Customer engagement is a buzzword that any CMO or marketing pro can throw around strategy meetings as a top objective, but the pathway to achieving it in any measurable fashion may be more elusive than it seems. Customer engagement can be defined as the connection between a customer and a brand, and this successful connection is more important than ever before.
Highly-engaged customers should be a top goal for your business because:
- INCREASED SALES: They’ll buy more of your product or service – to the tune of 23% more according to recent Gallup research on the topic.
- EASIER PROSPECTING: They’ll refer you to their friends and family, reducing your new customer acquisition costs.
- STRONGER BRAND EQUITY: They’ll have brand stickiness that keeps them loyal to you above your competition.
A Channel-centric Look at Customer Engagement Wins
Online Community (Nike) – Nike has been masterful at creating a two-way conversation with its customers and creating a reason to engage for decades, but the just-do-it brand seemingly never rests on its laurels. One visit to the Nike+ website shows how the company has created an online community that adds true value for Nike+ members in terms of rewards but also content tailored toward the Nike customer. From the option to create your own shoe to keeping up with the latest trends to exclusive offers, Nike+ members have a real reason to keep coming back.
Social Media (JetBlue) - JetBlue has built its brand reputation as an airline that goes above and beyond in the area of customer service, so it comes as no surprise that they are a prime example of customer engagement wins via social media. JetBlue recently went viral for their “Chief People Officer Campaign” where mysterious JetBlue employees boarded flights and handed out free airline tickets to random passengers (who flooded their social media accounts with praise and cool stories). In addition to the feel-good promotions, JetBlue has also instituted an expansive social listening initiative which includes responding in real-time to customer needs, giving stressed-out flyers quick responses to their concerns and complaints as well as taking the data to make improvements to the services they provide their customers.
Customer Loyalty Programs (Amazon) – The loyalty club everyone knows by name even if they don’t subscribe, Amazon Prime, is possibly the best example of a successful loyalty program. Amazon Prime users get free, two-day shipping on millions of products offered on the behemoth e-commerce shopping site with no minimum purchase, among other benefits. Prime is a top case study in winning at the loyalty program game because it provides values and incentivizes more sales. According to a report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, Prime members spend an average of $1,500 per year on Amazon.com, compared with $625 per year spent by Amazon customers who aren't Prime members.
Common customer engagement misfires and how to avoid them:
- Not understanding where your customers frequent. It seems obvious that the way to engage with a JetBlue customer stranded in an airport due to a snowstorm is not via direct mail, but in other cases it’s not so cut and dry. Take the time to understand the where, when and why your customers are available for engagement and optimize those opportunities.
- Avoiding the tough conversations. When a customer complains online, or even worse an incident related to your brand begins to go viral, it is essential that you come out in front of it proactively with clear communication to show that you’re engaged with your customers, even when they’re not happy with you.
- Not using the data you have (or proactively getting some) to personalize your message. A personal touch is so valuable to customer engagement initiatives. Tap into the data profiles you have in your customer relationship management (CRM) software to personalize and target your customer communications and grab every chance you get to build upon that data set.
- Lack of integration between marketing, sales and customer service. It’s often the case that the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. In this case, the marketing department may be missing out on key customer engagement opportunities due to a lack of integration with the folks that truly have their ears to the ground – the sales and customer service teams. You may also be losing traction with customers if key touchpoints are not handled the correct way.
It’s no real revelation that it is less expensive to keep an existing customer than to acquire a new one, and most data supports the idea that selling new products and services to loyal customers is easier than selling them to prospects. These facts coupled with the social media-driven environment of the moment make customer engagement a focus for nearly all companies across all industries.
Jennifer Seitz, MBA is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com. She is a marketing & content strategist with over 10 years of helping businesses develop their voice, brand and improve their marketing strategy. She specializes in content development to achieve SEO KPIs, improve the user experience as well as reinforce the overall brand. Jen has a background in large corporations and scrappy startups and currently hangs her hat at the agency she founded, the Content Workshop.
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