Let’s Improve Online Customer Engagement!

In the last post, we have explained and defined customer engagement, as well as metrics to evaluate it. We will now pass through some basic steps in actually working on improving it. It’s impossible to list all of them, since there are millions of ways to engage your customer and inspire him to visit your website and purchase more frequently. Some will say the key is to connect with your Facebook fans, some will say it’s the customer care that matters, or email newsletters, surveys, giveaways, etc. Although everything mentioned is true, let’s put our focus on the things that somehow slip away under the retailer’s radar.

One of the main targets you want to reach when focusing on engagement is simplicity in your store. Simplicity is achieved by focusing our efforts on our customers’ sparest resource. For one customer segment that might be time, for another it might be mental effort, for the third it can be the overall shopping loop. People tend to find things simple that they do over and over again, so if you can simplify an already existing customers routine, the chances are you more likely that you’ll engage them. Fact is, it’s not so simple to make it simple and unique, but it’s not impossible at all. With enough A/B testing, you’ll reach your solution.

engaged customer

If we take a deeper look at customer psychology, it’s obvious that our customers look to overcome all the distractions they face by looking for shortcuts to their goals. For them it’s important to find some unique value, and then use the shortest possible route to achieve it – For example: If other customers are using and buying a product X, they think X got to be useful. And that customer have to SEE that others are using and enjoying X. That shortcut he saw will trigger his decision. Highlighting things that help our customers take these shortcuts will mean that a customer is less likely to pass over us and our product he thought buying.

It’s essential to meet customer’s expectations, and that route will surely bring you success in customer engagement.

Expectations can be met by increasing the relevance of our product, service and communications. Product relevance is achieved by having product reviews, testimonials and detailed instructions. Customer service is something you already know you got to excel and deliver everything as promised, and you got to honor all lines of communications that your customers can use. While time spent on gaining a deeper understanding of your audience doesn’t always pay dividends, using that understanding to develop a framework for personalization does.

Focus on establishing what the right-channel is, the right-timing and right-messaging for each customer segment as a first step. Some of them will like e-mails, some will like a Facebook card, others will value a follow-up call. Test and choose the best way. Here are some suggestions that proved to be working like a charm:

  1. Become a new model of authority for your area of business. Provide free expert advice, you can do it over your own or someone else’s website. Recognize that the only way you are able to establish authority today is through offering something valuable to your customers, while any interaction with them that doesn’t offer value lowers your authority.
  2. While supporting or hosting a customer community can be an excellent way of establishing a group of buyers, the best way to engage participants is usually to open channels back into your business. Providing access to the product designers or the shipment managers that can offer insights into how and why things work the way they do and is often deeply engaging for customers. You can offer a video with “How it’s done” process and send a special promotion booklet to increase customer loyalty.
  3. Providing a game-like-experience in your shop can be a winner. Visitors like to compete and like to be involved in something that breaks standard shopping experience. Create a contest, and set milestones easy, so that customers can stick to it. Gamification will be spreading more across all business in 2014 so it’s important to start it as soon as possible. Remember that every technique that gets your visitors and potential buyers coming back is extremely important, and gamification mechanisms do the trick. The eventual losses at start of that promotion will become justifiable when those users come back for more points or more interactions with your store.
And remember – don’t let engagement slip away, or hope it will increase by itself. It’s your job to keep it up, and it will surely have a positive impact!

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