In the age of social media, it’s not hard to picture what an engaged customer looks like. They’re the superfans liking and commenting on every post a brand puts out there. You know the ones; Apple, Disney, Starbucks, American Girl Dolls (for those of you with kids of a certain age), and so on. They’ve built a passionate base of engaged customers who’ll talk your ear off, online and in real life, about every ‘exciting’ new thing. It’s no wonder that these fully engaged customers represent a 23% premium in share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth over the average customer, according to Gallup.
Maybe having superfans seems a ways off for your brand, but more engaged customers are certainly within reach! In this piece, we’ll discuss the importance of customer engagement and seven proven methods for boosting engagement. But first, let’s agree on a definition.
What is customer engagement?
Customer engagement is the relationship between a consumer and a brand, the quality of that relationship, and the level of interaction. It starts the minute a prospect becomes aware of your solution and extends well beyond completing a transaction, culminating in a strong customer relationship and encouraging brand loyalty.
Customer engagement strategies, like loyalty programs, can help develop relationships as they’re deployed through various channels, such as social media or email marketing campaigns. Beyond providing a positive experience, customer engagement campaigns give new and returning buyers a reason to involve themselves more deeply with a brand, generating data that helps to improve customer success, reduce churn, and measure customer lifetime value.
Why customer engagement is important in sales
Simply put, employing customer engagement strategies helps sales organizations improve their relationships with prospects and customers. Engagement metrics also give an actionable understanding for customer retention, churn, and satisfaction. These insights allow sellers to expand their strategies and set KPIs to meet customer needs better.
Customer engagement is essential for buyers, too, because they want a positive customer experience. Without one, they’re likely to switch to a competitor. Zendesk reports that roughly half of customers will actually do so after only one bad experience, growing to around 80% after more than one negative experience.
Today’s customers want a brand that’s invested in a long-term partnership where their needs and wants are met. Engaged customers get more value from your brand when they feel valued.
Here are a few other reasons why effective customer engagement matters to the sales process:
- Elevates customer experience
- Builds trust and nurtures future opportunities
- Boosts sales velocity and customer lifetime value
- Improves customer loyalty
7 proven ways to increase customer engagement
Increasing customer engagement creates a stronger, more personal connection between buyers and sellers.
Here are seven proven methods to help you get started.
1. Make customer interactions as personal as possible
Personalizing customer interactions increases customer engagement in two ways. First, it helps build trust and establish an emotional connection between buyers and sellers. Second, it allows sellers to pinpoint the best way to interact with potential customers.
Personalized experiences take a multi-step approach — which means they scale as leads progress through your pipeline. Think of every prospect and qualified lead as an invested, interested third party who wants to know more. Start small with promotions or email segmentation.
As the potential customer continues to respond, they move further into the pipeline and require more dedicated attention. Use Sales Cadence & Automation and customer data to scale and personalize every touchpoint. Offer discounts, share free and educational content targeted at their pain points, or invite them to online events like webinars. Keep up with direct communications (like email or SMS) through your cadence and slim down every conservation to be professional but casual.
2. Try omnichannel engagement, including social media
Omnichannel engagement means interacting with customers through more than one digital channel. This type of engagement improves customer engagement and benefits sales by scaling up how you interact with customers — which in turn helps build a connection.
Use sales engagement tools and CRM to narrow your customer’s preferred communication channel. Are they active on social media? Do they respond to LinkedIn messages before emails? Or do they like an old-fashioned phone call?
Use of all these channels, but be sure not to overwhelm your customer. You want to be attentive without being insistent. Pay attention to customer behavior in response to your efforts. Pair omnichannel engagement with personalized experiences and work them into cadences for easier execution and optimization.
3. Consider a customer loyalty program
Offering a customer loyalty program helps encourage customer engagement. A satisfied customer base already gets value from your products and services, and sellers can honor that connection by offering exclusive incentives that genuinely improve their experience.
Doing so not only helps customer satisfaction but can also generate new business. A strong loyalty program is proof of a happy customer base. This attracts new buyers who are looking for brands that provide long-term benefits.
Examples of a customer loyalty program include a point system, exclusive VIP content, or discounts and coupons with every referral. These aren’t one-size-fits-all programs, though; it’s essential to research and choose one that’ll work best for you and your sales strategy.
4. Follow up with current customers for upsell opportunities
The customer journey isn’t over once you make the sale. Engaging with customers after selling is crucial because they may want more from the relationship. Be proactive and reach out. You never know who will respond.
Increase consumer engagement by giving customers a glimpse into future offerings and new products. For example, you can design an engagement strategy around reaching out after a few weeks or months following a sale. If you’re focused on one-to-one interactions, send a quick email to see how they’re doing. Then follow up with a new opportunity that will likely benefit them.
Use customer data to personalize broader interactions through engagement campaigns. Following the same methodology as before, reach out after a certain amount of time and use customer-generated insights to design your message. Thank them for their time and offer similar incentives, discounts, or content based on past interactions.
5. Actively respond to customer feedback
Responding to feedback is a type of engagement customers appreciate. In fact, answering feedback should be part of any customer support strategy. It boosts customer engagement by addressing customers’ individual needs, putting you in direct contact with your target audience, and helping you measure customer satisfaction.
In addition, CXM reports that only one out of 26 customers share their complaints. The rest contribute to customer churn. This means loyal customers are the ones who care enough to share their negative experiences.
Respond to the feedback you receive on product reviews, social media, surveys, direct messages, forums, and more. Listen to what existing and potential customers have to say. Your response should show that you want to improve their experience, then seriously work to make that happen.
6. Take action based on customer data
Customer data is valuable for customer engagement because it provides insight into customer behavior. Coupled with intel pulled from real-time conversations, these insights can help keep customers engaged and invested in your solutions.
Wield customer data intelligently. Your goal as a seller is to provide genuine value without being pushy.
Look at data concerning websites, purchase history, pain points, email open rates, and past conversations. Take action by segmenting your customer’s behavioral data and proactively addressing their needs before they become major roadblocks.
7. Keep the promises that you make
Remember what we said about feedback and seriously working to improve the customer experience? This means keeping your promises. Not doing so will not only affect your brand loyalty, it’ll affect your image and lower customer expectations—if not drive them away entirely.
If you’re aware of an issue before a customer brings it up, be in the process of fixing it before promising a solution. The same goes for updates or new stock. The rollout of software fixes or exclusive seasonal options should be in the works before you promise it.
Be honest if you can’t deliver on a promise for some reason. Customers appreciate brand integrity and may be open to alternatives. Put the spotlight on what they want to see and work to achieve what is reasonable.
Increase customer engagement with Salesloft
A successful customer engagement strategy strengthens the relationship between buyers and brands. To do that, you need a sales engagement platform that scales personalized interactions and proactively meets customer needs.
Salesloft’s sales engagement platform is purpose-built for sales teams so you can give more to your customer base. Optimize engagement through omnichannel touches, preserve customer data integrity through Salesforce, Hubspot, or Microsoft Dynamics CRM-sync, and leverage intelligence to improve follow-up and conversations as they unfold in real-time.
Build stronger connections and increase customer engagement today with Salesloft. Reach out to learn more.