Identifying a sustainable customer engagement strategy
Every relationship needs nurturing. Personal and customer relationships are more alike than you’d imagine. Making customers fall in love with your brand is the easy part. Maintaining that relationship is a different story entirely, unless you are like Dropbox. The file hosting company has the least churn in the market.
If you sign up for Dropbox have you ever thought of deleting the files that you uploaded? They have a huge stickiness factor. If you are not Dropbox, en route, your customer could get interested in another product and switch over to your competition. That is why effective customer engagement is indispensable for any business.
Customers continue to engage with you because of how your brand makes them feel and how they feel as a result of engaging with you. They stay loyal to your brand and also promote your product among their peer groups, becoming your brand advocates.The best advertising you can have is a loyal customer spreading the word about how incredible your business is. - Shep Hyken, Chief Amazement Officer, Shepard Presentations Click To Tweet
Customer engagement is evolving. With a multitude of opportunities, it can be hard to know which customer engagement strategies are the most effective. So without further ado, here is my list of seven best strategies to keep your customers stick around with you.
1. Make your brand more humane
Humans are multi-faceted. Customers align with your business on more than just product level. Effective customer engagement involves building a strong emotional connection with your customers. The best way to build an authentic connection with them is to prove that they are dealing with actual people instead of a faceless corporation.
By giving your customers a behind-the-scenes view of your company, you can make them see that you are more than just a business—that you are people, you are teams who work tirelessly not only to boost your business but also to create a better experience/product for your customers each day.
Here are some sure-fire ways you can keep your customers involved on a more personal level:
- Nominate a brand ambassador: Select someone from your team who can be the face of your product or business, to represent your business in your niche community.
- Sell through storytelling: Create a video about your product. This video should not be an explainer which only talks about your product/service and its features. For example, take Nike’s Find your Greatness video, it doesn’t talk about what Nike can do for you, or how amazing their footwear is, it just contains powerful visual imageries which invoke your emotions. Powerful storytelling has the ability to transport us into another place.
Brand is the promise, the big idea, the expectations that reside in each customer’s mind about a product, service or company. Branding is about making an emotional connection.
– Alina Wheeler (Author, consultant, speaker)
- Write relatable blog posts. Share emotionally-captivating stories and inspirational anecdotes from your personal life. Write a blog post about your product launch day, or how you maintain a 50-50 balance in dedicating your life to your family and customers. Use real images of you and your team members in the blog post to make a stronger impact.
- Include author bios on your blog. It allows your customers to know you just a little better and begin building a better relationship with you.
2. Get social to ace your customer engagement game
Don’t just use social media as a platform for your sales pitch; update users about new products, upcoming features, or simply answer their questions. These are “good enough” ways to keep your customers updated about the product, but not enough to keep them engaged.
Your target audience will respond more when you add a more humanized approach to your posts. Humor gets a huge response and following; it’s a great way to generate interest, encourage interaction, or even create viral traction for your brand. But it’s also important to understand where the line is while working on garnering attention on social media.
Follow your customers, your power users, and even your competitor’s customers. Pay attention to them, their bios, their likes and dislikes, etc. It’ll help you understand your buyer persona better. People love attention. Tag them, call them out, do a shout out, or offer them something to capture their attention.
At Wine Library I’m able to see that you’re a Pinot Noir drinker. By communicating with you on Twitter or Facebook, I’m able to learn that, in addition to wine, you’re also a football fanatic, regular cupcake eater, and a new gardener. The next time you tweet or post about making cupcakes, I can suggest pairing your cupcakes with a new dessert Riesling in stock that’s similar in taste to another Riesling you mentioned last month.
– Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO, Vaynermedia & Vaynersports
You can even get your power users to promote your blog posts or post valuable reviews by actively promoting them.
3. Use in-product messaging to engage with deeply
In-product messaging is one of the best ways to increase customer engagement as they are highly targeted. Whenever a user completes an action or misses an opportunity to do so, you can send in-app messages to remind them or give them that nudge to do something. For example, in Freshchat, you can launch In-App Campaigns and Triggered Messages to target users based on their activity on your website and their geolocation and engage them at the right moment.
You can also leverage in-product messaging to cross-sell and up-sell, instead of sending marketing emails which either get unsubscribed to or plainly ignored.
4. Personalization wins customer engagement
Customers need to feel important, on a daily basis, each time you interact. You cannot make them feel that you were interested only in making a sale. Create a sense of belonging for your customers. Make them feel part of your team.
Keep yourself updated about your customers. If you find that your customer has created a new charity program or has launched a new product, promote them on your social media handles. Praise them, applaud them, shout out to the world about the amazing work they do and how you enjoy being able to be a part of their journey. Or send out a warm personal email to one loyal customer every month, highlighting how you and your team appreciates them.
5. Create goodwill with your customers, it doesn’t need to be expensive
Doing a goodwill gesture is more about the act, than about the cost. For example, if you are celebrating a product anniversary, celebrate it with your customers. Send them a personalized handwritten note appreciating them for sticking around. Mention how you are envisioning more milestones together. Offer them something, like a Starbucks gift card, that they would love. How would you know what they like, you may ask. That means you skipped point 2!
One of the lasting customer experiences is a pleasant surprise: reciprocity, especially when it is unexpected, is a very powerful force. Zappos, the leading online shoe retailer, recognizes this. Without so much as a single mention on their sales page, they regularly upgrade customers to overnight shipping, free of charge, just to brighten their day.
Meet your customers in person whenever you get a chance. Ask them over for a cup of coffee when you travel to their city. After all, face-to-face engagement has its own perks. Your customers will see the effort you make in getting to know them, in making them feel valued and it’ll only bring them one step more closer to you and make them stay for the experience alone.
6. Deliver curated and useful content
Customers get pitched a lot of generalized content during the course of the day — in the form of marketing emails, social media posts, or blog articles. Offer curated and highly relevant content to a targeted segment of users. This will not only wow your recipients but also help you stand out from the crowd.
For instance, we at Freshchat came up with a document to explain Freshchat’s features through superhero references.
Using content to educate customers was an underused customer engagement strategy but now it’s becoming increasingly popular to enhance the customer experience. Product tours are one of the best ways to help your customers learn everything about a product or service. You can create product tour videos and place it on your website and on YouTube to engage customers. It is an effective way to educate your customers and engage them at the same time.
Moreover, you can provide your users with exclusive content — case studies, ebooks, an opportunity to do a guest post on your blog, or a discount coupon for subscribing to your email newsletter. This will increase their interaction and customer engagement with your brand. It could also lead to word-of-mouth marketing and you could end up getting new customers while you are at it.
7. Host events and contests
Be it hosting a local meetup, an industry event, a contest or a webinar, hosting events either online or offline is a great way to engage your customers and make them feel like they’re part of an exclusive community.
Even if you don’t host your own event, never miss out on local networking opportunities. Set up a booth at a trade show event of your industry so that you can mingle and get to know your prospective clients in person. Attract crowds to your booth by giving out impressive merchandise. For many of us, one of the first things that grabs our attention at an event is the swag that vendors give away. Use this to your advantage. Take a selfie with potential clients and send a personal email later, attaching the selfie you took. It’ll help them remember you better. That’s how we, at Freshchat, got a 90% response to our email post an event.
We all love getting free stuff, to some extent. Use that and hold a contest for your customers. You will not only grab their attention, but you’ll also engage them by rewarding them for their participation. For example, you could hold a tagging contest where customers can tag as many of their contacts as possible, who could use your product. In return, you can give them a free membership for 6 months or a discount on their plan upgrade.
Make engagement your first priority
Customer engagement is about encouraging customers to interact and share the experiences you create for them as a brand. Businesses have to focus on customer engagement as a value creation and not just revenue extraction.
Give your users something meaningful, beyond a sales pitch—a delightful end-to-end customer experience, great content, and real-time support. Keep getting to know your customers every chance you get. Engage in their conversations and show them that they’re important.
The bottom line is—recognize the importance of getting to know your customers, their preferences, and not just what they buy. Don’t lose sight of your customer longevity either. Pick up that phone, call them, and personally thank them for doing business with you, even if it is a year later.
That extra human touch will never go unnoticed by your customers. You’ll get customers for a lifetime who foster growth and stay loyal to your brand. Every relationship needs constant work to make it last. Don’t forget that happily ever after comes one day at a time.