These days, marketing and sales strategies tend to prioritize connections before actual selling.  According to Hall and Partners’ “Engager” study, up to 2/3 of a company’s profits rely on effective customer engagement. Companies who improve engagement increase their cross-sell by 22%; driving up-sell revenue from 13% to 51%. Makes sense, right?

But, the problem is that lots of companies don’t see any real importance in engagement. Instead, they only take their own interests in promoting their service into account. Indeed, sales pitches alone don’t build trusting relationships and long-lasting loyalty. Successful companies focus their efforts on creating value, not extracting revenue. In fact, the latter simply could not exist without the former.

Customer engagement forms part of the customer experience. Customer experience, in turn, is an integral part of Customer Relationship Management (CRM). It’s so important that a customer has a positive experience with a business because they are, of course, much more likely to become a loyal advocate.

A study by the White House Office of Consumer Affairs found that 80% of U.S. consumers would pay more for a product or service in order to ensure a superior customer experience. However, customer engagement isn’t synonymous with customer experience; it is a consequence of great customer experience.

Engagement is crucial in acquiring new customers and retaining old ones. Before we move on to a step-by-step engagement guide, lets first define what constitutes good customer engagement.

What is customer engagement?

Although there are plenty of definitions for the buzzword “engagement”, they all have one thing in common. Customer engagement is everything related to the interaction between a company and customers. Paul Greenberg was spot on with his definition:

“Customer engagement is the ongoing interactions between company and customer, offered by the company, chosen by the customer.” – Paul Greenberg (Source: HubSpot)

According to this definition, clients choose the way they’d like to be engaged with individually. This is a good point – in giving customers the option to choose, they are much more likely to find an approach that they deem beneficial. As a result, they strengthen their emotional investment in your company. This is a good way you build better customer relationships. Without connecting on a deeper level, it takes a much longer time for a customer to buy a product, if at all.

Below we’ve compiled a list of customer engagement strategies that have been proven as effective.

Share valuable content

In order to establish a strong connection with your customers, be useful to them. Engaging customers through valuable content makes perfect sense, but bear in mind that “valuable” is relative and specific to your audience. It should address their unique pain points or be relevant to their business niche. Before writing your content piece, ask yourself why they would want to read or share it.

For example, the NetHunt blog is dedicated to helping our audience. The content is focused on sales, productivity, and building better customer and employee relationships. Clients can also keep up with the latest NetHunt news and learn advanced CRM features. With our blog, users benefit from different sales and marketing tips and tricks to achieve better results.

The NetHunt website also provides success stories, where our customers share their experiences in using our CRM system. This first-hand feedback builds trust authentic between users and a company.

If you want to make your content more engaging, a rule of thumb is to focus on educating your customers. “How-to” tutorials are interesting and relevant, because customers come to you because they need something done that they can’t do on their own. If you continuously solve your customers’ problems via content, your brand name becomes apposite with problem-solving.

Establish an emotional connection

One of the most effective ways of building an emotional connections with a customer is to prove that they are dealing with a real person, rather than just a faceless company. Even if your company’s product is software, your clients still need to feel some emotion coming from your brand. By adding a human touch, you position your company as more P2P than B2B. Here are a few ways you can engage your customers while showing a human side at the same time:

  • Make a personal connection.
    Customer engagement is about personal treatment. For example, try to personalize your emails. This helps a recipient feel as if you’re referring to them individually; everyone wants to feel as if they are the only one in an audience. Addressing a customer by name is the first step to building trust. Utilize easy-to-obtain data for gender, age, date of birth, and location, and create variables in a mailing list. Remember to congratulate your clients on their birthdays, at New Year, and for other holidays. Smart personalization allows you to use email templates, but send emails containing different information or images based on different variables. Easy.
  • Introduce yourself.
    Regardless of whether you have a new lead or follower, always welcome them by sending them a brief and personalized message. Include a virtual business card, your email signature, at the end your email to make it easy for a prospect to learn more about you. This recent post “How To Create A Professional Email Signature” is a good place to find tips to help you write an eye-catching signature for your professional email.
  • Ask questions.
    Want your clients to interact with you? What’s a better way than by simply asking a question? Questions are a nice opportunity not only to grab the client’s attention, but to pick their brains.
    Here are some ideas for question topics you can ask your clients about:
  • how their experience was of your product, how they’ve benefited from it, and what needs to be improved;
  • ask them to share the apps that they need to run business;
  • find out what challenges and pain points they’re facing;
  • discover what tips they’d give others in their industry;
  • learn what are their favorite types of podcast or other media.
  • Make videos.
    These days, it’s easy to create any type of content. Users tend to find short videos more comfortable than a long-winded blog post. Therefore, it’s best to use videos to demonstrate and promote a product. A video can be about anything: how-to, webinars, and customer success stories are some of the genres that we have found most effective. What’s more, it’s a good and relatively fresh idea for businesses to post Instagram stories, go live to answer clients’ questions, or simply to talk about relevant topics. The NetHunt YouTube page has find lots of NetHunt CRM tutorials like the free webinar “A Practical Guide on How to Move from Spreadsheets to CRM”.

Be active on social media

Social media is an important way to engage customers in meaningful conversation; it’s also a nice way to make your marketing approach more human. You can publish behind-the-scenes content from the office or community events. For the sake of staying fresh in your customers’ minds, you should always have a little something extra in your back pocket to give them.

Getting your audience used to a weekly blog post on Instagram or Facebook, or a daily share of interesting content through LinkedIn or Twitter helps build familiarity and loyalty. To encourage this, having a carefully planned content calendar helps get your content team posting top content on a regular basis.

So what kind of content should you offer?

Specific. Write posts on social media about specific subject matters. More original content is always a winner, rather than offering the same topics that have already been covered to death. If your subject matter is more customer-driven, then it is more likely to resonate with your audience. Apart from product-related topics, you might want to express your own opinion on relevant issues, share news, and encourage discussion; fostering a reaction from readers in likes, comments, and shares.

Advantageous. Saving customers’ time should always be a priority. When they read through a blog post or watch a tutorial, there needs to be some sort of reward at the end of it. Your readers should come away feeling empowered by being able to do something they couldn’t do before. Always try to enrich social media posts with value for both users and prospects.

Entertaining. It’s almost impossible to engage a bored customer. Adding a friendly, lighthearted tone to interactions helps customers to feel more comfortable with you; again developing a more emotional connection. Crack a joke, include a funny video, or attach a meme to your next post. Your humor can either be related to a specific industry, or you can choose an alternative topic to catch the attention of a broader scope of followers.

Take a look at how a tech giant, like Google, entertains its followers on Instagram.

Be a doctor for your clients

Think about your prospect’s pain points. What problems are you actually trying to solve? For your conversation to resonate with a user, it needs to be less focused on purchasing a product or service, or how great your company is, and more focused on meeting specific needs.

As mentioned above, you can learn about a clients’ pain points through social media. Ask what they feel is lacking from their everyday routine that could achieve better workflow. The key here is to really listen to every response and provide practical and actionable advice. If you know that a prospect is interested in your service, offer them a demo – a live helping hand and assist them in all the painful questions.

Give presents

Everybody likes receiving presents; customers are no exception. You could offer a special birthday discount to users. Highlight the most active user each month and provide a special offer to them in return for their unwavering support.

Alternatively, when celebrating your company’s birthday, you could invite your partners and clients to an exclusive anniversary party. If you don’t feel much like partying, simply offer them a one-time discount to mark the milestone. These offerings are always a pleasant surprise for customers, helping them feel as if they’re part of the team and everybody likes saving a little bit of money.

Build a community and promote events

Having a strong community is another opportunity for you to answer clients’ questions, hold discussions that are relevant to your industry. Keep your followers informed about the latest news and any product updates from your company. Share tricks that they might not have known and information they are looking for. Today, it’s easy to create communities on popular social network platforms, such as Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Groups, and Slack. Odds are that your customers are already using at least one of these platforms, so getting an engaged community up and running is much easier than you think.

For an event you’re hosting, it’s best to use a community platform to engage and update your customers. Let people know that you’re going to be there and ask who else will be attending. Offer replies to those who are attending, tell them you look forward to seeing them there. Once you’re at the event, post photos and videos – let people know what they’re missing. You can even use Facebook Live or Instagram Live Video to stream the event or do a quick Q&A session with followers who weren’t able to attend.

Customer engagement is a journey. Even if you succeed and your potential clients are converting, you can always do more.  Do your best to have an end-to-end customer experience, offer useful content, and deliver consistent real-time support. The opportunities are endless!

No matter what business you’re in, use all of the strategies above to form long-term and reliable relationships.

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