Brand loyalty has always been an important factor in building a solid business, but in today’s age of a billion online options, it’s even more so. A lot of companies have amazing products, so to give your customers that extra incentive to become a loyal and returning customer, they have to fall in love with you as well as your products. You have to engage them on a more personal level.
Here are the top five ways to improve your company’s customer engagement strategies to keep them coming back for more.
Create a Personable Brand
Is your brand approachable? Would you want to interact with it? Chances are, the answer is no. It can be difficult for companies to create an approachable brand since it requires defining who your target audience is and what kind of voice would most appeal to them.
For some companies, this might be easy. If you are a young, hip company, then using emojis, slang, and even profane language might be appropriate for your audience. If you are a health company targeting people who are interested in yoga and homeopathic medicine, there is a voice for that. But for those with wider audiences, it can be difficult to find an authentic personality that appeals to everyone.
If you have a spokesperson like Colonel Sanders or Wendy, bringing those people to life can help you create a voice. Otherwise, you will need to build out your customer personas to better understand what kind of voice will appeal to your customers.
If your company decides on a generic, friendly, but no-nonsense voice (most companies do), consider letting your social media team have a little more leeway for humor and personality. Both are needed to help build strong communities online. To add more personalization, they can sign or initial all of their posts and responses. This way customers know they are speaking to real people and not just a faceless business.
Use Interactive Content
Interactive content is the most direct way to get your audience to engage with your company. Whether you’re asking questions or giving them something fun to do, according to DemandGen, 81% of marketers agree that interactive content grabs attention more effectively than static content. If you’re not happy with your initial interaction rate, supercharge it by offering a discount to everyone who responds, or a free product, or membership giveaway as a sweepstakes prize. Remember to set an expiration date as social media posts last forever.
It’s always important to go back to the basics, and the most basic type of interaction is to have a conversation. Ask a question and respond to the answers you receive. Today, Q&A’s are most often done via a chat feature on your website or on social media, but they can also be done via email, phone, text, and in-person. The key to having a meaningful Q&A interaction with your customers is to choose questions with answers that will have a direct impact on your strategies and products. Don’t waste your customers’ time.
When you plan to update one of your products, design a new clothing line, or create a new menu, ask your customers questions. What are their favorite and least favorite things about the current products? What would improve it? Whatever your reason for the questions, make sure you have enough staff and time to quickly respond to the answers to get more details or simply thank them for replying.
Polls are another way to get customer opinions. If you are waffling between offering a product in different colors, ask your customers which colors they prefer. If you are wondering what time of day people are using your product or what they love about your product, set up a poll. Most polls can be created within social media platforms, so they’re simple to set up.
Other interactive content types are more involved but can also be super fun—like quizzes. Everyone likes quizzes. Most companies have products or expertise that they can build knowledge quizzes around, and with a little more creativity, you could even create relevant personality quizzes. And because quizzes are so popular online, there are plenty of platforms that allow you to create and host them on your website.
Engage Your Super-Fans
You know who your most passionate fanbase is because they buy a lot of products, post about their favorite products constantly, and respond to your social media posts. Don’t let that passion go to waste! Create a special, invitation-only feedback group on Facebook or another platform so you can talk to them privately. Give your super-fans special previews of product launches, ask them to perform user tests, and get their input on your products.
When asking your super-fans to test products, write reviews, and tweet, blog or vlog about products, always reward them for their invaluable time and knowledge. Give them free products, special discounts, and shower them with copious thanks and praise.
Remember to let your group know that any free products they receive must be mentioned in any review they leave on that product, so everything is above-board.
Share Personal Stories
The way to a person’s heart is through a story. Bringing your brand to life with your customers’ stories and your employee’s stories can engage the hearts and minds of your audience in new ways.
Customer-generated content is one of the most trusted advertising methods a company can use. According to Olapic, 56% of customers are more likely to buy a product after seeing it featured in a positive or relatable user-generated image. If your company posts pictures that users have taken while wearing your clothes or using your product and stories of their experiences, it allows potential customers to relate to those customers on a personal level and see how the product can positively affect their own lives.
Using user-generated content also allows you to interact on a meaningful level with a passionate fan base and encourages other customers to submit their images and stories to be spotlighted. To encourage more people to participate and thank those that freely offer their content to you, offer a free product, membership, or discount to anyone you feature.
Your audience isn’t as interested in your employees as most marketing blogs would have you think. Yes, sharing written stories about your employees will add a personable element to your company, but most people don’t have the time or interest to learn about people they don’t know and with whom they will never interact. The exception would be if your employee has an emotional, hilarious, or engaging story to tell that relates to your products. Most employees don’t have those kinds of stories to tell. However, there are ways to introduce employees to your online audience that will make the audience more interested.
Much like customer-generated content, you can have employee-generated content. One company that excels at this strategy is UPS with their Facebook page UPS Dogs. The employee generated pictures and captions humanize the company in a fun and entertaining way. Most companies don’t have animals to exploit, but you can spotlight salespeople wearing their favorite outfit from a new line with a short caption of why they love it, or a picture and story about a time when your product saved their life, or simply have employees submit funny pictures from around the office. Think about what fun, employee-generated content would make the most sense for your brand and ask employees to participate.
Personalize Your Touch Points
The marketing world has been talking about personalization for years, but it can be overwhelming to implement. How much personalization is enough? How much is too much in the age of predictive technology that knows a lot about you?
The bare minimum personalization is including your customer’s names in your emails, celebrating their birthday or customer anniversary with a special discount, and retargeting them with ads based on past purchases and recent internet searches. But it’s 2018, and with today’s technology you can bump it up a notch. Onboarding quizzes, Geofencing, Augmented Reality, and Artificial Intelligence can take your personalization techniques to another level.
As previously mentioned, everyone loves taking quizzes. While quizzes that tell us our personality or spirit animal are fun, taking a quiz to get better service just makes good sense (and it can also be fun). Have you ever had to pick your favorite topics/music types/movies when you sign up for a new online news, music, or streaming service? This is an onboarding quiz. The company is putting your answers into an algorithm so they can push the playlists and articles they think would be most interesting to you. And as you continue to use their platform, they get to know more about you and refine their ability to personalize your content to things you will like.
Your company can do this, too. Your customers are coming to you with different interests, experience levels, and needs. When they sign up on your site, ask them a few easy questions (five or less) that will help you send them your most relevant content or assign them to the salesperson or consultant best suited to their needs.
Personalize your content by location. Smartphone users are constantly using their location to search for nearby businesses, so if you aren’t targeting your customers based on their location, you are missing out on an opportunity to wow them. Send location-specific advertising and push notifications to customers you know are on the move.
Geofence your brick-and-mortar stores to welcome customers and offer them coupons and other special discounts when they arrive. You can even geofence your competition to get customers to take advantage of better deals at your business.
Augmented Reality (AR)
As AR is becoming more accessible, many companies are using it to enable customers to virtually try their products. Makeup companies, like Sephora, suggest products based on pictures the customer uploads, and companies that specialize in home decor, like Wayfair, allow people to place products in a simulation of their home.
If your product lends itself to AR, think about creating a program that allows your customers to go beyond their imagination and actually see what their life would be like if they bought your product.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI has a long way to go before it reaches sci-fi movie levels, but at this point, companies should be using AI programs to analyze customer data and create predictive models to personalize marketing and sales strategies. How many touch points (and what kind) does it take before customers make their first purchase? When do customers make their second purchases and through what channels? When do you see your biggest churn rate? AI can help your company find these data points and quickly analyze the effects of the changes your company makes while optimizing your customers’ pipelines.
There are also AI programs that can act on predictive models to serve specific types of emails and ads to customers based on their demographics and actions. This type of AI is more advanced and often requires a company to update older IT infrastructures, but it’s worth mentioning now because these hyper-personalized, automated pipelines are the future of marketing (and for some companies, it’s already the present).
The sooner you start your journey to personalize your brand, the sooner you will start reaping the rewards that it offers.