One of the foundations of business success is great customer relationships. When customers, clients, and followers feel like they have a real relationship with you, it creates loyalty.
And when customers feel loyal, they not only keep buying from you but become your advocate. They’ll recommend you to friends and family, even passionately. And best of all, they’re likely to keep doing business with you because of the connection they feel with your brand.
Customer engagement is the best way to foster an emotional connection. But since customers won’t engage themselves, you need to find ways to encourage customer engagement that makes people feel connected to you.
When they’re connected with your brand on an emotional level, customers will:
1. Feel like you deliver on your promises
2. Feel proud to be your customer
3. Feel like your brand shares their values or beliefs
These are the essential requirements for meaningful customer engagement.
How to Encourage Customer Engagement in E-Commerce
They may seem like complicated emotions, but fortunately, it’s not terribly difficult to get your customers to feel this way. If you need a little direction on how to encourage customer engagement, here are seven things to keep in mind.
1. Use Social Media
Using social media is probably the easiest, most efficient way to encourage customer engagement. Use it to reach people who have done or may do business with you. This way, you can easily inform them of promotions and company developments. You can seamlessly deliver branded messaging, and perhaps most importantly, you can remind them that you’re there and show them that you understand and care about them.
Most adults are using social media and are likely to follow or “like” companies they’ve done business with and want to stay connected to.
Your social media followers are likely to sign up for your mailing list, visit your website, and probably have some established interest in your products or services. The key to social media is to be active, offer relevant, useful content, and build a tribe of people who are engaged with your brand.
2. Be Authentic
People engage with companies they feel are being true to themselves. The core values of your brand should come through in how you encourage customer engagement.
Make sure that all your communications (social media, email, text, advertising, etc.) ring true to who you are, and your customers will begin to trust the story you’re telling. Trust is paramount to meaningful customer engagement that actually drives sales.
Try to limit industry jargon and speak to your customers in a straightforward, friendly way. Being relatable doesn’t mean you’re not an expert. On the contrary, your authentic nature will draw people in so that they listen more intently to what you have to say. It’s the core of an inbound marketing strategy, and is essential even in a digital world.
3. Make Interaction Easy
To encourage customer engagement, you need to make interactions easy and free of serious commitment.
What you really want is for customers to voluntarily respond to your engagement efforts by answering surveys, taking advantage of promotions, entering giveaways, and offering up their feedback.
Most customers will also appreciate a simplified experience on your website. This could mean easy navigation in finding what they need. It might mean “self-service” options to help them resolve a problem without picking up a phone.
It could mean enabling chat. In short, do everything you can to make it easy for customers to get to the next touch-point.
Simply listening to your customers is a great way to encourage customer engagement. Give them many options for communicating with you, such as email, chat, social media, phone, and text.
Make sure they’re aware of these options and let them know you want to hear from them. Most importantly, when they speak up, respond. Have empathy when there’s a problem, appreciate their feedback, and ask follow-up questions when necessary.
5. Ask for Reviews
Reviews are not only great for engagement but can also boost your reputation. Ask for reviews with a follow-up email after a purchase. Post review requests on social media. Send customers links where they can leave Google reviews.
You can even reward them for their feedback with drawings or discounts. When you ask for reviews, customers feel that you care about them and their experience.
6. Know & Address Customer Pains
Part of the process of developing your brand should be to tune in to the pains of your customers.
What problem are they trying to solve?
What obstacles get in the way of solutions?
How can you address those issues?
Too many businesses make the mistake of not staying tuned in to their audience’s pains as they encourage customer engagement. Your communications should remind customers why they sought you out in the first place and how you can help them solve their problems. That creates emotional engagement and loyalty.
7. Go Mobile
Most of your current and prospective customers have smartphones with them almost all of the time, which is customer engagement waiting to happen.
Engage your customers with text messages. Develop an app that helps them communicate and do business with you. Make sure your website is mobile friendly.
If your customers aren’t carrying you around in their pocket in some way, you’re missing a huge opportunity for engagement.
BONUS TIP - Scale Back the Sales Jargon
It’s common knowledge that customers don’t enjoy being “sold” to.
They’re already bombarded with businesses going for the sale, creating a lot of annoying noise. Of course, you want your customers to buy, and a call to action used wisely is a good thing. Ironically though, an educational approach usually gets better results.
Try cutting back on the “buy now” jargon and focus on teaching. We already discussed offering useful, valuable content on social media. Educating customers follows the same logic, but can be done via email, on your website, on social, and in other ways, too.
Take free trials for example. Give people a week or a month to try out your product or service so they can really learn how it works; you’ll be more likely to convert them once the trial is over. Try an educational approach to selling, and the quality of that engagement will help you sell more.
Final Thoughts on Creating Customer Relationships
Relationships are everything.
Without them, meaningful growth would be hard to come by and even more difficult to maintain. Encourage customer engagement, and you’ll form customer relationships that create loyalty and drive sales, adding up to a healthy bottom line.
Our guest author Annabelle Smyth is a freelance writer located in Salt Lake City, Utah. She enjoys writing about leadership, HR, and employee engagement. She has most recently worked with JUMP, writing about social media best practices. When not writing and educating herself, you can find her hiking the canyons with her dog and friends.