Companies have always sought ways to connect with their customers, earn their loyalty, and turn them into brand advocates. But the ways in which brands engage with customers continue to evolve. The one constant is that customer engagement will always be a marketing necessity — and making it your superpower can help you earn customers for life.
The research proves it: 86% of customers say they’re willing to pay more for a better customer experience. Nearly half of consumers say they’ve made impulse purchases after receiving personalized experiences.Perhaps most impressively, B2B companies that have strong customer engagement see 63% lower customer attrition.
How can you use customer engagement to improve your sales, reduce churn, and earn fans for life? It all starts with developing a dedicated customer engagement strategy. Let’s explore the possibilities.
What Is Customer Engagement?
Engagement can mean lots of things: likes and shares on a social media post, click-throughs to your website, or sign-ups for your email newsletter. When we talk about customer engagement, we’re focusing on how companies go about connecting and building relationships with their customers.
Customer engagement is a proactive process. Companies consciously and consistently interact with customers through a variety of channels to earn their loyalty, foster brand awareness, and increase sales.
There’s some overlap between customer engagement and customer experience and satisfaction. Each of these has distinct characteristics, but they also work together in marketing. For instance, customer engagement is a part of the total customer experience. When done well, it can improve customer satisfaction. When you prioritize customer engagement, experience and satisfaction goals are easier to achieve.
Brand Benefits of Better Customer Engagement
Engaging customers takes time, resources, creativity, and patience. But it’s a worthwhile investment, one that companies shouldn’t overlook. Let’s explore some of the benefits you can expect with a strong customer engagement strategy.
1) Boost Sales and Revenue
Do you launch new products without telling anyone? Did you publish your website and never touch it again? Of course not! Your brand and its products or services need to be shared and promoted to get anything in return. The same holds true with customer engagement — the more you consciously and proactively connect with customers, the more likely you’ll see returns in the form of sales and revenue.
Engaged customers tend to spend more compared to customers you don’t continue to nurture. They’re more in tune with what your company offers, plus your brand is top of mind. Not only do you make more direct sales, but you’ll also generate more revenue through the trickle-down effect. Satisfied customers are more likely to recommend you to family or friends!
2) Uncover New Upsell Opportunities
It’s no secret that it’s easier and more cost-effective to sell to existing customers than to new customers. There are a lot of reasons for this, but one core reason is that your existing customers already know and trust you. You don’t have to “sell” as hard because they already know the quality of your products or services and know you’re trustworthy.
From a customer engagement perspective, keeping in touch with customers can help you improve your upselling. Loyal customers are more open to hearing about additional products or services. You can upsell products that are typically bought together or complement each other. Or, talk to your customers about upgrading a product or service to get even more value from it.
Either way, you become the hero by satisfying multiple needs and saving them the time and hassle of shopping around or comparing options from multiple brands.
3) Streamline the Sales Funnel
Shorter sales cycles tend to have a positive effect on the bottom line. When you can turn your leads to customers faster, you’ll be able to work with more leads, increase your market share, generate more revenue, and build your competitive edge.
Customer engagement plays a big role in streamlining the sales funnel. When you’re proactively reaching out to hot leads and following up with offers, discounts, and information, you have a better chance of reaching a desirable outcome.
One way to do this is to use AI-powered insights that can remove some of the guesswork from your sales process. For instance, AI can help you learn more about your customers’ attitudes coming into the sales cycle, their priorities, and what it might take for them to make a decision. You can use this intel to make your sales conversations more impactful. Send timely communications and offers to help them make a decision sooner.
4) Gain Insightful Customer Feedback
Customer engagement is a two-way street. You want to share your company’s news, products, and offers with your customers. But you also need to hear what your customers have to say about their experiences — good and bad.
Engaging customers creates opportunities for conversations. For instance, if a customer leaves you a negative Google review, you can respond directly to it and open the door to discuss their issues.
Once you get feedback from a customer, make sure you don’t store it away in a dark closet to gather dust. The whole point of feedback is to use it to improve your brand, products, or customer experience. Let your customers know you take their feedback seriously. If possible, show them how you’re putting their thoughts to work!
Showing your customers that you’re listening is a surefire way to turn buyers into brand advocates.
5) Increase Customer Loyalty and Trust
Speaking of brand advocates, a customer engagement strategy supports your loyalty and retention efforts. When you are proactively having conversations and asking for feedback, you’re better able to get inside your customers’ minds. You have a better sense of how they think and feel about your brand. You know the qualities they value. You have data-driven knowledge of how your brand can improve.
All of these things help you show how much you appreciate your customers. When customers feel seen and heard, they’re more likely to remain loyal to a brand. You go from being a means to an end to a valuable partner in their business or daily life and will be the go-to when they need solutions to future problems.
In case you need more incentive to build loyalty, nearly 6 in 10 customers spend more with brands to whom they’re loyal. Plus, when you can hold onto your existing customers, you can reduce your overall marketing costs by not having to constantly acquire new customers to drive revenue.
6) Improve Customer Satisfaction
Customer engagement and customer satisfaction sound like two sides of the same coin. Truthfully, they are! You can’t resolve problems you don’t know exist. You can’t expect customers to take advantage of offers, check out new products, or add to the products they already buy if you don’t share those things.
When you get customer engagement right, customer satisfaction becomes a natural byproduct. You’ve helped your customers feel seen and heard, which fosters brand loyalty. You take their feedback seriously, which allows you to create a better customer experience that will make them (and other customers) happy.
Customer satisfaction can be a direct reflection of customer engagement. But it can be a precursor to engagement, too. You might have very satisfied customers that never engage with your brand. That’s a lost opportunity to learn more about what makes your brand so special to them and why they buy from you. It can also mean missing out on a referral source. When you can engage your satisfied customers, you have the opportunity to grow their satisfaction even more (and share it with others).
Best Practices for Engaging Customers
Keeping your customers engaged starts with developing a customer engagement strategy. Think of it as a blueprint for connecting with customers on various channels and topics. You’ll know where and how to engage your customers, what to say and share, how often to engage them, and who you’re talking to!
Let’s look at some best practices to help you define your customer engagement strategy:
Put Someone in Charge of Customer Engagement
Some brands have a Customer Engagement Manager whose main focus is engaging customers. Others prefer to share those responsibilities across marketing, sales, and customer service.
Making engagement everyone’s responsibility often means it’s no one’s responsibility, so make sure your team has clearly defined roles and expectations. For example, you might assign one person to respond to all Google reviews, while another handles all Facebook and IG communications.
Meet Your Customers Wherever They Are
From social media to Google reviews, online forums to your own inbox, customers and brands have a myriad of ways they can engage with each other. Think about the places in which you can build relationships with customers. Then, make sure your customer engagement strategy includes all of those channels. When customers can connect via their preferred channel, they’re more likely to do so.
Develop Content for Every Buyer and Buying Stage
Engagement happens throughout the customer journey, even after the decision-making stage. Brands should prepare themselves with relevant content throughout the sales cycle to ensure they’re hitting on all the right points. Content should also speak directly to each type of customer. This makes every interaction feel more personalized and shows customers you understand their needs.
Create a Brand Voice Guide
Part of your content creation efforts should include a brand voice guide. All of your content should reflect your brand, but this is harder to come by when you have multiple people creating content for your company. The brand voice guide helps all of your content sound more consistent and authentic.
Personalize the Customer Experience
Since customer engagement is a two-way street, brands should aim to make each interaction feel personalized. It’s not like sending a mass email to your subscriber list or posting on social media. Rather, it’s about connecting and building relationships with your audience to understand their needs and deliver value. Sharing content designed for where they are in the buying cycle helps to support personalization at scale. You can also use quizzes, user profiles, and feedback to make every customer experience even more personalized.
Develop Your Customer Engagement Strategy with Linkfluence
Customer engagement is a critical part of a brand’s success. It helps you stay top of mind with your target audience, builds familiarity, encourages feedback, and helps you turn interested prospects into paying customers faster. But to spur engagement, customers need something to engage with.
Linkfluence supports customer engagement with AI-powered consumer insights, content ideation, and customer experience analysis. AI technologies work in real time and at scale to help brands learn more about their audiences’ needs, preferences, and sentiments. Know at a glance how customers feel about your brand, how they’re engaging with you, and what they ultimately need from you so you can deliver on their expectations. Give customers what they want and you’ll have customers for life!