Why is customer engagement so important?
The more engaged your customers the more content and word of mouth advocacy is generated and since people trust people this can attract new customers, develop sales opportunities and lead to sales.
People have an identity, a voice and an ability to choose to listen or not to brand communications. Products are becoming commoditized, price differentiation is no longer sustainable and customers increasingly are more demanding. Brands need to engage customers.
Customer Engagement is important for organisations because done well it can lead to web traffic, sales, and brand loyalty. On-line these outcomes can be measured and tracked against marketing communications and by channel. But what measures should be used and what is engagement really?
What is engagement? “Customer Engagement is turning on a prospect to a brand idea enhanced by the surrounding media context.” – Advertising Research Foundation definition. “Customer Engagement is an estimate of the degree and depth of visitor interaction against a clearly defined set of goals.” — Eric Peterson
Here is a list of many more definitions. Our preferred definition is “a consumer interaction with an aspect of a brand or media property.” As you will realise there are many models and definitions.
Forrester use a model called the 4′is and their video goes someway to explaining the importance of engagement.
However the 4i’s don’t readily explain consumer products that may not aspire to involvement and focus on influence. Conversely, a hotel brand needs to make sure intimacy and influence are optimized over interaction. We have produced a scale that reflects how users develop their engagement over time and reflects their interactions both online and offline e.g. if you are a passionate Harley Davidson owner you may be active on-line, but may also attend offline events and possibly help organise them.
For Adobe you might dedicate time to developing tutorials and tips for other people and share these on-line whilst hosting off-line training days.
For more information of measures check our earlier posts on ROI.
The Value of Engagement As organisations look for ways to develop their brands, the main question arises of how engagement relates to acquiring and retaining customers. Clearly brands not only want loyal customers but they also want those customers to tell their friends about the brand about how good it is (and post good reviews, generate positive sentiment, produce content….); the new goal is advocacy.
By developing a brand community organisations can listen to their customers, communicate easily, reward contributors, gain data and insights and shorten product development life-cycles by sourcing feedback form the community. However, in order to earn peoples trust and develop the relationship brands must participate alongside their customers openly and transparently, and deliver value.
Organisations are placing more value on understanding people’s behaviour, passions, interests and ideas. This broader context of society and networks moves brands from a model of manipulating messages to purchase to facilitating solutions and experiences; from campaigns to relationships. What is the benefit of engagement? The Engagement db study evaluated the top 100 brands and their use of social media. Brands were rated more “engaged” by the more channels they participated in, and the depth of engagement within that channel.
The report shows how engagement varies by industry. What does this mean? Well clearly some industries are not actively using social media to engage with their customers e.g. Finance and may be facing challenges with how to use these effectively inside and outside the organisation. For those organisations that are actively using social engagement there is a causal relationship to their financial performance. The key take out here is that those transitioning there marketing to social engagements and building communities develop more profitbale customer relationships.
Other reports that relate to this are:
2. Some Social Media & Marketing Case Studies Brands need to get closer to identifying how to develop user experiences that matter, but not just to trigger emotional responses to buy. This is manipulation for short term gain whereas moving from campaign to community develops sustainable relationships These depend on service, reputation, continued development of insights and facilitating customer solutions. What are the trends that will affect customer engagement?
How can this be used?
It is important to understand how engagement fits within the overall social business strategy. Firstly it is worth researching and benchmarking your current position; what interactions take place and in what channels, who are the customers…. Aligning objectives to what experiences and solutions can be developed is a key starting point. Remember it is about customers first not your business. Use the insights from understanding customers to bring clarity to your content strategy – this is the fuel of engagement. Set out clear measurements and map your budget against where you can effectively develop your touchpoints with your customers. Monitor customer behaviour and engagement on an on-going basis to analyse what is working well and what needs to change, make this a continuous improvement process so that you are in touch with how your customers are changing in this fast paced landscape.
Challenges Forrester Research noted in a recent study that “Marketers must wrestle down the numerous data sources to capture the presence, value, impact, and degree of customer engagements across channels.” There are many potential metrics and these will need to be chosen based on your specific engagement strategies, media and channels. A key point is to keep it simple, easy to measure and stick to basics as a first step. Organisations need to move away from campaign transactions and think strategically about share of wallet, share of lifetime – good brands recognise the long term benefits relationships can yield. Now is the time to build your brand community, your tribe and start your customer engagement.