Customer Engagement Marketing Strategy: How to Do It the Right Way
Imagine walking into a restaurant.
It’s an upscale place, clearly well-designed, very clean, and full of people. It smells incredible.
It takes a little while for someone to seat you, but that’s alright, they’re busy. It takes another little while for a waiter to take your order because they’re rushed off their feet.
When your food does finally make it to your table, you realize you’ve been served the wrong dish. You let the waiter know but rushed as they are, they don’t apologize; they simply whisk the plate away and head back to the kitchen.
An hour later, you’re walking out of the restaurant having finally eaten your meal. Sure, it was delicious, but you can’t help but feel like something was missing from the evening.
Even though the food was great, you know in your heart that you’re not coming back.
Why? Because the experience itself let you down.
What does this have to do with your customer engagement marketing strategy?
This is the story of your customer.
No matter how fantastic your product or service is, the customer’s overall experience of your business will inform whether they stick around long-term. The right customer engagement marketing strategy is your secret weapon to establish lasting connections with your customers and foster brand loyalty.
Let’s dive deeper and explore exactly why customer engagement strategies are important and what you can do – no matter the size of your business – to stand out as a great business to frequent.
What is a Customer Engagement Strategy?
A customer engagement strategy is an action plan designed to maximize the experience with your brand at every possible touchpoint, encouraging potential and existing customers to become more deeply engaged over time. This means interacting with them across various channels, including email, social media, your website, community forums, YouTube, digital ads, and physical stores.
Where traditional outbound marketing is more of a one-way street, customer engagement is a two-way street that helps your customers (new and returning) build a meaningful and interactive relationship with your business. With the right customer engagement strategy, you can ensure that people continue to purchase your products or services and secure your income stream in the longer term.
The 5 stages of customer engagement
Customer engagement strategies span the five stages of the customer’s ‘journey’ with your brand, offering touchpoints at every stage of the conversion funnel.
- Stage 1: Discovery
- Stage 2: Consideration
- Stage 3: Conversion (Purchase)
- Stage 4: Loyalty
- Stage 5: Advocacy
Later on in this article, we’ll go through some best practices for each of these five stages so you can get to work on sharpening your engagement strategy. However, before we get to that, let’s address a principle core to each of these practices: the 4 “P”s of Marketing.
The 4 “P”s of Marketing and Customer Engagement
The core of a great customer engagement strategy lies in creating a two-way connection between your business and your customers. They need to feel seen and heard as individuals, rather than ‘marketed’ to as an anonymous mass.
To do this, you need to rely on the four “P”s:
- Proactive: Rather than waiting for your customer to reach out, do your best to anticipate what they need and initiate the conversation after they’ve brought up a pain point or need.
- Personalized: Instead of sending the same templated email or serving the same ad to thousands of customers, try to use personalization tactics where possible. When it comes to customer engagement, a sample size of one is always better.
- Person-based: With artificial intelligence[DN2] tools on the rise, there’s a balance to be found between automation and empathy. While chatbots are useful for large-volume inquiries, nothing beats a customer having the chance to talk to another human when seeking help.
- Problem-solving: Focus on helping customers solve problems and get what they need. This is especially true when dealing with complaints. Per the Harvard Business Review, the ideal outcome is always going to be a resolved issue.
Why is Customer Engagement So Important for Your Marketing Efforts?
Any time you interact with customers, whether it be live chat support or your company blog, it is an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with them. There is nothing that makes a customer feel more seen and appreciated than providing content and interactions that are meaningful, helpful, and satisfying.
As the Institute for Business Management discovered in their 2022 Consumer Study, consumers are driven by their values more than ever before. Giving them a well-planned, value-based framework for interacting with your business is one of the best things you can do to keep customers connected and coming back.
The bottom line? Revenue. The better your customers feel about their interactions with your business, the more likely they are to stick around long-term, spend more, and even become advocates for your brand. Long-term loyalty translates to a better ROI, especially when you factor word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied customers into the equation.
How to Measure Engagement
As with all great strategies, getting the most bang for your buck comes from making informed decisions. That starts with analyzing the right information!
Luckily, with the world of digital marketing growing ever larger, we have any number of data points at our fingertips. When it comes to measuring customer engagement, it’s important to look at what’s working, but also what isn’t. Let’s get into five key metrics for measuring engagement.
A great conversion rate is a sign of healthy customer engagement because it indicates customers are completing actions tied to your campaign goals. This doesn’t just translate to purchases, either. Analyze conversions across multiple channels, including downloads, newsletter subscriptions, or even free trial registrations.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
This score indicates how likely your existing customers are to recommend your brand to others. A great word-of-mouth recommendation is more powerful than even the most well-conceived marketing campaign! Knowing your NPS is as simple as asking a single question following a customer interaction. Where possible, incentivize customers to answer with a small discount or free asset.
Ticket Volume by Support Channel
Pay attention to which platforms or channels your customers use to reach out to your business for complaints, queries, and more. If your ideal customer prefers a certain type of channel (e.g. social media), put dedicated effort into optimizing that channel for great engagement.
Customer Retention Rate
Customer retention rate is a reflection of how well your business hangs on to customers once you’ve got them. A high retention rate lets you know that your customer service program and marketing strategy are healthy, and dips across certain channels can indicate a need for optimization.
Customer Churn Rate
Churn rate is the other side of the coin, indicating how many customers stop doing business with you over a certain period of time. Use this metric to analyze which campaigns work well, which channels need help, and how you can scale up your customer engagement to hold onto these valuable customers.
With these metrics on your side, you can construct a well-informed strategy that addresses your unique needs as a business. Cookie-cutter customer engagement strategies can be a great starting point if you’re in a particular industry, but the best insights are always going to come from your historical data.
5 Best Practices for Customer Engagement Success
So, how does this all translate into the right strategy for your business?
Let’s circle back to the five stages of customer engagement. As mentioned above, great customer engagement involves all stages of the conversion funnel, from when the audience first interacts with your brand, right through to conversion or purchase and after. Let’s explore tips to improve customer engagement along the entire way.
Discovery stage: Know thyself
Nothing tells a customer they’re in the right place more than clear messaging. With an established set of brand guidelines, you can create a well-defined brand your customer knows how to engage with. From landing page copy to scripts, customers feel more at ease when they know what to expect from the businesses they interact with.
Consideration stage: Send a welcome message
Embrace the proactiveness principle, and reach out to say hello when new customers hit your pipeline. In the consideration stage, your customer is trying to figure out if you’re the right choice for them. They might download some information, check out your free content, or sign up to a newsletter to learn more about your brand.
Reaching out at this stage helps you hone in on their specific needs and preferences, allowing you to direct them to something they actually need. Plus, it’s an excellent first impression to make.
Conversion stage: Reduce friction
During the buying stage, your customer is making the decision to hit ‘Buy Now’. It’s the ultimate conversion, and also one of your best chances to net a returning customer. A user-friendly checkout process, clear returns policy, and personalized recommendations based on their browsing history are all essential to a great buying experience.
Focus on providing excellent customer service and support. If your customer has questions, needs to return something, or even has a complaint, your goal must be to reduce friction. Offer the best possible solution to their needs, and they’ll remember it forever.
Loyalty stage: Offer exclusive promotions
This stage is where many businesses lose their customers, simply because they don’t have an engagement strategy in place after the customer has converted. The key is to make your customers feel valuable to you beyond the purchase.
Follow up once they’ve received their order, or once you’ve resolved an issue for them. Check in on how they found your service, offer exclusive promotions based on their needs, and make sure channels for feedback are clear.
Advocacy stage: Nurture word-of-mouth connections
When you can have customers advocating for your brand, that’s the ultimate sign of success. Reward and incentivize customers for this, and thank them for doing the groundwork that nets you further business.
This can look like reaching out to customers who have referred others to you and saying thank you or even offering exclusive discounts based on referrals.
Give Your Customers a Reason to Stay
Create customer engagement strategies that drive real results across the entire customer experience with your business. Explore what full-funnel marketing really looks like and start building your engagement strategy today.