Today’s customers don’t buy products in a vacuum. When they decide to do business with a company, they also consider the relationship they have with that company. They also think about how that company reflects their own values. To address this sentiment, you need to increase customer engagement and build meaningful relationships with consumers.
In this article, we look at how to define, measure, and increase customer engagement. We also explore the omnichannel approach as a solution for improving your customer engagement strategy.
What Is Customer Engagement?
Customer engagement is the process of interacting with and building relationships with your customers. This can take place over a variety of channels, including social media, email newsletters, and customer service phone calls.
Highly engaged customers find value in the content and services you provide. They’re also likelier to become invested in your brand, stay with you long-term, and refer new customers to your business.
Fostering a strong culture of customer engagement means you can’t just focus on increasing your revenue. You need to build value for your customers that goes beyond the products you sell or the marketing campaigns you put out. Indeed, Hubspot describes customer engagement as a function of improving the customer experience:
“It needs to be clear that you value your relationship with [your customers] and not just the money they spend at your business. That’s why you need to consistently engage with customers to demonstrate your dedication to their needs.”
How Do You Measure Customer Engagement?
Before you learn how to increase engagement, learn how to measure the success of your efforts.
Quantifying how your customers feel about your brand might seem difficult. Fortunately, many of the relevant metrics are already available through your existing marketing tools. Let’s explore a few of them.
The conversion rates of your marketing campaigns measure how often they achieve their goals by converting a lead into a potential paying customer. Depending on your campaign, a conversion could be anything from signing up for your mailing list or clicking on a CTA button to scheduling a free consultation.
The formula for conversion rate is as follows:
Total conversions / (Total sessions * 100)
High conversion rates indicate that you have a highly engaging marketing strategy that encourages customer interaction. It can also mean that the interaction points you offer actually lead your customers to what they’re looking for.
Time on Page/Session Time
Time on page refers to how long a visitor spends on each page of your website. That can mean a blog post, landing or service page, or contact form. This is related to session time, which refers to the total length of time that a visitor spends on your site.
In general, you can interpret time on page as an indicator of how engaged your customers are with your content. Larger time-on-page figures denote pages that your customers are more intently reading through. This suggests they provide a lot of value.
Identifying the pages where your customers spend a lot of time can help you figure out what they’re looking for. It can also help you learn how you can solve their problems. From there, you can identify less-engaging pages and determine how to optimize them.
With that said, a shorter time on page is not always a bad thing. If your customer engagement strategy involves rapid and concise service delivery, then your most effective pages might actually be associated with shorter time on page but higher conversion rates. You should always consider these metrics in light of your specific plans to increase customer engagement.
Video views are a simple and reliable way to measure customer engagement. The more views your video content has, the more appealing it is to your audience.
Video views are especially relevant to engagement because of how each video platform calculates a “view”:
Facebook counts a view as a user spending at least three seconds watching a video.
Instagram also considers a view to be three seconds.
YouTube views are 30 seconds long.
LinkedIn counts two things: two seconds of view time and whether the video is 50% of the screen or more.
Twitter counts two seconds of view time and whether or not 50% of the user’s screen is the video.
These metrics show that for major video platforms, a “view” is designed to take into consideration whether a user is actually engaged with a video they’re watching. Because of this, you can’t just use marketing tricks to improve your video view count. Rather, you need to create content that is genuinely interesting, valuable, and authoritative for your users.
These days, a large part of your direct customer engagement will come from social media. One of the biggest measures of this engagement is how often your content is shared.
Users tend to share content that is:
Of value to them and their social contacts
Created by a brand they support
These are clear signs you’ve built a relationship with sharing customers. Tracking your shares can then illustrate how well you are connected with your customers. Identifying what kind of content is highly shared by your users can help you determine where to focus your efforts.
With that said, content can also be shared for the wrong reasons. Users may share content that they deem problematic in some way and caption or comment their share with a callout.
In our 2021 study of nearly 6,000 online shoppers, Aircall determined that 35% of users will post a positive review after a good customer service experience with a brand.
Customer service is the most direct engagement that users will have with your brand. As a result, positive reviews of this engagement channel are strong indicators of your success.
Having positive reviews also indicates that your customers have a strong enough relationship with your brand that they want to support and recommend it to others. And it’s not just the number of reviews that matters. Determining the unique sentiments in each review can give you insight into your performance and how you can improve.
Why Does Creating a Customer Engagement Strategy Matter?
The results of increasing customer engagement can’t be taken lightly. A Gallup survey determined that fully engaged customers spend 23% more compared to regular customers.
In fact, Hall and Partners’ data-driven Engager model suggests that as much as 2/3 of your profits could be reliant on your customer engagement strategy.
An increase in customer engagement is also associated with greater customer retention. According to our ECommerce report, this retention comes with its own benefits. Loyal customers spend more, are easier to re-acquire, and are very likely to share positive feedback with their close contacts and on social media.
Besides these figures, increasing customer engagement has various positive benefits, a few of which include:
Improved overall customer experience
Reduced friction in the sales funnel, speeding up closing rate
Differentiation from your competition
How to Increase Customer Engagement
With so many real and measurable benefits, it becomes impossible to ignore the value of customer engagement.
To increase customer engagement, however, you can’t just haphazardly set engagement metric goals. First, we recommend conducting an audit to see where your customer engagement strategy is at now. From there, you can start to build a holistic customer engagement strategy that provides value over everything else. Here are some tips to help you get started.
1. Create a Great Customer Experience
Customer experience is intimately linked to engagement. A great customer experience creates engaged, loyal customers who will continue supporting your business. In fact, PwC reports that 73% of customers consider customer experience to be an essential factor in choosing a brand to do business with.
To create a great customer experience and increase customer engagement, you need to give your customers everything they need to resolve their issues.
One of the best ways to do this is to improve your customer service experience.
Train your customer service team to put customers first, demonstrating empathy and knowledge of products and services in every call. This will lead your customers to believe that your brand can be trusted and they can go to you whenever they need a problem fixed.
Resolution of issues in the first interaction
Fast response to customer service calls
Friendly and empathetic customer service professionals
You should also have a strong self-service framework in place so users can find answers without having to file a ticket.
Create an extensive knowledge base of tutorials, troubleshooting articles, and videos that address as many conceivable concerns as possible. You can base this on your product testing, as well as the feedback of your customers.
2. Use the Right Communication Channels for Your Brand
Almost every business can benefit from having a presence in multiple communication channels. However, that might not be possible for every company, so you should select the right communication channels to focus on for maximum engagement.
Choosing the right channel is based on three primary factors:
The goal of your messaging. Consider whether your content is personalized or general, whether the message aims to collect sensitive or personal information, or whether you’re trying to get feedback from customers.
The favored communication channels of your target audience.
Your brand values.
For example, if you’re targeting a wide age demographic to support, you may want to focus on creating a robust phone customer service line. This is because over 35% of users in our eCommerce report say they try to reach customer service over the phone first. 85% consider it the most effective.
3. Try an Omnichannel Approach
Simply having multiple communication channels isn’t enough anymore. Today’s customers no longer use each channel in a linear path, so each channel needs to be a part of a cohesive experience.
For example, many customers use a brand’s website knowledge base before messaging the social media page or calling the customer service phone number.
The ideal way to handle this nonlinear customer behavior is an omnichannel experience. We define an omnichannel experience as a strategy that approaches multiple customer touchpoints and communication channels as part of a seamless and cohesive experience.
In an omnichannel experience, your advertising, marketing, sales, and customer support strategies are all aligned. They need to have the same messaging and consistent information so there is never any discrepancy in the customer journey.
You also need to consolidate your CRM integration so your support agents will be able to look up customer history and provide personalized service.
Starbucks: Creating a Memorable Rewards Program
One of the best examples of a successful omnichannel customer experience is the Starbucks rewards program, a massive venture with more than 19 million members that Starbucks credits with as much as 50% of its sales.
The Starbucks rewards program unifies SMS, email, in-app, and other forms of marketing. It gives users the ability to load their cards via app, over-the-counter, and a variety of other methods.
Customers can also get real-time updates about their balance and available rewards—no matter what channel they use. This cohesive experience reduces friction when moving between channels and makes for an engaging way to connect with users.
Disney Parks: Making It Easy to Plan Your Dream Vacation
Another example is Disney’s park experiences. Customers have an entire ecosystem of tools and sites to help them plan their trips.
The mobile-responsive website lets you book and plan a vacation right from the site and even connect with planDisney panelists for advice. The mobile app lets you view your trip plans and identify all the rides and attractions and see estimated wait times.
Disney further reduces friction with the physical MagicBand, which acts as a hotel key, check-in ticket, food and merchandise purchasing card, and more. All this is possible with a single item that’s connected to your digital park presence, which you can also review on the app or website.
When taking an omnichannel approach, consider every potential customer touchpoint. For example, SMS is an important strategy to have because it works across sales, marketing, support, and other departments. It enables you to send offers and announcements over SMS, while support agents can reach out to customers or even use SMS with other channels simultaneously.
4. Use Social Media Strategically
Over 3.6 billion people used social media in 2020, and by 2025, that number is expected to grow to nearly 4.41 billion. So there’s no question that a social media customer engagement strategy is essential for your business.
Social media represents a multitude of customer interaction touchpoints.
According to The Manifest, 74% of people follow brands on social media, and 96% of these followers interact with the brands via social media as well.
Social media is also a source of feedback and word-of-mouth marketing for people. In a Market Force survey, 81% of respondents said their friends’ social media referrals and recommendations played a role in their purchasing decisions.
Meanwhile, Sprout Social determined that 34.5% of people have social media as their top method of getting customer service from brands, exceeding traditional channels like website live chat and email.
Having a strong social media engagement strategy that leverages paid and organic marketing, as well as customer service, will help you increase customer engagement across multiple departments.
5. Thank Customers and Ask for Their Feedback
Thanking your customers for their support isn’t just a nice thing to do. Research has shown that customers exhibit greater retention and higher spending when they feel appreciated by the brand they support.
You can also improve engagement by asking for customer feedback. By involving them in the process of improving your brand, your customers will feel like they’re participating and helping out. This will further develop their emotional connection and relationship with your business
Of course, that feedback isn’t worth much if you don’t have the culture of listening and incorporating it. That’s why it’s critical to establish a system for your support team that actively requests feedback and caters to customers’ preferences.
6. Reward Customer Engagement
You’ll find that customers will occasionally engage with you on their own, praising your good products and service on social media without the expectation of anything.
This is the time to act and reward that engagement with something to show your appreciation.
Set aside a budget for tokens that you can give to loyal and openly happy customers whenever they leave a review or refer a friend. Whether it’s a free gift, a few months free of using your SaaS subscription, or a special VIP pass, these informal rewards can show people you care.
Increase Customer Engagement With Best-in-Class Customer Service
As we’ve said, the most direct form of customer engagement is customer service. The right (or wrong) customer service approach can make or break your relationship with your customers.
Investing in the right tools to develop your customer service staff is key to providing the best possible customer service experience.
With Aircall, you get a wide array of features that help you guide customers to exactly where they need to go. Powerful Interactive Voice Response (IVR) options allow you to route customers according to their specific needs. Skill-based routing ensures your customers are always talking to agents who have the specific skills needed to solve their issues.
You also get coaching tools that help your agents perform their best through the guidance of the team. And with our extensive array of CRM integrations, you can be assured that every agent has access to an extensive customer interaction history.
Across all touchpoints, even in an omnichannel experience, your customers will feel that they are remembered and that their needs are heard and understood.
If you’re ready to increase customer engagement to new heights, reach out to us today. You’ll be able to try our cloud-based phone system for free or get a live demo of our best features.
Published on January 2, 2024.