10 ways to engage with your customers online

22 Jun 2022

The golden ticket to winning and retaining customers is to keep them engaged.

Effectively connecting and engaging with your target audience can lead to numerous benefits such as building trust in your brand, increasing the visibility of your brand, and your customers becoming your biggest advocates. As a result, these customers will boost sales.

With 96% of UK households being connected to the internet, meaningfully engaging your customers online has never been more important to help ensure you stay top of mind and the preferred choice over your competitors.

So, if you’re on the hunt for strategies on how to engage with your customers online, read on.

What are customer engagement strategies?

According to Gartner, customer engagement is ‘the process of interacting with customers through varied channels to develop and strengthen a relationship with them.’

It’s all about creating an emotional bond between your brand and the customer so they feel a positive connection to your business. Keeping customers engaged means providing interactions that add value by providing invaluable support or information.

That’s why an effective customer engagement strategy should proactively connect with your customers in a positive manner using their preferred channels.

Creating meaningful interactions at every customer touchpoint will ensure your target audience has a positive experience throughout their journey with your brand. This, says customer engagement consultant and speaker, author, trainer, and bestselling author Micah Solomon, can lead to the following business objectives:

  • Customer loyalty
  • Customer purchases
  • Customer-based profits
  • Customer ambassador for your brand

The importance of engaging with customers

Numerous studies underscore the importance of engaging with customers. In fact, customer experience was the number one reason why people chose to do business with a company at the end of 2020.

Companies making a conscious effort to improve their customer experience report an 84% increase in revenue. Drilling down further, businesses that improve customer engagement can enjoy a 22% jump in cross-sell revenue, a 38% jump in up-sell revenue, and a five to 85% jump in order size.

A report by Gallup confirmed the link between increasing customer engagement and increased profits with higher sales (66%), increased customer loyalty (25%), and an increase in net profit (10%+).

10 ways to engage with customers online

To help you engage with customers online with an effective and meaningful engagement strategy, here are some ways in which you can win over customers, increase customer satisfaction, and increase customer loyalty and trust.

1. Create a sense of community

One of the best ways to connect and engage with your customers is to create an online community, such as a forum or group on a social network platform like Facebook or LinkedIn. For example, Facebook found that 62% of users became more interested in a brand or product after seeing it on Facebook or Instagram Stories.

Creating a branded community online gives your customers an easy and fun way to interact with your brand and provides customers with an avenue to connect with and learn from other customers with shared interests. Plus, with the average internet user spending 147 minutes each day on social media, you’ll be connecting with an active and engaged audience.

Posting informal or behind-the-scenes content in a community forum can help to forge a stronger relationship between customers and your brand as it shows the human side of a business, which can build trust. Online communities are also a great way for you to find out more about your customers’ behaviours and needs as you can ask for their opinion via interactive surveys and polls.

Research into community builders found that 86% believe branded online communities positively impact core operations and 85% say it improves the customer journey and increases trust.

2. Listen and respond to customers

No less than two-thirds of consumers think that businesses need to be better at listening to feedback and 82% want an immediate answer when they contact a brand digitally.

So, it’s clear to see that an important part of customer engagement is to monitor and respond to customer feedback. It’s vital to do so in a timely fashion as 47% of customers complaining on social media expect a response within minutes.

The key to showing customers that you’re listening is to reply and turn their queries into a conversation. Many companies use automation tools to respond in real-time so customers are never met with silence and receive an immediate response. You can then follow up with a more detailed reply.

Not only does this show the customer that their opinion counts but it also highlights to the online community – who can view the interactions on the public forum – that you’re listening.

It’s not just customer queries you should respond to of course. Every time a customer leaves a review – good or bad – be sure to add a reply.

3. Make it personal

Responding to customer feedback is just one of the ways in which you can personalise your customer interactions.

Personalising your communications is an effective way to engage with customers online as research shows that:

  • 80% of people are more likely to buy from a company that offers personalisation
  • 72% of consumers only engage with personalised marketing messages
  • And, 48% spend more when their experience is personalised.

In a sea of generic messaging, adding personal details such as the recipient’s name and the product or service they’ve used can be very attention-grabbing. Personalisation can strengthen your connection with customers and boost engagement and brand loyalty.

So it’s no surprise that 80% of businesses report an uplift in sales after implementing a personalisation strategy.

4. Give customers relevant content

Over 60% of consumers feel that brands need to care more about them. At the same time, 91% say they’re more likely to shop with brands that provide relevant offers and recommendations.

That’s why it’s vital that you take a customer-centric approach to content. Understanding your customers’ needs and behaviours will help you give them what they want, which makes it easier to keep them engaged by providing content that adds value.

Not sure how to ensure your content is relevant to customers? As well as looking at your customer analytics data, you can check your customers’ social media activity and collate feedback from customer surveys to shape your content plan.

5. Create exclusive content

Customers like to feel that aligning themselves with a brand reaps benefits. For this reason, a great way to engage with customers online is to offer them exclusive content that’s not available elsewhere.

This could be a discount code for subscribers to your newsletter, free shipping for your social media followers, or video content in the members’ area of your website or app.

What these content types have in common is that they require your customers to share personal information (by registering with or connecting to your brand) in order to unlock the content, which makes them more engaged.

Another popular mechanism for boosting customer engagement is to run competitions that involve the customer completing a task to take part, such as referring a friend or leaving a product review.

6. Provide social proof

Social proof is the phenomenon where people are influenced to copy other people’s actions to mirror their behaviour. In marketing, social proof such as case studies, testimonials, reviews, awards, user-generated content can be a persuasive way of influencing customer behaviour by validating choices.

On social media, in particular, people trust fellow buyers more than brands as their views are seen as authentic and unbiased.

That’s why you should engage with customers online by sharing – and shouting about – your positive reviews and testimonials on all your digital channels. It could prove to be the tipping point to convert a browser into a buyer – 91% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase and adding a testimonial to a landing page can boost conversions by up to 34%.

7. Host live sessions

The covid pandemic led to a 50% increase in video calls and the upward trend is here to stay. As it facilitates a ‘face-to-face’ exchange in real-time, live video calls are a great way to engage with customers online.

Whether it’s a webinar or live Q&A session on your website, social channels, or video conferencing software, live sessions give you the freedom to connect and interact with your target audience.

Vitally, the connection feels personal as the presenter is able to directly address each participant and involve them in the conversation by inviting them to pose questions using the chat function or email.

8. Engage across multiple channels

73% of customers are omnichannel shoppers flitting between multiple channels such as websites, social media, and apps.

So, to maximise customer engagement, it’s vital that you understand which channels your target audience uses most and target them across them all so your customers see you as a brand that’s easy to reach.

This could involve conversations seamlessly moving across multiple channels, such as responding to a customer query in a public forum (e.g. social channel) before requesting to continue the conversation privately via direct messaging, live chat, or email.

For this reason, make sure your content always ends with a call to action so that the customer knows what to do next to continue the conversation. And no matter which channels you use, be sure to remain consistent with your branding and messaging.

9. Be inclusive

Customers will feel more engaged with a brand if they’re made to feel valued. That’s why it’s important to include your customers when you celebrate success and highlight how they helped you achieve it so that they feel an integral part of the success story.

For example, a brand celebrating a 10-year anniversary could thank its customers for being an essential part of the company’s growth.

10. Create a loyalty programme

It costs almost five times more to attract a new customer than to generate repeat business from an existing customer. Plus, existing customers spend over 30% more than new customers.

One of the best ways to keep existing customers engaged is to introduce a customer loyalty programme that rewards them for their loyalty. 77% of customers say that loyalty programmes make them more likely to continue doing business with a brand.

On average, customers belong to 15 loyalty programmes and 63% of them adjust their spending habits to get the most from the customer rewards on offer.

As for the best types of customer rewards for engaging with customers online, the National Retail Federation found gift cards were the number one most requested gift. Since the pandemic, eGift cards have become increasingly popular too – 44% more now than before Covid.

However you choose to reward your customers, there’s no denying that a loyalty programme drives stronger customer engagement.

If you want to engage with customers online with loyalty programme rewards such as gift cards and digital rewards, we’d love to help. To discover the Blackhawk Network difference, get in touch today on 020 4517 5862.

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