Stand by your brand

Read time 4min 30sec

Regardless of industry, successful companies are those which focus on satisfying their customer needs. However, over the past few years, customer satisfaction rates continued dropping, despite corporations' efforts to heighten their customers' satisfaction. The main reason behind this is consumers demand more than just a good experience; today's users and buyers want customer engagement.

Engaged customers go the extra mile to do business with companies to which they are loyal.

Defined for the first time in 2006, customer engagement is far from being a new concept. It is, however, the latest marketing paradigm to connect consumers with other consumers, organisations, and brands. In essence, customer engagement is a term that defines the ways consumers connect with other consumers, organisations and brands.

Online, the paradigm is different; in cyber space, it is a social phenomenon enabled due to the widespread use of the Internet, and the technical developments that improved connection speed later. It is also the behaviour of consumers as they interact in online communities while discussing general categories or specific products.

Customer is king

Businesses depend on customers to sell their products and return often. However, today's consumers are becoming smarter and more informed. They need more than a monetary incentive to stay loyal to a business.

With the advent of the Internet and ultimately social media, consumers have become even more selective, as they tend to make up their minds from online sources. This is why customer engagement has become critical for businesses.

Customer loyalty is vital these days. Not only are new clients harder to come by, but engaged customers have proven to be more valuable for businesses. The latter group will remain by a company's side, improving its customer retention rate. In addition, engaged customers go the extra mile to do business with companies to which they are loyal.

Engaged clientele can also contribute to a company's marketing efforts. Due to their constant interaction with sellers, they can evolve from loyal users to brand evangelists. Once at that stage, they can start influencing others to follow suit and successfully attract more clientele than generic promotional messages.

Proving these are statistics collected by Gallup; a study conducted by the American research-based consultancy shows that fully engaged customers increase a company's revenue by 23%, whereas simply engaged clients brought on a 7% increase. On the other hand, companies that did not practise customer engagement often experienced a revenue drop of 1%, whereas 'actively disengaged' customers led to a 13% drop.

Channels of engagement

Leaders across different industries are utilising social media and mobile devices to actively engage their clients. Of the two, social media are the most popular channels for businesses to communicate with their current and potential clients. This is because they can feature promotional messages and gimmicks while giving consumers the chance to interact with a brand and later publicise it. Therefore, companies can easily hit three birds with one stone.

In addition, social media do not push promotional messages onto consumers. Those who have subscribed for that content or are following the company's brand have agreed, of their own will, to receive the latest information and offers. Therefore, marketers' efforts will be directed towards the right people.

Mobile marketing is being embraced by companies that want to boost their levels of customer interaction. Like social media, it allows consumers to interact with organisations, and this too is achieved once consumers personally opt for this channel. However, the difference between this channel and social media is that mobile marketing is more personal in nature.

For starters, mobile users download apps that keep them connected with their brands of choice. Based on information companies retrieve through mobile analytics, such as when users mostly interact with the apps or how often they avail certain offers, they can customise the service for users and ensure their loyalty even further.

While customer engagement through mobile is relatively new, it has become a top priority for many companies regardless of size. However, the main obstacle that companies face is convincing buyers to make purchases through their mobile phones, a problem that will take time to be solved. This is why businesses today need to focus most of their energy on their social media channel.

The next step

Companies should take the next step and move from ensuring customer experience to managing customer engagement. For that, social CRM can be helpful in determining touch points.

However, since mapping and executing customer journeys by connecting these points can be filled with hurdles, marketers should also focus on automating this aspect through an orchestration hub. After all, it is the journey that ensures the success of customer-seller interactions.

Therefore, businesses need to embrace the concept of customer engagement immediately and ensure every aspect of their infrastructure is prepared for this necessary change. If they lag, they will lose their clients altogether.

Julian Ardagh

CEO, Effective Intelligence.

Julian Ardagh, CEO of Effective Intelligence, has over three decades of experience in the information systems, direct marketing and analytics space. He was trained in programming at IBM, is a business management (EE) graduate and an advanced marketing graduate (UCT Graduate School of Business). Ardagh founded Advanced Direct Marketing in the early 90s, along with Advanced Application Databases, which was acquired to form the basis of financial services direct marketing leader, Direct Axis. Ardagh helped build Direct Axis from an idea to a profitable reality, and later left to focus on his main passion: developing data and information solutions that combine science and data, at his new venture, Effective Intelligence. He has lectured widely on direct marketing and data quality systems, and served on many direct marketing and postal forum committees. He is a past chairman of the DMA Database sub-committee, and also served as the DMA vice-chairman for the Western Cape. Currently, Ardagh is on the board of the DMA’s ethics committee.

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