investment paid for itself many times over.”
3. Leverage co-browsing for customer support
Customer engagement and customer support are two sides of the same coin. Customer engagement can and will nosedive in the forthcoming transactions if proper customer support is not provided in real-time.
However, providing customer support in real-time is easier said than done, especially in a virtual setup. Co-browsing, such as the one from Acquire, is something that can help with that. In co-browsing, agents and customers can get on the same web page in real-time and discuss the on-screen activities. This facility can be used by the agent to diagnose a user problem or even provide a demo to help a new customer. Either way, it leads to better customer engagement with the web or mobile application.
How does co-browsing help?
- Co-browsing is the closest to replicating physical presence in a virtual environment
- It can help create a personal bond with the customer
- It can transmit information that no other format of content can convey
4. Gamify customer interactions
The power of gamification is too powerful to ignore. It can motivate students to learn, persuade employees to improve productivity, and in business, inspire customers to stay loyal. The best example of this is the reward points that customers get for completing each purchase.
Take, Starbucks Loyalty program. Starbucks customers get one star for every dollar spent. After amassing a significant amount of stars, customers can use them to buy Starbucks beverages or snacks for no cost. This sort of gamification will force customers to prove their loyalty even in the face of stiff competition. Of course, this would naturally boost customer engagement as well.
Gamification has several other benefits as well:
- It can lure new customers who are interested in monetizing their relationship with the brand
- It can give insights into what type of products or services customers buy the most if they are given free or at a concessional cost
- It can reduce churn rates as the loyalty points anchor the customers to the brand
5. Email marketing to maximize content engagement
Email is perhaps the most-used channel for distributing content. It helps send strategically handpicked content to a specific segment of customers belonging to diverse levels of the sales funnel. Since automation and emails go hand in hand, it becomes easy for marketers and saves a lot of time. Connecting MailChimp or any popular automation tool with your e-commerce or any other app can help you to maximize the customer reach and engagement.
For example, awareness and thought leadership articles to customers in the awareness stage; product demo, benefits, and new feature updates to existing customer base.
But, why email everything else, especially when there is social media? Although social media has become the default channel of impersonal communication of the world, when it comes to business communication, email still rules the roost.
In a way, the best way to meet and create a connection with costumes is in their inboxes. Emails, if sent at the right time and in the right content, and delivered properly, can maximize customer engagement. It can make customers read your emails, respond to them, and also take actions as desired. In fact, HubSpot found that at least 80% of business professionals believe that email marketing increases customer retention (HubSpot).
6. Use a chatbot or conversational commerce
A chatbot is an Artificial Intelligence program that can mimic the way humans interact with each other. They rely on canned responses and Machine Learning to create the tone and conversational slang that human users have.
Chatbots have paved the way for conversational commerce. Chatbots on websites and social media messengers are enabling users to choose the right products and services that suit their personal preferences. All this without having the customer browse through the website or the online store.
Take, for example, Sephora. Shopping for cosmetics is a truly personal experience. Chatbots have already gained entry and established presence in this arena where even a single wrong recommendation can cause discomfiture for the brand.
7. Ask for feedback and act upon it
No matter how well-designed a product or app is, it will have some kind of customer experience gaps that the brand cannot foresee. But, those are gaps that customers can point out, provided their feedback is asked for.
Customer feedback is perhaps the best way ever to know what your customers are feeling about the product. It also brings to light several areas where customer expectations are not met. Several customer feedback management tools like NPS and CSAT help in gauging customer satisfaction also to a great extent.
However, customer engagement can be improved only if the feedback is acted upon. Mere collection of customer feedback is not sufficient. It is necessary to act upon it so that customers realize that their feedback is valuable and that it will be valued upon.
Final Word — Engaging customers the right way
Customer engagement is not an arrow-straight road. Your customers, although they share the same traits, might have diverse wants and expectations. What excites one group of customers might make another group of customers feel unattended. It is necessary to strike a balance so as to ensure that your business as a whole is able to grow its bottom line.
There is no single solution that can maximize customer engagement. You must try multiple strategies and pick the ones that work the best. Some such strategies are described above. They should help your business connect with customers better and also make them engage with your business at a deeper level.
This guest post was written by Jay Purohit. He wins at explaining tough concepts by putting them like butter on the bread for you to relish. He is a Digital Marketing Professional at Acquire with a keen interest in reading, researching & sharing insights about trends with you in the field of Search Engine Optimization, SaaS & Customer Experience.