You can’t build a large customer base without engaging them first. But your customer engagement efforts shouldn’t stop once someone buys. Keeping users interested in the post-sale stage builds loyalty and encourages them to stick with your brand.
Doing this isn’t easy. But companies now have more ways to engage with customers than ever before. This article will outline some of the best ones.
What is customer engagement?
Customer engagement is all about strengthening your brand’s relationship with customers via continuous interaction across various channels. The objective is to use these interactions to help customers achieve their goals.
Customer engagement occurs throughout the life cycle, from the moment a lead discovers your brand to when they achieve their first goals and beyond. You just need to choose an appropriate method for each stage.
Building and implementing a robust customer engagement strategy has many benefits. Highly engaged customers are more loyal, recommend your product to others, and, ultimately, buy more. This results in higher revenue growth.
Your complete customer engagement strategy in 8 steps
The rest of this article is a comprehensive guide to creating a customer engagement strategy.
We’ve defined multiple strategies you can use at various customer journey touchpoints. Just choose the ones that will work best for you.
Understand the customer experience
Ensure you know your customer’s needs before creating an engagement strategy. This will help you choose the methods that best resonate with your users.
Talking to customers is an easy way to find out what they want. Be sure to dive into any data you have available too.
Validate customer expectations
Speak to your audience to confirm that their expectations align with yours. This will help you deliver maximum value to members.
Interview a selected number of loyal users based on your ideal customer profiles to learn about their challenges. Discovering their goals helps you create engagement strategies to help.
Once you have some ideas from these initial interviews, craft a survey to validate the ideas on the broader set of members. Establish a process to continuously connect with members at different community lifecycle stages to understand their needs.
✔️Zoom: Speak with customers, wherever they are in the world.
✔️UserVoice: Capture, share, and analyze customer feedback.
✔️Survicate: Create powerful customer surveys.
✔️Typeform: Build forms people enjoy answering.
Create a customer journey map
A customer journey map is a visual representation of customer interaction with your brand across the life cycle. It is a great way to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and learn how various touchpoints impact experiences.
This clarity helps you create interactions that set your customers up for success.
✔️Lucidchart: Intuitive chart creation tool.
✔️UXPressia: Quickly create customer journey maps.
Enrich customer data
Data provides essential insight into customer engagement. Enrich the first-party data you collect with information from third-party sources.
Enrichment solutions enable you to tie in the customer and prospect data you have already collected via your website and app with additional information.
Richer profiles give you a better understanding of customers, help you segment them better, and enable tailored experiences.
✔️Clearbit: Collect data for all your customer interactions.
✔️Zoominfo: Powerful source of B2B data.
✔️Datanyze: Find contact information for B2B prospects.
Create a powerful onboarding experience
A robust customer onboarding process is your first chance to build strong relationships with new users. It increases customer retention by quickly displaying the value of your product.
Send email sequences
Engaging email sequences build trust and credibility with your subscribers and customers. Deliver value by using automated sequences to guide new users towards desired actions.
Here are five critical components of an onboarding email sequence:
- Warm welcome with key account details.
- Ways to seek help.
- Educational resources.
- Guiding the users to reach an “Aha” moment.
- Showcase the benefits and key features.
✔️Hubspot: Advanced email marketing automation with CRM and customer support suite.
✔️ActiveCampaign: Email marketing platform with CRM and automation.
Build guided tours
Create a guided tour to introduce key product functionalities and features. It helps customers take actions that provide the most value from your product.
It’s also an excellent way to convert new free trial sign-ups into active users. And as a self-service method of customer success, it doesn’t require much effort from your team.
✔️ Chameleon: Create guided product tours for new users.
✔️ Intercom: Build guided experiences to increase adoption.
Create helpful videos
Videos are an effective way to generate engagement. Consider creating video content specifically for onboarding—showcase key elements of your product, provide instructions on how to use it, and highlight the next steps.
✔️ Wistia: Video hosting with detailed analytics.
✔️ Vidyard: Quickly create marketing and sales videos.
Direct access to your support team via live chat during the onboarding phase can be a powerful way to set up customers for success.
Customers are prone to roadblocks during the initial setup period. A smooth onboarding process aided by an easy-to-reach support team can improve engagement.
✔️ Zendesk: Powerful helpdesk software with plenty of extras.
✔️ Intercom: Business messaging with live chat and bots.
Educate customers and communicate
Providing educational material is an effective way to engage customers while setting them up for success. Keeping in touch helps build relationships and engage users over the long term.
Create educational content
Creating practical guides on industry and product usage best practices is one of the most effective ways to deliver value. You’ll engage customers and help them use your product to achieve their goals.
The key here is to understand your customer needs and pain points. You can then create content assets to help.
Your content should be closely aligned with the life cycle stage of customers. Here are some common types of content:
- Case studies
- White papers
Choose the ones that are most relevant to your product and customer base.
Send product updates
New features and product improvements offer immense value to customers. Ensure your users have all they need to extract maximum value from these updates by clearly communicating what they are and how to use them.
Create materials such as videos, knowledge base articles, blog posts, and tutorials, and then send them out via the most appropriate channels.
Emails, communities, in-app messages, and guided tours are common channels for telling customers about updates.
Send digests and newsletters
Digest emails can be personalized based on the customer’s account and activity and then automated to go out regularly. As well as being personalized experiences, digests keep your brand top-of-mind.
Newsletters are another powerful way to connect with customers over the long term. Create one that shares company updates and content. The more interesting your newsletter, the more it will engage and build your authority.
✔️ Hubspot: Powerful marketing automation.
✔️ Sendy: Cost-effective email newsletter application.
✔️ Sendgrid: Communication platform that helps with email delivery.
Create webinars and podcasts
Webinars are great for engaging customers. Organize ones that help customers grow their business or solve key challenges in real-time. Use your company knowledge or bring in experts to discuss relevant topics.
Here are some of the content themes that work well for webinars:
- Deep-dive discussions on specific topics.
- Practical guides on solving a key problem.
- Discussions with influencers.
- A panel discussion on new industry trends.
✔️ Demio: Intuitive webinar software for marketers.
✔️ Livestorm: Host and manage live events online.
Create a knowledge base
A knowledge base is an online documentation library designed to provide customers with easy access to all they need to use your product. It’s a powerful form of self-service tool.
A knowledge base also helps your internal team by highlighting popular topics and search terms. Use this data to create further documentation.
Positive engagement naturally builds relationships with your customers. Stronger customer relationships protect against churn and harness customer advocacy—a powerful tool to use when growing your business.
Create a community
Brand communities are an effective way to build genuine relationships between your company and your customers. Customers use these communities to connect, learn about how to use your product, and discover how to get more value.
These communities have many benefits. They can reduce support costs, act as a moat to protect against competitors, generate traffic through SEO, improve customer loyalty, and drive growth.
The key is to integrate the community throughout the entire customer life cycle. The image below shows how you can use communities at each stage. Or read more about the community flywheel here.
|✔️ Tribe: Build completely customizable community platforms for your business.|
In-person events allow brands to connect with their fans, customers, and audiences face-to-face. It’s an opportunity for discussion, sharing brand experiences, and collecting feedback.
Events are also a powerful way to build valuable connections and networks. In fact, offline events and communities share similar elements—from peer-to-peer connections and ideation to knowledge-sharing and discussions.
Face-to-face meetings help you build an emotional connection with your audience. They can boost customer satisfaction and provide the opportunity for in-depth discussions.
The downside is that meeting in person isn’t scalable. But it is still a good marketing strategy for key customers.
Create a superuser program
Superusers and brand advocates are a valuable customer segment. These users are industry experts and often showcase their expertise by helping others and sharing first-hand experiences.
These customers tend to be more vocal than other users and stay up-to-date on the product’s roadmap.
Leveraging these people can be a brilliant way to engage with and inspire other users. Use their productivity, knowledge, energy, and network to promote the company.
Distributing free swag is an easy way to connect with existing customers. It will put a smile on their faces and help them remember your brand.
It’s not a subtle form of engagement, and it won’t make up for poor experiences elsewhere. But it’s a nice way to stand out and build relationships.
Surprise and delight customers
Surprise and delight your customers by offering unexpected rewards. This strategy fuels a deeper relationship with your brand.
Here are some of the commonly used tactics to surprise customers and deliver delightful experiences:
- Random acts of kindness: Provide free additional product usage.
- Invites to exclusive experiences: Such as an event.
- Personalized gifts and freebies: Base these on a customer’s purchase history.
- Extra-mile support: Go above and beyond what is expected.
Delighting customers can also increase word-of-mouth referrals as people discuss your product in their network.
Collect customer feedback
Collecting feedback is the easiest way to ensure that customers are responding to your engagement efforts.
If you don’t check your metrics, you can’t be sure your efforts are working.
Create feedback channels
The key to collecting customer feedback is to make it easy for customers to do so at relevant touchpoints.
While it can be tempting to send out complex surveys, customers may be more likely to respond to a quick one-off question about a recently completed task.
Here are some of the most common ways to gather customer feedback:
- Use an embedded feedback collection widget on your website or product.
- Distribute feedback surveys after customer support interactions.
- Send surveys via SMS links to a customer’s phone number after they contact support.
- Use your customer community to generate feedback (here’s how).
- Add survey questions to your knowledge base.
- Collect user behavior data from analytics tools.
- Organize a customer panel for focus group-based feedback collection
✔️ Survey Monkey: Leading survey software.
✔️ Tribe: Communicate directly with customers via a brand-led community.
Close the loop
Collecting customer feedback is only the first part of the process. You also need to close the loop.
Do this by:
- Acknowledging the feedback.
- Setting expectations.
- Being transparent about the feedback prioritization process.
- Informing customers with updates that are based on their feedback.
Note that only 47% of customers believe brands act on customer feedback. Closing the loop shows customers you are listening.
Apply game mechanics
Gamification can be a good way to boost engagement. Features like rewards, points, progress bars, and unlocking levels add an extra layer of stickiness to your product.
Consider integrating gaming tactics into your company’s website, product, online community, or learning management system.
Use gamification to educate customers
Use gamification to encourage interaction during onboarding. It can be an effective way to push customers to learn more about your product, thus improving customer success.
A good example of this is the profile taskbar on LinkedIn. It displays how complete a new user’s profile is while laying out the next steps for them to take.
Run giveaway campaigns
Giveaways and contests are a powerful way to engage users, customers, and fans by offering a reward for getting involved. It’s a classic gamification technique and one that is easily replicated.
These campaigns often happen on social media sites. It’s easy to use them to build brand awareness by taking advantage of the built-in features of these sites. For example, deciding winners based on the number of likes or retweets they generate.
Creating a system of rewards is a brilliant way to encourage user-generated content on communities or social platforms.
Many popular online communities have some type of scoring system that acknowledges contributions.
- Stack Overflow has an extensive reputation score system that gives points for useful answers.
- Reddit users can give upvotes and badges to contributions they deem valuable.
- Quora users can vote on and share responses to questions.
- YouTube lets users like or dislike videos.
Elevate customer status
Leaderboard systems and badges are a common way to elevate the status of community users.
Leaderboards highlight members who make valuable contributions, which encourages other members to try to reach these lists.
Badges can have a similar effect. For example, Reddit’s Trophy system gives awards to users who make a valuable contribution to the platform.
Encourage repeat purchases by creating a loyalty program that gamifies buying. It’s a common technique that can increase customer lifetime value.
There are plenty of examples of this type of system. For example, restaurant reservation service provider OpenTable has a points system that lets users redeem points for hotel discounts.
People won’t engage with your brand if they don’t trust it. Here are some ways you can build trust amongst your target audience.
Stay true to your promises
Whenever customers engage with a brand, they are committed. Customers truly believe in a brand when they fulfill these promises.
The easiest way to ensure this happens is to make authentic pledges and be thoughtful about your communication.
If you continually keep promises, over time you’ll drive loyalty and advocacy.
Facilitate peer-to-peer connections
Peer-to-peer connections allow customers to build valuable networks with other customers, seek guidance from experienced users, and share knowledge.
This network can increase trust by showing people that other customers believe in your brand.
A common example is Q&A sections or the help sections in the online community. This is the space where customers answer questions posted by other customers. Seeing input from real customers adds social proof that builds trust.
This approach can also be applied to other parts of your site. For example, you can embed relevant content from your customer community to your FAQ page, sales pages, testimonials, or case studies section.
Not only does this build trust, but it also encourages people to visit your community. Overall, a powerful tactic for customer engagement.
Cultivate culture and celebrate
The final step to building effective customer engagement is to celebrate the engagement that is already happening.
Here are two ways you can do this:
Celebrating milestones is all about acknowledging the customer’s journey with your product. It highlights the achievements they’ve made and reminds them of how you helped.
Google Search Console does a good job of this. Every month it shares how a user’s website has performed in the previous month.
Here are some examples of the types of milestones you could celebrate:
- Celebrate with customers when they reach a certain product usage level.
- Acknowledge customers’ loyalty and delight them when they perform a certain number of transactions.
- Send a summary of customers’ activities and celebrate small wins.
- Surprise customers on special occasions in the customer’s life.
Share user-generated content
If people generate content on your platform, community, or social channels, celebrate this by sharing it with your audience. You’ll provide users with more opportunities for interaction, show customers you appreciate their efforts, and build brand awareness.
Customer engagement starts with customer connection
To build engagement, you need to understand your customer’s needs and then develop authentic connections with them.
First, discover what your customers want, and then build strategies that bring them back to your brand to achieve these goals. It won’t be long before you have a more engaged customer base.