The 4 Cs of Customer Engagement: The People Want Content!

  |  July 29, 2014   |  Comments

When your goal is to create amazing customer experiences that build engagement and earn loyalty, your data-driven content priorities should become these "four Cs": choice, customization, connect, and communicate.

I've had many conversations with retailers over the years about the struggle to introduce content into an offer-based messaging flow. Offers and discounts are about transactions, so email, mobile, display, and social discount offers and coupons drive more short-term revenue. Revenue is good for business, and it matters in a marketing strategy! However, content engages people and builds loyalty - so it's important, too. How can we find the right balance?

A few studies back this up. Turns out that what people want is more content and fewer offers. A whopping 64 percent of customers would like to receive more content from their grocers, and 83 percent feel that their retailers are not providing sufficient information and resources to help them meet their lifestyle goals, according to a recent study by global consulting firm emnos. This suggests that marketing engagement will be more than just what is on sale, and must include relevant content like a recipe or whitepaper or fun fact or tip of the day.

Social sharing trends support this trend, as well. While many people share a discount code, they are more likely to talk about their engagement with a brand - how they used the product in their lives. That speaks to the need for content to encourage immersion in the brand experience.

Loyalty is more than transactions. Another survey from data insight company ClickFox, states that about 32 percent of consumers said they're most willing to share personal data if they feel loyal to a brand. Most marketers have rich experience in this opportunity, what I call the "data covenant." People will provide personal data by choice when the marketer agrees to respect their privacy, protect the data, and provide something useful in return. Great deals and sales notices are certainly valuable, but they apparently are a saturated commodity in our online research-driven lifestyles. Content will nurture, differentiate, and expand the brand promise.

How can retailers and other marketers make the transition from pure offers to solutions? Simply, consider how to sync coupons with content. For example, the emnos study found that 46 percent of shoppers are interested in receiving snack ideas from their grocery retailer, and 61 percent say eating healthy on a budget is a major concern. Wish lists easily extend to recipes and good lifestyle choices, and surveys can give retailers more data with which to customize content marketing. Content is also an excellent way to engage prospects and identify what types of offers will best lead to their first transaction. The "data covenant" rule above suggests that marketers should first demonstrate value - give content to get brand interest - and then offer a discount to close the deal.

All that custom nurturing runs on data, of course, and can be powered in large part by dynamic content and your marketing automation solution. When your goal is to create amazing customer experiences that build engagement and earn loyalty, your data-driven content priorities become these "four Cs":

  1. Choice. Make sure that people understand what data you are using, and why the use of it will provide more value to them.
  2. Customization. While the surveys don't say it expressly, I suspect that content for content's sake is not good enough. It's got to be the RIGHT content (and yes, say it with me, in the right channel at the right time on the right device...).
  3. Connect. Data helps us recognize our customers as people, not just CRM records. That investment comes back in spades, because positive, relevant experiences encourage people to share and meet each other, which has an additive effect on total value.
  4. Communicate. Without data-driven customer insights, marketers must rely only on generic responses, which never feel engaging. Personalized communications work smarter toward brand loyalty.

Do you see the need to transition from offers to solutions? What are the best-performing approaches for your business? Please comment below for discussion.

Image via Shutterstock.

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Stephanie Miller

Stephanie Miller is a partner with brand and marketing technology strategy firm TopRight Partners, which helps customers use the technology they have today to do the marketing they want to do today and tomorrow. She is a relentless customer advocate and a champion for marketers creating memorable customer experiences. A digital marketing and CRM expert, she helps sophisticated marketers balance the right mix of people, process, and technology to optimize a data-driven content marketing strategy. She speaks and writes regularly and leads several industry-wide initiatives. Feedback and column ideas most welcome, to smiller AT toprightpartners DOT com or @stephanieSAM.

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