Customer engagement is the marketing buzz word of the moment …. and something of an over used one at that. So what does engagement mean, is it worth doing and, most important of all, are there some simple things you can do to get started on the road to better customer engagement?
So what exactly does engagement mean?
In the past, marketing was very much a one way street. You told your customer what you had for sale and then your customer decided whether to buy it or not.
Olde-style marketing was a bit of a take-it-or-leave-it type of proposition. It kind of worked, but only because there was nothing better at the time. In today’s consumer environment, when customers have lots of choice, it is becoming less relevant and in fact even unacceptable.
Engagement is all about making your marketing a two way street.
Here’s what that means in a very simplified nutshell: You tell your customer what you have for sale and then they tell you what they think of it (and you!) …. so you can then tweak your offer and hence maximise the chance that your customer will buy.
Engagement has always been possible and indeed an effective marketing technique. It’s just that the digital age has made it more relevant as well as a little easier to do and also easier to measure your results.
Why does engagement work in marketing?
As engagement is fairly new in marketing, it’s difficult to say how and even if it works. But here are a couple of plausible theories:
Firstly, engagement gives you valuable feedback on what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong …. and allows you to do improve your offer accordingly. In other words, what thing push your buyers’ buying buttons? Worse still, what things turn them off?
Secondly, people are more likely to buy from people whom they feel know and understand them. Engaging with customers is one way you can demonstrate this.
So how do you start getting engaging with your customers (and potential customers) better …. in a way that is easy (ish) and non-technical to do?
Here are a few strategies you might find useful:
* The first thing is to show your human side. This is something that can open the door to engagement. Customers and prospects prefer to deal with real people rather than faceless business.
So put a bit of personality into the way you present yourself and deal with customers. Be more relaxed. Ensure you come over as real (and even a little flawed sometimes) to your customers and prospects.
* Make sure you are always available and in fact keen to handle not just orders but enquiries, feedback and even complaints from customers and prospective customers (or just anyone really).
Nowadays as well as just phone and email that invariably mean being available on social media. And not just being available but using it too.
* Set up a line or lines of communication with your customers/prospects that extend beyond just taking and sending orders to them. A newsletter, customer magazine or forum can be a good way of doing this.
* Ask for your customers’ help. Quite apart from the useful feedback this can provide this is a very straightforward way of demonstrating to customers that you actually care about what they think and what they need.
Complaints are a way of finding what you are doing wrong …. but not a very efficient one. Asking for customers’ help to find out what you are doing right is much better.
Simple ways to do this are to ask for reviews, do surveys, ask them to ‘test drive’, ‘taste test’ or beta test something.
At the end of the day there are lots of complex marketing theories about what engagement is and why and how it works. But I hope you will find these tips will help you understand what better customer engagement could do for your business, and perhaps help you make a start in actually doing it.
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