Customer Engagement Marketing is the process of creating an actual relationship with your customers, a back and forth. It is not simply putting your message out there and hoping someone buys what you’re selling. Customer engagement means turning the monologue into a conversation. It’s not just spreading the message, it’s listening, sharing, having a dialogue.
It’s the only thing that works in the social media era of marketing. Chances are, you’ve already been focusing on customer engagement marketing to some extent, but there are still a lot of things that you can do to get more out of those efforts.
Customer Engagement Marketing Tips: Emphasize The Customer’s Experience
The message is important, but more and more, message alone isn’t enough. The focus in customer engagement marketing is the customer experience, the actual journey they go through when interacting with your content and with your brand. This goes beyond just the content that you’re putting out there for people. Everything from your customer service desk to your eShop storefront to how fast you respond to emails contributes to the customer service. That is to say that you want your customer to have a positive experience from the time they see the first ad to the point of sale to a year after the purchase.
In truth, that’s all any of us are selling. You don’t sell coffee beans, you sell a morning ritual, you sell the joy of grinding a fresh batch of beans every morning, brewing it with boiling water in a French press, and the opportunity to brag about brewing your own coffee while everyone else is using one of those Keurig machines. A coffee aficionado doesn’t just buy the beans, he buys entry into a community of coffee lovers, and if you’re doing your job right, you’re the brand he swears by, a part of his identity.
This means understanding the territory it is that you’re trying to attain in the first place.
What is the experience that you want your customer to have with you?
What is the journey you will take them on?
Do you want to be the diner where the little league team celebrates a game?
Do you want to be the legal team that saved their family?
Do you want to make the coffee mug they end the day with, sipping green tea before bed?
Understanding the experience that you want to create will help to guide your content and marketing.
Going back to the coffee aficionado example, suppose you were selling roasted coffee beans, you could orient your social media marketing content around that. For instance, you could share interesting facts on coffee, where it comes from, how it’s brewed in different parts of the world. You could help people to get the perfect brew or share recipes so people can experiment with new brewing methods like Turkish coffee or cold brew. The experience of being a coffee snob extends beyond what you’re offering, but you can be the hub of the experience, bring a community together and reward your customers for their passion for the product.
Engagement Marketing Tip #2: Have A Personality
People respond to personality. You have to have a certain attitude, something that your customers will find appealing, and it has to come through in every face you present to your customers. You have to be sort of bold for this to work. Be willing to joke around if that’s what will resonate with your customers, or take on the persona of an older, wiser expert on the subject. Be willing to experiment in order to determine what will and will not resonate with the people who you’re trying to reach.
One of the easiest ways to get a head start in creating this persona is with demographics data.
Who’s buying those specialty roasted coffee beans?
Is it men and women in their forties who don’t want to adapt to those all-in-one Keurig machines?
Is it thirty-something hipsters who enjoy all the gadgets they get to play with when brewing their own coffee?
Is there a demographic that has an interest in coffee beans, but are underrepresented in your competitor’s marketing campaign?
Find out who these people are and devise a persona that will appeal to them.
Wendy’s is a good example of a brand that really gets its core demographic. If you’re buying a lot of fast food, there’s a good chance that you’re a college student or a twenty-something slacker, someone who maybe stays up all night watching Adult Swim and playing video games. The working mom is probably just going to rely on McDonald’s so she doesn’t have to worry about her kids being picky eaters and refusing to touch a square-shaped hamburger. What resonates with these twenty-something customers is a certain edgy attitude. Wendy’s regularly engages in meme wars and trolling with their competitors.
Obviously, there’s a line that you can cross, there. The buzz you get with an edgy marketing campaign can quickly turn into sales-killing controversy if you accidentally share a meme from a Facebook page with a long history of racist content, for instance. It’s a bit of a tightrope walk if you’re going to go the edgy route.
But this can happen no matter what sort of persona you’re putting forth. If you’re selling fishing bait with a wise-and-weary old-timer persona, it’s easy to come off as a pushy, out of touch old geezer. If you’re a sassy urban woman selling cosmetics, you can come off as condescending and rude. It’s all about balance. You’re trying to put forth an attitude, a personality, that your customers will find appealing. Sometimes that means getting on the nerves of people who are not in your demographic, but you don’t want to get on your demographic’s nerves.
Engagement Marketing Tip #3: Create Useful Content
Getting people to like and share your content means creating useful content. The question then is: What is useful content? Does that mean how-to’s and so on? It can, but that’s not the only kind of useful content there is. Content can be useful because it makes you laugh, and because you can share that with your friends.
Content can be useful because it helps the person who shares it to position themselves in a meaningful way. If you’re willing to take a political stand, probably in a way that aligns with your company’s goals, then you may find your share numbers rising exponentially. We all have opinions, and some of us are looking for someone who can sum those opinions up in a more efficient, more effective way than we can. If you’re a skilled marketer, then that certainly falls in line with your list of talents.
Of course, that can also just mean informative content. A top ten list letting customers know which coffee presses you recommend can be useful. A map to some of the best coffee shops in your city can be useful. The point is that “useful” just means that it serves some use to your customers. It can be useful because it’s informative, or it can be useful for broader or more abstract reasons. When you get to know your customers, your demographic, it will generally be easy to come up with content that they find useful.
Engagement Marketing Tip #4: LISTEN!
Most importantly of all: Listen. Listen to your customers.
Social media is unlike television or radio in that it goes both ways. You can talk to your customers, and they can talk to you. So you need to listen because if you don’t, your competitor will. Obviously, this doesn’t mean that you need to take every single suggestion to heart. There’s a lot of nuts out there. But, you need to take all feedback seriously and take it into account when making decisions about how you run your business. Fifty years ago, marketers would have killed for an opportunity to get real-time feedback from their users. You’re getting that now, for free. You’d have to be crazy not to take advantage of the information that your customers are giving you.
Listening to customer complaints is a big concern with engagement marketing. You want to listen to complaints right away, and address them. You’ve seen how quickly a simple misunderstanding can blow up into a full-blown public outrage. Addressing every concern in a timely, considerate manner can help to ensure that you don’t become a target for this sort of thing.
That is to say: You want to make sure that you are listening, even when nobody knows it but you and the person talking… because everyone will know it if you don’t.
Taking customer feedback into account when it comes to making major business decisions, such as developing new products to roll out, adjusting pricing and so on, is something that has to be done carefully. Obviously, a potato chip brand isn’t going to produce a sardine flavored chip because one customer suggested it. But if there’s a lot of demand for it, then who knows, it might not be a bad idea to introduce that flavor on a limited trial run and see how it performs.
Of course, the rules change depending on the scale of your business. If you’re a B2B brand serving fewer than a hundred clients each year, then there’s no reason you can’t reconfigure your business around the demands of just a few customers. But if you’re serving that many people in a day, then you have to consider the resources and expenses involved in meeting that one customer’s demands. It might not be a big deal for a local grocery store to stock a brand of scotch that only one customer ever buys, but if that one customer is the only customer who ever buys any alcohol at all, then it doesn’t make a lot of sense for the grocery store to keep maintaining a liquor license in the first place.
Listen to everyone, but remember that you’re a business owner, not a trained circus dog. It’s a good idea to take every suggestion into account, but it’s a lot easier to make a suggestion on a whim than it is to pivot an entire business around that suggestion. Take every suggestion into account, but only act on the ones that make sense.
Customer engagement brings us a little closer to a 1:1 relationship with the customer. Ironically, the ability to reach over a billion people through the internet has sort of brought back the local general store way of doing business. With so many options, it’s harder for big brands to maintain total monopolies, and it’s more appealing for customers looking for specialty shops and so on to seek out niche companies and service providers rather than hoping that Wal-Mart has what they need in stock and someone who knows how to use it.
To sum it all up as simply as possible: Embrace the customer’s eagerness to connect with the brands they support. If you want to learn more let Mavericks new platform Bizlitix help you with customer engagement.