The line between customer service and marketing has grown thinner than ever. Now, the two are often considered together when looking for ways to either improve marketing performance or improve customer satisfaction. Right in the middle of that intersection is customer engagement.
In many cases, increasing customer engagement boosts both satisfaction and awareness. But what is customer engagement and how do you increase it?
What is Customer Engagement?
Customer engagement is a relatively new concept that primarily hit the scene thanks to SaaS (Software as a Service) companies. It’s a metric that tracks the frequency of customer interaction as well as how often they share your brand. What they interact with and share could range from:
- A cleverly written ad
- A funny video posted to your YouTube
- Your product manuals or guides
- An interaction with customer support
- An interaction with your sales team
- And any other point at which they may come into contact with your brand
Why is Customer Engagement so Important?
Customer engagement is incredibly important for companies in all industries for one simple reason: Your customer is your brand’s strongest marketing/sales tool. Each and every one of your brand’s customers has the potential to be turned into an advocate, spreading the word about your brand’s epic products and services to everyone in their network.
What they say will be trusted more than any other ad, influencer review, blog post, or other marketing drives, and can often be the deciding factor when choosing between to competing products or services. When you learn how to increase customer engagement, you learn how to increase the chance that a customer will turn into a brand advocate.
How to Increase Customer Engagement
There are a handful of tactics and strategies you can use to increase customer engagement. It’ll take a combination of your social, sales, and marketing teams to increase customer engagement across the board and the specific strategies for each differs slightly. So, let’s dive right in:
1. Get Real on Social
All too often, your brand is just that on social networks. It’s another brand sending out pre-scheduled promotional posts with fancy product shots, rigorously tested copy, and an ad budget to back it.
But several of the most successful brands do nothing of the sort. Take a look at Wendy’s and Moon Pie who’s routinely posting off the cuff responses on social. It’s an impromptu reply to a fan’s tweet that resulted in Wendy’s nuggets being the subject of the #1 retweeted tweet of all time. (At least at the time of this writing, who knows what the future holds!)
Keeping social media in the moment can pay off big in terms of engagement. It’ll encourage more of your audience to interact with your brand as they know they’ll get a response (funny or otherwise) back!
2. Personalize Communications
Another tactic you can utilize to increase customer engagement is to personalize communications. No, we’re not just talking about using [fname] in the body of the email. We’re referring to personalization that goes a step further. There are a number of ways to personalize your brand’s communications ranging from simple to complex.
Let’s start with the easy ways:
- Send a happy birthday email
- Use an online quiz to recommend products
- Use messaging that makes users feel welcome and known
On the more advanced side of things, there’s the option of creating your own recommendation algorithm
3. Create Useful Content
One of the biggest things you can do to increase your customer engagement is to create content that provides your customers with some benefit/use. All too often, marketing efforts are focused on attracting new customers. This leaves current customers without engaging content, and because of that they begin to interact with your brand less.
Don’t fall into the trap of producing content only for your sales/marketing funnel! Producing content that is useful after the funnel is just as important. This content will keep your customers engaged and coming back to your brand. The result? Higher numbers of repeat purchases from customers and increased referrals from customers.
4. Use Social Media to Listen
Most of the time, brands use social media as if it were a fire hose. They are constantly putting out content, but never stopping to listen to what their customers on the platform are saying. This is especially true of Twitter, where many users will tweet at a brand for customer support and other concerns.
Some Twitter users consider it more of a support channel than anything, making this a big mistake for your brand if you aren’t using the platform to listen (and respond) to your customers. A great example of this is Jet Blue on Twitter who’s responding to worried customers every couple of minutes.
More than just support though, you should be using social to listen to how your customers are reviewing products, what they’re saying about competitors and their products, and more. It’s a powerful tool for listening and if you utilize it properly, customers will take note. They’ll begin to engage with your brand on social more because they know you’ll be listening, and responding to their messages.
5. Create a Better First Impression
Another tactic you can utilize to increase customer engagement is to create a better first impression. There are a few different ways to do so, but one of our favorites is to utilize live chat. A conversation platform utilized on your website can be used to proactively engage with your visitor’s giving them a terrific first impression.
When utilizing live chat to create a first impression, it is important to send the first message. You may recognize this tactic already as it’s employed on many sites, eCommerce in particular. It’s when you see a small chat bubble pop up in the bottom right that says something along the lines of:
- “Andrew is available and ready to answer any questions you have”
- “Hey, my names Andrew, let me know if you need anything!”
- or even “Hey there, need any help?”
These simple, friendly questions are similar to an in-store associate offering a assistance when someone’s looking at the new sale items. It should be courteous, and easy to ignore if they don’t want help, but there if they do need it. From there, just ensure that your tone within the chat is as friendly and helpful as possible.
Here are a few tips for maximizing your friendly tone (and thus creating the best first impression) in live chat:
- Use emojis. They’ll help add emotion and character to an otherwise dull format of conversation.
- Avoid long breaks between messages. Even if you’re going to need a few minutes to look something up, fill that dead space with small talk or at the very least a message every now and then informing the customer you haven’t forgotten them.
- Don’t send more than 3 messages in a row, it can feel like your bombarding customers with text that way.
- Keep messages short and conversational.
Identifying ways to increase customer engagement can be hard for businesses within all industries, but with the 5 strategies above, you’ll be on your way to increased customer engagement in no time. Be sure to implement each of the tactics as one or two alone aren’t likely to deliver significant results unless you’re really good at those tactics (think Wendy’s on Twitter). Layer can help you engage your customers where it’s convenient for them. Try out a demo today!