Improving Online Customer Engagement for Business Growth.
We don’t often take the time to reflect on how businesses interacted with customers five years ago; but perhaps we should, particularly when we consider customer engagement. It’s a very different world out there now thanks to digital technology.
Although digital was starting to change the way businesses and organizations interacted with their customers or clients, it was thought of as something to be left to the big corporations. Smaller businesses continued to rely on the tried-and-tested methods associated with customer engagement.
The reason was simple: they usually had a physical presence on the high street or in their local area and engaged with their loyal customers face-to-face. However, the coronavirus pandemic changed the way companies did business overnight, literally. For two years, the only way to connect and engage with customers was online, and across multiple channels; this trend is not changing either.
Why Is Online Customer Engagement Important?
We all know that online customer engagement is crucial to business success but in this digital world, connecting and engaging with your customers is the number one driver to increased sales and business growth.
But focusing on one channel isn’t enough. A recent Braze 2022 Global Customer Engagement Review revealed that since the pandemic hit countries across the world, brands understood the need to create conversations with their customers, and across multiple channels. This demonstrates the importance of cross-channel conversations and, compared to 2021, more brands are increasing their marketing budgets by as much as 75% towards online customer engagement and retention.
How to Improve Customer Engagement
Part of the success of customer engagement is being proactive and taking the initiative to connect and engage. Let’s give you an interesting statistic from Braze’s review: 57% of new users in 2021 were ‘anonymous’ visitors via websites or apps. They didn’t create an account or log in, they interacted with the company as a ‘guest’ – in fact, some websites didn’t even give these users an official identity. Now, here comes the interesting bit… 80% of brands didn’t have any type of communication with these users, missing a golden opportunity to engage with, and retain, a buying customer.
That’s the bad news; the good news is that when brands message guest users, even if it is through just one channel, there is a five times greater chance the user will return and make more purchases. Engaging with every customer is therefore a priority.
7 Online Customer Engagement Strategies
Sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start with online customer engagement. So, we’ve collated seven online customer engagement strategies that will improve not only customer engagement, but also retention.
Create multi-channel conversations
Consumers want to engage with businesses across the endless different channels available; from social media channels, online ads, SMS and direct messaging apps to email campaigns, customer review platforms and websites (this is where including a chatbot on your website could prove useful). In fact, 52% of consumers said they would consider switching brands if they didn’t get customized offers and messages.
With so many different online channels to monitor and engage with customers, it’s almost impossible to keep track of, let alone converse with, all your customers. Adopting automation not only allows businesses to engage with all the customers through automated messaging, but also collects vital data about their customers’ preferences. Not to mention, automations allow you to construct perfectly crafted customer journeys that guide consumers straight to the check-out.
Optimize customer data to personalize conversations
Recent statistics from Salesforce showed that 56% of customers expect engagement with a company to be personalized. They don’t want generic, run-of-the-mill content. They want offers that match their preferences, discounts for a birthday or anniversary gift, and personalized thank you’s. Optimizing valuable customer data combined with customer surveys, polls and quizzes ensures all messaging is personalized. Not only does this increase customer engagement, it also enhances customer retention and loyalty.
Develop a customer-centric mindset across all departments
Building a customer-centric approach across all departments enables businesses delivers an enhanced customer experience. In fact, 85% of customers want cohesive, consistent interactions no matter which department they are conversing with. Being able to gather data and valuable feedback from customers throughout the company provides a much clearer indication of whether they’re getting it right or not. This allows for tweaking customer offers, engagement strategies, even products or services to achieve business growth.
Help your team to help you
Engage, empower and equip your employees to maximize customer engagement and optimize your customer experience. How? By optimizing your internal service quality. An example of this is at USAA, where all customer-facing employees are backed by a sophisticated information system that allows them to pull up all the most relevant customer information in just a few clicks when addressing customer enquiries or complaints. This kills two birds with one stone by increasing customer engagement, satisfaction and feeling of personalization, while it also increases employee productivity through satisfaction and commitment.
Create a loyalty program
Did you know that, on average, members of a loyalty program have a 40% higher annual spend than non-members? Creating a loyalty or rewards program gives customers an ideal opportunity to not only engage with the company, but also develop an emotional connection to build a better, longer term relationship. By giving loyal customers the opportunity to earn points, take advantage of exclusive offers or monthly discounts automatically positions the business as a leader in their industry; and rewards customers.
Use data to make improvements
You’ve made a start on your online customer engagement strategy. That means that you’ve had customers interact with your engagement efforts and materials, and you've seen how they've performed. Even better, you might have digitally collected customer feedback. So, the next step is to take whatever customer data you’ve gleaned and to turn it into actionable insights. There’s no guesswork or punting involved here - it’s straight from the horse's mouth, so jump at any opportunity to implement customer insights.
The Benefits of Achieving Online Customer Engagement
First of all, achieving online customer engagement is generally much harder than achieving customer engagement in a face-to-face setting. When you meet a customer in person, you can gauge their personality, what they like and how you can improve their customer experience quite quickly. Online, a lot of users can be numbers to begin with, and then they become accounts if you manage to get them to sign up. For that customer, it’s just another account - probably so they don’t have to fill in their shipping details next time.
The challenge - and benefit - lies in converting it from just another account to a place that the customer is truly interested in. Do they click on your push notifications? Do they log in when they don't have a particular purchase intent? Do they engage and make use of it when you send them rewards or discounts? Sounds like online customer engagement to me. Take a look at what you can look forward to if you manage to keep it up;
86% of customers will pay more for a better and more engaging customer experience.
Customer experience and engagement are now bigger brand differentiators than price and product.
78% of customers prefer omnichannel customer engagement and customer experience strategies.
Companies employing an effective omnichannel customer engagement strategy enjoy a 9.5% year on year revenue increase, which is 3x the growth rate of their counterparts.
Omnichannel customers spend 4% in-store and 10% more online than their counterparts.
64% of customers find customer experience to be more important than price.
95% of customers will choose the company that gives them the most abundant and relevant information during their buyer journey.
Improving online customer engagement is top of the list for marketers in driving business growth as companies and organizations emerge from the pandemic. One of the best ways to develop engagement is through fully automated, flexible, easy to use customer loyalty software. Piggy’s platform offers companies and organizations of all sizes the opportunity to build their own customer loyalty programs. Businesses can choose to send personalized messages, based on valuable insights gathered from their data, across multiple channels – online, via apps and email, as well as in-store. Piggy’s platform is completely customizable and offers over 1,000 features that businesses can adapt to their needs, and build a program that is suitable for any size company.
A well-planned, successful customer loyalty program will ultimately boost customer engagement and maximize your customer lifetime value. Loyal customers are more cost effective and are more likely to shop more frequently, spend more money and thereby drive business growth.