How to build your customer engagement
Customer engagement – and by that read ‘customers, prospects and other defined groups that your business needs to sell to or influence – is about encouraging positive interaction between your business and each target group or audience.
Ultimately, of course, the goal is to generate sales. However, in a world where the customer – not the salesperson – is in control of the buying process, many of the traditional methods of marketing and selling no longer work. Surveys in recent years have, for example, highlighted the fact that up to 70% of the purchasing decision is made before prospective customers directly contact suppliers. This might be done through research at trade shows, in the print media and on-line.
Customer engagement needs to work in multiple stages and at multiple levels, becoming increasingly intensive as the target is drawn along the buying journey. Additionally, once a prospect has been converted to a buying customer they will then need nurturing to ensure that they remain loyal.
The focus therefore has to be on value creation, not simply revenue generation. Many B2B businesses already have a sales methodology that is based on building long term customer relationships by adding value to the products, systems or services that they offer. This might, for example, be in the form of consultancy, planning, design and training, the outsourcing of non-core but nonetheless essential plant operation and management functions, or end-to-end customer support.
Customer engagement, from a marketing perspective, takes a similar approach. The starting point has to be awareness. It’s impossible to engage effectively if your customer is unaware of your business and the solutions that it offers. Beyond this, it is then important to provide the information, inspiration, ideas and data that guide a prospect along the buying journey and which subsequently build long term loyalty.
And this is where we step in. We provide research, strategic planning and tactical implementation of programmes that help your business engage effectively with your customers. At a practical level this can mean the provision of materials including:
- White papers
- Thought leadership and positioning articles
- Application notes and case studies
- Technical articles and how to guides
- Video interviews, training and comment
- Blogs and social media updates
Throughout, the key is to ensure that all materials are consistent in style, feel and branding, that they are coherent and integrated and that they steadily advance the journey, providing the information that your target needs at each stage.
It is also important that each item, from a tweet or LinkedIn post, to a white paper or video interview engages emotionally as well as rationally with the audience. Bear in mind that the decision making process is largely carried out within the limbic area of the brain. This functions at an emotional level and deals in abstracts – feelings and images; by comparison, the neocortex carries out what might be called rational data processing – language, numbers etc.
Customer engagement therefore has to contain a dynamic mix of content and ideas that both surprise and delight the target, and that deliver the key facts to support and guide their decision to choose your business.