Originally appeared in Customer Think on April 9, 2019

While customers are every brand’s top priority, most brands haven’t figured out how to engage with their customers in a way that’s palatable or effective. Research firm Gartner says 89% of companies compete based predominantly on customer experience, yet many get it wrong by overcomplicating the customer journey – doing too much with too little focus and very little connection between moving parts.

There are so many technologies, tools and strategies that it’s easy for a brand to overcomplicate its customer engagement strategy. I talk to companies often who want help cutting through the clutter, in search of one unified platform to ensure they’re offering connected experiences, and building brand loyalty.

Brands can take comfort in knowing that an efficient, simplified customer engagement approach is possible. By shifting the focus to quality over quantity to deliver an exceptional customer experience, customers will keep coming back. Here are a few ways your engagement strategy might be repelling your customers, and how you can turn it around.

As the kids might put it, you’re being “extra.”

Simply put, you might be doing too much. You likely have many interactions with your customer base. This is likely because you’re leveraging a variety of channels to deliver marketing and sales messages. While it might seem that using every possible outlet will increase the chance that people will engage with your content, focusing on quantity is likely to lead to lines getting crossed and your communication appearing disjointed. This perception could stop you from giving your customers a sense of who you are or what you offer them.

Additionally, by resorting to the “spray and pray” method, you waste an opportunity to show customers that you care about them as individuals, and have concern for their wants and needs. This happens because brands fixate on what else they can be doing to market to customers. Instead, consider your customers’ characteristics and behavior-what they are looking for, where they are in the customer journey, what (if anything) they have in their cart, what is their purchase history, etc.-and focus your efforts on that. Use the data in your arsenal to better understand your customer. This will allow you to create personalized messages and experiences that speak directly to what your customers are seeking.

You are gathering an abundance of customer data, but don’t know how to connect it or learn from it.

I find companies often take the “more is more” approach when it comes to collecting customer data. It’s easy to understand because it seems to make sense: the more data you gather, the better insight you will have into demographics, interests, and behavior. But this is not necessarily the case.

Organizations often use too many marketing technologies to both execute and analyze campaigns, and these technologies rarely integrate or work in conjunction. By using multiple programs, you get multiple sets of fragmented data, which bogs down your marketing team as they try to analyze it for useful information. Excessive data can make it difficult for you to create an action plan customized to engage every customer.

This doesn’t mean you should cut certain programs, but you should streamline your approach to collect only the data you need and do more with what you already have. By being analytical and insights-focused, data will become truly helpful to guiding an effective engagement strategy, and it will stop being a complex mess of information that wastes your time and money.

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You are analyzing the wrong metrics.

Engagement and conversion rates should inform your marketing strategy, but they don’t address levels of customer satisfaction, and ultimately, happy and loyal customers drive success. Anybody can buy from you once, but an engaged and satisfied customer will return to you again and again, and make repeat purchases. Customer retention is vital – and the more your metrics help you engage with your customers, the more likely their loyalty will bring you new customers.

Since it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain a current one, the most important metric for B2C organizations is Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV). In fact, it is the metric that should inform business decisions. To estimate your CLTV, take your average purchase value, multiply it by the average purchase frequency rate, and multiply that number by the average customer lifespan.

You are only thinking about quick wins.

It feels great to see high open and click-through rates for a promotional email, but what do those numbers actually mean for your business? I see many marketing teams that operate task by task rather than thinking about their customer engagement as a whole. Sure, the individual puzzle pieces are important, but addressing the bigger picture is the only way you can consider the customer experience..

Your customers aren’t going to remember a single great email a few days after receiving it. But they will remember the entirety of their experience with your brand. It’s easy to focus too much on immediate wins, but this can lead companies to miss out on the big prize – a loyal and long-standing customer base. Ensuring you’re doing the right things to engage with your customers should be an ongoing practice; you must iterate on your strategy to continue providing value.

Your tech stack is too complicated for you to see good results.

Adding more platforms to your tech stack will only make your data problem more complex. For simple, effective customer engagement, look for a unified platform that integrates all the solutions you need to create campaigns, engage with customers, and collect and analyze data. Simplifying your customer engagement strategy will drive an optimal customer experience and build a group of loyal brand followers.

It can be easy to undo progress with a misstep. It’s even easier to accidentally irritate your customer base with an overly complex customer engagement strategy, or simply by focusing on the wrong data. However, by focusing on simplifying each part of the process, your customer engagement has the power to hook – and keep – an adoring audience.

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