The world of marketing has changed. Today, it’s the customer who owns their relationships with brands, not the other way around.
This should come as no surprise — with technology rapidly advancing and seemingly endless new channels emerging, the end result has been that consumers now have more choice than ever when it comes to when, where, and how they interact with the brands they love.
This abundance of choice comes hand-in-hand with a dramatic increase in customer expectation. In simple terms, the customer’s patience for subpar or irrelevant experiences is wearing thin.
Savvy marketers understand that every interaction, every touchpoint in the customer journey greatly influences the way those customers ultimately think and feel about their brand. Thus, the key to building the long-lasting relationships that result in more purchases, better retention, and increased customer lifetime value comes down to having a strong customer engagement strategy.
In this definitive guide to customer engagement, we’ll cover everything you need to create content and experiences that engage your customers, reel them into your brand, and keep them coming back.
What is customer engagement?
In today’s crowded digital landscape, where consumers are constantly on the receiving end of endless marketing messages, businesses can no longer rely on traditional marketing methods to get their message across.
This is where the concept of “customer engagement” comes in, serving as a compass for companies looking to navigate the complex world of customer relationships.
Defining customer engagement
At its core, customer engagement is a term used to define and measure the depth and strength of a relationship between a brand and its customers across all touchpoints of the customer journey. It’s a measure of how invested a customer feels not just into a brand, but into its ethos, content, and products.
Unlike a simple transaction or interaction, engagement represents the emotional, psychological, and practical ways a customer connects with a brand over time.
Imagine this: two people both buy the same brand of sneakers. One person buys them, wears them, and never thinks twice about the brand they bought them from. The other person follows the brand on social media, eagerly anticipates new releases, writes online reviews, and recommends the brand to friends and family. The latter demonstrates a higher level of engagement.
Engagement beyond transactions: three categories of customer engagement
Transactions are no longer the only way for businesses to measure customer engagement. In its essence, it can be split into three key categories:
- Emotional engagement: the feelings and emotions that customers attribute to a brand. This is the difference between a customer finding their interactions with a brand and its products satisfactory, and finding them exceptional. Emotional engagement is a clear sign that customer loyalty is growing.
- Behavioral engagement: the observable, quantifiable actions taken by a customer, such as Average Order Value, Purchase Frequency, time spent on a website or app, or participation in a loyalty program.
- Cognitive engagement: This revolves around the level of attention and thought a customer dedicates to a brand. Are they absorbing the content you put out? Do they find it thoughtful and meaningful?
By harnessing these three dimensions of engagement — emotional, behavioral, and cognitive — businesses can gain a deeper understanding of their customers, helping them to craft more personalized and relevant experiences.
Customer engagement trends
1. Personalization is no longer optional
Personalization is no longer a ‘nice to have’ — your customers demand it. And if you want to drive their engagement, you need to deliver upon that demand.
Fail to do so, and you’ll lose their attention, and their business, to brands that are investing in creating relevant content.
Every time your customer receives a personalized communication from your brand, one based on a true understanding of their preferences and needs, you differentiate yourself from competitors who either lack the knowledge (i.e. data) or marketing sophistication (i.e. access to a customer engagement platform built for omnichannel personalization) to do the same.
Soon, the customer begins to see your brand as the one that will consistently offer products, services, or insights that are most relevant to them and/or offer the greatest value. When those personalized experiences are consistent across touchpoints and relevant to the customer based on their up-to-date history and activity, they feel seen and understood.
2. Multi-channel is out — omnichannel is in
Multichannel marketing, is simply defined as the implementation of a single strategy across multiple channels or platforms where a channel might be email, print, a retail location, a website, a promotional event, a mobile app, SMS messaging, or word of mouth.
It’s a fairly rudimental approach to digital marketing that involves manual processes, siloed teams and channels, and disparate data.
Omnichannel marketing — which is built on a solid foundation of unified data, integrated channels and automated processes — provides more opportunity to get to know your customer, and personalize engagements using a rich sets of zero and first-party data.
This in turn unlocks personalization and ensures that when you add personalization to the mix, each and every interaction is part of the brick-by-brick foundation that builds lasting relationships.
Instead, these marketers are adopting an omnichannel approach and looking at the entire loyalty loop — a circular journey with customers moving from initial consideration, to the active research phase, to completing a purchase, and finally, to the post-purchase phase, where the customer’s experience and newfound expectations for the brand determine the next step in their journey.
3. Customer obsession is your new business strategy
Today’s customers are fully in control of their journey with your business.
They have access to more information, more touchpoints, and more choice than ever before. In response, businesses need to be entirely focused on the customer. In fact, “focused” on the customer might not cut it — businesses need to be “customer obsessed.”
Customer-obsessed businesses, as defined by Forrester Consulting, put customers at the center of leadership, strategy, and operations. As a result, these businesses are better equipped to respond to the needs of customers, make them feel seen and appreciated, and sustain deep connections with their customers over time.
In a recent study from Forrester Consulting commissioned by Emarsys — The Omnichannel Difference — we discovered that 54% of customer-obsessed companies see improved customer interactions.
But not only are customer interactions improved — so are business outcomes.
This same study reveals that 52% of customer-obsessed companies experience better customer loyalty and improved retention from omnichannel efforts across the customer lifecycle, and 62% experience higher margin.
4. Customer data is harder to collect, and even more important
As the demand for personalized experiences rises, customer data has become the linchpin of business strategies. If you want to stay ahead of your competitors and keep creating relevant, meaningful engagements for your audience, you need to prioritize first-party and zero-party data acquisition.
However, growing concerns about data privacy are making customers increasingly wary about who they share their data with – and why.
As a result, getting your hands on that all-important data is a growing challenge for many businesses, and expecting customers to hand over their data for little or no reward is becoming increasingly unrealistic. If you want them to part with their personal information, you need to create clear value exchanges that offer your customers enticing discounts, giveaways or exclusive incentives in return for their personal data.
[Read more: 2023 Customer Engagement Trends and Technologies]
What does customer engagement look like?
Customer engagement comes in many different forms, and knowing what it looks like is the key to tracking it. Some of the key customer engagement signals that show your audience are developing deeper connections with your brand include:
1. Digital Interactions:
- Social media: Customers liking, sharing, commenting on, or discussing a brand’s posts.
- Email: Open rates, click-through rates, and responses to email marketing campaigns.
- Website & in-app: High session durations, frequent visits, interactions with chatbots, and content consumption.
2. Feedback and Reviews:
- Customers engaging with CSAT and NPS surveys.
- Writing reviews or testimonials, both positive and negative.
3. Loyalty programs and community events
- Regularly redeeming points or benefits from loyalty cards or apps.
- Participating in exclusive events or promotions for members.
- Participating in brand-hosted webinars, workshops, or forums.
- Joining brand-sponsored community events, clubs, or groups.
4. Direct Interactions:
- Face-to-face encounters in physical stores, trade shows, or events.
- Phone calls or video calls with customer service or sales representatives.
- Engaging with sales personnel for product queries, suggestions, or complaints.
5. Content Creation:
- Creating user-generated content about a brand, like product reviews, videos, or social media content.
- Participating in brand challenges or hashtag movements on platforms like TikTok or Instagram.
6. Brand evangelism
- Advocating for your brand without any added incentives.
- Recommending your brand to friends, family, or colleagues.
- Sharing referral codes or participating in referral programs.
7. Purchase Behavior:
- Regularly buying from the brand, not just one-off purchases.
- Trying new products or services soon after they are launched.
8. Constructive Criticism:
- Your most engaged customers will feel a connection to your brand, and might provide negative feedback if their experience doesn’t match their expectations.
As these customer engagement signals show, your most engaged customers aren’t just those making regular purchases — they’re the people who are invested in your products and services, feel a genuine connection to your brand, and are actively participating in your conversation both on and offline.
Customer engagement vs customer experience vs customer satisfaction
Despite being used interchangeably, these three marketing buzzwords actually have deeper, distinct meanings. Let’s dive into each concept and unearth their differences.
As we discussed previously, customer engagement is the depth and breadth of a relationship a customer establishes with your brand. It involves both the emotional connection they feel, the loyalty they demonstrate, and the level of active participation they have with your brand over time.
Key point: Engagement can be measured by actions like purchases, participation in loyalty programs, social media interactions, and brand advocacy activities like referrals and reviews.
Customer satisfaction (CSAT) is a metric that evaluates how well a product, service or interaction meets — or surpasses — a customer’s expectations. Customer satisfaction is usually assessed through surveys and feedback tools, and it gives a snapshot of a customer’s sentiment towards a brand and its products at a particular point in time.
You might have a satisfied customer, but that doesn’t mean they’re engaged.
For example, your customer could be satisfied with the first purchase they’ve made from you, but if they haven’t interacted consistently across your other marketing channels, they might not feel a deeper emotional connection.
Key point: Customer satisfaction represents the fulfilment of expectations within a set of transactions and interactions, whereas customer engagement covers the depth of your relationship as a whole.
Customer experience (CX) is the cumulative perception a customer forms based on all of their interactions with a brand. This encompasses the entire customer journey, from the first piece of content they see to the purchase process and beyond.
Customer experience covers every touchpoint in your marketing funnel, from navigating your website or app to browsing the shelves in your retail location and speaking with a customer support representative. Customer experience is the holistic impression and feelings your customer gets from these interactions as a whole.
Key point: While customer engagement is about the depth of a relationship and customer satisfaction is about meeting expectations, customer experience is the broader sum of all interactions and perceptions formed across a customer’s experience with a brand.
Why customer engagement marketing works
After you’ve put in the hard work to consolidate your data and make it available across all your channels (or better yet, find a partner that can make it easier to connect data and channels), you can switch your focus to building your customer engagement and nurturing the relationships that lead to long-term loyalty.
Those relationships are built, of course, by providing your customers with highly relevant, personalized experiences consistently at every touchpoint.
Every time your customer receives a personalized engagement from your brand, one based on a true understanding of their preferences and needs, you differentiate yourself from competitors who either lack the knowledge or marketing sophistication to do the same.
Soon, the customer begins to see your brand as the one that will consistently offer products, services, or insights that are most relevant to them and/or offer the greatest value. When those personalized experiences are consistent across touchpoints and relevant to the customer based on their up-to-date history and activity, they feel seen, heard, and understood.
By investing in customer engagement marketing and building a cross-channel strategy, you’ll create opportunities to connect with your customers, build meaningful relationships and keep them coming back time and time again.
4 benefits of customer engagement
Engaged customers stick around longer, spend more per purchase, and are less likely to be persuaded by competitor marketing.
Put simply, engaged customers are good for business. Let’s take a look at four key benefits you can expect to see by investing in customer engagement marketing:
1. You’ll get closer to your customers
Technology has made it easier than ever for us to get our content in front of our customers, but in competition-heavy markets, the reality is that brands are actually further from their customers than they’ve ever been before.
By investing in customer engagement marketing and unifying your data, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of who your customers are and what makes them tick. And the more engaged your customers are, the more likely they are to share more data with you, building an even clearer picture of who they are and what they want to see from you.
This will give you the insight you need to create compelling content and experiences that cut through the noise on crowded marketing channels and get your message heard by the people that matter most to your brand.
2. You’ll foster long-lasting brand loyalty
With ever-increasing advertising and manufacturing costs, focusing purely on acquisition and hoping those customers will return is no longer a viable strategy for most brands. To drive steady profits, you need a strategy that keeps your customers coming back — and the key to this lies in how you engage with them.
By focusing on customer engagement marketing and creating relevant, personalized content, you’ll demonstrate that you’re invested in your customers and willing to take the time to get to know them.
This relationship-building will begin to foster long-lasting loyalty that turns one-time shoppers into lifelong brand advocates. The result? More retention, greater Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV), and reduced reliance on acquisition to drive revenue.
3. You’ll dial into your ideal target audience
Data is the beginning and end of any modern marketing strategy. If you aren’t putting your customer data to good use, you’re leaving money on the table.
By investing in customer engagement marketing, you’ll quickly uncover the types of content that work best on each channel and resonate the most with your target audience, because the results will be trackable in your customer engagement metrics.
Leverage this data, and you’ll have the building blocks of an omnichannel customer engagement strategy that meets your ideal target audience in their preferred channel with relevant, personalized, and highly-engaging content.
4. You’ll uncover unmissable opportunities to grow CLTV
The more data you collect on your ideal target audience, the more you’ll know about what they want from your brand. And this presents invaluable insights into how you can grow your CLTV.
By gathering customer, product and sales data, you’ll uncover opportunities for revenue-boosting cross-sells and upsells that connect customers with new products that complement their current carts and past purchases. You get more satisfied customers that are now connected to new product lines, and you increase your CLTV. It’s a win-win.
8 customer engagement statistics
31% of consumers cite personalized shopping experiences as the reason they stay engaged and loyal to a brand [Emarsys]
Loyal customers are 64% more likely to purchase more frequently than non-loyal, non-engaged customers. [McKinsey]
Current customers spend 67% more on average than those who are new to a business. [Business.com]
Increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. [Bain & Company]
52% of customer-obsessed companies see improved loyalty and customer engagement. [Emarsys]
Conversely, only 11% of consumers think they get an experience worthy of their loyalty. [Emplifi]
62% of customer-obsessed businesses stated their omnichannel customer engagement strategy has driven higher margins, compared to non-customer obsessed firms. [Forrester]
9 customer engagement tactics to build into your strategy
We’ve covered the theory and benefits of focusing on customer engagement — now it’s time to set your strategy into motion.
Let’s look at nine actionable tactics for increasing customer engagement that you can start building into your strategy to drive tangible business outcomes.
1. Welcome campaign (new contacts)
Focus: Acquisition and conversion
Channels to consider: Email, Web, CRM Ads, SMS
First impressions count, and the way you welcome new customers into your brand can be the deciding factor between one-time shoppers and regular repeat buyers. For this reason, your welcome campaign is one of the most powerful marketing tactics you have at your disposal.
A well-executed welcome campaign will introduce new leads to your brand message and ideals, helping to demonstrate your value and drive that all-important first conversion. To maximize engagement from your welcome campaigns, you’ll want to use the most channels you can. Start with email, add in SMS, and build out to Web and CRM Ads.
2. Abandoned Browse
Focus: Acquisition and conversion
Channels to consider: Email, SMS, Web
Abandoned Browse targets customers who are actively viewing your products online, but bounce from your website before adding those products to their cart or moving forward with a purchase.
This customer engagement tactic gently nudges customers to continue their purchase journey by sending them a personalized message containing their recently viewed items, as well as some additional recommendations. This is a brilliant place to put your customer, sales, and product data to use and deliver more relevant recommendations that are based on the items that users with similar browsing behavior ended up purchasing.
3. Repeat Purchase Gamification
Focus: Acquisition and conversion
Channels to consider: Email, SMS
Bringing first-time customers back and driving that all-important second purchase is the name of the customer engagement marketing game, especially if you’re using paid channels for customer acquisition.
Repeat purchase gamification is a powerful marketing tactic that helps you to capitalize on this. By giving your customers a chance to win a guaranteed discount, exclusive rewards, or free gifts on their next purchase, you grab their attention and drive engagement.
4. Win Back Defecting Customers
Focus: Customer lifecycle
Channels to consider: Email, SMS, Digital Ads
Every day, your customers are on the receiving end of a barrage of offers and incentives from your competitors — and ultimately, some of them are going to defect and switch sides. If you’re dialed in with your win-back campaigns, you can prevent this from happening, re-engage your customers, and keep them coming back for more.
By analyzing your customer engagement data, a Win Back marketing tactic can help you identify customers who are at-risk for going inactive, and re-engage them with valuable offers and incentives, or 1:1 personalized recommendations that connect them with their perfect products. Build this out as an email automation for always-on customer re-engagement.
5. Post-purchase cross-sell
Focus: Customer lifecycle
Channels to consider: Email, SMS
Has a customer just completed a purchase with you? Great — let’s promote related products to increase that cart and customer lifetime value.
Post-purchase cross-sell encourages your customers to spend more with you by delivering personalized product recommendations from other customers who recently made the same purchase.
By pairing new, relevant items with ones they’ve already ordered, you demonstrate clear purchase value, build engagement with your brand’s products, and drive additional revenue.
6. First-time buyer to repeat
Focus: Customer lifecycle
Channels to consider: Email, SMS
To progress your customers through their buyer journey with your brand, a little nudge can come in handy. That’s where First-Time Buyer to Repeat marketing tactics come into play.
To run a successful First-Time Buyer to Repeat tactic, you’ll need to start by segmenting your customer base. Once you’ve identified your first-time customers, the right customer engagement platform will be able to further refine that segment to identify customers who are likely to purchase more frequently.
From here, use the combined power of email and web channels to increase engagement and target your segment with personalized offers and incentives that encourage that all-important second purchase.
7. Post-purchase feedback
Focus: Customer lifecycle
Channels to consider: Email, Web, Digital Ads, SMS
If you want to deepen your understanding of your customers, grow your cross-channel engagement and drive conversions, you first need to listen to them. Customer feedback gives you invaluable insight into what makes your audience tick and reveals the information you need to optimize your customer lifecycle journey.
Post-Purchase Feedback can help here. With a Post-Purchase Feedback automation, you’ll give your customers a platform to share their opinion. You’ll identify detractors, create brand advocates, and drive customer satisfaction and repeat purchases.
8. In-session upsell
Focus: Customer lifecycle
Channels to consider: Web
Your customers are live on your site right now, about to make a purchase. This tactic can help you to increase their cart value.
By connecting your customers with personalized upsells that are relevant to their real-time browsing behavior, In-Session Upsell can encourage customers to upgrade their order, driving additional purchase revenue and increasing your Average Order Value.
9. Progressive profiling
Focus: Acquisition and conversion
Channels to consider: SMS, Email, Web, CRM Ads
Data is the key to getting closer to your customers, but asking for all of their information in one go can be overwhelming and intimidating. The best way to build out your customer data profile is by asking for information in bite-size chunks. Progressive Profiling helps you achieve this.
Progressive Profiling tactics keep your customers engaged over time and gradually encourage them to share more information about themselves with you. For the best results, you’ll need a customer engagement platform that can track the data you’ve already collected for each customer, so you can avoid asking for it again, store it securely (while keeping you compliant with your region’s data and privacy laws), and enable you to leverage it along with other data sets you have to deliver 1:1 personalized content.
6 customer engagement examples to inspire your strategy
Discover the incredible results these industry-leading businesses are achieving by investing in customer engagement marketing.
1. Gibson Guitars
Challenge: Before partnering with SAP Emarsys, Gibson Brands mostly relied on partner sellers to drive revenue for the business, like Guitar Center, Sweetwater, or Long & McQuade. However, they were looking for ways to expand their direct to consumer capabilities. This meant setting up retail channels and engagement tactics from the ground up while working with retail partners to help support their B2B2C strategy.
Solution: Gibson Brands needed to connect with Gibson fans across all levels of expertise, and across different purchasing channels. To do that, they were looking for a solution to consolidate their engagement channels so they could not only learn more about their customers, but also engage consistently and thoughtfully across each customer’s preferred channel
– 50% growth in email revenue in the first year since using Emarsys.
– 27% increase in email impact on the business overall.
– 2x email engagement since using Emarsys.
– 10% of revenue driven by automation in 2022.
“If we do right by our fans, that’s where we are all going to win and ultimately the fans will win. We really want to take the data and understand what they need next.
We want to understand how we can connect individual fans based on where they are and how they want to interact with us. And that’s where Emarsys has continually come into play with us. I am very thrilled to just keep that relationship going because it’s been extremely fruitful so far.”
Josh Ehren, Global Head of Direct to Consumer, Gibson Brands
2. City Beach
Challenge: As City Beach’s customer database grew rapidly to over a million users, their efforts to maintain the same level of personalized, meaningful engagements at scale became increasingly difficult. They wanted to create a unified customer profile so they could better understand their customers’ LTV, as well as their position in the customer lifecycle, so they could engage them more effectively.
Solution: By using Emarsys’ customer engagement solution, City Beach was able to consolidate its fragmented data into a single customer view. With access to a suite of personalization tools, and by integrating their loyalty program, point of sale and customer service touchpoints, they were able to advance their evolution to 1:1 personalized customer engagement at a much larger scale.
– +105% email revenue YoY 4 months post-Emarsys launch.
– +38% active customers with a 36% retention rate in the same timeframe.
– An impressive 14X and 11X ROAS on Facebook and Google respectively using CRM ads.
– +48% win back rate from defecting customers within 90 days with Emarsys AI.
– +18% of leads converted into first-time buyers in the same period.
– +6% conversion rate from first-time to second-time buyers within those 90 days.
“City Beach integrated Emarsys and hasn‘t looked back. With a 100% increase in revenue from key channels, improved speed to market, deeper customer insights, and all with a decreased cost base, Emarsys is now the marketing team’s ROI engine and one that’s clearly designed and tuned for modern communications.”
Michael Doyle, Former Head of Marketing, City Beach
3. CUE Clothing Co.
Challenge: CUE had already implemented a unified ecommerce platform with Emarsys, giving them a wealth of first-party data. Next, they wanted to bridge the gap between physical and digital retail. To achieve this goal, they needed to implement their customer insights across multiple touchpoints and deliver relevant, personalized content that would convert their customer engagement into sales.
Solution: CUE implemented a number of new initiatives to deliver a best-in-class customer experience:
Video-based style consultations that connected customers to stylists in the comfort of their own homesMulti-channel wishlists that could be used within marketing programs like “Price Drop” and “Back in Stock”The ability to sell any product to any customer through any touchpoint.
– 5-6x increase in average order value.
– 21% increase in loyal customers.
– 60% of digital and in-store styling sessions convert to sales
“Being able to implement these customer experiences really comes down to the foundations we had in place with a unified e-commerce solution […] and it’s our key partners that enable this.”
Shane Lenton, Chief Innovation Officer, CUE Clothing
4. Adidas Runtastic
Challenge: Adidas Runtastic wanted to offer the ultimate fitness journey, but with a global user base engaging across various devices, they needed to consolidate their customer engagement strategy. To achieve this, they sought a solution that could process vast amounts of activity data in real-time, delivering personalized, relevant feedback to users as they trained.
Solution: With Emarsys, the brand could leverage real-time data capture, analysis, and implementation capabilities that aligned seamlessly with their unique requirements.
Powerful cross-channel automation capabilities and an intuitive user interface empowered Adidas Runtastic to grow their digital marketing strategies and hit their customer engagement goals.
– +300% Increase in campaign efficiency.
– +8M App opens from campaign content.
– +200 Data points measured for content optimization
“With Emarsys, we have been able to address business challenges within our organization by gaining deeper insights into our customers. As a result of these insights and new capabilities, we now serve our community through a mobile-first approach by delivering millions of personalized messages every day — all within a single platform.”
Edit Dudás, Head of CRM, Adidas Runtastic
5. Beauty Pie
Challenge: Beauty Pie was looking for a customer engagement solution that would support their long-term growth. They needed a solution that would allow them to collect and activate their customer data and take their personalization to the next level, growing their automated customer journeys.
Solution: By partnering with Emarsys and integrating their zero- and first-party data, Beauty Pie unlocked the ability to quickly deploy personalized automations and rapidly test content to improve their customer engagement metrics.
– 35% email revenue attribution.
– +88% in revenue driven by automation year on year (20/21-21/22).
– +32% in web traffic via email clicks in
“Having [the Emarsys Strategic Services Team] on hand to challenge and bring in the expertise of how they’ve done it before with other brands has really helped us reshape initiatives and challenge the thinking of our approach.”
Chloe Pepper, Senior Email & CRM Manager, Beauty Pie.
6. Nike HK
Challenge: With multiple business and brand strategies in play, it was difficult for Nike HK to home in on their target customer and agree on specific audiences for their campaigns. This resulted in batch-and-blast emails with one-size-fits-all content that lacked the relevancy and personalization their customers demanded.
Nike HK needed to deepen their understanding of their customers so they could deliver the relevant, personalized content needed to drive customer engagement.
Solution: By using Emarsys’ analytics tool, Smart Insight, Nike was able to ground their marketing decisions in data. They removed the guesswork from leveraging customer data and product insights and dialled in on their campaign targeting, helping them to make data-backed customer engagement decisions.
– +33% website visits within the first year with Emarsys.
– +110% revenue from automation in the first year with Emarsys.
– +10 lifecycle campaigns up from 0 within the first year with Emarsys.
– +28% AOV in a 90-day timespan.
“Emarsys has been a trusted long-term partner with us. With its strategy and powerful solutions, we have successfully built a meaningful relationship with athletes and continually strive for our goal to make sport a daily habit.”
Elmo Tsang, Senior manager of Consumer Direct Marketing – Digital, HK/TW, Nike
How to build a customer engagement strategy
So far, we’ve discussed everything from what customer engagement is to the benefits it holds for your businesses, as well as key statistics to back up.
Now, let’s look at how you can start to build your strategy, step by step.
1. Set clear goals and expectations
Setting clear goals directly impacts your outcomes.
Before diving into customer engagement marketing, you need to be clear on what results you want to get from it — and know how it will align with your broader business goals.
These goals will differ from business to business, so it’s important to dial in on those that make sense for you. Some clear metrics that help you quantify your increases in customer engagement and set clear goals include:
- Engagement Rate: From likes, comments, and shares on social media channels to opens and clicks from your email campaigns — you’re putting content out there, but how many people within your target audience are actually engaging with it?
- Conversion Rate: You’re creating great content, and everyone internally is thrilled. But is it actually driving the desired action from your audience?
- Average Order Value: When you drive on-site or in-app conversions, what’s the average cart value? Could more engaged customers be spending more with you?
- Return Rate: What percentage of your customers file a return for the products they’ve purchased? Could you reduce that number by creating post-purchase engagement campaigns that reinforce the value of the customer’s purchase?
Pick a metric that aligns with your business, and track the impact your customer engagement marketing has on it.
2. Make sure your goals are SMART
The key to achieving your customer engagement goals is making sure they’re SMART.
For example, if your key outcome from your customer engagement marketing is boosting your overall site conversion rate, your goal could be structured like this:
- Specific: Put a number to your goal. If your current site is converting at 3%, you could be specific in aiming for 3.5%. If overall conversion rate is too broad, you could be more specific by aiming for a particular channel — for example, conversion rates from organic social.
- Measurable: Ensure you have the necessary tools in place to track your goals. If you’re looking to increase your overall conversion rate, this could be handled by native Google Analytics or Shopify features. However, if you want to break it down by channel, you need to make sure you have the analytical segmentation you need ready to go.
- Attainable: Everyone would love to 10x their conversion rate overnight, but unrealistic goals hamper results and hinder your team’s motivation. Make sure the goal you set is realistically achievable.
- Relevant: We know that an increase in conversion rates is relevant to any customer-focused business. But make sure the metrics you choose are meaningful for your brand and business, rather than vanity metrics that don’t correlate with bottom-line results.
- Time-bound: Parkinson’s Law suggests that the time taken to complete a project will expand to fit the deadline it’s given. To overcome it, set clear roles and responsibilities for your project, and establish a realistic but ambitious timeline with milestones that track towards your final goal.
By making your goals SMART, you’ll break them down into actionable chunks that are easier to achieve, ready to be built into your team’s customer engagement strategy.
3. Unify your data and channels
Siloed data split across multiple platforms and teams is holding your customer engagement back.
True customer engagement comes from a deep understanding of your customer, but to fully understand your customer, you need to have a single view of them. That involves unifying your data into a single source.
By using an omnichannel customer engagement solution like Emarsys, you’ll be able to consolidate, enrich and activate your customer data. This will help you unlock growth and revenue opportunities hidden in your data that, if siloed, you’d otherwise miss.
Plus, with a single customer view and unified channels, you can deliver relevant, personalized experiences that are consistent and seamless as customers move across touchpoints — rather than a series of disjointed, channel-specific engagements. The result is a smoother and more satisfying experience for the customer, which makes them more likely to return in the future.
4. Activate automation for always-on engagement
To leverage the full power of customer engagement marketing, you need to be omnipresent. Wherever your customers are spending their time online, you need to be ready to meet them with engaging content that’s relevant to the channel and personalized to their wants and needs.
However, without the aid of technology, manually creating personalized, omnichannel engagements is no small feat for many marketing teams, bringing with it a significant time burden. This is where marketing automation comes in.
You’ve got your newly-unified customer data. It’s time to put it to work, save yourself time, and start delivering the right content, on the right channel, at the right time.
With the right marketing automation platform, you’ll be able to quickly create and deploy cross-channel automations that trigger in real time based on your customers’ actions.
You’ll take back the time you’d be spending on execution, effortlessly scale your customer engagement strategy, and gain the ability to test new ideas and quickly pivot based on results.
5. Listen to your customers
A staggering 42% of companies don’t survey customers or collect feedback. If you’re part of that number, you’re missing an invaluable opportunity to improve your offering and grow your engagement.
While data can help you make informed decisions on your customer engagement strategy, you can go deeper.
By asking your customers for feedback directly instead of relying on raw data alone, you’ll gain real, human insight into what your most valuable audience thinks is working — and what could be improved. Use this information to optimize your customer engagement marketing strategy.
6. Track strategy impact and optimize to improve results
If you want to engage your customers effectively and grow your strategy, you need to know what’s working, and more importantly, what isn’t. But when the data that fuels your data is siloed across multiple tools and platforms, this can take more time than many marketers have to spare.
By using a customer engagement platform, you’ll be able to view everything under one roof, collating your customer engagement data into a single view.
The single-customer view is not only important for your personalization efforts. It also gives you better insight into the revenue impact of your marketing efforts. And we’re not just talking about your ability to track the performance of campaigns and A/B tests — it’ll also give you a clear view of exactly which of your customer engagement strategies are moving the needle.
With this in hand, you won’t just be equipped to improve future performance, but also demonstrate the impact your customer engagement initiatives are having on your bottom line.
7. Consider an omnichannel customer engagement solution
To maximize your customer engagement, you need to be present wherever your customers are spending their time, offering rich content that’s appropriate for the channel, true to your brand, and relevant and personalized to your customers. But for many businesses, this would take more time than their marketing teams have to give.
That’s where omnichannel customer engagement comes in.
By leveraging the power of an omnichannel customer engagement solution, you’ll be able to create personalized cross-channel campaigns at scale that engage your customers — no matter where they’re spending their time online.
[Read next: How AI Technology Will Transform Customer Engagement]
How to measure customer engagement
Once you’ve got your customer engagement strategy in place, you’ll need a way to keep track of your results.
By measuring your customer engagement, you’ll:
- Gain a better understanding of your customers
- Be able to tailor your products and services to your customers’ pain points more closely
- Deliver higher customer satisfaction
- Set the foundations for a data-led customer engagement strategy
These 5 key metrics will help you uncover exactly how engaged your customers are, and track the impact of your marketing efforts.
1. Net Promoter Score (NPS)
This is a staple in the marketing world and is commonly used by businesses to measure and improve customer loyalty, experience, and engagement. It also helps you track the strength of the customer experience your brand is delivering.
Data for Net Promoter Scores is gathered by surveying your customers on a regular basis with quantitative questions, with answers that range from 0-10.
Net Promoter Score surveys are typically centered around one key question:
On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend our [product/service/brand] to a friend or colleague?
If you want to strengthen the results of your survey and gather ideas on how to increase your customer engagement, consider following up with qualitative questions like these:
- What is the main reason for your score?
- What could we do to improve your experience and make you rate us a 10?
- What do you like most about our [product/service/brand]?
- What do you like least about our [product/service/brand]?
- Have you used any similar products/services? How would you compare them with ours?
These follow-up questions will help you gain context for the numerical score you get from respondents.
Why it’s relevant: NPS might not directly measure your customer engagement, but highly engaged customers are much more likely to become promoters of your brand. By tracking your NPS levels over time, you can gain insight into the growth of your customer engagement.
2. Conversion Rate
Conversion rate is a crucial customer engagement metric that shows the percentage of customers who interact with your content or campaigns and take a desired action.
This can include:
- Purchasing a product
- Signing up for a newsletter
- Registering for a webinar
Conversion rate is calculated by dividing the number of conversions you receive by the total number of visitors, then multiplying that number by 100.
For example, if your campaign drove 100 clicks, and 5 of those visitors made a purchase, your conversion rate would be:
(5/100)*100 = 5%.
Why it’s relevant: Your conversion rate gives you insight into how effective your content, campaigns, and overall marketing strategy are at engaging your customers.
3. Churn Rate
Churn rate is a key metric for customer-focused businesses and shows the percentage of customers who stopped buying from you over a certain period of time. This is usually expressed as a percentage of total customers or revenue.
Churn rate can be calculated by taking the number of new customers you gained within a time period, dividing them by the number of customers you lost within that same period, and multiplying the result by 100.
For example, if you gained 100 new customers, and lost 19, the calculation would be as follows:
(19 / 100) x 100 = 19%.
Why it’s relevant: Retaining your current customers by keeping them engaged is significantly more affordable than acquiring new ones. Churn rate helps you to benchmark how many customers you’re losing so you can track and address any potential shortfalls in your customer engagement strategy.
4. Customer Lifetime Value
Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV) is a metric that shows how much customers are worth to your brand over a given period of time.
Engaged customers are much more likely to stick around than their non-engaged counterparts — and this makes Customer Lifetime Value a brilliant metric for gauging your customer engagement over time.
Why it’s relevant: Metrics like churn rate and engagement rate show the current state of your customer engagement, but Customer Lifetime Value helps you to visualize the long-term impact of your efforts. By monitoring CLTV, you’ll be able to make smarter decisions when allocating budget between acquisition and retention.
5. Event count per user in Google Analytics
In Google Analytics, Events are defined as key actions users take across your website or app.
These can be customized to suit your brand’s exact requirements, but Google will automatically collect data on Events including link clicks, video views, and form submissions.
This makes Event Count per User a brilliant metric for tracking how effectively your online content is at engaging your audience and guiding them through their customer journey.
The more Events per user, the more engaging your website or app is. If you notice your Event per user decreasing, it could be an indication that there’s a channel issue that’s blocking or deterring customers from continuing their journey.
Why it’s relevant: Events are customizable and can be set up to track key stages in your customer journey. These can highlight your successes but also points of friction that could be harming conversions.
What to look for in a customer engagement platform
When looking for a customer engagement solution for your business, there’s a lot to consider.
- Can you connect with your customers in ways that are meaningful and relevant to them?
- Can you deliver messages on the most effective channels and at times when customers are likely to engage?
Onboarding a new platform can take time, and picking the wrong product can leave shortfalls in your strategy. As a result, it’s crucial that you find the solution for your business that will yield consistent results from the get-go that set you up for long-term success.
To double-check whether your customer engagement solution meets your business needs, use this checklist:
⬜ Integrated Tech Stack
If you’re losing time moving among platforms and lack a clear 360-degree view of your customers, you need a customer engagement solution that consolidates your tech stack. Or as we like to say, “Get your stack together!”
⬜ Personalization Engine
A personalization engine is necessary to deliver tailored content that goes above and beyond using a first name in an email. Maybe you’ve yet to invest in marketing personalization. Perhaps you’ve outgrown your current personalization engine. You might be overdue for an upgrade.
⬜ Marketing Automation
Without automation, you’ll have to do a lot more work to reach fewer customers than you could with automation doing the heavy lifting. You’re likely also missing out on cross-channel marketing revenue.
⬜ Strategies & Tactics
Your tech stack should have more than basic functionality. The best customer engagement solutions not only give you features but also, the inspiration and tools to quickly and flexibly apply your ideas. Look for software that makes your marketing efficiency a top priority.
⬜ AI & Analytics
Reactive marketing is often too little too late. AI should be like a hero on your marketing team who ensures your marketing is proactive. AI is always thinking one step ahead of the customer so that you can boost revenue and loyalty.
How the Emarsys Customer Engagement Solution Gives More Power to Marketers
Emarsys ticks all the boxes on your customer engagement shopping list. We make it our mission to put more power in your hands with the tools you need for engagement.
✅ Integrated Tech Stack
Our customer engagement solution brings your data together into one single, integrated source. You not only save time but gain insights about customer behaviors and preferences, which you can apply to better understand the customer lifecycle and deliver more personalized recommendations, offers, and other content.
✅ Personalization Engine
The Emarsys personalization engine helps you view and understand rich customer profiles, build and modify 1:1 campaigns on the fly, add product recommendations to messages, use predictive segmentation, and review the impact of your efforts.
✅ Marketing Automation
With our marketing automation, you can quickly and flexibly launch campaigns, modify them, apply them across multiple channels, and automatically trigger time-sensitive messages. Our customers use more channels than any other platform provider.
✅ Strategies & Tactics
We also believe you shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel, which is why we include pre-built strategies and tactics. When you want to create a basic campaign and then quickly customize it to meet your unique needs, we have you covered.
✅ AI & Analytics
Our platform’s AI and analytics capabilities give your engagement an extra edge. Our analytics provide accurate measurement of the market landscape, give guidance based on the results of previous efforts, and clearly lay out your impact on revenue. And with AI, you have the power to predict the future — by anticipating your customers’ needs, AI enables messaging that is timely and personalized, increasing the likelihood of conversion.
If you’re ready to invest in your customer engagement, Emarsys gives you the platform you need to deliver 1:1 personalized omnichannel engagements that engage your customers, grow loyalty and drive tangible business outcomes.