In today’s world of social networks and interactive media, the opportunities to engage your customers go far beyond selling and delivering your products and services. When you don’t take advantage of these opportunities, you aren’t getting the most out of your customers nor are they getting the most out of you.
Gallup’s John Fleming and Jim Asplund found that an engaged customer on average generates 1.7 times more revenue than the typical customer. Also, according to Gartner, engaged customers are more loyal, better advocates, and more likely to provide feedback and suggestions. Creative engagement is a win-win and can foster a sense of community and partnership with your customers.
What does customer engagement look like? It can be among your customers or between a customer and your company or brand: any effort outside of selling, delivery, and customer support that works to create a long-term relationship that increases conversions and lifetime value. A key factor is that it must provide value to the customer—and the benefits to you are many: keeps customers talking about your brand, creates new revenue streams, generates more data and demographics, and the list goes on.
Here are five ways to your customers:
Creating a customer community requires a place for your customers to connect. Whether it’s through Facebook or another medium, the key is to make it easy for customers to communicate with each other and also create a personalized experience. Highlight your best customers—the one’s who are contributing and participating the most. This SalesForce marketing page gives a good rundown of best practices. Create a personalized experience that includes a score on level of engagement and badges for certain milestones. Encourage knowledge sharing and make sure your community pushes experts to the forefront. If you do it right, you not only engage your customers, you also provide an avenue for them to help each other use your product in new and better ways.
- Social Media
Social media participation is no longer a good idea, it’s expected. Your customers assume you have a Facebook page and a Twitter account. They’re used to using these avenues to provide feedback and ask questions. You need staff that is dedicated to creating and managing your social media presence. Letting your social media accounts become outdated looks unprofessional (“Hm, the last post is from September 2014 …”, and when customers contact you through these media, you want someone there and ready to respond.
- Contests, Quizzes, and Custom Apps
People love a good competition, even if it’s just with themselves. Creating fun ways to engage with your brand will make customers want to join in. These methods inspire action and encourage the customer to bring themselves to the table. Quizzes and contests where people can compete against friends—these things connect your brand to your customers’ individuality. There are several new companies specializing in branded quiz apps that let you draw people to your brand while letting them compete with their friends and learn more in the process.
- Interactive Products and Services
What pulls someone in more than making them part of the team and creating a way for them to contribute? For example, Priceline has an app where users can publish a video testimonial bragging about the great deal they got on the site: fun for the customer and great for business! A common method is asking customers to post pictures using your product, for example, KFC’s #HowDoYouKFC campaign.
This last method isn’t new or unique, but I include to say—if you’re not doing it, you need to be. Loyalty programs reward your frequent customers and encourage them to keep coming. Use an app that tracks visits and spending and shows progress towards a reward. One of the original examples of this is the Starbucks app that shows what membership level you’ve reached by filling a coffee cup with stars—and the stars move when you move your phone! Plus, you can pay with the app, another trend that every retailer needs to adopt to stay relevant.
Remember that to engage your customers requires understanding your target market so you can tailor your approach to the people who buy your product most. What social media do they prefer? Do they shop more in the store or online? Are they tech savvy? Do your research and then design a strategy that provides them value in a way that’s easy for them to hop on board.
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