BY TESS SCHWIESO
It’s no surprise that with technological advancements over the past two decades, how we choose to spend our time has rapidly changed.
Businesses have jumped into the digital world in a big way and are now navigating through the loud noises of social media as part of their marketing strategies. Cultivating consumer engagement within our hyper-connected digital world has become vital in terms of nourishing relationships between customers and brands.
Did you know, (according to adnews.com) 26% of people are online shoppers and we now make more than 54% of purchases online? People are basically living their lives online, so brands need to meet them at the party by connecting and relating to consumers online in a way which resonates with them, as this method has proven success in brand loyalty.
So what is consumer engagement anyway? In academic terms it is the ongoing cultivation of a relationship between the company and consumer that goes far beyond the transaction. Nowadays, research shows that consumers value this far more than the actual product or service. In short, they want an experience. And by encouraging engagement, we as businesses can unleash measures of satisfaction through these interactions online.
But how do you start to optimise your marketing to position for successful consumer engagement? We’ve compiled a list of how to make sure you are cultivating engagement effectively online:
- Research your audience
Firstly, you need to know who your audience even is. Take a deep dive into your CRM (customer relationship management system), website analytics, social media channels, online sales portal, point of sale, accounts system, or any other source of data that will give you any insights into who your audiences and your customers really are, and split them into groups or ‘segments’.
Next, find out which social media platforms these consumers may be on, even if you’re not. For instance, in regards to TikTok, 1 in 3 users of this platform (according to our rep at TikTok) are not on any other social media channel. If this is the case and your target market does spend time on this platform, you are missing out!
Before you have a panic attack, remember, less is more here. Businesses only need to focus on producing quality content on social networks, rather than having a minimal publishing schedule on every platform. For instance, we’ve seen examples of clients spending all their efforts on Facebook, when in fact their audience are more business orientated and are in fact on Linkedin. Not being analytical in this way could lead to lots of effort in creating and publishing content by your team, for very little return, as your audiences may not even be seeing your content.
- Give your audience what they are interested in
To induce consumer engagement, you will also need to be conscious about producing engaging content, namely what content your audience perceives as valuable. Review your past posts and see which ones have received good organic or paid reach and consider what the topic or nature of the content was.
Dig further into your audience’s needs and goals when dealing with them. Ask thoughtful questions and reflect on those through the messaging. For instance if you are a cafe with lots of healthy options, picking up that there are many busy working parents in your area, you could publish content on the fact you offer buddha bowls, wraps and juices which can be ordered ahead, and grabbed on their way into the office, saving them time, but ensuring they stay healthy and have the energy they need to do what they need to do in a day.
Coming up with themes or content pillars meaning groups of content you could produce which will generally be of interest to your audience, and which you can produce fairly painlessly and regularly is also a good idea. For instance you may come up with the themes of ‘what I do at the company’ and interview your staff as a content pillar, another on ‘what I know’ and ‘my best tricks’ and then film or capture a bunch of content in one hit which can make the production of content quicker and easier, yet still really of interest to the audience.
Producing high quality and relevant content with an audience firmly in mind really has been a major player in transforming customers from passive buyers into active customers in the last 10 years and has seen proven customer loyalty with brands that optimise this successfully (Deloitte and Mumbrella).
- Make it an experience
Today’s online user wants to feel like they have control over their time online, and find it comforting to experience a brand at their own pace and in their own way, rather than feeling like they are being pushed into buying something.
When consumers feel like they have control online to do their own research, on their own channels, with a variety of options laid out, they feel empowered to make informed decisions on whether this company is for them and this is where relationships are formed.
For instance though the technology has been around a while, many companies still do not have a conversational chat bot in place to liaise with customers who may like to ask questions via messenger, before calling, emailing or even visiting the website. Others may not have a messenger account, and may prefer to read FAQs on a website submit an online form, provided they get a timely response (could you automate one?) Can you automate the follow up of enquiries with offers to get them hooked be that 10% off, or a value add.
Drawing on newer technologies, could you put in place an augmented reality technology which allows your customers to try on your sunglasses, clothes or so on virtually so they can see if they like them before investigating further in a really interactive way.
The list of options on how you can give your prospects or customers a true experience, are really only limited by the imagination.
- Respond to your online community
Along with knowing who your audience are, having the right social media channels in place and giving them an experience, being responsive to your online community is also very important.
Customers love to post comments and being able to ask a question, provided they are acknowledged and get an answer in a reasonable time frame. You’ve probably worked hard to amass your audience/online community, so please make sure you are there for them too!
Talk in their language using gifs, hashtags and emojis if appropriate and on brand for you, or even simply acknowledge them and thank them for their feedback with a simple one liner.
It is important you designate someone in your company (or that you carve out time if you are a sole operator) to check all social media communications (comments, inbox etc.) so no comment or question goes unanswered. Customers who feel valued and empowered will support and stay loyal to those brands.
- Allow for UGC content as customers trust customers
Following community involvement, UGC (user generated content) is something all brands could really do more of and reap the rewards of.
UGC happens when a client posts about your company/service/product in a positive manner and may tag you in or use your hashtag (if they don’t you may need to use social media monitoring tools to pick up this sort of activity).
If they do so, this is extremely valuable to your brand – they’ve effectively just become a pseudo sales person for your brand or company! So show them that you’ve noticed by dropping by and posting a comment to say thank you in the least, or even better, share their post over on your channels as a post or story or as part of a collage of happy customers if you have enough to string together in a Reel, TikTok or other video.
Customers trust customers and are more likely to listen to a person than your brand, therefore by having this type of content, engagement and loyalty can go a long way.
- Allow for UGC content as customers trust customers
So, there you have it. Some of our top tips on how to unleash effective consumer engagement in a digital world!
We hope you learnt something and that this post has given you some good impetus to perhaps up your game, or try something new.
However If you’re still not sure how to optimise consumer engagement for your company, we have many more tips and can certainly assist you with the analysing of your audiences, producing social media content or community management too, so please reach out to us!
About the author: Tess Schwieso