Consumer engagement may be a broad topic, but it’s the lifeblood of any sophisticated marketing strategy. We define consumer engagement as the interactions between a brand and it’s customer. These interactions can – and should – happen simultaneously across multiple online and offline marketing channels. Skilled marketers can guide this engagement to serve their business needs, while also providing consumers with an authentically enjoyable experience.
Consumer engagement is vital because when customers make purchases, they’re not just buying products but are making statements: they are telling you that you resonate with their identities and lifestyles and this is hugely valuable information.
From a marketing perspective, customer engagement is all about deepening your relationship with your current customers and establishing new, high-value customer relationships. It’s getting customers to spend more time with your company and to feel more of a connection with and more value from you. In return, more engaged customers last longer, are more loyal and spend more money.
- 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customers feel they are being treated
- Over fifty percent of consumers would pay more for a better customer experience
- 9 out of 10 consumers expect to receive a consistent experience over multiple contact channels
- Loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase
- It costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one
- The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 to 70%, compared with 5 to 20% with a new prospect
- A five percent increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by a whopping 75%
- 88% of consumers are less likely to buy from companies that leave social media complaints unanswered
As you can see, consumer engagement pays in dividends.
What is a consumer engagement strategy?
To ensure good consumer engagement, it’s essential you implement a consumer engagement strategy plan. There are five key starting points necessary for successful consumer engagement, and your strategy should start here:
1. Customer insight
Never just presume you know who your customers are – do your research. Really get to know your audience and learn how it is you can help them. A realtor doesn’t just ask what specs a person wants from a new house, they ask questions about personal priorities, how they will use the space, what they can compromise on, absolute musts etc. They can then use this information to get as close as they can to what their client wants.
Successful consumer engagement is about asking:
- What does my customer need and when do they need it?
- When is the best time to engage with my customer?
- What is the best way of serving my customer?
- How do I talk to my customer?
- What does my future customer look like?
2. Brand identity
Your identity must be clearly defined, authentic, consistent and relevant to your customer. Every brand idea has an end date, so the trick is to always be the brand that “is” and “will be” rather than the brand that “was”. Take LEGO, a company that consistently evolves – both in their products and branding – all the while remaining true to their original brand mission: providing an outlet for a child’s imagination.
3. Be part of the conversation
If your customers are thinking of you in a social environment, then be there too. What’s the point of having others talk about you if you’re not going to participate in the conversation? Social media is your opportunity to be more than just a brand. It allows you to humanise your brand and give it a voice.
When a message is on-brand, it gains consumers’ trust. When it’s off-brand, it can be a disaster. Whether it’s an email, front-facing staff, a Tweet, or an interview, it’s important to speak with one universal voice. No matter what communication you have with consumers, it must come with your brand mantra in mind. If you blur your lines of communication, the damage can be severe and irreparable.
5. Employee evangelism
Apple is the perfect example of employee evangelism. Go into any Apple store and you are embraced by the brand. It’s not just the look and feel of the store, but the attitude and energy that embody the brand. The employees are an extension of this and they’re there to immediately engage you and provide you with the optimal experience. Igniting employees as brand evangelists takes time, but it’s definitely worth it.
Putting these starting points into action
The growing influence of the consumer’s voice in an always-on digital environment has made obsolete many of the assumptions that underlie the funnel-based Attention-Interest-Desire-Action (AIDA) model of how consumers and brands engage with each other. Today’s digital communication ecosystem works not like a funnel but like an engine where brands and consumers are synergistically interacting with each other in new ways that can have a powerful impact on customer value. This engine is elegant and is made of five interlocking components:
- Brand actions
- Customer motivations
- Purchase behaviours
- Brand consumption
- Brand dialogue behaviours
Consumers are constantly being influenced by friends, social networks, strangers, the media, and intermediaries and unlike a funnel, there is no beginning and end. The engagement engine is in perpetual motion.
Now is the time for you to rev your engagement engine and drive greater consumer relationships. Think about these tips and ask yourself how you can adopt an engine framework to better engage and drive value for your brand. Map your engagement and identify where your engagement efforts lie. Now is the time to invest heavily in your customers and help your audience become your advisers. Stay focused: drive relevant engagement only. And most importantly, listen and respond accordingly.
With the right strategy in motion, driving towards greater consumer engagement will be a focused and smooth ride that will be an incredibly valuable tool for your business.