Read examples of how B2C companies are winning at customer engagement from initial acquisition to engagement.
Customer acquisition is a vital part of a successful business, but it’s only the first part of the story. The second—and even more important—part is ensuring those first-time customers turn into repeat customers. This is what customer engagement is for. Customer engagement is all about building connections and creating relationships with consumers, with the goal of increasing customer loyalty and maximising customer retention.
Boosting Customer Engagement
Customer engagement builds on and is related to another core concept in marketing: the customer experience. Improving the experience that customers have when they interact with your business is important for very obvious reasons. When customers have a good purchase experience, they’re more likely to make repeat purchases and more likely to recommend the company to family and friends. A key factor in customer engagement is the customer journey and whether this has a negative or positive impact.
Engaging customers is partly about ensuring they have good experiences when they interact with your company or brand. The more important part is about building good long-term relationships with customers. That’s something that needs more than just good customer service. To build a loyal and engaged customer base, you need to provide people with opportunities to interact with your brand. Interactions drive emotion, and it’s emotion that ultimately drives both first-time and repeat purchases.
Use social media to put a face on your brand
Emotion is an extremely strong factor in driving purchases and creating brand loyalty, but consumers tend to find it difficult to feel strong emotions about a company or brand. It takes time to build the kind of long-term emotionally-driven relationships that lead to brand loyalty. Well-established brands that have put in the time are already reaping the rewards, but new competitors have to resort to other strategies.
One of the most effective strategies is to give a company or brand a personality—to put a human face on the brand to help people relate to it more strongly. Social media has proven to be a highly effective medium for this purpose, as a number of big brands have shown in recent years. And even smaller ones are making names for themselves by injecting some fun into their social media personas.
When developing a brand persona, be sure to consider what kind of persona your customers are likely to respond to. This isn’t a one-size-fits all approach and it’s important to remember that your brand persona is one that your customers must find likeable in order for it to be successful.
Fast-food franchises such as Denny’s and Wendy’s have perfected this art over the last several years, developing sassy, sarcastic Twitter personas that are a huge hit with their target demographic. These companies have a solid understanding of their audience, and have created personas that target the demographic that is most likely to ensure internet fame: young people in their teens and 20s who are internet-savvy, and whose approval is often what helps content go viral. By targeting this specific demographic, Denny’s and Wendy’s regularly end up with viral content that’s shared on other social media platforms as well as generating buzz—and upping their audience engagement level—on Twitter.
Create buyer personas to understand your customers
For any marketing strategy, one of the most important foundations is understanding your customers: who they are, what they like and don’t like, what they expect from you, for a start. However, as customers become increasingly sophisticated in terms of their expectations and demands, it’s vital to deep-dive into customer demographics in order to create marketing material that’s relevant to them.
Creating buyer personas is a useful tool. By developing one or more buyer personas that correspond to your customer demographics, you gain a deeper understanding of how they’ll relate and respond to your engagement and marketing efforts.
One of the very best examples of a company that knows its audience inside and out is Apple. Its desktop and laptop computers can’t compete with Windows-based PCs in terms of sheer numbers sold, but that’s not a problem: the smart products Apple produces are where it really excels. And it excels again when it comes to targeting the people it wants to sell to.
Apple does this by marketing to lifestyles just as much, if not more, as it does to people. It’s a strategy that many companies employ effectively, but few do it as well as Apple. With the Apple Watch, for instance, the company initially positioned itself by marketing not just to a demographic, but to a personality type with a specific kind of lifestyle. The Type A persona who micro-manages their life down to the last detail, the person for whom efficiency is a watchword.
Now, with the Apple Watch a firmly established product with an ever-increasing range of functions, the company is branching out with its marketing. Apple is targeting a broader range of people, even partnering with Hermes to produce a high-end luxury version that retails for more than four times more than the basic watch.
Develop personalised shopping and marketing experiences
You can create all the marketing messages in the world, but customers won’t engage with messages they don’t relate to. And the more they relate, the better the engagement factor. This is yet another reason why buyer personas are so useful, and is also the impetus behind the trend towards highly personalised marketing messages.
When it comes to personalised marketing, the obvious example is Amazon.com, where shoppers receive recommendations on what to buy, listen to, watch, or read based on their past purchase habits. Putting in the effort to develop a highly accurate algorithm is genius on Amazon’s part, simply because when shoppers visit the site for a specific purpose, they’re greeted with a personalised page full of items they’d genuinely enjoy owning. The result, of course, is that people typically end up making impulse purchases and spending more than they originally planned.
Online retailers definitely have a leg-up when it comes to personalised marketing, because they have so many opportunities to capture customer data. Another company that demonstrates this with effectiveness is cosmetics retailer Sephora, which has not only personalised the online shopping experience, but managed to do it across multiple channels. Customers can use the brand’s website or mobile app to virtually try on cosmetics before making a purchase. Plus they’ve developed an online community for further conversations.
This means Sephora can provide both a highly personalised shopping experience, even to online customers, but also allows the brand to provide similarly customised marketing emails.