In a data-driven world, businesses have stumbled upon a little secret. Engaged customers are happy customers. And happy customers spend more money. Okay, maybe it’s not much of a secret anymore, but there’s no denying it. Through years of data collection and analytics, the most in-touch companies have discovered the majority of business comes from repeat customers. These customers already know the brand, know what to expect, and know the level of support or guidance they’ll receive from the company. Businesses are putting a premium on establishing these types of repeat and loyal relationships. According to Forrester, 72% of businesses say improving the customer experience is their top priority. But at the same time, more than half of businesses say they don’t have a formal plan in place to improve customer engagement–and an even larger percentage admit they don’t know how many customers they’ve lost over the past year.
Give the people what they want
Improving customer engagement doesn’t happen overnight. Marketers really need to understand their audiences and their phase in the buyer’s journey and create content or campaigns that are relevant. Consider this email example from Apartment Therapy that was sent to subscribers on Christmas afternoon: Image Source: Apartment Therapy Pretty relevant, right? It doesn’t necessarily deal with a specific product or service, but it relates to a topic and issue that millions of people were facing that day. In other words, it provided content that was timely and what people wanted to learn about—even if they didn’t know it yet. When you do it well, customer engagement can really pay off for your company. Businesses that excel at the customer experience are growing up to 8% faster compared to market benchmarks. Clicks from improved engagement lead to conversions. And those initial purchases can lead to repeat conversions, larger conversions, or positive reviews and referrals.
3 hacks to help you improve customer engagement
- Virtual and augmented reality
- Interactive content
- Loyalty programs
So, how do you really improve customer engagement and give the people what they want? It can be as simple as running surveys or polls on your website or in an email campaign. They are relatively cheap and easy to set up through third-party apps like SurveyMonkey and can provide keen insight into the topics your audience wants to learn more about. However, to really make a splash in your customer engagement rates, you may need to think bigger—and even a little outside the box at times. Here are three tricks you can use to improve customer engagement in your marketing campaigns.
1. Virtual and augmented reality
What was once considered a fad may actually be here to stay—and might become a major engagement driver for innovative marketers and companies. Virtual reality is proven to elicit a more emotional response from customers—which is one of the key drivers for conversions, especially in B2C. Customers in a virtual reality experience will engage with content 34% longer than they would a regular video or even a 360-degree photo. There are a few companies that are using virtual reality well today. One of the best examples is from the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. This college created a virtual tour, which allows prospective students to view what life is like on campus without ever leaving their homes. Image Source: SCAD Virtual Reality Augmented reality is a unique way to improve engagement with your customers. Unlike virtual reality, where the entire experience is created from a virtual design, augmented reality just superimposes an image or graphic over a real-life view or experience. We already know mobile apps can be used to raise customer engagement. Consider how much more engaged customers will be with an interactive app that can show exactly how a piece of furniture will look in a room, display how makeup will look on a customer (just by using that person’s cell phone camera), or display additional facts and details about a product or service. Augmented reality will change the way customers engage and interact with your brand because they’ll have additional information at their fingertips that they never had before.
2. Interactive content
You don’t need to create virtual or augmented reality apps to provide interactive content for your customers. Interactive content is becoming an increasingly popular way for marketers to provide personalized messages to their customers. In fact, 88% of B2B marketers said up to 30% of their content would be interactive in 2018. Interactive content can come in all shapes and sizes, but the bottom line is that it helps increase conversions. For instance, online quizzes can have conversion rates up to 10%—that’s about 4x the average landing page. And best of all, quizzes can be about anything. For instance, take a look at this rent.com quiz for rental property seekers in Boston: Image Source: rent.com This quiz is really simple and effective. It’s just 6 questions that take ~30 seconds to complete. In the end, the quiz describes a suitable neighborhood, a brief description, and a link to properties in that specific area. You may also consider interactive infographics. These graphic-rich pages provide the same information that a traditional infographic would show, but they include animation or user controls. As an added bonus, this type of interactive content can turn a dry topic into something exciting and pleasing for the reader. Data center services company SingleHop did a great job of creating an interactive infographic with its explainer about the benefits of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Image Source: SingleHop This interactive content takes readers on a journey through a city to describe how public cloud services are used by businesses. Additionally, the content illustrates the benefits of being a cloud-savvy business. This is a necessary service for companies across the country, but it isn’t the most exciting topic for sales and marketing teams to promote. This interactive content does a great job of explaining it in a fun and light-hearted way.
3. Loyalty programs
Repeat customers are more likely to make a purchase than new customers. So, why not reward your frequent customers with a little extra incentive to buy? Think beyond rewards cards and frequent flier miles. Companies across a number of industries are using loyalty programs to improve customer engagement. According to a Forrester report, 72% of adults belong to at least one loyalty program. The same study finds 78% of people believe loyalty programs save them money and nearly half of the respondents admitted that loyalty programs influence what they buy. Starbucks is one of the best companies with loyalty rewards. The coffee chain provides a free drink to Gold Card members on their birthdays and gives them free drinks for every 125 stars ($125) spent. Image Source: Really Good Emails Starbucks also does a great job sending emails when a customer has received a reward. The emails aren’t flashy, but rather clean and straight to the point, providing the need-to-know details, fully allowing customers to take advantage of their rewards. Remember, many companies are already utilizing a rewards strategy. Whether it’s a free item after a number of purchases, a BOGO offer, or a birthday or anniversary reward, your inbox is probably full of emails with similar rewards. If you’re going to take advantage of loyalty rewards, you need something different and unique about your company, product or audience to set your loyalty rewards program apart. If your prize or incentive is meaningless to your customers, they won’t engage.
There are many strategies and tactics you can take to improve customer engagement. However, it doesn’t matter which method you choose if you don’t understand what your audience wants. A recent study shows 93% of marketers create content around a specific product or service—whereas the majority of business leaders are looking for content about ideas. If you’re not giving the people what they want, you won’t improve your engagement rates. If you want to use virtual reality or interactive content, first spend the time to determine what your customers are really looking for. Then think of ways to utilize these innovative methods to create content that aligns with their wants and needs.