When it comes to consumer engagement strategies, most companies try the same thing over and over:
- Get some eyeballs on the product
- Get customers to share their (positive) experiences with one another, reinforcing purchase behaviours
- Sell more stuff
It all seems pretty straight forward...right?
Unfortunately, it’s rubbish. Any strategy that follows the above process is doomed. It’s not even logical. Eyeballs don’t lead to behaviour change. Commentary is mostly a time waster unless there’s something in it for
the customer. If you do achieve commentary, a whole stream of positive comments tends more often to raise distrust among audiences. And even if you do get eyeballs, positivity and somehow manage to maintain the trust of your customers, there’s absolutely no guarantee that you will sell any more of your product.
I believe there are 5 keys to a successful consumer engagement strategy.
According to the McKinsey Group, nine groups of urban consumers will generate nearly 75% of global consumption growth from 2015 - 2030. 19% will come from retiring and elderly customers in the developed world. Another 28% will come from people of all ages in China. So if you have a consumer engagement strategy that ignores nearly 50% of potential consumption growth, you have locked yourself out of half of your earnings potential.
Any forward thinking engagement strategy must engage high-consuming customers
Any forward thinking engagement strategy must engage high-consuming customers. Mapping what your customers will look like in the next decade is key to understanding what your engagement strategy should look like.
As a measure of the value of a consumer engagement strategy, eyeballs are meaningless.Let’s totally leave aside the fact that not all impressions of online advertisements and websites are actually real people, or the fact that there are click farms in developing nations that are skewing what is being measured. What matters is that eyeballs are irrelevant. Unless you are engaging your consumers because they are interested in your product, you will not be convincing anyone to buy anything.
We live in an on-demand age, with a gig economy in terms of work
Instead, you need to think through what your customers really need and map what the triggers are for those needs. Keep in mind, old ideas about office hours and primetime broadcast television are effectively fading away. We live in an on-demand age, with a gig economy in terms of work. So it is essential to map a buyer journey which reflects the real activities of consumers, and which has some tangible impact on their lives. Knowing how to tap into those needs as they arise is the second key to a successful engagement strategy.
Gut feelings can be good for engaging with customers. But as good as they are, I wouldn’t recommend them as part of a consumer engagement strategy.
It is career limiting to base your strategy on your gut, particularly when analytics are available to you to let you know when and how to engage your customers.
No, analytics are not perfect. They are messy and hard to interpret. And with all the data out there it can be difficult to get meaningful insights. But with the growth in artificial intelligence software and business intelligence analysis, analytics are the best means of knowing when and how to engage. So the third key to a successful consumer engagement strategy is the use of analytics that identify the time and manner to contact customers to deliver on their needs.
Once you have identified your audience, needs and found the time you can engage them usefully, the next thing you can do is find ways to ease customer access to your product. Non-interfacing stock management and distribution systems, as well as office hours and employee rates are offered as excuses, but really it’s simpler than that. Most companies haven’t enabled ways for customers to access products virtually or by proxy. The fourth key is to create something that will either provide the impression of access to a brand, or something that will lay the path for access to a customer reward.
The final key is about the engagement with the customer itself. Just getting customers to share something without meaning is adding to brand noise. It is undirected, usually meaningless, and wasteful for both customer and company.
Just getting customers to share something without meaning is adding to brand noise
Engagement happens when customers are seeking, receiving and using goods and services. The fifth key to a successful consumer engagement strategy is to craft engagement in such a way that the sharing of information is meaningful, timely, relevant and in the interests of all viewing parties.
Summing it up…
Consumer engagement is not as simple as eyeballs = comments = sales
In a fragmented media landscape, and with the changes to customer profiles over the next fifteen years, companies should be focusing on needs, access and relationships with these customers, as a template for valued, quality communication. Useful customer engagement is desperately needed for companies to maintain and grow their consumer base. And a strategy that focuses on these keys to consumer engagement is one that can survive the next decade.