How would you rate your customers’ emotional investment in your brand? Do they love you? Do they care about what you have to say? Do they connect with what you stand for or do they just see you as one service provider among many?
Answering questions like these may take some soul-searching. They strike at the heart of the concept of customer engagement, that oft-used buzzword you’ll find referenced across the internet. But what is customer engagement? What does it actually look like in the real world? And most importantly, if it’s an area you’re struggling in, how can you get better at it?
This article will answer all those questions. By the time we’re through, you’ll have a clear understanding of how to improve your customer engagement and ways to quickly get started.
What Is Customer Engagement?
There are some terms that seem to defy easy definition. Customer engagement is one of them. It’s used frequently, but ask ten people what it means and you’ll probably get ten different answers.
Don’t worry though! We’ve scoured the web to understand the common denominators used in all these different definitions and have pulled together what we think is the best definition out there:
Customer engagement is a broad term used to describe the relationship between a brand and its customers. It includes both measurement (how engaged your customers are with your brand) and process (the tangible ways through which you interact with your customers).
It’s not the simplest definition, but it’s comprehensive. And it highlights two vital things for every customer experience leader to understand:
- The ways customer engagement is measured varies widely across organizations.
- The process for improving customer engagement depends upon how you decide to measure it.
Effective customer engagement establishes an emotional investment between your customers and your brand. This emotional investment can drive loyalty and increase advocacy. It’s a critical part of your customer experience.
Creating an effective customer engagement strategy isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. Adobe and Forrester found that companies with the strongest levels of omnichannel customer engagement experienced 10% year-over-year growth, higher average order values, and significant increases in close rates.
How To Measure Customer Engagement
You may already have an established way you measure customer engagement. If so, this section may inspire some additional creative ways to think about ways to increase your customers’ emotional investment in your brand.
If you’re just getting started on measuring customer engagement, here are some common ways that experts across many organizations try to measure their own customer engagement:
- Average time on site (or page). If a user spends a long time on a given page or browsing around your site, it’s a strong indicator that you’ve captured their interest and engaged their curiosity.
- Email open and click rates. Everyone gets a ton of emails. When customers consistently open and click-through links in your emails, it’s a clear sign they care about your brand and find your content valuable.
- Social media interaction. Every new follower, like, retweet and comment indicates a customer (or prospect) engaging with your brand. Closely monitoring your social media activity can help you understand what aspects of your brand resonate with customers and what may need tweaking.
- Repeat purchase rate. If your customers keep coming back and spending their hard-earned money with you, it’s a clear indicator that they like what they’ve experienced so far.
- Customer referral rates. Customer referrals are a powerful indicator of customer engagement. If customers are iffy about your brand, they probably aren’t going to recommend their friends and family jump on board. Net Promoter Score – which measures referral likelihood – is a great way to get started on measuring this.
You’ll notice that for the most part, these metrics differ from the most popular customer experience metrics. This brings up a good question: who is responsible for customer engagement metrics? The above metrics are often the responsibility of the marketing team, but customer engagement is also a part of your overall customer experience.
This is why we recommend that every department across your company plays a part in customer experience management. Improving customer engagement is improving your customer experience.
How To Improve Customer Engagement
Now that we’ve covered the fundamentals of customer engagement, it’s time to dive into how you can improve your customer engagement in significant ways.
Dreaming up new ways to increase customer engagement can be a fun endeavor. Brands are always coming out with new advertising campaigns, engaging social media content and catchy promotions. These things can help – and the sky really is the limit – but we’re going to look at the foundational pieces every company needs to build and sustain high levels of customer engagement.
IDENTIFY YOUR BRAND VOICE
Who are you? What makes you different from your closest competitors? What makes you special?
Technology has driven a massive increase in competition for most industries. If there’s nothing particularly special or unique about your product offering, your brand voice represents a powerful way that you can differentiate yourself from your competition and engage with your customers (and potential customers). Your brand voice is part of the earliest stage in your customer experience.
Consider two brands we all know all well: Nike and TOMS. Both of these brands sell shoes, right? While they may be in the same industry, their brand voices could not be more different. As of this writing, here’s the first thing you see when you visit the “About” page of these two websites:
Nike: Our Mission: Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world (*if you have a body, you are an athlete)
TOMS: As the Original One for One Company, we’ve always been in business to improve lives.
Both of these brands sell shoes, yes. But the brand voices they’ve created could not be more different. And here’s why that matters: Each brand appeals to a different set of customers.
What’s your brand voice? What do you stand for? What’s the first thing your customers think of when they hear or see your brand?
If you can’t answer those questions, then the best thing you can do to start improving your customer engagement is to seek out those answers and use them to craft a brand voice that your customers and potential future customers will love engaging with.
GET YOUR BRAND OUT THERE
There are an incredible number of ways that you can connect with your customers. How are you taking advantage of them?
In today’s world, one of the most important ways to connect with your customers is via social media. You don’t have to be on all social platforms – choose to engage on the ones your customers are using – but you can’t be totally absent either. Social is a great platform to create two-way engagement with your customers and to build meaningful emotional connections with your audience throughout their journey.
If you need some inspiration, check out how these brands are using Twitter to successfully engage their customers.
BUILD OUT A REFERRAL PROGRAM
If NPS and referral rates are one of the best ways to measure customer engagement, this recommendation shouldn’t be surprising. Have you made it easy for customers to refer their friends and family?
If not, it’s time to build out a customer referral program. Not only will it lead to greater engagement; it’s a smart customer experience move for any business.
There are a number of things that great referral programs have in common. For a step-by-step guide on how to build out your own, take a look at this guide from marketing guru Neil Patel.
CREATE A PERSONALIZED CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Effective customer engagement builds a genuine relationship between your brand and your customers. Given that, you can’t just treat your customers like account numbers or order numbers anymore. Instead, you should be looking for ways to personalize their customer journey in ways that will provoke an emotional investment.
Creating a personalized experience requires getting to know your customers. There are many different ways to do this, such as prompting the customer to provide information during onboarding that will allow future personalization.
More Than A Buzzword
Customer engagement is far more than just a buzzword. It’s a critical aspect of the experience you’re creating for your customers. It’s also a powerful way to keep customers actively involved with your brand and your mission.
Whatever your current state may be, the best time to start improving your customer engagement is right now. Get started today by scheduling a demo of Lumoa’s intelligent CX platform.