Welcome to the first part of our three-part article series on the modern customer journey. Through this series we’re going to take you through the entire customer journey, from engagement to conversion and retention. Today we’re starting with engagement. Some of you may be looking at this first step, engagement, and thinking about the old model — attract, convert, retain. Attraction is still an important aspect of any marketing effort, but in 2022 and beyond customer journeys have evolved beyond just attraction and now we need to foster engagement between the brand and customer.
How the customer journey has changed
This evolution of the customer journey has many contributing factors, but one of the biggest is the increased desire by customers to research their purchases independently to ensure that they’re getting the best value for money. You can see this reflected in any specialist YouTube channel — product reviews will almost always have the highest view counts.
In this age of infinite comparison, your brand can stand out from the pack by focusing on your communication. Think not just about what your brand is saying, but how they are saying it and what channels you’re using.
Another key aspect of how customer behaviour has changed is customers are now increasingly less tolerant of bumps in this journey. For example, did you know that if your website takes more than 3 seconds to load, you’ll lose 57% of potential sales? Smoothing out these bumps in the journey are essential to making the entire process work. This is something that can be easily achieved by using a CPaaS solution as it will let you take customers from engagement to conversion to retention across multiple channels and environments all from one central record.
Why mobile messaging is a natural fit for engagement
When trying to build engagement with your audience the channel you use is crucial. Sending them a message via their favourite messaging app gets you in front of their eyes in an app that they use every day to contact their closest friends and family.
Messages are also much more likely to be read than other channels like email. For example, 98% of SMS are opened and read within 3 minutes of receipt whereas with emails, you’d be lucky if they are opened at all. The open rate for emails is a much lower 20% — and this isn’t even taking into account read rates!
Why is customer engagement important?
When you work on keeping a customer interested and engaged with your brand, you’re going to be communicating with them often and providing content that they’re interested in. If you do this right, these increased customer interactions will enable you to collect more data about customer preferences, and you can then use those preferences to further refine your content. Just like building a friendship in real life, you’re building a relationship with your customer and building their loyalty to your brand.
How to build customer engagement
There are so many ways to build customer engagement, but we’re going to outline two here that are really effective:
Offering value — Giving your customer something for nothing is a hard thing for many businesses, but it’s something that will endear a customer to you very strongly. We’re not suggesting you give your main product away, but you can build supplementary content that will support purchases that your customers make. For example, your brand could be a chain of gyms and you could offer a workout app that guides users through an exercise session — with push notifications from the app when it’s time to work out. Or you could be a financial services company that offers a free webinar about investments via an SMS invitation.
The possibilities are endless, and almost every product can have a complimentary free additional piece of content that you can offer. Even if you can’t find a good way to offer additional content, you can offer things like discounts. If you sell a printer, send your customer an SMS offering a lifetime discount on ink cartridges. That customer will come back to you again and again because you’re providing them with additional value past the point of purchase.
Two-way communication — you can also use two-way messaging in a CPaaS solution like GMS’ Business Communication Suite (BCS) to open a dialogue with your customers. Ask them how they feel about products they’ve purchased, seek feedback on your services or just offer quick and painless customer service.
Having a conversation with your customer is an excellent way to learn more about them, which can in turn let you market to them better or even provide them with a more tailored product or service. Going back to our financial services example, if you open a dialogue with a customer when they set up their account and ask them a few questions about their investment experience you can identify right away the customers who might benefit from an investment for beginner’s webinar. You don’t even need to have a giant team of staff or to personally talk to each and every customer. Plugging a chatbot into your messaging and offering a multiple choice answer selection will allow you to segment your audience really easily.
Pay attention to the results — make sure that you’re not just sending out marketing messages to your audience, but also measuring their reach and engagement. Using the integrated analytics in GMS’ BCS, you’ll be able to review every message you send and see all the relevant data on it. Did most of your audience ignore it or did they all open it, read it and click the link you sent?
One of the best ways to tighten up your marketing approach is to combine regular reviews of your analytics with A/B testing. This is where you will compose the same message in two or more different variations and then send them out to a segment of your audience. For example, you could send half of them an offer code for a 50% discount and the other half a code for buy-on-get-one-free, if one particular code gets more engagement than the other then you know which is better to use in future.
Building better customer profiles for even deeper engagement
Research from Econsultancy shows that 52% of consumers are willing to share personal data in exchange for personalised offers or discounts. But a more interesting statistic here is that 72% of customers surveyed for SmarterHQ’s Privacy and Personalisation white paper said they only engage with personalised messages.
So more than half of people are happy to give personal data, and almost three quarters of people will only talk to you if you have and use that data. Seems like a bit of a no-brainer to me!
On top of this you can use your customer’s location to ensure you aren’t providing an offer for a business that is hundreds of miles away, and even create a hyper-relevant offer that is directly related to what your customer is doing. For example, if you’re a food service retailer and it’s lunchtime and your customer is out in the city, why not send them a voucher for a discount on a coffee or sandwich at one of your stores as they pass by? For more on this type of campaign you can read our article on location based marketing.
So now you know why engagement is important, what it does for your brand and some methods of building that engaged relationship with your audience. The next step after building that engagement is to capitalise on it and convert that relationship into a sale. I’ll get into this and more in the next article in this series.