Each day, your customers are bombarded with promotional emails, ads, billboards, and sales calls from companies who all promise to solve their problems. Eventually, even the most genuine communication efforts become noise that simply gets lost in the shuffle.
Enter customer engagement — a strategic approach which helps sales teams build brand loyalty through personalized interactions that improve consumer relationships, trust, and spend.
Customer engagement is how your company directly interacts, communicates, and forms a relationship with your consumer-base. These interactions may occur across different channels and include various tools that all work together to build brand loyalty and awareness.
While effective consumer engagement may require altering your sales strategy, you'll find that making this shift will help your teams provide a high-quality experience that creates lifelong customer relationships.
The typical consumer doesn't commit to buying a product or service at first glance. It takes repetitive exposure, exceptional interactions, and brand recognition before they even consider a purchase. Building a customer engagement strategy may require some adjustments (like centralizing your activities, implementing new technologies, and collecting key data), but the result of those efforts can benefit your company in a variety of ways:
Building a relationship with your customers doesn't start—nor end—with the sale. Customer engagement is a continuous, consistent process that shifts a sales team’s focus from simply making the sale to maintaining genuine communication with customers at every step of the buyer’s journey. While many sales strategies prioritize nurturing relationships with prospects and customers, customer engagement goes above and beyond to ensure that this continues long after a purchase has been made. By regularly engaging with and nurturing those customers (with product/feature updates, new support resources, industry news and information, etc.), you’ll remain top-of-mind and further strengthen the consumers’ connection to your company, too.
Customer engagement requires that you take a look at your business through the customer's lens by actively listening to their needs, priorities, and objectives. While it's essential to understand your own company’s brand, mission, and values, you also want to examine the overall goals, desires, and motivating factors of your target audience to identify trends in your consumer-base. Using data and qualitative customer feedback, you’ll be able to more deeply and accurately understand the consumer’s perspective allowing you to curate a personalized experience that keeps them coming back for more.
When customers are disengaged, they passively interact with your business. They may only go to your website when prompted, or click on a sales email because it features a flashy headline. However, customers who connect with your brand will look to your business as an industry leader and authority without needing those ‘sale-sy’ incentives. Further, consumers often take the opportunity to engage with your business when given a platform, proactively engaging via social media commentary, customer surveys, and online reviews to provide suggestions to shape their ideal experience.
Each product or service advertisement is a promise. When you keep your word as a brand and continuously provide a high level of expertise, transparency, quality, and customer satisfaction, consumers come to expect that from your company. For example, your engagement strategy may include regularly reaching out to customers to collect feedback on experience, products, and services. Responding thoughtfully, publicly posting that feedback, and offering resources for support can help customers develop a sense of trust, making it easier to sell to them in the future and instilling confidence that your company has their best interests in mind.
Quick sales and promotional deals may attract new customers, but these tactics likely won't continue to work on those same customers in the longer-term. Engaged customers believe in your mission, products, and promise and will keep spending money with your brand for years to come.
Word spreads fast, and consistently positive engagement can help your brand win a notable reputation that speaks for itself. Customer engagement grows consumer's brand loyalty, resulting in informal brand ambassadors who can testify to your quality of service.
Customer engagement lets a customer know that you value their money and commitment to your company. When you offer key insights to customers, serve their interests, and solve their problems, they return the efforts through purchases and recurring orders. In fact, fully engaged customers result in 23% more profit than their passive or disengaged counterparts.
This benefit has been further highlighted, as many customers were hit hard as a consequence of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Sales teams with a strong sales enablement strategy leaned in to their customers and helped them to right-size their contracts to suit their unique, temporary needs during an incredibly tough time. This willingness to listen and meet customers where they were with an authentic, generous spirit, enabled those sales teams to keep their customers’ business and ensure stronger, more lucrative relationships moving forward.
No matter how much money you're spending on ads or campaigns, if you don't make an effort to engage your customers, you’re doing your pipeline revenue a disservice. To get started, you must understand what goes into a successful customer engagement strategy.
Start with the end in mind, by identifying which metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) are most relevant to your goals. Being clearly aligned on the desired end-state will help you evaluate efficacy, identify improvement opportunities, and pivot when necessary. For example, you may measure the customer conversion rate, lifetime value, or website bounce rate when measuring engagement. Without a defined set of metrics, data collection can seem like a fruitless effort, and sales teams are less likely to utilize that data to its full potential.
Customer data (from your sales engagement platform, marketing automation tool, or CRM) is essential in assessing your engagement efforts. Not only does it allow you to determine your return on investment, but it also helps you to provide a tailored customer experience. With data, you can curate an experience to better fit your customers’ needs and preferences.
The data you collect will also provide a deeper understanding of customer habits and the psychology behind their choices, enabling you to tweak your strategy moving forward. For example, if you know that 90% of customers find personalized advertising more appealing, and 80% are subsequently more likely to make a purchase, you’ll know to invest in personalized advertising programs.
Each individual engagement effort should build upon the next to create a cohesive customer journey. Having this consistent strategy ensures your customer's needs are met at every touchpoint, further building trust. Make sure your marketing activities are aligned with your engagement goals by developing content (offered in a variety of formats and channels) that answers key customer questions, supports the buyer’s journey, and provides detailed solutions to common pain points. As your sales reps look to more effectively engage with their customers, it’s essential that they already have access to tested, readily available, approved content that complements their efforts.
When communicating with customers, you need to speak their language. What are their struggles, and how can you solve them? Consumers know when a brand's communication efforts are phony, so be sure to listen to what the customer wants and create targeted messaging that speaks directly to their pain points. It should feel like your product or service is made just for them. Whether it's addressing your customer by their first name, recalling details from a previous interaction, or sharing information you know they’ll find interesting, it’s best to avoid a generic approach and opt for a more personal touch.
Customer engagement platforms help you organize the entire engagement process from end-to-end, optimizing each step throughout the customer journey to create an ideal experience—both for sales teams and their customers. Today’s modern, comprehensive platforms give key team members access to your most essential tools and streamline information sharing and communication.
They also provide a single source of truth— ensuring all data points, information, and resources are aggregated in a centralized location. With a cohesive data source, you prevent the possibility of duplication and error, which often result from collecting and managing information in disparate tools
Choosing the right technology can improve your organization's engagement with every customer. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are excellent for record-keeping, and basic customer data, but businesses who want a more comprehensive, end-to-end solution need a sales engagement platform (SEP) as a system of action. This type of tool will help you organize your information, as well as engage your customer through a series of strategic interactions and targeted communications.
Customer engagement isn't a linear process; it's a continuous cycle of inputs, data, and relationship building that immerses your consumer into your brand culture. But maintaining ongoing communication at each point in the buying journey can take a toll on your team's bandwidth, and mistakes become inevitable, especially during growth periods.
The right customer engagement platform can help you create a strategic digital plan that connects each disparate tool into one system, effectively streamlining operations and arming sales teams with everything they need to properly engage customers. With Outreach's Sales Engagement Platform, teams can successfully scale and reduce the burden of repetitive administrative tasks, enabling them to instead focus on higher-value sales initiatives. Learn more about investing in a sales engagement for increased success, or request a demo today.