Audience or customer engagement is one of those terms that seems to get bandied around everywhere at the moment. Engaged customers, organisations think, will result in a better return on investment. Tell Marketing to sort it out and we’ll reap the benefits! The pure truth is audience engagement IS essential to any digital strategy; the inconvenient truth is that it takes more than a memo to one team to deliver it successfully. To have a meaningfully positive business impact, engagement should be implemented and measured across your entire company. Building a complete view of your customer at all touch points puts the power back with the consumer, letting them choose how and when to engage with your brand.
When we use the terms “brand”, “company” and “customer” or “audience” cognitive bias immediately pops up to shift our thinking into the abstract. Each of these terms generalises and removes the individual aspect of the company or customer into the faceless masses. Every organisation or brand has a plethora of individuals working for it that have feelings, emotions and real lives that exist away from work. Exactly the same is true of the customer or audience. That might sound blindingly obvious but it’s extremely important to understand that good engagement has, at its heart, a reliance on connecting people to people as humans and individuals, not by generalising with us v them mentality. When we start to think about our customers as individuals who have come to your brand primarily to solve a problem, buy a product or buy a service because they believe you are the best people for that job, we begin to understand how powerful that connection is. It also becomes clear that giving the customer a personal and efficient service at each and every point of their interaction with you builds an incredibly powerful picture of what they want, needs and desire that is personal to them. If the customer journey is seamless, their satisfaction level increases exponentially and their support and loyalty to your brand just became extremely positive. Net result? They WANT to engage with you, rather than HAVING to engage with you.
Personalisation is the watchword for good customer engagement. As you build a clear picture of each individual, you can increase their engagement tenfold with smart actions that show them they aren’t a number. The more they feel like you’re not the faceless monolith they feared, the more business they will do with you. Let’s look at some of the benefits.
Once a customer has a full spectrum profile, it becomes much easier to show them products or services that are specifically interesting to them. This isn’t just about what you have to sell, but showing them in a way they want to be engaged with.
“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
Still one of the most powerful sales tools. A highly engaged happy customer will actively seek out friends and colleagues to promote your brand. In an era when complaining about the failings of brands is all too familiar, a customer who feels loved will want to share.
The more comfortable a customer is in your ecosystem, the more they will feel empowered and confident self-serving. This could be anything from a dedicated Q&A to a community of like-minded peers who love your brand and want to help others. In turn, your customer service reps can leave the low hanging fruit and focus on more complex support issues and, crucially, spending time taking positive actions to make customers feel special. Imagine the power of a customer service rep sending a handwritten thank you card to a customer for their latest purchase, or upgrading a customer account to free delivery on their next buy.
A lovely quote from Avinash Kaushik says “engagement is a “heart” metric we are trying to measure with “head” data” Engagement is harder to prove with isolated number data; the best people to tell us whether we’re doing things right is the very people we’re serving – our customers! Engaging frequently with them and capturing their feedback is vitally important to show how your ROI is affected by increased audience engagement. Here’s a useful table from Forrester showing the four components of engagement and some tracking options.