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The Future of Customer Engagement

The nature of customer engagement is changing. Customer expectations are at an all-time high following an unprecedented shift in customer behaviour.

Alongside demands for low prices, free shipping and free returns, customers want to feel connected with the businesses they shop with.

54% of consumers believe that eCommerce companies can and should do more to engage with them.

This is despite behaviour that demonstrates little to no customer loyalty. According to a study conducted by eMarketer, 80% of consumers were shopping around. 65% of respondents were doing so because of price.

This is in part because the eCommerce industry, as a whole, has trained customers to shop for the best deal. That was, after all, the point of shopping online.

Online retailers could offer deeper discounts because they didn’t have the infrastructure associated with brick and mortar retailers.

However, this was at the cost of the customer experience. Ecommerce, by design, was and is, highly transactional.

But this is no longer enough. Your customers want low prices and high engagement. And if they don’t get it, their view is they’ll just find some other  business who will give it to them.

Custom Experience not just User Experience

A great customer experience isn’t just a slick and easy-to-use website and a smooth checkout process. It’s important, but in the modern eCommerce landscape, it has become the minimum standard.

With the average customer taking less than a second to decide if your website is right for them, the user experience still has to deliver.

But you need an approach for returning customers too. They’re familiar with you and your website. They know how to navigate to the products they like and they’re familiar with the checkout process. They aren’t going to be wowed a second time.

However, the big difference between a new customer and a returning one is data. Using the customer data available to you, you can create a custom online experience for every user.

Consolidating your customer data into a customer data platform allows you to tailor the user experience based on their preferences.

While key sales messages don’t have to change, the products they see can. Equally, you can tailor discounts and promotions to match their purchase history.

The result is, that every time your returning customers hit your website they will get a richer experience. 

This will not increase the likelihood of a sale but the average order value as well. It can increase lifetime customer value as a result and even push a repeat customer over the threshold to a loyal one.

Loyal customers not only spend significantly more than any other kind of customer, but they will advocate for you too.

Personalised Messaging

Much as customers will begin to get a personalised online experience, their communications will be too.

This is already happening in some businesses. Customer data and engagement platforms make it easy to personalise everything from emails to SMS. However, the upward trend in customer expectations will make this a minimum standard.

As with your website, you can leverage your customer data to craft a highly personalised communication strategy. 

A personalised communication strategy needs to be broken down by campaign and by channel.

A customer engagement platform or a customer data and engagement platform can help you create campaigns that are more relevant to your customers. The more data you have the easier it is to identify what matters to them.

Relevance is key as this is the measure – consciously or not – that your customers measure the businesses against. If a website stops being relevant to them they’ll stop shopping.

Relevance is based on several factors including product and price, but engagement is also a major consideration. So, if you get all three correct your customers will keep coming back.

Build your Customer Engagement Campaigns

The data at your disposal will help you to build personalised campaigns across all your channels to meet several objectives.

Long-term nurture, basket abandonment and sales and promotions communications can all be built around personalised data. 

Using a journey planner you can map out what you want your campaigns to do, and across which channels. You can ever leverage multiple channels in a single campaign. 

This way you can still deliver a personalised, engaging experience regardless of what your customers have opted-in to receive.

Web push and app push notifications can equally be personalised to improve the customer experience and therefore customer engagement.

Engaging your customers with relevant and timely notifications while they are in the app can be an effective way to increase order value, drive conversion or even prevent abandonment.

Before you build anything, list your campaigns and a clear objective for each. These outcomes will allow you to identify the best channels to use and what data you need to draw on.

From there you can plan out the various steps of the campaign and how to drive customer engagement.

AI and Machine Learning

The innovations and improvements in established technology mean businesses aren’t limited in their customer interactions. 

This gives businesses the freedom to create a customer engagement strategy that works for them and their customers.

Tools like AI-powered chatbots are ideal for eCommerce businesses that don’t necessarily have the headcount to respond to every customer query.

These chatbots can not only respond dynamically but you can integrate them with your CDP. This allows the chatbot to access customer profiles and interact with the customer in a personalised way. Not only using their name and/or preferred pronouns but pulling through purchase data.

The chatbot can ask the customer if they are enjoying their most recent purchase. Or if there’s a problem, already have the information to initiate an exchange or refund.

This level of customer engagement is what will increasingly set businesses apart. Xennials, millennials and Gen Z are increasingly time-poor and, generally, don’t want to talk to someone on the phone.

As such, it’s important to offer them the communication channels they prefer. A quick, easy, automated service that takes the pain out of top-level communications will add considerable value to your business. 

AI and machine learning can also be applied to your communication campaigns. The algorithm behind the technology can monitor customer engagement in real-time and adjust communications to optimise performance.

This can be especially powerful if you are sending product recommendations to customers. The AI can automatically adjust those products based on how your customers engage with the email.

Building Loyalty

Loyalty programmes are possibly one of the most widely used customer engagement tools. They are also one of the most underutilised.

The average customer is signed up to 14 loyalty programmes but engages with around half.

There can be several reasons for the lack of customer engagement but none are positive and boils down to either:

  • The customer doesn’t want to engage with it
  • They’ve forgotten about it
  • The loyalty programme isn’t competitive
  • The business isn’t adequately supporting it

This last point is probably the most common. It takes time and resources to sustain any kind of robust loyalty programme. Customers expect more than points for every Euro, pound or dollar they spend. 

While money off a purchase is always welcome it, like so many other innovations, has become the minimum standard.

The most effective loyalty programmes offer a personal experience. Not just exclusive offers but by creating a general sense of exclusivity. The more your customers feel like they are part of your tribe the more they will spend with you.

Tailored news and discounts – based on purchase history, product recommendations and exclusive content all create a sense of belonging.

Back this up with early access to sales, exclusive products and meaningful reductions on their purchases. 

It’s in the Game

Introducing gamification into a loyalty programme is next-level customer engagement and something that is growing in popularity.

Gamification rewards customers for hitting landmarks much like playing a video game does. Purchases, likes and shares on social media, recommendations and referrals can all be used to ‘level up’.

When a customer hits a new tier they get rewarded with a discount or free gift. Gamification not only keeps your customers engaged but provides you with sustained free PR as your customers will inevitably share their experiences online.

You can take customer engagement to the next level by introducing a league table. Customers can compete to be the customer of the month through a combination of:

  • Purchases
  • Minigames
  • Social media shares
  • Community engagement
  • Recommendations

This can be tiered depending on lifetime customer value, and prizes can be personalised depending on the customer data.

You can use your CDP to consolidate this data to produce real-time league tables and put together personalised prizes for the winners.

This is where the fun begins

Customer engagement is one of the most important components of any online business. The ability to tailor your communications and even your website to meet their needs and preferences is powerful.

In a space where customers are feeling increasingly isolated from the businesses they shop with, now is the time to invest.

Customer engagement, done in the right way, can transform the customer experience and your business.

Increasing your customer retention by 5% can boost your profits, in some cases, by 198%. Consolidating your data into a Single Customer View, using a customer data platform, gives you unparalleled insight.

You will have the power to create unique, rewarding and engaging customer experiences that will keep them coming back for me.

Get in touch today to book a demo and learn how you can apply this powerful technology to your online business.

Click to download our guide to increasing eCommerce conversions and retention.

About Xtremepush

Xtremepush is the world’s leading customer data and engagement data platform. We work with various top brands within the eCommerce industry. Schedule a personalised demo of our platform to learn more about how we can help your brand drive repeat customers and increase revenue.

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