If there’s a more desirable thing for a business than having a loyal customer, then I’m yet to come across it.
But having a customer who wants to buy from you and only you isn’t something that just happens. It is the result of a customer’s experience with you – and earning, developing and maintaining customer loyalty stems from your customer engagement.
Of course, the term “customer engagement” is not a new concept, but is one that is often undervalued or overlooked in many businesses.
In essence, customer engagement is the continuous communications between your business and your customer. These are communications that are broadcast by the business and chosen by the customer.
Note: they choose to listen or not – and they’re only going to pay attention if the messages are relevant to them and worth their while.
So with the plethora of channels that we, as marketers, have at our fingertips exactly how do we go about executing top quality customer engagement?
1. Learn more about your customer than ever before
Learning what your customers’ goals and challenges are – as well as what motivates them and drives their behaviours used to involve a lot of long winded consumer and marketing research tactics.
Luckily times have changed and everything we and our customers are connected to online gives us data – data we can learn from and use to make better marketing and business decisions, from content topics and formats, to the positioning of your product or service in the marketplace.
Here are three things you can do right now to help you learn more about your customers:
1. Create buyer personas – if you haven’t done this yet for your customers check out our guide and template and trust me, creating one is well worth the investment in time and energy.
2. Set up social listening – you don’t need a massive budget to do this. Free tools like twitter.com/search-advanced and Discovery by Affinio will do the trick. Monitor mentions of brand names, services, FAQ’s and anything that would be of interest where your customers and potential customers are creating a conversation you would want to be a part of.
3. Get feedback – once your customer has made the purchase don’t think that is the end of your job as a marketer. Stay in touch, get feedback, and learn how people are using your product or service. What are you finding out and how can you use this data to improve your offering?
2. Personalise more than ever before.
We are in the fortunate position to pretty much know the recipient of our marketing before we publish it, so make sure you personalise your marketing. This makes your content/messaging so much more relevant to your audience. As a result you can expect to see higher engagement levels.
We all know how to personalise things like emails and direct mail but here are three more things to you can do to personalise your marketing:
1. Converse with your customers on social media – literally taking the time to reply, or reach out on social media (yes, on a granular one to one basic) and add value in relation to your product or service.
2. Personalise subscriptions – if you have an email program, don’t just personalise the “Dear John” part, personalise the content. Not everyone will be interested in everything, so make your emails interactive and focussed on delivering value by segmenting meaningfully.
3. Messaging – one technique that is emerging in the marketing space is the use of messaging apps for customer engagement. The likes of Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and even Snapchat are growing in popularity. They all offer us a one to one way to engage and serve customers in a native and straight-forward way.
3. Delight your customers
Patricia Fipp once said “You don’t close a sale, you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise”.
The purchase is not the end of a customer engagement strategy – that’s just treating your customers as transactions – not smart.
There are a few ways that add that extra little something to your customers experiences, such as:
1. Life events – Birthdays, Christmas, marriages, moving home, births – things that happen to your customers give you a chance to show you care by doing a little something special. Be creative and consider what might mean something to you.
2. Video – A personal video message can go a long way. As consumers we all prefer dealing with with people over logo’s, so from a simple personal thank you message to a tip or trick they may not know, these work really well. Using the video feature on Twitter is a fast, easy and effective tool to do this. Give it a go!
3. Be a resource – Continue to recommend, educate and help your customers to solve problems. Adding continued value will create loyal customers and when an opportunity arises you/your brand will be front of mind as the solution.
1. Remember that creating loyal customers stems from the quality of their engagement with your business.
2. Don’t consider the sale the end of the journey – not if you want to build a business that is for the long term.
3. To improve your customer engagement understand your customers more than ever so create a buyer persona.
4. Personalise your marketing as much as you can and provide delightful experiences.
5. Try using social media as a tool to get close and personal to your customers – yes, it might be on a one to one – but as time consuming as that sounds, it is worth the investment in time and effort because it can create really strong bonds.
6. Have a go at making a personal Twitter video for one of your customers – use it to say hello, thank them for a purchase or answer a question!