‘Customer engagement’ is a concept so nebulous, and so often used, that it’s lost meaning in the marketing world.
Applying across several channels – including mobile, social media and email – the word typically manifests itself as an explanation for things like a high email CTR, social media interactions such as likes and shares, a spike in web traffic or simply increased revenue.
So what is customer engagement, what metrics should you use to measure it, and what tools are available to help you capture the right data?
What is customer engagement?
At its core, engaged customers are those who choose to interact with your brand. This can manifest itself in several ways, and via several channels, but this principle remains the same through all of them. Engaged customers are also your best customers.
They are more receptive to your marketing messages, more likely to be brand advocates, and ultimately spend more time and money with you than your competitors.
A Gallup study examined the link between customer engagement and real business outcomes. In the retail banking industry, for example, engaged customers bring an average of 37% more revenue into their primary bank than customers who are actively disengaged.
The same is true of consumer electronics, where fully engaged shoppers visit their preferred retailer 44% more frequently that actively disengaged shoppers. And on average they spend $84 more than disengaged customers.
How can you keep customers engaged?
Strategies differ depending on the channel. On customer-facing channels like social media, being available and responsive is the best way to engage customers – effectively, rewarding customers for their interaction with your brand.
That means replying to comments, following up on customer service issues and getting involved in relevant discussions.
Generating unique content for each platform – Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook – is another way to reward customers for their time. Taco Bell, for example, uses Snapchat to give behind-the-scenes access to events. The intimate, unpolished format and 24-hour decay also helps the brand to seem more human.
For a direct marketing channel like email marketing, the challenge is to prevent users from unengaging. Personalizing communications is key here; 74% of marketers say that personalization increases customer engagement. Segmenting your audience by interests, behaviour, purchase history or demographic data are all ways to boost open and click-through rates.
As mobile adoption rates continue to rise, it’s also important to think about how your brand approaches mobile. In this context, ‘engagement’ means customers using your app or mobile website. Good strategies include using push notifications to drive users back to your app, as well as cross-channel promotion on social media.
What metrics should you use to measure customer engagement?
Measurement should be channel-specific, too. When looking at your website analytics, there are several metrics that indicate engaged users. Of course, this depends heavily on your industry. For a publisher like ClickZ, an increase in average time on page, average pages per session and percentage of returning users are all positive signs of engaged users.
The same applies for ecommerce brands – returning users who spend a significant amount of time browsing product pages tend to be more engaged than those who don’t.
On social media, total number of interactions is a good top-level metric to measure engagement. That means replies, likes, retweets and mentions on Twitter; likes, shares, comments and tags on Facebook and LinkedIn. ‘Impressions’ is best used to measure advertising reach, not engagement – as users are only engaging passively.
As a direct marketing channel, email is a slightly different beast. Here it’s best to take a campaign-wide view of customer engagement. Rather than taking a single email send and trying to draw engagement insights from open and click-through rates, look for customers that open emails every day/week/month.
If you send out multiple types of emails, a daily newsletter can help to give you a sense of how many fully-engaged users you have.
What tools can be used to improve customer engagement?
Unfortunately, the process of identifying, collecting and analyzing this data manually can be laborious. Luckily, there are several tools and platforms designed to help you keep track of customer engagement, alongside a number of other metrics to help you improve the customer experience.
The ubiquitous Google Analytics is an easy and effective way to track website traffic, and Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn all offer their own native analytics.
Customer engagement platforms provide a comprehensive way to collect, sort and understand this data. Typically integrating with a CRM, it enables several teams to access the same data simultaneously and can be set up to notify different teams based on recent interactions and purchases.
Typical features include customer health scores (indicating overall satisfaction), customer monitoring (tracking their interactions, such as with your support teams) and customer profiles (drawing data from your CRM, service desk and financial systems like accounting software).
As a brand, understanding what to look for when it comes to customer engagement is paramount. Without clearly-defined, measurable goals and effective systems to measure progress, you cannot effectively respond to occurrent issues.