Endless brand choices. Content overload. Microscopic attention spans.
For businesses looking to engage customers today, these roadblocks have become the norm.
Listen: your customers are tired of tuning out sales pitch after sales pitch. Marketing today means prioritizing connections before products.
And so true engagement means forming authentic relationships with your customers.
From social media to content marketing and beyond, businesses today have endless opportunities to sow the seeds of such a relationship.
What do engaged customers look like, anyway?
“Engagement” is often treated as this sort of vague buzzword for businesses.
The reality, though? Engagement is both measurable and actionable.
Well, at least it should be.
If you want to know what an engaged customer looks like in the wild, look no further than your numbers. For example, here are just a few key data points that signal engaged customers from your own analytics:
- Returning visitors to your website (including repeat customers)
- Frequent comments, shares, and likes on your social posts
- Opens, click-throughs, and replies on your marketing emails
- Instances of people publishing user-generated content (customer photos, testimonials, reviews)
- A low bounce rate on-site
- Sales teams with high conversion rates and close ratios
Basically, engaged customers represent people taking action in some way, shape, or form.
These positive touchpoints can translate into some serious sales and brand advocacy—hat is, if you can nurture those ever-important relationships in the first place.
How do you engage customers in the relationship era?
The beauty of relationship-driven marketing is that it doesn’t have to break the bank.
Instead, consider the small, specific strategies businesses should roll out to boost engagement.
Regardless of your brand or budget, here are six proven ways to engage customers time and time again.
1. Ask more questions
Want to form relationships with your customers? Starting the conversation is a smart move.
And what better way to do so than the simple act of asking a question?
Questions serve as a prime opportunity to pick the brains of your buyers. Given that it only takes a few seconds to tack on a question to an email or social post, this is a low-effort tactic with big potential returns.
How so? Curating feedback earns you more than just engagement. The responses you receive are not only a quick way to engage customers, but also direct insight into which direction to take your business.
Need fresh content ideas? Thinking about rolling out a new product? Rather than rack your brain, just ask your customers what they want.
Examples of questions you can ask your audience include:
- Pain points and challenges that they’re facing
- Personal victories or success stories
- Products or services they wish existed
- Lighthearted questions (such as caption contests)
- Tools they use or tips they’d give others in their industry
Your customers are more than willing to sound off, as long as you’re there to listen. Doing so shows that you’re invested in your customer’s success.
2. Engage through educational content
The advice to create “engaging content” is universal among marketers.
However, it’s vague advice when presented without context.
If you want to make your content more engaging, a rule of thumb is to focus on educating your customers. The sheer popularity of how-to and tutorial-based content speaks for itself, doesn’t it?
Engaging customers through educational content makes perfect sense. After all, your customers came to you because they need something done that they couldn’t do alone. If you continuously solve your customers’ problems via content, you cement yourself as the ultimate helping hand.
For the sake of creating 10x content rather than run-of-the-mill fluff that customers ignore, make sure your content ticks the following boxes.
Specific - Rather than touch on broad topics, try to hone in on specific subject matter that hasn’t been covered to death. You can tap into such topics by soliciting customer feedback (sound familiar?) or delving into search terms readers are using on your site. The more specific and customer-driven your subject matter, the more likely it’ll resonate with your audience.
Actionable - Your customers’ time is valuable. When they read through a blog post or watch a tutorial, there needs to be some sort of payoff at the end of it all. Ask yourself: what’s the ROI for your readers’ time? Your readers should come away either empowered or enabled to do something they couldn’t do when they started.
Entertaining - It’s nearly impossible to engage customers if you’re boring them to tears. (Or yawns… or tears and yawns…) Rather than keep your content cut and dry, it’s always a plus to boast content with some entertainment value.
Maybe that means cracking some jokes or tossing a meme into your next post. Perhaps it means writing less stuffy headlines (hint: CoSchedule’s headline analyzer is a good tool for this) and not just writing for SEO. Either way, these small touches can make a huge difference in terms of engagement.
3. Experiment with a new medium
On a related note, engaging customers through content means experimenting with new mediums.
For example, a younger, social-savvy audience is more likely to watch a bite-sized video than dig through a blog post. That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with written content.
But consider the possibilities afforded by social media.
Live video. Infographics. Time-sensitive stories on Instagram.
These avenues are fresh ways to showcase your products and engage your customers. This minute-long tutorial from Canva is a shining example of how effective video can be versus a traditional blog post.
This content is also prime for the likes of Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. This means you can cover even more ground when it comes to engaging customers on the platforms relevant to your business.
If nothing else, video is arguably one of the best ways to present your products in action. B2C brands like Beardbrand have built an ecommerce empire via YouTube tutorials, product demonstrations, and motivational videos.
4. Make your marketing more human
News flash: the age of the behind-the-curtain, faceless business is over.
Engaging customers means allowing them to relate to you on a personal level. If you never present the human side of your business, making that personal connection is an uphill battle.
There’s a reason why giants like Google make a point to focus heavily on marketing that features people over tech.
Remember: not all of your marketing needs to be product-centric, nor should it be. Some quick ideas to create a sense of authenticity between your company and its customers:
- Encourage employees to share and publish your company’s’ content
- Publish behind-the-scenes content of your team, office, or community events that show there’s more to you than the grind
- Regularly publish photos, positive feedback, and shout-outs from customers to serve as social proof (think: customer marketing)
The mere act of reminding your customers that you’ve walked in their shoes is a great tactic to engage them. Companies like Basecamp regularly publish bite-sized motivational advice that speaks to their customers’ desires to stay productive:
When your marketing feels authentic, it’s that much easier for customers to form an emotional connection with your business. With that connection, you have the foundation of a meaningful relationship.
5. Personalize your customer experience
As such, it literally pays to treat your customers as individuals rather than a faceless group.
Referring to your customers by name is a good starting point, whether we’re talking about social customer service or personalization tags via email.
And speaking of email, segmenting your list based on customer activity is another must-do. After all, marketing to the needs of VIP customers and your biggest spenders is night and day versus disengaged customers on the fence.
As noted earlier, engaging customers is also a data-driven exercise. Storing data on your customers via your CRM can help you track the journey of each and every customer without fail.
Learn more about how to strategically gather + collect info about your customers with this free ebook.
From who they spoke to most recently to which types of content they’re engaging with, this information is especially important when it comes time for a one-on-one call.
6. Keep your customers in the loop
Finally, consider the fact that constituency counts for engaging customers.
If you’re keeping up a social presence, you can’t let it gather cobwebs.
And if you’re regularly publishing content or an email newsletter, it can’t just randomly come to a grinding halt.
For the sake of staying fresh in your customers’ minds, you should always have something in your back pocket to give them.
Even something as simple as a product update can do the trick.
Your customers should have a constant pulse on what you’re up to. Similarly, making yourself as available as possible to handle any questions and concerns at a moment’s notice reinforces that you’re a helping hand. This means keeping a close eye on social mentions, CRM data, and everything in between.
And with that, we wrap up our list!
What are you doing to engage customers?
Customers are far more than data points; they’re people.
And in the Relationship Era, engaging those people through your content and marketing is a total priority for today’s businesses.
Rather than look for a single way to connect with them, instead think of how each one of these strategies can be a building block for engaging customers. No matter what your business might be, these tactics are key to forming the long-term relationships modern companies so desperately seek.