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Customer engagement and conversions go hand-in-hand, but building a loyal customer base doesn't happen overnight. There are myriad other theories that estimate the minimum number of times a customer must engage with your brand before they make a purchase: While the actual number of interactions needed is debatable, there's no doubt that customer engagement is essential for moving prospects through your buying cycle.
With a strategic customer engagement plan, brands can leverage each interaction with a lead as an opportunity to meet their needs and expectations and, ultimately, increase customer conversion rates.
A customer engagement strategy organizes interactions and activities into a streamlined plan to create the ultimate customer experience, including before and after the purchase. The process involves various communication channels to build a relationship, improve satisfaction, and proactively nurture your customer base. A successful strategy is measurable and responsive to customer needs, allowing you to collect feedback, input, and relevant customer performance data to pivot your plan accordingly.
Utilizing a customer-centric approach gives your company a competitive edge in a world where consumers have tons of product options. But implementing a holisticcustomer engagement strategy not only improves consumer relations, but is also beneficial for businesses looking to increase conversions. With an active customer base, companies may see various improvements across the company:
When customers have a satisfactory experience, they are more likely to make a purchase, but it doesn't always happen immediately. Sometimes customers have to experience your brand many times before they place an order. On the other hand, it only takes one negative experience to discourage customers.
It's essential to note customer experience and customer engagement are sometimes used interchangeably, but each has its distinct role in the customer cultivation process. Your customer experience is how consumers perceive your brand, or how your brand is viewed and received from their perspective. Customer engagement is how the customer interacts with the experience and brand, including their decisions and how they communicate and react to your products and services.
No one likes a pushy, disingenuous sales pitch. The empty promises fall on deaf ears, and customers who do make a purchase aren't likely to buy from you again anytime soon. They don't have a connection to your company, making you only one of many options instead of their number one choice.
But when customers know and trust your brand to provide value, it makes a huge difference in their purchasing behavior. No matter the new trends, promotional sales, or competitor promise, customers are 23% more likely to spend money with brands they trust. Business is about relationships, and relationships thrive on give and take. Customer engagement allows you to shift your focus from what you’re getting from the customer to what you're giving to them.
When customers have a good or bad experience, they want to share it with others; whether it's an Amazon product review or sharing the experience with their peers. When you exceed a customer's expectations, they want others to experience it as well. They refer to their friends, family, and co-workers without being prompted. What’s more, a decision maker who loves your brand is more likely to be a lifelong customer, even if they start a job at a new company.
In the age of social media, especially sites like Yelp, Google, Facebook and LinkedIn, allows people to publicy document their experience with your company. Like in-person interactions, positive feedback goes a long way, as 86% of people say they review a business online before a purchase. On that same note, negative reviews can be detrimental to your business, and bad news spreads fast, threatening causing irreparable damage to your reputation.
Customer engagement forces you to put on your consumer hat and approach sales and marketing from the buyers' perspective. The only way to ensure that customers are satisfied with the experience is to provide them with what they want. From data collection (via your CRM, sales engagement platform, or sales automation tools) to customer feedback and forums, creating an engagement strategy involves just as much social listening and research as it does brand promotion. Some would argue even more. The more you learn about your customer, the better you’re able to target your message and experience.
Customer relationships built on discounts and repetitive sales pitches don't last long because they’re not memorable. Your customers will be hard pressed to forget quality and personalized services, and they'll keep coming back for the experience. It's hard to scale your business when you constantly have to look for new revenue sources. By investing both money and resources in improving customer experience and engagement, you can build your company's success on a loyal customer base that is willing to grow with your business.
An efficient customer engagement strategy centers on value and not just the bottom line. Your business is more than a product or service provider; you are a solution to your customer's problem and an invaluable resource. Traditional marketing tactics prioritize the transaction, but customer engagement is about providing the customer with significant value so that they want to purchase your product or service. It gives the consumer power and purpose in the process, making them an active decision-maker and not merely a recipient of the experience.
Engaged customers are your business’s bread and butter. They're loyal to your brand and more likely to purchase than a disengaged audience. It's also easier to upsell to customers who already believe in your product. Attracting and converting new leads is the nature of business, but retargeting current customers requires fewer resources and has a shorter conversion time. Companies who improve customer engagement may see a 22% increase in cross-sell revenue, a 38% increase in upsell revenue, and a 5%-85% jump in order size.
Your engagement strategy should act as an all-in-one solution that aligns with your customer's interests. Consider their needs throughout the process: What do they find valuable? What are some of their common concerns? Craft a customer-centric approach that provides your customers with value and makes them want to engage with you more. While your approach may differ slightly depending on your sales team, customer base, and product or service, there are some tried-and-true strategies to get you started:
Stories are memorable and relatable. They give customers a reason to believe in your company. Humanize your brand with messaging that highlights your mission, vision, and story. Help customers understand your ‘why’ for the business. Be sure to incorporate your customers into your story and give them a starring role: Take the opportunity to relate, listen to their goals and frustrations, and ultimately form a shared vision.
Generic customer experiences blend into the noise of ads, email newsletters, and social shares. You want customers to feel like they matter and aren’t just one of many. The key to a successful personalized experience is listening, and providing customers with the unique touches that connect with them. Use data and customer surveys to gain buyer insights and tailor customer interactions to their liking, focusing on preferred cadence, format, and how they’re best served. From custom communications to curated online and virtual events, create personalized customer experiences that let consumers know that you are in tune with their needs and interests. And remember: sometimes personalization doesn’t register with prospects (a key insight that can be gained from collecting data), so don’t force it!
To learn more about understand your customers’ preferences and improve your customer approach,check out this e-book about Buyer Sentiment.
Customers are very vocal about what they want, so listen. What are they saying and not saying about your business? How do they compare you to your competitors? Make it easy for customers to provide feedback, share their experiences, record responses, and follow up. A timely follow-up communicates to your audience that you’ve heard what they said, and you're committed to improving the customer experience. When confronted with unfavorable feedback, be sure to listen to solve the problem, not just calm the customer down.
Your customers don't buy products; they buy solutions. Customers aren't as likely to search for your specific product as they are to seek out answers to common questions or challenges. Providing helpful, authentic resources to address these needs positions your company as a solution. Distribute content across channels to reach all corners of your customer base. Create videos, blogs, and social posts that share proven tips and practical techniques that your customers will find helpful.
Producing relevant content will also keep you top of mind. For instance, flagging key feature/product updates or industry news for existing customers can help ensure they’ll continue to look to your company for answers. Be sure that you're continuously reviewing content performance to assess customer response and modify your approach, when necessary.
Your customer engagement strategy should be a collaborative effort that includes input from the buyer and seller. A mutual action plan (MAP) helps both sides identify the resources, milestones, and other information required to fulfill customer needs. This approach removes the guesswork and makes the process of closing deals faster and more straightforward, as customers can trust you will provide them with exactly what they need.
Reward users for being loyal customers by giving away something for free: not ink pens or water bottles, but things that your customers actually need. Offer them free information on how to get the most out of your product or a resource on cost/benefit analysis. Free benefits are also a way to attract new customers. Give leads a taste of what you have to offer without giving away the whole farm. If your customers are new business owners, a free webinar on planning and resource management might pique their interest, or if they work in the manufacturing industry, consider providing a white paper on new industry regulations.
Sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have become platforms for people looking to express their concerns with a business or share their praise. Either way, these tools give you direct access to your customer's raw thoughts and feelings. Respond to comments, repost user content, show support for a cause, and provide helpful resources to nurture an even deeper relationship with customers.
User feedback is a way to gauge your customers' satisfaction. Collect a blend of technical, quantitative data (through your CRM, sales engagement platform, etc.) and anecdotal, qualitative feedback to fully understand your customers' experience. Implement a system of checks and balances that ensures follow-up and proper communication. Remember, even if negative, feedback is an opportunity to learn more about the customers and make adjustments that will increase your success.
Many businesses have been hosting online events for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic took even more people online, and companies had to elevate their virtual events to new levels. With online engagements, companies can maintain a connection with customers from any part of the world. But online events shouldn't just replicate your in-person experience. Each customer engagement should be intentional and have a purpose. Why are you hosting the event? What do you hope to accomplish? Events give your customers a chance to see your products and services in action, improving conversions and brand exposure. Furthermore, it allows them to network with others in their industry, creating a community of support for your audience.
Want to see how Outreach hosts virtual events? Register for Unleash!
Set up your customers to win. A customer success center helps customers access resources and get answers to their questions. The goal is to ensure customers have all that they need to make a sound buying decision or utilize your products to their full potential. Without the proper support, communication, systems, and information, your customers may be lost or hesitate to take action. A customer success center also keeps your team from having to answer the same questions, and ensures timely access to customers’ most pressing needs.
A customer engagement platform helps you organize and automate your strategy to maximize each touchpoint throughout the process. With the right tools and technology, you can create a seamless experience across channels for your customers and serve your sales team's needs by managing workflows and reducing repetitive tasks. Manual tracking may work initially, but modern tools help you optimize activities and provide access to revenue growth through buyer sentiment data and analysis.
Customer engagement involves leveraging interactions to create a rewarding experience for your audience. Companies who need a better way to manage their process should consider engagement platforms that combine all strategies and make it easier for their team to serve prospects along their journey
Outreach's Sales Engagement platform supports your customers and team to help you increase productivity, optimize interactions throughout the cycle, and scale team collaboration to new levels.