To find out how to improve engagement we first have to ask. What is customer engagement? It is the relationship between a business and a customer beyond a simple sales transaction.
This is an ever-changing relationship dynamic between a customer and a brand. Each interaction can improve or diminish your brand’s relationship with a customer. Customer engagement is a measure of how well your customers interact with your business.
Customers can now interact with brands in a multitude of ways including:
- Text messages
- Phone calls
- Social media
- Customer reviews
- In-person sales
- Loyalty programs
The aim is to have positive reactions in any and all of these interactions. This will increase brand awareness, customer loyalty, and customer satisfaction, ultimately driving more sales.
Customer engagement can be measured across various channels. This includes click-through rates, repeat purchases, customer feedback, online reviews, and customer satisfaction surveys.
Customer engagement plan
Essentially a customer engagement strategy is a plan to enhance customer satisfaction. This can be achieved through interactions from multiple channels like the ones previously mentioned. A strong customer engagement strategy will take customers from a reactive to a proactive position.
A customer engagement plan should include a strategy when reaching out and engaging customers and when customers reach out independently. The overall aim is to increase revenue through engagement.
It may also be worth joining an online sales community to garner as much sales and marketing information as possible, before launching your attack.
Customer engagement strategies
Run a social media competition
Everyone likes the chance to win some free goodies. This is why competitions are an excellent way to increase customer engagement. More than half the world’s population use social media, meaning 3.96 billion potential customers can be waiting online.
Social media competitions are a solid customer engagement strategy. This puts out a net to find new customers whilst engaging existing customers. To engage your target audience you should carefully tailor your prize to reflect the customers you want to appeal to. Furthermore, if you ask customers to tag their friends they will engage your target audience for you as friends are most likely to have similar interests.
The business can then further engage customers by replying to comments on the competition. Holding regular competitions will improve customer engagement rate as they will keep coming back to try and win. Those that do win will be happier customers which is likely to inspire a loyal customer base.
Harness good reviews for better customer engagement
Another customer engagement strategy is to promote positive customer experiences. Many businesses will actively promote themselves which is a great way to attract new customers. However, sharing examples of positive customer experiences with existing customers enhances credibility.
You can also tag the customer in their review to help build a personal relationship with them. This will help cement customer loyalty. Moreover, customers will be emboldened to share their own experiences leading to further customer interactions.
It is also a good idea to reward loyal customers who regularly share, comment, or leave positive reviews. Friendly customer service representatives should reach out and reward customers that consistently engage with small inexpensive tokens of appreciation. This will help solidify brand loyalty and customer retention.
Inspire user-generated content for better customer engagement
One of the best customer engagement strategies is to have customers create relevant content for you. Consumer-related content appears more genuine to customers, so it is more likely to engage customers. But, how do you get customers to produce content for you?
One simple user-generated engagement strategy is to mobilize catchy business hashtags that incorporate your brand. This could be a company catchphrase, or something representing a particular marketing strategy you are pushing. When sharing marketing content be sure to use these hashtags to imprint a visual bond in the minds of customers. In a sense, your hashtag becomes your brand, and when customers share their purchases, or experiences, of your business, they will use that hashtag. This generates a recurring cycle of user-generated hashtags which will boost consumer engagement.
This can be further emphasized by a hashtag marketing strategy, actively targeting customers and asking them to share. For example, users could be asked to share their favourite purchases using the hashtag. Or you could encourage users to post photos of themselves wearing or using your products. This creates free customer-generated content that you can pick from and share. Furthermore, customer engagement is achieved allowing customers to feel like part of the brand.
Act swiftly to counteract negative feedback
Excellent customer service is paramount when engaging customers. Even the most loyal customers can turn their backs on your service if problems are not dealt with correctly in a timely manner.
Customer interactions can be good or bad. For example, an unhappy customer may leave a negative review of a product or service online. Often you can turn a bad customer experience, into a good customer experience, by acting on feedback and improving upon the service or product. Or in some cases replacing a faulty product with apologies.
Correcting a problem will often actually build trust in a brand. Customers understand that mistakes can sometimes happen. Seeing the business actively fixing the problem will ensure customers that you have their needs at heart and can be depended on for resolution. Often a customer will retract their negative feedback if they feel like the issue has been settled.
Offer helpful advice to build customer engagement
Successful customer engagement can often be achieved by creating content that the consumer finds genuinely helpful. For example, a fitness company could produce an article about ‘how to build muscle’, or ‘how to lose weight.’ They could even incorporate sales marketing into this content, by linking various items they sell that can best help them achieve their goals.
Another highly visible viable strategy is to produce video. It has been shown that behind Google, Youtube is now the second biggest search engine in the world. Not to mention that video is shareable or uploadable on various communication channels. Again helpful advice can draw audiences to your brand to increase customer engagement.
For example, a fashion or beauty brand can make videos showing customers how to pair items of clothing or different makeup looks. This engagement strategy will help establish your brand as an authority in its field helping to build recognition and retain customers.
Use loyalty programs to keep customers engaged
One of the best customer engagement strategies is customer reward programs. These types of programs incentivise customers to use your product over other similar products. Thus, building consumer engagement.
Customer loyalty is rewarded via gifts, discounts, special offers, and other incentives. Perhaps the most well-known loyalty programs in the UK are the different schemes that supermarkets offer. Tesco Clubcard and the Nectar Card are notable examples.
However, even small businesses such as independent coffee shops, or barbers, reward their customer base and improve customer engagement with loyalty programs. They could simply reward repeat business with a free haircut or a free coffee.
Boost client engagement using good causes
With the rise of ethical spending, current customers and potential customers will engage more with ethical companies. Customers more than ever believe in social responsibility, meaning they will be more likely to engage with a business if it has good practices. This is why promoting good causes is a great customer engagement strategy.
A good example of this in practice is the search engine Ecosia which uses a portion of profits to plant trees. Another brand that used social responsibility to grow its brand was TOMS. They build their footwear brand by promising to donate one pair of shoes to someone in need for every shoe bought.
There are many ways to utilise charities to create better customer engagement. A brand could simply donate a percentage of its sales, or freely promote charities. On a more local scale, small businesses could sponsor local sports teams, or set up your business as a charity drop-off point for food banks or other causes.
Buying from an ethical company envokes a guilt-free customer experience meaning more engaged customers. Also being an active, helpful part of the local community will instil a greater sense of unity and loyalty.
Final conclusion on customer engagement strategy
There are many interesting customer engagement strategies aimed to improve the customer experience. Customers can engage with businesses in more ways than ever and it is important to harness this potential for revenue generation.
It is no longer viable to only use one platform. Active users can be found on multiple channels such as social media. Brands can increase their engagement using a number of customer engagement strategies. This includes:
- Social media competitions
- Showing off good customer reviews
- Inspiring user-generated content to be shared on social media
- Responding swiftly and positively to negative feedback
- Creating helpful content
- Using loyalty rewards
- Use good causes to improve customer engagement
The overall aim is to achieve growth and sales through customer engagement. Hopefully, this information can guide you through the competitive quagmire of 21st-century sales.