“Customers who are fully engaged, represent a 23% premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, and revenue and relationship growth, compared with the average customer.”
– John H. Fleming
Human Sigma: Managing the Employee-Customer Encounter
No matter whether you run a technology startup or an innovative app company, one thing is certain – you need a loyal following of satisfied customers if you want to be successful. Many companies spend a lot of time tracking metrics like Facebook likes and website leads to determine just how valuable their company is. However, while these KPIs are important, they overlook one of the most important elements of any modern sales strategy: engagement.
Thousands of people visiting your website won’t get you ahead in the marketplace if those people aren’t engaged. A huge social following won’t help you to sell your business in the future if those followers never comment on, or share your posts.
Creating a successful company is about building something your clients feel connected to. After all, the more people interact with your brand, the more likely they are to buy your products, recommend your services, and even advocate for your organization. The question is, how do you cultivate engagement?
Step 1: Start With Content
As any digital company should know, being active online is only the first step to success in the modern marketplace. If you want to generate a buzz about your brand, then you need to give your customers something worth talking about.
A blog is one of the easiest ways to launch your content marketing efforts. With it, you can share visually-rich guides and articles that showcase your industry expertise and demonstrate the authority you have in your space. As your following begins to grow, you can then consider other forms of content that might be relevant to your brand. For instance, if you sell a graphic design program, then you might post videos on YouTube and Facebook that show people how to make the most of your product.
Content is key to engagement because it gives your customers something to interact with beyond your sales pages. Remember, today’s clients want to build a relationship with the companies they buy from. They want to feel as though they can trust you before they hand over their money, and content is a great way to develop that credibility.
Remember, before you start posting content:
- Create buyer personas to figure out what kind of information your audience is looking for, what media they prefer, and what tone of voice you should be using.
- Work on your website design to ensure that your content is easy to find and consume.
- Link your content back to social media posts and use “call to actions” to encourage engagement. For instance: “Follow us on Twitter to find out more?”
Step 2: Make Yourself Discoverable
One thing that many online businesses discover when they start developing their presence on the web, is that customers don’t want to have to work hard to engage with a brand. While your prospects might be happy to listen to what you have to say, they won’t engage with you unless you make it easy for them to join the conversation.
A great way to start “making yourself discoverable” is to invest in SEO and PPC campaigns.
SEO is simply about using the right tactics to place yourself in the right position on the search engine results pages. One of the factors involved in SEO is keywords. For instance, if you’re a company that sells content management software, you’d want to make sure that the content you publish on your website includes keywords like “CMS” or “Content Management”, so Google can rank you accordingly.
PPC uses those same keywords to buy you a place at the top of the search engine results pages, so you’re more likely to earn interest from the right audience. Once you’re visible on the search results pages, you’ll need to make sure that each page your customer clicks on convinces them to take the next step in their conversion journey. For instance, your home page might link to your social media pages, YouTube channel, and product pages.
Think of the relationship you build with your audience as a carefully-structured path and guide your visitors along it.
Step 3: Build A Community
To engage your audience, you need to build a relationship with them. Few customers will click on your website and immediately buy something during their first visit. The key to success online is nurturing your prospects through multiple touch-points. By building a community through various platforms, you not only show your value to your would-be clients, but you also start to build a sense of familiarity that makes them more likely to trust you.
One place you could start developing your community is on relevant industry forums. For instance, StackOverflow is a popular forum for technical companies, and GrowthHackers is a good one for marketers. Remember, when you join these forums, your aim should be to answer questions and provide value, not promote your products and services.
As well as forums, social media channels are an obvious choice for community building. The channel you choose will depend heavily on the kind of audience you’re trying to engage. For instance, if you connect with a highly-visual audience, then you’re more likely to get results on Instagram. On the other hand, if you’re a B2B business, most of your leads may come from a channel like LinkedIn.
Again, with social media, the key is to have conversations with your audience. Encourage them to engage with your brand by running contests, and polls that ask them to share pictures, or enter a competition for a chance to win money off your product. On Facebook, companies can even take advantage of the Facebook Live feature to run exciting Q&As with their customers. All of these will grow your community and encourage your followers to become an active part of the network you’re building.
Step 4: Give Your Customers A Voice
Consumers automatically feel more engaged by a band when they have an opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings about that company’s products or services. After all, we like to see that our opinion matters to the businesses we buy from. Social media channels, forums, and websites make it easy to pose questions to your customers, distribute surveys, or start discussions that are all conducive to better brand engagement.
You could start by asking your audience what their biggest concerns are when it comes to buying from your firm. This not only gives you a way to engage your followers, but it also means that you can alleviate fears by responding with blog posts and other forms of content. The more questions you answer for your customers, the more you can fill the gaps in your leaky sales funnel.
Another option is to ask your most loyal customers to become beta testers for your latest product developments and updates. Recruit your followers and ask them to give their opinions on everything they want to see from your brand. This will help you to develop a better understanding of the people you’re trying to sell to, while also giving you access to an army of brand ambassadors who can help to share your message on channels across the web.
If your beta testers feel comfortable enough, you can ask them to write content to grow your blog or post video reviews that could act as social proof to convert new visitors in your network.
A beta tester program can eventually evolve into a loyalty scheme as more people join your following. This will allow you to give people rewards when they refer new customers to your company, and it means you can tap into all the benefits of word-of-mouth marketing while cultivating a team of highly-engaged clients.
Step 5: Always Put Customer Service First
Nothing is better at creating a loyal, engaged, and happy audience than fantastic customer service. In a world where 89% of businesses expect to compete purely on customer experience, it’s crucial to ensure that your clients feel as though they’re getting the right support from your brand. This might mean that you embrace an omni-channel customer service strategy, so you can respond to customer queries on everything from social media, to email.
On the other hand, a great customer service solution might mean looking for ways to go above and beyond what your clients expect from you. For instance, make sure that you’re ready to solve problems the second that someone comes to you with an issue – don’t just sweep negative comments under the rug.
When you’re connecting with your audience, used personalized messages, and look for new ways to excite and surprise your followers with things like Birthday discounts and surprise gifts for loyal customers. The more incredible your customer service becomes, the easier it will be to transform prospects into loyal, engaged advocates for your brand.