Your business isn’t just about your products and services. Ultimately, it’s about the people that buy from you. That’s what marketing is all about, really: making connections with the right people. That’s why a customer engagement strategy is so important, but it’s too often treated as an afterthought and not a top priority.
The reality is that customer engagement can make all the difference in the rest of your marketing. Studies show that 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for better experiences, while 64% expect tailored engagement based on past experiences.
Perhaps most importantly, more than half of customers believe that companies need to rethink how they engage customers. Here are some customer engagement strategies to help you start changing that statistic:
1. Create Engaging Content
What’s the easiest and most straightforward answer to increasing customer engagement? Easy: give them something with which to engage.
There’s a ton of new content being created every day:
- 18.7 billion texts are sent daily
- 210 million Snaps on Snapchat are created daily
- 500 million Tweets are posted daily
- 5 billion YouTube videos are viewed daily
- 4.4 million new blogs are posted each day
- 1.2 trillion Google searches are performed each year
Nine in 10 marketers are using content as part of their overall marketing strategies. With so much content being shown to audiences around the world, it’s no surprise that customer engagement is hard to come by.
That’s why content for the sake of content doesn’t work for a customer engagement strategy. If engagement is a goal, then your content should offer something interactive. This might be adding a call to action, such as clicking a link, downloading an eBook, or dropping a comment.
Or it could be content that solves some of your audience’s greatest challenges. Valuable content is inherently engaging because it touches on your customers’ real needs. They can take away something important and your brand image gets a boost.
The key to creating engaging content is to focus on topics or ideas that your customers like. Artificial intelligence (AI) can help to fuel your content ideation process by learning what your target audience is already talking about. Creating content that resonates with your customers can help you get noticed in crowded online spaces.
2. Post Consistently on Social Media
Creating high-value, engaging content makes it easier to consistently post on social media. But even without content, social media can help you stay top of mind with your audience and give them more ways to connect with you.
More than 90% of businesses use social media as part of their marketing and branding strategies. Customers expect it! But simply being present on social media isn’t enough to improve engagement. Social media is a crowded space, no matter what channels you’re using.
That’s why consistency matters. The more active you are, the more opportunities you have to get in front of your audience.
There are lots of ways to engage your customers on social media, including:
- Asking questions
- Publishing polls
- Sharing videos
- Offering tips and how-tos
- Posting your latest blog articles
- Running social media contests
- Talking about industry research
- Offering a look at your company
When customer engagement is your goal, don’t just talk to your customers. Make sure your social media posts are designed to encourage conversation. When customers can contribute to your content, its value increases for everyone who sees it.
3. Reply to Reviews, Social Media Comments, and DMs
While we’re on the topic of social media engagement, keep in mind that engagement is never a one-way street. This not only goes for the content you’re sharing, but also the content your audience posts.
For example, if a customer leaves you an online review (like on your Facebook page or Google My Business listing), you can respond directly to the review. In fact, most customers expect brands to respond to their feedback.
This is especially true for negative reviews — not only does the reviewer want an answer from a brand, but other customers are looking at how you respond to the customer. From a customer perspective, how you respond can be the deciding factor in whether a customer does business with you.
Customers expect the same level of treatment for their social media comments and direct messages. One study found that over 80% of customers expect brands to respond within 24 hours, while 38% want a response within the first hour.
When customers are proactively reaching out to a brand, their engagement shouldn’t be for nothing. When customers see that other customers have gotten a response, they’ll feel more confident in reaching out with their questions or comments.
4. Send Push Notifications
Strong customer engagement strategies include a variety of channels to connect with your customers. One channel that’s often underutilized is push notifications.
Push notifications are messages that pop up on a user’s computer or mobile device outside the web browser. They might be related to special offers, upcoming events, sales, or company news, for example.
What makes push notifications so effective is that customers have to opt in to receive notifications from you. In essence, they’re giving you permission to send them notifications about products and services you offer. By taking this first step of opting in, they’re already engaging with your brand. What’s more, they’re saying they’re open to continuing to engage with your brand.
The key to leveraging push notifications is to balance timing with messaging. You want to craft a compelling message to encourage them to click through. But you don’t want to continually interrupt their day. The average app user receives 46 push notifications every day. Nearly a third of users will disable all push notifications if they’re receiving five or more from a brand each week. Pick your times wisely.
5. Use Live Chat on Your Website
Today’s customers want quick answers and expect brands to engage with them in a timely manner. They don’t want to jump through hoops, fill out forms, or wade through a complex IVR system. That’s why live chat features are so powerful in a customer engagement strategy.
Live chat allows you to speak with your website visitors at scale whenever it’s convenient for them. You can automate this feature with chatbots, which use artificial intelligence to mimic human speech patterns and provide fast, thorough responses to your customers’ most common questions. Chatbots can also escalate conversations to your human customer service team when they can’t fulfill the customer’s questions.
True, your customers might realize they’re chatting with a bot and not a person. But at the end of the conversation, customers only want one thing — for their needs to be addressed. If a bot can do this quickly and without hassle, customers don’t mind how they got the end result. Customer satisfaction improves, plus they won’t hesitate to reach out in the future.
6. Leverage Video Storytelling
Videos have been shown to “stop the scroll” on social media. The motion alone helps to attract the eye. And when your video has eye-catching graphics, text overlays, and other visually pleasing elements, users are more likely to give you their attention.
Video storytelling is one way to captivate your audience. Unlike blog posts and social images, video stories can’t be skimmed in seconds. It requires your audience to tune in and look at or listen to what you’re sharing. Even if they don’t take action by liking, sharing, or commenting on your video, their passive engagement helps you earn social proof via the number of views.
Going beyond passive engagement, video stories can help customers feel more connected to your brand. Sharing your passions through video, such as customer and employee stories, charitable efforts, success stories, and messages from your founder, highlights the emotional side of your brand. Stories help to set you apart from your competitors and allow customers to get to know your root purpose and not just your products or services.
These are the qualities that make people feel connected to a company. They’ll keep coming back to your website, social media pages, or other content when they feel like they’re a part of it.
7. Improve Customer Retention
Marketers know that it costs several times more to acquire a new customer than it does to hold onto your existing customers. That’s why customer retention is a big part of your overall customer engagement strategy. Existing customers need to be engaged too, even if they’re already fans of your brand.
Studies show that existing customers tend to spend more. They already know, like, and trust your brand. You don’t have to “sell” to them as hard or make as many impressions before they decide to buy. This makes the work of a marketer much easier and less costly.
Plus, it’s worthwhile to mention that customers will only continue to be loyal to a brand if they have a great customer experience. Feeling seen and heard and having their needs and wants taken care of are what keep customers coming back. They’ll continue engaging with you as long as you continue to provide value, communicate, and remain top of mind.
Adding AI to Your Customer Engagement Strategy
AI is an essential part of today’s customer engagement strategies. It can help you identify topics relevant to your target market, help you learn more about your audience, and even track your reputation to see how and where you’re moving the needle.
Linkfluence is helping brands provide a better customer experience by delivering on their expectations. Get a demo to learn more.