Customer Engagement Rules!
Unless you're living under a rock, you understand that marketing has undergone a complete revolution in the digital age. Power has shifted dramatically to the consumer. No longer are mass consumer audiences driven to buy national brands based on brand image advertising creating demand for limited choices at retail. Instead, consumers initiate the buying process by engaging with friends, organizations, businesses, and data through diverse digital channels--which they connect with to help them make buying decisions. They can buy online, on the phone, or at the store. And when the sale is done, it's not over, because the consumer has something to say and expects the marketer--and the world--to listen.
A study by Gartner Group found that companies placing a high priority on the customer experience generate 60% higher profits than their competitors.
The new imperative for marketers is customer engagement; it’s becoming our obsession. Because digital channels are so available and flexible, customers can engage when, where, and with whom they choose. The question businesses struggle with is what is their role in this complex, individualized web of customer engagement? To answer this question, it helps to understand the ten reasons customer engagement opportunities have changed marketing so radically.
1. Mass Marketing Communication is Fundamentally Biased.
So, what would you rather depend on? The reassuring message prepared by the manufacturer's ad agency or the actual experience of people who have no axe to grind? With so much credible data available digitally, a rational consumer chooses to be less influenced by advertising and more influenced by unbiased individuals.
That doesn't mean advertising has no purpose. It just has to operate in a more transparent way.
2. Customer Engagement is Personally Powerful.
Marketers have always known that word-of-mouth advertising, personal selling, and unpaid media are the most persuasive communications--far more effective than advertising, which customers have always discounted as biased.
Today, these personal channels have expanded geometrically, so consumers can engage in one-on-one communication about their choices much more easily--with social media friends, online reviews, product blogs with comments, relevant forums, hangouts, video conferences, etc.
It's all very personal, and that's why the new marketing framework revolves around customer engagement. Customers engage when and where they choose—and there are a lot of choices.
3. Customer Engagement Opportunities Are Ubiquitous.
Just search for information about a product, and Google will delight in providing all the possible avenues for engaging personally or for locating objective information—not to mention competitive products and sellers. And everyone knows that many different social media sites can be easily searched to find endless opinions about products and services. On top of that, customers can engage from desktop, tablet, or smartphone.
4. Advertising Was Always Salesmanship (i.e., it was trying to be personal).
In 1905, the famous copywriter John E. Kennedy described advertising as "salesmanship in print." In other words, it is always trying to reach the effectiveness of a personal contact. Similarly, Claude Hopkins said, "Successful salesmen are rarely good speechmakers. They have few oratorical graces. They are plain and sincere men who know their customers and know their lines. So it is in ad writing."
People have always preferred to make many buying decisions based on personal interaction. Now it's much easier. The sales process is now the network of connections consumers use to make buying decisions.
5. Marketing is Now 90% Personal.
It used to be 90% impersonal, mass, and distant. The tables have been turned. That should be turned into an opportunity, not viewed as a problem.
6. Social Media as a Phenomenon Has Matured.
Shel Israel wrote about social media in Forbes, "It is now a mature platform—like email or the telephone—and that eliminates some of the fear, uncertainty and doubt about coming attractions in technology. All of it will have a social component."
As far as customer engagement, the marketing revolution is over, and customer engagement won it.
7. Marketers Still Have a Voice
It's not that consumers don't want to hear from manufacturers--quite the contrary. They want to engage. They want to find out that they can trust you on a personal level. Businesses need to become experts in all the ways their customers want to engage--and be there ready to listen.
8. Customers Want Marketers to Listen First
Of course, listening to customers has always been part of marketing, but now marketers listen to customers one at a time. In fact (as in any selling situation), listening and responding appropriately are crucial factors in building trust. The longer we live in the digital world, the more consumers expect marketers to listen to them.
9. Customers Call the Shots
Since customers engage when and where they choose, marketers must constantly be learning when and where to find them.
10. It's Just As Competitive As Ever
Your competition exists in the same environment as you do, so they’re learning new and better ways to engage with customers. You can’t be left behind.
Your Partner in Customer Engagement
At H2insight, we specialize in customer engagement, and we can help you connect with your customers proactively, understand their engagement preferences, and build trust by exceeding their expectations.