Customer Engagement 101: Customers only tend to notice bad brand experiences, not great ones. However, a seamless experience is what keeps them coming back for more. In fact, 73% of people say customer experience is an important factor in purchasing decisions, according to PwC’s “Experience is Everything” report.

Figuring out how to go unnoticed by customers is the key to converting one-off buyers into loyal enthusiasts, and an efficient, data-driven customer engagement strategy will get you there.

What is customer engagement?

No concrete definition of customer engagement exists, but the concept is clear: customer engagement includes the tools, avenues, and strategies utilized to maintain ongoing communication with customers across all touch points.

Even harder than it is to define customer engagement is to measure it. It’s easy to analyze whether customers engaged with a singular email, social post, or other piece of content; it’s a whole separate process to determine whether your overall customer engagement strategy is resonating with your target customers. Qualitative data comes from customer feedback via customer service calls and online comments and reviews. Quantitatively, you can measure customer lifetime value (CLTV) and average order value (AOV); both of these calculate what a customer is worth to you so you can make better decisions for acquiring and marketing to them.

How to execute effective customer engagement

The first step to implementing an impactful customer engagement strategy is to change the mindset of your marketing team; instead of thinking, “how can we get people to make a purchase?” think, “how can we provide more value to customers to keep them engaged?” Keeping your customers at the center of your strategy gets you started on the right foot.

From there, take the following steps:

  1. Build a thorough cross-channel strategy.With your customer pain points and interests in mind, how can you engage them effectively across the funnel via various channels? Look at all the places customers engage with you: at brick-and-mortar stores, emails, phone calls, your website, and via mobile. Creating a consistent experience from one touchpoint to the next will result in higher customer satisfaction and boost retention.
  2. Capture all customer data effectively.You’ve got to be able to collect all relevant data to evaluate whether your customer engagement strategy is working. Data must include campaign performance and individual customer behaviors, providing insight into who your target customers are, what messages they respond to, why they make certain purchases, and how to best engage them moving forward. Leverage this data to propel your approach. Leaders in data-driven marketing are three times more likely than laggards to say they have achieved a competitive advantage in customer engagement and loyalty, according to a report by Forbes Insights and Turn.
  3. Find the right customer engagement tool(s).Executing on your customer engagement plan is nearly impossible without tools that can segment customers, automate and test campaigns, and aggregate customer behavior data.

The best customer engagement tools

Any tool that involves communication with your customers can be considered a customer engagement tool. Here are the must-haves:

Email provider. Email continues to reign as the best channel for marketing and it’s no wonder why: Campaign Monitor reports that it has the highest return on investment (ROI) of all marketing techniques at $44 for ever dollar spent. A quality email platform is the key to reaching your customers effectively; it must support your list of subscribers and ensure deliverability-the percentage of emails that reach recipients’ inboxes.

CRM. Customer relationship management (CRM) is used heavily by salespeople, but in fact it’s a useful tool for marketers as well. It tracks what stage customers are at in the buying cycle, previous interactions and behavior,

Customer feedback. What better way to analyze your customer experience than to hear directly from customers? Customer feedback tools gather comments and reviews and display them all in one place; you can view what people are saying about you and pinpoint areas you can improve.

Marketing automation. The name says it all; this technology allows marketers to automate certain tasks and processes like emails, social media, content delivery, website activities and more. Setting up automated campaigns targeting a specific segment of your customer base can result in a higher conversion rate and customer lifetime value.

Social media channels. Your customers spend a lot of time on social media, and expect you to be where they are. According to the Global Digital Report 2018 by Hootsuite and We Are Social 2018, there are 3.196 billion social media users in the world. Paid social ads and regular posts connect with customers in a more immediate, accessible way.

Unified platform. Even better than these separate tools is one tool that has all their capabilities in one. The more disparate solutions you use, the more difficult it is to tie data together to get a comprehensive understanding of customer behavior and segment your database. A unified platform gives you a singular view of customer data, so you can make a bigger impact with marketing moving forward.

Keeping your customers at the heart of your strategy and implementing the right tools will help you build a loyal following of customers who will spend their money with you again and again.

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