How to increase customer engagement
Sometimes, small business owners and even big corporations forget that customer engagement and therefore retention is one of the most critical pillars of a business. This is so important that, dare I say, it should require more of your attention than acquiring new customers. (Note: another critical pillar for a successful business is ensuring employee engagement.)
Even for businesses that understand the importance of engaging their customers, the struggle is in figuring out how to go about it. If you belong in that category, luckily for you, it’s not too difficult to increase customer engagement as long as you keep one thing in mind:
Make customers feel important.
Every customer-related activity you do for your business, do it with this overarching goal and you should be able to manoeuver your way into creating a brand culture that, first and foremost, prioritises customer engagement.
Knowing this, how can you utilise this concept in your business? I have summarised the most important customer engagement strategies into 5 simple points.
#1. Make it easy for your customers to use your business.
The first step you can take in your business to increase customer engagement is to examine its processes. How many touchpoints are involved from the starting point to the end point? In an online sense, say the starting point is the first time a customer comes across your website. From that moment until conversion (e.g., purchase), what processes are involved? Write them all down and examine whether or not all the touchpoints are required.
A customer is going to lose interest if they have to jump through hoops to get to the final product. You know those websites that won’t let you read their blogs unless you disable your ad blocker? Or websites with poor navigation that force you to click “Home” multiple times just to find your way around? Or physical stores that are hidden away without any clear signs, or with no car parks? Consider the customers’ perspective and get rid of anything that just gets in the way of their (and your) goal.
#2. Make every touchpoint valuable.
Speaking of streamlining your processes, not every touchpoint between you and your customers happens during the conversion process. Consider your pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase touchpoints. Are you providing value?
Customers want quick and easy solutions to their problems. Unless you’re offering something of value that is relevant to their problems, they won’t pay attention to anything you have to say. Consider the types of communication you’re sending out to the world and examine whether they’re useful.
This includes your weekly newsletters, social media posts, brochures, customer service and more. There is no quicker way to make a customer hit “unsubscribe” than sending out simply annoying emails. In the same vein, your social media following will never increase if you’re not engaging your customers by posting relevant content at the right times.
#3. Be easily contactable.
Digging a bit deeper into the above points, another crucial aspect you can implement to increase customer engagement is making your customer service easily accessible. Make it easy for your customers to contact you to access customer support, provide feedback or even complain.
You would have seen some websites that have “call to action” buttons everywhere to make a purchase. To find their customer service contact details however, you have to navigate through a dozen pages. Similarly, some businesses are so adamant to avoid human contact with their customers, that they will force you to search through their FAQs multiple times before providing contact details.
Some of these may be good business decisions. After all, they’re trying to help customers find their answer quickly without waiting on hold or waiting for an email reply. But it’s not always what the customer wants. Customers (like myself, personally) who prefer to quickly find an answer online and move on, would not call you unless they’ve exhausted all their online avenues. Customers who prefer to talk to someone before looking for FAQ answers would call you regardless of your online resources. The point is to offer all solutions for different types of customers.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to provide a complaint form to your customers! One of the main ways of earning trust and loyalty is to offer a platform on which your customers can provide feedback – positive or negative – and be heard.
#4. Offer targeted services to a niche market, and label them.
Increasing customer engagement isn’t just up to how you communicate with them. It also depends on the products and services you provide. A customer looking for a specific product will be more likely to explore a shop that exclusively sells this product, rather than a general shop.
By offering niche products, you’ve already captured their online keywords and therefore significantly closed the gap between discovery and conversion. You’ve ensured the customers that they are in the right place.
Next step in increasing customer engagement is to label them. People like to feel like they are a part of something, or belong to a group of people with similar views and interests.
Think of a shop that sells activewear. Now imagine, on their marketing materials, website and newsletters, they consistently use the term and refer to their customers as “fit mums”. What kind of audience do you think they will attract? Mums who are into fitness, most likely.
Engaging customers is quite simple as long as you know the demographics that you are targeting, and have the research to back up your marketing plans.
#5. Create (or join) a group or event for your customers.
Customers identifying with your products is one thing, but it’s another to actually hang out together. Utilise platforms like Facebook Groups or create a forum on your website to connect your customers. Getting helpful advice and participating in relevant topics of interest will increase their loyalty and engagement with your business. It’s important for you to join these discussions on behalf of your business and connect on a more personal level.
Business built on selling niche products can do this quite easily. For example, create a photography forum for a business that sells cameras and accessories. It might be a bit more involved and difficult for other types of service businesses but it’s not impossible. For example, business or financial consultants can hold networking events for their customers. Restaurants and bars can provide consistency by having weekly promotions or familiar DJs.
Even if it feels a bit awkward at first, it’s about execution more than the idea itself. And when in doubt, remind yourself of Culture Kings, a chain of streetwear stores (think: too cool for school) that has in-house DJs and a barbershop in every store. I avoid Culture Kings as much as possible mostly because it’s too loud for me. More importantly, I don’t relate to their atmosphere or style. But you won’t see the owners crying over my lost business. That is exactly what they want – to attract the crowd that identify with their culture.
Provide something (an event, a benefit or a group culture) that your customers can identify with, and you will have mastered the art of increasing customer engagement.
The 5 strategies we went through to increase customer engagement all follow the theme we started with: “Make customers feel important”. We all appreciate feeling like we are being catered to and cared about. So, create a brand that caters to and cares about your target customers’ needs and wants, and you’ll have no problem getting their engagement and satisfaction!
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