What is the most effective marketing tool for improving customer engagement?
Updated: Nov 15
Reading Quora last weekend, I came across many questions related to the best customer engagement tool. It feels like Marketers are looking for a magic wound, that would effortlessly create & keep the connection between a company and the customer. My answer to that question is always: none.
Yes, you read that right. There’s no single, most effective marketing communication tool that increases brand awareness and engagement of current and future customers. It’s essential to have consistent and orchestrated conversations throughout the customer’s journey, across all channels, considering individual customer context and intent. However, marketing automation platforms can only support your efforts to build valuable relationships with your customers, like Facebook enables you to stay in touch and share memories with your friends.
Instead, consider customer engagement as a constant set of practices & processes, rigorously cultivated across the whole company. Focusing on the right strategies first, I put together my favorite tools that will support you in embrace the culture of the customer-focused organization:
1. ENSURE YOU HAVE A TRUE VIEW OF YOUR CUSTOMER.
First and foremost, use analytics tools to learn about your current, the most engaged customers — Where are they coming from? What are their demographics? What do they like?
How do they spend their free time? If you’re a small business, put in place Google Analytics, to get a basic overview of your website visitors. Periodically combine the insights from social media tools to check for any correlations ( our colleagues from Buffer made a great job putting together all the free & paid SM analytics tools ).
For advanced users, I recommend predictive Customer Intelligence & Analytics tools, like MixPanel — one of the most advanced user analytics tools out there, Canopy Labs, predictive analytics software that visualized all data in Customer Profile or CloudCherry — a customer experience and analytics tool that’ll give you deeper insights — it collects and collates data from every channel and interaction that customers have with your company.
2. PROVIDE A UNIFIED, SEAMLESS EXPERIENCE.
Nothing frustrates customers more than disconnected conversations and channel-specific interactions.
Once you captured and combined all signals across the channels and touch-points, use those data to personalize & orchestrate your marketing communication, and direct it to your customer’s favorite channel. Especially if it comes to retargeting and special offers, don’t send detached display, Facebook, email and push notifications ads at once, unless you want your customer to feel stalked.
This way, you will protect your brand from coming across as too aggressive. Use one of the multi-channel campaign automation (eg. SailThru) or more advanced Customer Data Platforms like Segment or CrossEngage.io, that will help you to aggregate & segment customer data, create real-time predictions and at the end direct the message to the right channel.
Here you can learn more about CDPs: What makes a good, better, best Customer Data Platform (CDP) and how it works?
3. PAY ATTENTION TO BEHAVIORS.
Important is to understand your customer cohort & observe the behaviors of your visitors.
Doing business online, you can quickly set up a tracking tool, like Heap Analytics for analyzing customer journey or Cux.io that will record the customer visit and show you click by click, how customers are interacting with your product.
Seeing what the things your customers struggle with the most are, will provide valuable feedback and help you prioritize your product roadmap.
4. BE PROACTIVE ACROSS THE WEB & SOCIAL MEDIA.
Managing Social Media can be tricky for marketers — there are more and more popping up every year, especially if your customers come from multiple generations and locations.
Check Buffer or Hootsuite for content scheduling and sharing. Buffer is easy to use for beginners and has a free version. Hootsuite is mainly known for its more advanced solution — Hootsuite Insights, which can greatly support your analytics & gauge customer sentiment and real-time social media listening on a more granular scale.
Talking about SM listening — Brand24 is a monitoring tool that makes it easier to spot recurring customer issues, or locate the right influencers to help in your marketing or outreach campaigns, while also targeting the right customers. Notifier is another great Social Listening tool that's pricing is more geared towards the small team and SMB Market.
Regardless if you’re an online fashion store, a supplements re-seller or a B2B Saas tool, important is to offer your customers a piece of advice and act as a Mentor. You can showcase your expertise in writing articles, making videos, or podcasts.
A great idea is to live stream an interview with the industry experts. When speaking at conferences or workshops — remember to record & post it online. Share your presentations on SlideShare.
Are you having trouble finding the right content? You can use BuzzSumo to analyze a certain topic or competitor and tell you the content that performs best. Don’t have time to write yourself? Hire a content manager, or order it at Textbroker or BoostContent.
6. ENABLE CUSTOMERS TO GIVE YOU FEEDBACK.
From time to time, ask your customers how are you doing and check if they were happy with the last service — you can do it over an email, including the link to (SHORT) form (Typeform.com provides the best experience for the end-user).
If you’re already using Hotjar.com for recording the customer onsite behavior, you can use their Survey functionality. There are also more sophisticated Net Promoter Score tools, like ZenLoop, or Zonka Feedback that will provide more insights.
7. BE REACHABLE.
Use a Customer Service tool that will streamline all customer requests from all communication channels — Messenger, WhatsApp, Email, LiveChat, etc.
On top of that, integrate a chatbot to add an AI touch, increasing the efficiency and solving the most common CS issues automatically. The easy-to-use options are BotEngine, Morph.ai, or Botsify. If you’re an enterprise customer, check advanced tools like NanoRep, DigitalGenius, or Webio.
“It’s easier to love a brand when the brand loves you back.
Worth thinking about that, the next time you’re annoyed at a customer.
Or when you’re dreaming up a policy designed to punish a few outlier
customers while it actually annoys all of them.” — Seth Godin
8. MAKE YOUR CUSTOMERS FEEL SPECIAL.
You can use the special occasions to show your customers how much you care & keep you at the forefront of their thoughts. Send out personalized offers, coupons, or cards during the holidays, to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays, and other occasions.
However, generic promotions don’t make customers feel special anymore — this is why we came up with Vouchery.io. Everyone cares about different things, so you can use it to micro-segment various incentives based on Customers’ lifetime value, their level of engagement, and their unique preferences. Another “10% off for your birthday” email won’t make your brand stand out.
9. REWARD THE BEST CUSTOMERS FOR BEING LOYAL TO YOUR BRAND.
Show appreciation to your most loyal customers & let them show off with a VIP club status, eg, access to an exclusive referral program.
Having a loyalty club makes your brand more customer-centric. It also provides the opportunity to align the business towards the most profitable segment of your customer base, and as the result, increase the Customer Lifetime Value. Look at Gilt — they have an amazing bonus program called Gilt Insider.
The program rewards Gilt customers with discounts and also with access to special events, a waiting list priority, and a style advisor. You can also use Vouchery.io to manage that alongside other promotions or pick one of the loyalty-only tools available on the market like Open Loyalty.
10. BUILD A COMMUNITY THAT LETS PEOPLE CONNECT.
A community brings people together over a shared purpose. It should tie to the vision of your business or product and clearly communicate the value proposition that gives to its members. Not only it will allow you to boost your brand awareness, but also let your employees learn more about your Customer Persona.
At first, establish a culture — communicate the mission, set the community values & guidelines ( make sure it’s fully supported by your employees). Then, give the members a place to connect and empower them to support each other — start with implementing a comments plugin under your blog, ( eg. Disqus ), curating a Facebook group, or a Slack workplace with topic-specific channels.
Plus, nothing is more engaging than contact in person — organize meetups, networking events, and conferences to show your customers you’re approachable and let them take an active part in joining your mission!
And what are your favorite tools that help to increase Customer Engagement?
PS. This article was originally published at picksaas.com - check their blog for more tips on utilizing tools for growth and customer loyalty!