In marketing language, the expression customer engagement refers to the set of interactions that take place between customers and brand, aimed at building and strengthening their relationship through different communication channels.
This is a delicate process that begins with the first contact and continues even beyond the sale, reaching all the way to customer service and after-sales support. In fact, in order to sell products and services successfully, it is essential to provide a memorable customer experience, that is, one that has a higher value than the service or good sold itself.
It is the quality of experience that ensures the involvement of the consumer, enticing them to interact with the brand and share their feelings and opinions via social media.
What is customer engagement?
Although the very meaning of customer engagement has evolved and transformed over time, especially with the advent of the Internet and social media, in its basic idea it still symbolizes the close, intimate and long-standing relationship between consumers and brands.
There are so many benefits of taking care of this element in the company, and it is no coincidence that a good portion of the budget is allocated to this aspect by the marketing department.
The concept, however, of an enterprise as a system open to relationships is fairly new, and so experts in the field are still searching for a more comprehensive definition that considers the benefits to the consumer in entering into a lasting relationship With the brands he loves.
In defining customer engagement, one cannot fail to consider that the experience and, of course, the type of relationship the customer forms with the brand changes greatly depending on the specific brand category. In fact, the interaction is quite different with an entertainment brand than with a company operating in the medical/healthcare sector.
In addition, experts say that that of customers toward the brand is An emotional, cognitive and behavioral investment in that no purchase is merely functional, but represents a broader universe of values in which the buyer's motivations and expectations must match those of the chosen brand.
Thus, the immediate effect of a good marketing strategy aimed at customer engagement is an increase in loyalty, with concomitant reduction in the churn rate, the dropout rate.
This has taken on a not insignificant significance because digital innovation and customer demands have changed profoundly over time. Today it is much more difficult to impress consumers, and it is vital to rely on a fresh approach that can attract people to the company.
How customers interact with brands
To learn how to manage customer engagement, it is good to rely on some concepts peculiar to linguistics, a discipline from which marketing often draws inspiration. Communication and language can have different functions, as the Russian linguist suggests Jakobson That highlighted as many as six.
In the case of customer engagement we are interested in the first 3:
- Emotional function: centered on the sender, expresses the subjectivity of the sender;
- Referential or cognitive function: is related to the context and gives us information about the object of communication;
- Conative function: it is recipient-centered and prompts the recipient to perform a certain action.
Taking inspiration from Jakobson's model of communication functions, one can go on to delineate the dimensions of customer engagement, that is, the types of interactions possible between customer and brand:
- Emotional interactions: are the customer-facing communications aimed at stimulating feelings of fondness for the brand. They stem mainly from recurring exchanges, both with the brand and with other consumers, which over time lead to customer retention;
- Conative interactions: relate to the behavioral domain and prompt the customer to perform an action. They are thus the contribution that the average user makes on social networks;
- Cognitive interactions: are the communications capable of producing positive cognitive associations that increase brand prestige and brand awareness.
In essence, it is to focus entirely on the consumer's experience with the brand, that is, the customer experience. The job of companies is then to channel their efforts on the combination of these communication dimensions since each will be able to contribute to increasing customer engagement.
Computational models for customer engagement
Before analyzing customer engagement calculation systems, it is necessary to remember that whatever method you choose, before studying the data, it is important to choose your KPI (Key Performance Indicators), the performance indicators.
KPIs are intended to monitor a company's performance to understand what the weaknesses are and how to improve. Going to define quantifiable goals allows specific calculations to be made and choose the better strategies, always taking into account the goals to be achieved.
For each specific goal, it is good to monitor different data and then select appropriate responses. But how is the customer engagement rate calculated? The mathematical formula is very simple: simply divide the number of interactions by the number of followers and multiply by 100 to derive the rate.
Interactions/number of followers x 100
A satisfactory engagement rate should be between 1 and 5%, but percentages can vary widely depending on social and number of followers. In general, however, the higher the value, the more difficult it is to have excellent customer engagement.
Depending on the engagement you want to have or to the platform analyzed, there are a variety of models to define customer engagement, including Googler Analytics, Instagram Insights and Facebook Business Manager.
One of the most popular and appreciated models was developed by entrepreneur Mark Ghuneim, for which there would be 4 levels of customer engagement:
- Low: is the basic level, typical of the consumer who performs simple actions, such as tagging friends or joining a group;
- Medium: in this case, customer involvement is slightly higher and they participate in surveys and conversations;
- High: the consumer is much more involved and produces content, called UGC (Use Generated Content);
- Highest: is the highest level, where the customer build a community around the brand.
Then there are other types of calculations that want to establish the engagement of a single post or the daily engagement rate. Whatever the method, however, there are still some metrics to keep an eye on:
- Bounce rate: is the abandonment rate of a page, and its value should be as low as possible;
- Time on site: is the duration of each session, that is, the time spent by users on the site, and the higher this value, the higher the engagement rate;
- Page per visit: is the number of site pages visited during a session;
- Number of interactions: include likes, comments, views and shares. Analysis should be performed for each type of content on social networks;
- Conversion rate: is the number of visitors that turn into leads or customers;
- Abandonment rate: is the acquired shopping cart abandonment rate of an e-commerce site;
How to increase customer engagement?
On the subject of customer engagement, it is important to emphasize that engaging a user is of no use unless concrete action is taken to retain that contact and keep it alive over time. To build a lasting and effective engagement strategy, it is essential to rely on a few key elements:
- Specific and real-time interactions: Most customers expect companies to communicate with them in real time or near real time. On this aspect, the work of customer service, whether via chat or telephone, is crucial. Of great help are chatbots, which are useful for giving quick and easy answers;
- Personalized experience: Consumers today want to be recognized and contacted with personalized content for experiences tailored to them. For example, many of the emails we receive address us by our name and contain suggestions designed based on our tastes or in line with previous purchases;
- Omnichannel approach: a major difficulty for marketers is defining the customer journey that customers experience each time they make a purchase. Companies must therefore act in a cohesive and integrated way, analyzing all the channels used to finalize purchases. Between physical stores and digital channels, there are many touchpoints to control, and here is where the centralization of data collection acquires greater relevance.