At last! As a young marketing manager, you’ve finally landed yourself a place in the marketing department of a trendy, up-and-coming company and are now wondering how you can impress the old crusties on both the workforce and in management as quickly as possible. In your head you probably already have numerous concepts you’d like to apply to hype the products and services properly. But convincing the decision-makers to carry out something new is often tricky. The idea doesn’t even need to be that radical to run into issues, as the marketing departments and management of many organizations have still seemingly not managed to enter the digital age. A Facebook account, a decent social media strategy or even a blog? Not a chance! Some don't even have their own website up to date; they are announcing promising launches coming in 2015, and since a deafening silence.
But what can be inferred from this scenario in terms of recommendations for one's own marketing actions? On the one hand, many implemented marketing concepts already started out old and are no longer up-to-date. Making a clean sweep is often a good idea in this case. On the other hand, it may also be that marketing’s current strategies and concepts are simply not yet being sufficiently served. Perhaps there are no wise minds who know how to deal with it, or because the benefits of the exercise have not yet been recognized. Now is the time to dust off your traditional marketing strategies and look at them with a fresh pair of eyes. If you are a hungry newcomer and manage to adopt these extensive concepts, you have a very good chance of making a name for yourself in the company.
One of the big marketing keywords is “Customer Engagement” as part of Customer Relationship Management. To ensure the following theory is absolutely clear, we’ll start off with a definition of Customer Engagement.
The easiest way to answer is to use the definition for Customer Engagement (CE). “Customer” really poses no problems as a term or a concept, but what about “Engagement”? Engagement may be known by some as a word for commitment or bonding. Some take it to mean obligation or dedication. As you can see, the term can bring up a lot of different meanings. Thanks to the many different interpretations, a definition alone does not really get us anywhere. With so many meanings, it's therefore not surprising that some use the word customer loyalty to describe customer engagement. Depending on the interpretation, this may make sense or may be completely off-key.
Perhaps it will help to delve a little deeper into this subject by looking at the research. The science behind customer engagement has been hotly debated for years. While some see the term as a purely psychological concept, others see it as a generic term for buyer behavior. If you break down this generic term to its lowest common denominator, you get the following insight: Customer Engagement is the degree of personal commitment that a buyer shows to the respective product, company, brand or label. A common, agreed-upon definition is prerequisite for working with the term in any way. Taking a look at the world of marketing, as we do now, also helps, as marketers have busied themselves with Customer Engagement for a long time and have defined the term precisely.
For marketing, we focus on the definition from the German Institute for Marketing: accordingly that “the term Customer Engagement includes any behavior of the buyer that he exhibits towards the company, brand and the like, which also includes emotional, cognitive as well as behavioral aspects”. Another important point is that CE can be self-initiated as well as external.
Thus, Customer Engagement includes all positive customer interactions with respect to the respective company and also to other customers. As soon as Customer Engagement exists, the respective customer has a strong interest in the company and everything that belongs to it. This includes, for example, statements and news that are read and new products that are tried out – all of which can be part of active customer engagement. This may make customer loyalty the goal, but not a meaningful synonym.
With the definition of what Customer Engagement is in our thoughts, one can almost imagine the connection with Customer Experience (CX). CX is the sum of all experiences a customer has with the product or brand, i.e. the overall experience with the respective company. As a result, it is sometimes simply referred to as Customer Experience. However, you also have to be careful with the term “Customer Experience” as a synonym for CX, as for some people the meanings differ. These are similar, but not identical, terms, because “experience” refers to short-term, emotional interactions. Their assessment is then based on these. Every point on the Customer Journey, both offline and on the Internet, is connected to customer experiences. These can be both positive and negative and add up to form the CX.
All of this makes Customer Experience a fundamental prerequisite for customer satisfaction. This is because Customer Engagement can be successfully built on the basis of a comprehensively positive customer experience. That is the very dry-sounding definition, so what is the real purpose of this concept?
Customer Engagement's primary objectives are relatively obvious; it’s about guaranteeing customer loyalty and binding regular customers. Customer loyalty can be consolidated, strengthened and made future-proof with the help of Customer Engagement. You can look at it in the following way: if there is a high level of customer engagement, this results in a strong bond and therefore a high level of customer satisfaction. As a rule-of-thumb, the more the customer feels bound to the company - or the more interactions the customer experiences - the deeper the mutual bond is anchored. This is proven by studies such as those of the management consultancy Bain & Company. Their study shows that "real customer loyalty is a key driver of profitable growth."
Once a buyer has a strong attachment to a company, they will shop there more often, recommend it to others and speak positively of their experience - online and elsewhere. This means buyers with a strong bond generate revenue and make free and credible advertising through word-of-mouth propaganda. Both are definitely reasons why it is worthwhile to invest in customer loyalty. But there are a few more, because regular customers
From the company's point of view, it is definitely worthwhile setting a higher core customer rate as a goal in order to establish itself firmly on the market. In order for this to be successfully implemented, you need customer engagement in marketing and, of course, promising strategies. We will look at these ideas in the next section.
Customer Engagement is a very broad term, so it's no surprise that many measures can be grouped together in order to increase it. Concepts that are already in use can be perfectly combined with new strategies, because you can adopt different measures depending on your industry and platform:
1. Using Customer Touchpoints
First of all, you have to identify all the customer touchpoints, i.e. all points of contact between consumers and companies, and then design them to be as inviting and individual as possible. This includes using advertising measures, online presence as well as newsletters and personalized e-mails.
2. Brand awareness
Whoever manages to find and attractively highlight a unique selling point is well on the way to becoming a brand. This unites specific values, quality and emotions. But the road to the brand is a long one. If you don't want to get lost, you should deal with the subject in detail. An initial overview is provided by our contribution to brand loyalty.
3. Use different channels
Customers can be reached by using all available channels offline and online. This includes social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but also newsletters, personalized emails, customer magazines, advertising materials, one's own website, a blog and many more. With this wealth of possibilities, you should not lose your way, but instead analyze which channels are useful for your own operation and which are not. However, the digital platforms should not be overlooked, as they provide ideal tools to reach your customers.
4. Low-barrier communication
Phone, email, chat – there are many ways for customers to get service, and it's advisable to provide them all. This makes it easy for the customer to contact the company directly. It's not just the number of possible channels that counts. Above all, the staff in customer service must be perfectly adapted to the customer. In addition to a friendly demeanor, staff also need empathy and access to customer data, so that customers can be taken care of quickly and effectively.
5. Generate special offers
Subject lines such as "20 percent off for the next two days only!" or similar are common to many newsletters. In general, time-limited promotions are well received by customers – if they are tailored to products that are purchased regularly. Paying attention to this - and using it in a targeted manner - attracts customers to your own range, and can be specifically used to promote suitable additional products.
6. Relying on informative content
Paragraph three already mentions the various channels, and now it’s time to think about content. Those who choose a customer magazine should not only use it as advertising mail, but also rely on interesting content with added value. This also applies to company blogs. These are not simply intended to present the products, but are intended to make it clear to the reader that the company has know-how and expertise in its industry. In this way, you gain the trust of the consumers and can point out your own offers through clever calls-to-action.
7. Every device has a role to play
It's nice to have a small, sparkling clean shop on the market square. Any passing trade is delighted, but if the accompanying website consists only of an unfinished homepage, it scares off online buyers. Therefore, you should always try to accompany your bricks and mortar with an inviting website and online shop. This online presence should be available on all devices, whether PC, tablet or smartphone. For example, the customer can load an app directly onto their device to receive specially tailored offers and deals.
To discover if your attempts to drive Customer Engagement are successful or not, there is no better substitute than to ask your customers. To this end, a measure must be devised to conduct effective customer consultation. This should be easy to use and simple to initiate in order to reach as many buyers as possible. There is already a good tool which meets these challenges: the Net Promoter Score®.
Listening to customers sounds simple and when you use the Net Promoter Score® (NPS®), it is. This is because customers only have to answer a non-comprehensive survey about the likelihood of their recommendation. In addition, customers have a field for personal comments – so easy yet extremely effective and productive. Thanks to its simple, fast and clear handling, you will receive a large number of answers, which now need evaluation. Thanks to zenloop, it is possible to analyze the amount of data and sort the collected feedback. The software thus helps to provide an overview of the customer engagement based on the determined key figure. The higher this metric, the more likely customers are to recommend the company. All this and more makes the so-called micro-surveys the perfect solution to interview consumers.
In marketing - but also management and every other company department - Customer Engagement should be taken seriously, dealt with and suitable instruments selected to help advance it. With CE, you are taking a big step towards holistic Customer Relationship Management – and thus towards a firm bond between both old and new regular customers.
In marketing and as a manager, one must not blindly follow all possibilities, but must select the sensible instruments and concepts for one's own business from the large pool of possibilities. Only then can the selected measures be approached in a meaningful way and filled with sophisticated content. This underlines the credibility of a company and a brand. This in turn pleases the customers, leads to a positive customer experience and consequently again to more regular customers. It is precisely these regular customers that will be decisive business turnover in the long-term. It is therefore worth investing in this new marketing strategy today, in order to be prepared for such a future.
Content Marketing Manager