Have your customers “ghosted” you? Are they playing dead, possibly waiting to be wooed back? Maybe they’re simply bored, checked out, acting instinctually, not consciously, like zombies. Here are 5 strategies to help resuscitate customer engagement with your company.
First, what is customer engagement?
By definition, customer engagement is interaction over various channels between a consumer and a company or a brand regarding a product, service, or brand.
Tip #1: Make data-driven decisions to increase customer engagement
Customer engagement KPIs
Typically, when people talk about engagement metrics, they’re thinking about time (as in time spent on your web pages) and action (such as comments, likes, and shares of your content). I covered a bit of this recently in my post about marketing metrics.
But let’s go deeper. Ultimately, you want someone to do something. You want them to hear your call to action and run with it. These transactions and conversions are truer engagement metrics. Also, don’t forget about return visitors. After all, if you hooked up not once but twice (or more) you must be doing something right. Study your site and try to make sense of what’s working.
Customer engagement and abandon points
Another KPI to examine: When do your customers decide to “peace out”? Check your bounce rate and/or abandon points – when and where they leave your site or their in-process transaction. I bet you it’ll expose a lot of insight.
Use that data to your advantage
With all of these data-age considerations, now it’s time to take action. Do you use your data to your advantage? If not, well … start. Implementing a data-driven marketing culture – where you regularly examine your data and make decisions based off of it – can hugely and positively influence your engagement. This means taking a look at the data pertaining to those KPIs we discussed, as well as examining what channels work (or don’t). And, don’t forget about SEO. Pinpoint the words your customers search for – the ones they’re actually using to find you ‒ as well as related words and phrases that you can implement to capture a wider audience.
A 2016 PwC survey found that two-thirds of executives admitted to relying on instinct rather than data to make decisions. Don’t just guess – make smart decisions on what to do next. When you know what’s really happening, you can set yourself apart.
Tip #2: Ask the right questions
Do you really know your customers?
If you’re at a point where customer engagement has dipped significantly, it might be the right time to go upstream and revisit who you’re reaching. Market research is an option, but some data is available pro bono, such as via the Gov. Census.
Consider the following: How was your target customer originally segmented? Is it time to narrow or widen (more likely for a growing business) the target-customer demographic profile? Look at all of your customers’ daily touchpoints with your product or service. Do you think they’re still working for that demographic? Do you need to expand your customer demographics, or incorporate different channels?
Also, how are you doing, socially?
Consider your social media presence. Is it meaningful and rewarding for your followers, converting leads, or just a spot where you dump your ads? One great test: Look at the tone and content of your social posts to see what percentage is you just talking about your brand or product as compared to engaging with customers or sharing interesting, actionable, helpful information.
How is your email and/or direct game?
Are you spamming or abusing customers’ inboxes with too-frequent or irrelevant mail? If you want consumers to become dedicated customers, you need to make an effort to know them and send them the right content at the right time.
Tip #3: Make changes that reflect your company and customer values
Change the channel
It may be time to reconsider what channels you’re using, and how they look. How is your brand and style guide? Is it due for an update? How about a new logo or even a branding overhaul? These makeovers take work but reap big benefits. In fact, a re-branded site is proven to increase site traffic by 20%.
Don’t get off track: Consistency is key
Expressing your brand over as many channels as possible is important, but consistency is more so. Consistency will tell your consumer, old or new, that you can still deliver on the promise your brand stands for.
Update your content everywhere
On a related note, if the look and feel of your channel changes, it’s likely that your voice, content, and strategy will probably need a refresh to match it. Take time to audit your channels and messaging – from websites to your email signature to avatars used on social – and make sure everything is in line with the new look and feel.
Don’t forget to measure before and after
For all of these that I’ve just mentioned, don’t forget to measure the “then and now” – that is, before and after your website revamp, campaign launch, etc. You want to know what worked and why. Take the time to define what you’re trying to accomplish and how you’re doing it tactically so you can see your success. Set up those “befores” so that you can measure and relish in the sweet “afters.” (Read an interesting peek at how Toshiba netted a big customer engagement push after creating a social community.)
Tip #4: Involve customers to engage them
Play to customer emotions
The marketing industry has had a love affair with storytelling for a while now. In fact, “storytelling” is a veritable industry buzz word. Storytelling can take several forms: These stories can be carefully concocted narrative arcs, drawn out over campaigns and ads; they can also be heartfelt true customer case studies. For more on storytelling, read my recent post about the topic.
Another tactic – one from a few years ago – is cause marketing. What is cause marketing? It’s an organizational partnership between a for-profit business and a non-profit business for mutual benefit. This is similar to Corporate Social Responsibility or the charitable efforts of a for-profit business. When you attach your brand not just to its own bottom line but also to helping improve a piece of the larger surrounding world you can evoke brand loyalty – and engage customers who have like-minded ideals.
Here’s a straightforward and astute recommendation from Forbes: “One of the most effective ways in building emotional connections with customers is to prove that they are dealing with an actual person and not just a nameless, faceless corporation.” Bam.
Integrate your customers’ ideas into your marketing plan
User-generated content (UGC) is a great way to boost customer engagement. UGC is a tactic companies use to crowdsource marketing content from social platforms or communities. As an example, Guitar Center invites customers to use a “#guitarcenter” hashtag in Instagram or Twitter posts to ensure their social feed is full of enthusiastic patrons shredding on the instruments they buy through the retailer. Doritos took this a step further, creating a contest to invite people to create Doritos ads. The lucky winner gets a coveted spot on the Super Bowl ad roster, as well as cash. And we can’t forget the Lays Brand “Do Us a Flavor” contest, which invited us all to submit a new winning potato chip flavor – “crispy taco”, was the most recent winner, btw.
Reward your customers
Loyalty programs, too, are a great way to involve the customers. At a certain point, providing a great service or product may not be enough. Customers want to feel recognized and taken care of. A simple (or extravagant) loyalty program will go a long way toward this.
There are always contests and giveaways, too. These rarely if ever go out of style. People love free stuff.
Don’t anger your customers: Stay away from clickbait
There is one thing I hope we can all agree on: Clickbait is not the route to go. Sure, you may garner traffic to your site. But is it quality traffic? Are the viewers actual potential customers, or just lured to you by your shiny object of a headline?
Tip #5: Create great content
I know you want to go straight for the bells and whistles – viral campaigns via cool channels. But all the tactics and coolness in the world are nothing if they don’t pay off with increased customer engagement. It’s like setting up a premise of a really good thriller movie or mystery book, only to let down the audience at the end. If you’re in the business of marketing, web publishing, or advertising, great content will never go out of style. At the end of the day, all of your data and engagement tactics need to have a payoff of something – content, and your product or service. Both had better be killer if you want to build an engaged and loyal customer base.