The goal of customer engagement is even harder to achieve in the modern world. Marketing demands a comprehensive approach to increasing customer engagement that not only builds a loyal community but also works to amplify and decommercialize or desell company messages to make them appear more objective. Increasing customer engagement is only one piece of the puzzle but is a piece that is constantly ignored. So what does it really take to increase your customer engagement?
What is customer engagement?
There are several interrelated definitions of customer engagement. Each shared the common thread of interactions between a brand and its target market, although some definitions are more nuanced to include the level of customer engagement based on the depth and degree of interaction.
But, a definition doesn’t help much in implementing a strategy for increasing customer engagement. Instead, we need to understand which consumer actions reflect engagement.
In social media spaces, customer engagement involves users taking actions that amplify corporate messages. Not only do actions such as retweeting, liking, and sharing help a corporate message reach new markets, the act of engaging with the brand acts as a tacit endorsement of the brand — a brand recommendation, if you will.
The result of increasing customer engagement, as you see in the graphic above, is to increase customer motivation that increases purchases and consumption of the brand.
Increasing customer engagement
Of course, there are other forms of customer engagement that impact brand performance. Customer engagement also involves building an affective connection with consumers, such as shown in the graphic below based on the advertising concept termed the hierarchy of effects.
In my conceptualization of engagement, it begins the trusting phase where community members begin participating in actions in support of the brand, including sharing messages, and continues through to building a valuable community that supports both the brand and consumers interested in your brand. At this extreme end of community building, engaged consumers act as partial employees to answer questions, offer suggestions, and solve consumer problems related to brand purchase or use, such as crafting videos to help users install, construct, or use branded products.
The endpoint in this process is evangelism, whereby engaged users defend the product or brand against all efforts to detract from the brand’s image. For instance, in a study of Disney users, I found individuals attempting to make light of Disney failures and excusing any laps made by the company.
To support increased consumer engagement, a firm has many options. Below, we highlight 4 of these options.
Building on a solid infrastructure
The first thing you need to consider is how you are engaging consumers in the first place. Do you have a streamlined sales process? If you don’t, you must recognize that a high-quality software package can make engaging with customers easier. These days, the most basic of packages can provide insights and analytics to help you better meet customer needs, resulting in an improved brand image that encourages engagement.
Moreover, you need to create a positive user experience and streamline internal processes to make it easy for consumers to use your brand to solve multiple problems. For instance, if you are running a healthcare business, there are many physio practice management software functions that allow you to accept 24/7 bookings, send texts to confirm upcoming appointments, and share test results seamlessly resulting in higher patient satisfaction.
In other industries, consider similar software designed expressly for your niche to align your process with the needs of your target market. For instance, an e-commerce site requires a streamlined conversion process requiring as few clicks as possible, easy navigation, and assurances that the brand respects the privacy and security of visitors.
If you are not engaging with a solid infrastructure, you aren’t providing a comprehensive service. Think about what your customers need, and how you can gain insight to provide for these needs. This is where analytics comes in handy because you can see when a customer visits your website, their demographics, and so forth. When you are able to picture the perfect customer, you are able to engage them better.
The power of the first impression
Every day is a new day and an opportunity for a potential customer to see your product for the very first time. Meeting the needs of this prospect with product images, descriptions, and specifications goes a long way toward building a relationship with them.
You can make simple tweaks to your website to welcome people. For example, in-app welcome messages are a very simple practice that can engage users. It’s a way to personalize the process and shows a customer that you are there for them.
Exposing the fine details of your product
Consumers don’t buy products they buy solutions to their problems. And, different consumers have different problems or different notions about how to best solve their problems. That’s why segmentation and positioning work to support your brand. Matching the right set of benefits to your target market helps them choose you over a competitor. Delivering on promised benefits builds engagement with them.
Given the diverse set of needs expressed by different consumers, providing additional information about your product beyond the featured benefits provides additional incentives to make a purchase. For instance, if you need something compatible with an existing product, displaying product specifications such as opening size, voltage requirements, width and length, etc, allow users to evaluate how well your product fits their specific needs.
Letting customers try before they buy
If you are trying to solve a customer’s problem, the best thing you can do is to provide a free trial without any of the obligations, expenses, or other requirements. Sometimes consumers try a product through sampling, such as in-store tasting or distributing a small sample of a floor tile to ensure it meets your specific needs. In other cases, you offer limited use of a product to let consumers test drive the product, such as testing a mattress free for 30 days.
Marketing your business in a manner that works at increasing customer engagement requires a number of tactics used in tandem or in isolation, depending on your market. Each of these components suggested here is easy to implement and can make a significant difference on customer engagement, as well as improving your brand image and encouraging sharing. You should never underestimate how you look because this is what brings customers in first of all.
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