Customer engagement has become something of a buzzword when it comes to digital marketing strategies. While it has certainly become a useful label to open up discussions on repeat purchases, customer retention, and brand loyalty, it goes far deeper than its more obvious benefits.
First, the bad news: Engagement is not a quick fix. You cannot rely on short cuts if you are serious about engaging customers – not if you want to see real value.
The good news, however, is that done properly, engagement can be a powerful addition to your digital marketing strategies, helping to increase spend, drive retention, increase productivity and create a seamless experience for your customers.
According to Gallup, in fact, companies that successfully engage B2B customers notice 63% lower customer attrition, 55% higher wallet share, and 50% higher productivity.
Whether you measure engagement from page views, email open rates, time spent on site, number of comments or a combination of all of the above, one thing is for sure. It is always useful to understand exactly why customer engagement is so important.
In a nutshell, engagement represents the way that your customers feel about your brand. No matter what strategies you use to acquire and retain customers, the reality is painfully simple. If customers like your brand, they will most likely return. If customers love your brand, they will choose you over your competitors and tell their friends to do the same. If they do not like your brand, they will run for the hills, never to be seen again. How you engage customers is what holds the key to whether they like, love or hate your brand.
How does this apply to digital marketing strategies, you may be wondering? Let's take a look.
Digital Marketing Strategies That Drive Engagement
Many engagement strategies focus on turning customers into brand advocates and getting them involved on a deeper level in order to connect to your brand. Included as part of your digital marketing strategies, there are a few ways that you can drive engagement.
Use microcontent to show brand personality.
Small details can often help you create a bigger picture, showing your brand's personality in a way that encourages interaction. Strong ecommerce branding is vital in building sustainable engagement. Strong branding encourages customers to connect emotionally, which ensures a far stronger and longer-lasting level of engagement. A huge part of branding is content. Using messaging to tell stories that resonate with customers is essential.
One way to achieve this is through microcontent. Small pieces of content found on your pages and emails all add up to a bigger story. Take a closer look at details such as your buttons, headers, CTAs, subject lines, disclaimers, footer text, text boxes, pop-ups and even your short videos, GIFS, graphics and follow text to determine whether these can reinforce your brand voice.
Share customer reviews on social media
Customer reviews are a surprisingly good way to engage current customers. You will also be able to boost your conversion rates and increase brand awareness at the same time, killing two (or three) birds with one stone. Reviews are effective because people enjoy interacting with them online. This may be because people relate to messaging written by real-life customers more than they do with messages from brands. It could also be because people use reviews as part of the purchasing decision. People enjoy seeing their own reviews, too, as it makes them feel part of something.
Genuine reviews are far more effective than generic reviews, particularly when added to social media. Facebook and Twitter reviews can increase the time that customers spend on your site. To leverage this for your digital marketing strategies, create unique graphics using reviews, or enable review features on your pages.
Reward requests to develop a positive feedback loop
Incentives in the form of coupons, special offers or lead magnets are a great way to reward requests for reviews or other content generated by customers. This does only reward customers for leaving reviews; it also gives them more reason to advocate your brand to friends and family, and more reason to return to your store. When tied into a loyalty programme, this can be especially useful for driving engagement. You could either offer entry into a prize draw, or a percentage off the customer's next purchase. To add even more value and make it easier for customers to take advantage of the offer, include a list of favourite products in the offer.
Use social Q&A to connect with customers
How easily can customers get information from your online store? Brick and mortar stores have the advantage of real-life shop assistants that can answer common questions and give advice on products and usage. Ecommerce stores, on the other hand, need to find another way to deliver customer experience. One such way is social Q&A. Make sure that customers can easily ask questions on social channels as well as your store. Make sure however that you have someone to answer questions quickly. Leaving questions to be replied a day or later can end up making customers feel as though you are not interested.
They may end up going to your competitor instead if they feel ignored. If you answer quickly, however, you will soon see an increase in your engagement levels. You can also leverage this through customer-to-customer engagement. Use customer responses to common questions, and you will be able to create connection and social proof.
Use gamification to increase engagement
A great way to encourage engagement in the short and long term, gamification is best used once customers register. You could use a progress bar to keep new users updated on their profile completeness. Challenges are often far more likely to result in engagement than pure rewards. When used with rewards, this strategy is even more powerful. You could create leaderboards that create competition. You could add challenges and rewards to welcome emails, encouraging further engagement. You could also drive loyalty through fun features that make customers enjoy being on your website.
Use personalisation to engage on a deeper level
Personalisation is one of the most useful tools for a variety of digital marketing strategies. With so many stores and brands using mass broadcasting, generic messaging and over the top advertising, there is something to be said about highly personalised messages that target customers at every stage of their journey. Rather than trying to push out the same marketing message to everyone, take a closer look at how you can personalise and target customers according to behaviours, demographics and lead score. If you have a purchasing customer that has made a few purchases over the last year, with long breaks in between, you could look at a retargeting campaign that rewards purchases over a certain threshold.
If you have a one time customer who made a small purchase the first time at your store, you could build a campaign geared at increasing trust and relationships. Using real-time offers, personalised deals, market segmentation, and clever content that invites customers to keep coming back, you will also be able to increase engagement.
How do you use engagement as part of your campaigns? Get in touch with the Grapevine team today, or let us know in the comments below how you plan to use engagement as part of your digital marketing strategies.