By: Kevin Lau
What Is Customer Engagement?
Customer engagement is the key to effective digital marketing in the Engagement Economy. The internet is saturated with content marketing, people’s inboxes are full of well-designed emails, and account-based strategies are quickly becoming a B2B standard. Improved customer engagement is the only answer to increasing customer expectations, but it can be a complicated strategy.
Customer engagement is the strategy by which businesses build relationships with their clients and customers, with the intent of creating awareness and fostering brand loyalty. It is the foundation of the Engagement Economy, a movement to deliver the authentic and personalized experiences that consumers expect and demand.
Brands that continuously engage with their customers benefit from doing so in many ways:
It differentiates brands. Consistently finding opportunities for customer engagement results in memorable brand touchpoints.It increases customer satisfaction, which helps to retain customers while also making them your biggest advocates.It creates trust between the brand and their customers. It’s hard to feel buyer’s remorse over a purchase when a brand is consistently interacting with the buyer—even after the sale.
It’s because of measurable, proven benefits like these that 98% of marketers have a developed a clear strategy to address customer engagement. Despite their efforts, however, almost half of those strategies are severely restricted by one internal hindrance.
Your customer engagement efforts won’t be effective without internal alignment. Even though 98% of marketers understand the value of a robust customer engagement strategy, only 56% report having alignment on that strategy with the most important part of their team—the executives.
In this blog, I’ll cover how to achieve executive-level alignment to take your customer engagement to the next level.
Every department should be aligned with a marketing strategy, especially a broad strategy that will involve many campaigns, but getting buy-in from the C-suite is key. In one sense, even the best customer engagement strategy will likely fail without the support of the executive team. On the other hand, the C-suite can help mobilize alignment across the entire team, redirect company resources to the strategy, and provide the kind of oversight to make sure the strategy is constantly improving. In fact, 58% of companies reported higher profitability than their competitors when their CEO was in charge of customer experience initiatives.
The key to any customer engagement strategy, at any scale, is executive-level buy-in.
First, of course, you need a strategy for customer engagement, but once it’s on paper, how do you get the C-suite to sign on?
1. Make the Case for Customer Engagement
While the case may be clear for marketers in the trenches of a new age of digital networks and communications, it’s also easy to see why many executive-level leaders don’t jump at ideas like, “building relationships with audience members.” That sounds time-intensive and hard to quantify.
And it is.
So, quantify it, and do it quickly.
Define “customer engagement” in terms that can be measured, like email opens, branded SEM keywords, etc.Provide statistics that connect improved engagement to the bottom line.Demonstrate how your competition is better at customer engagement than your organization.
Some statistics you can use:
60% of consumers expect an improved experience from brands they are engaged with.
54% of consumers engage with brands in order to get the latest news on products and services.66% of B2B consumers want to advocate for brands that engage well.
66% of B2B consumers fully expect that all communications with a brand to be personalized.
Once you’ve proven the need, cast a vision.
2. Present Your Customer Engagement Goals
Tie the need directly to your organization and your audience, and outline the end result of your customer engagement strategy. Create some goals based on the metrics you chose to quantify engagement strategies, and extrapolate the revenue-related consequence of those improvements. For example, you know that every X email opens results in one purchase, qualified lead, etc. Your customer engagement strategy aims to improve email opens by Y%, which would, in one year, result in additional revenue of about $Z.
If there are a variety of management and executive-level leaders you need to get aligned, be sure to also highlight how the strategy will help each individual department.
3. Outline the Strategy
Thomas Edison is credited with saying, “Vision without execution is hallucination.” The C-suite doesn’t want to know every detail, but you will need to demonstrate your plan. The executive team won’t buy into a hallucination.
Outline the basic strategy for taking your customer engagement metrics from where they are today, to where they need to be. Make sure the plan is rooted in the present-day reality of your situation and shows practical, achievable increments.
4. Listen and Apply Feedback
There will be considerations you didn’t think of, and insights you didn’t have. Not to mention, anyone—executives included—is more apt to get on-board with a plan when they have a say in that plan.
Be prepared to listen and make adjustments.
5. Commit to Accountability
Make sure you have a plan to share frequent updates with the C-suite. Whether it’s a quarterly meeting or a monthly email, make it part of the overall plan, promise periodic updates—and then make sure your team delivers them!
Customer engagement is a requirement for effective marketing, sales, and customer service in the Engagement Economy. Every team needs the right strategy, insights, and tools, but the one secret to truly effective customer engagement is executive-level buy-in. Start by ironing out your engagement strategy. Make sure it’s rooted in the present reality and clearly tied to revenue-related goals and you’ll be set up for success.
What do you stand to win if you achieve optimal customer engagement? How would you approach achieving executive-level buy-in?