Customer engagement is one of the most talked about topics in every marketing department in every industry. An engaged customer base is usually both a happy and loyal customer base.
Of course, engaged and loyal take on different forms depending on your industry and your target market. Loyalty from a B2B customer looks very different to that of a long time player of an iGaming operator.
However, the core principles of retention, engagement and value are largely the same. How you get there is different but the proverbial guiding light will always be relevance.
Customers churn when the product or service they’re using stops being relevant to them. How relevance diminishes can be due to circumstances out of your control. But, the more engaged they are the less likely they are to leave.
Regardless of how multifaceted your customer engagement strategy is, its effectiveness will be dictated by depth of understanding. The more you know about your customers the easier it is to talk to them about the things they care about.
In its absence, you’re reduced to generic communications that rely on luck rather than reliable information.
This has the knock on effect of undermining the relationship between you and your customers. Customers expect you to know them and their needs/wants. Every time they receive a generic communication full of products or services that aren’t relevant to them, they move further away from you.
This is when relevance dips and your customer churns.
Customer engagement has to be driven by customer data. The more data you can harvest, the easier and more personalised those communications become.
Customer engagement is a broad term so it’s important to define what you want your customer engagement strategy to achieve.
More followers on LinkedIn is nice but unless you’ve got hard data it’ll move the needle, that shouldn’t be the priority. However, social media should still factor into your approach.
While the objective is to get more customers interacting with your brand across your channels, there are specific outcomes you should be aiming for. Bearing in mind sustaining relevance is ultimately what makes all other outcomes possible:
- Increase purchases
- Increase revenue (and profit)
- Increase brand awareness
- Increase loyalty
- Increase cross-sell
- Increase referrals
- Decrease churn
Occupying a place of greatest relevance, in your space, to your customers will make all of these things easier.
With this in mind, customer engagement relies on understanding customer behaviour and driving them towards content or products that are relevant to them.
You also need to be able to track engagement to make sure what you’re putting in front of your customers is well received.
With new customers, who are yet to cross the anonymity threshold or who have only made one purchase, this can be a little hit and miss.
But the more data points you can track the faster the picture will resolve into a detailed customer view.
Leveraging Data Sources
Your ability to harvest, analyse and segment data will directly impact on your ability to engage with your customers. Notably because the overwhelming majority want to feel like you understand their needs and wants.
Fortunately you have the data to create the kind of personalised experience they expect. The challenge is bringing all that data together. While everything from Facebook to MailChimp provides comprehensive reporting, the only way you can analyse it is manually.
This is time consuming and ultimately fruitless because by the time you’ve gleaned some insights days are likely to have passed.
It also makes it impossible to build any kind of automation or nurture sequences because nothing talks to each other.
To create a meaningful and effective customer engagement strategy a priority needs to be data consolidation.
Bringing all your data into one place gives you a comprehensive view of each of your customers. Including their purchase history and what of your communications and content they’ve engaged with.
However, there are two important factors to this – firstly data ingestion isn’t a one and done thing. It has to be an ongoing process, in real-time, that gives you actionable intel on your customers.
Secondly it has to be real-time. Not real-time ingestion and manual export and analysis, an end-to-end real-time process.
Just as manually exporting data and putting it into a spreadsheet renders the data obsolete, so does a manual ETL process.
You need to be able to consolidate all your data sources into one place in real-time, analyse it in real-time and apply segments in real-time.
This will give you the ability to communicate with your audience in the most relevant way possible and drive customer engagement.
Data Driven Customer Engagement
The more data you have the better the customer engagement becomes. Again, relevance is everything. The ability to predict how a customer will behave or what they will find interesting is integral to personalised customer engagement.
The more customers engage with your communications and engage with your site and app, the more data you can gather. First party data are the actions your customers have taken. Whether that’s order placed or searches carried out.
The more data you collect the more personalised your customer engagement campaigns can become. The more customers engage, the more successful each iteration of those campaigns becomes. At least, that’s the theory.
The problem with first party data is its retrospective. You’re making decisions and recommendations based on past actions.
Circumstances can change very quickly in the lives of your customers that can totally change their priorities and or their interests. A live event can render all your communications obsolete and destroy any relevance you once had.
This can be offset by collecting zero party data because it establishes intent. It’s information provided by the customer about the things they are interested in, the products they like and how they would respond to certain requests or situations.
A lot of businesses find asking for zero party data problematic. They don’t want to intrude or they’re concerned about scaring customers off.
Providing your customer engagement is working, asking your customers how to make their experience more rewarding, they’re generally happy to respond.
It’s also perfectly reasonable to build into the customer profile section of your website or app a preferences section. They can provide as much or as little information as they choose but it all adds to the player experience.
Zero party data, however, has its problems too.
Because zero party data is intent rather than action, it can be inaccurate. Especially if customers believe that answering in a certain way will benefit them.
This can mean communications and content served to customers using zero party data can be less accurate than content supplied via first party data.
For your customer engagement campaigns to bear the most fruit, you need to leverage both data sets and blend them.
Remember, zero party data is intent. First party data is past action.
One can serve as a verifier for the other, creating a true Single Customer View, populated with reliable, actionable data. This will allow you to create hyper-personalised, relevant, communications that drive effective customer engagement.
To learn more about how you can leverage your customer data, in true real-time to maximise your customer engagement campaigns, get in touch to request a demo.