Insight: 5 Keys to Unlocking Consumer Engagement


In a fragmented media landscape, and with the changes to customer profiles over the next 15 years, companies should be focusing on needs, access and relationships with these customers, as a template for valued, quality communication.

When it comes to consumer engagement strategies, most agencies try the same thing over and over:

  1. Get eyeballs on the product
  2. Get customers to share their (positive) experiences with one another, reinforcing purchase behaviors
  3. Ultimately…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 behavior 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.

Eyeballs don’t lead to behaviour change


 

I believe there are 5 keys to a successful consumer engagement strategy.

1: What does the future customer look like?

According to the McKinsey Group, nine groups of urban consumers will generate nearly 75% of global consumption growth from 2015 – 2030. Nineteen per cent will come from retiring and elderly customers in the developed world. Another twenty-eight per cent will come from people of all ages in China. So if you have a consumer engagement strategy that ignores nearly fifty per cent 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. The 1st key is mapping what your customers will look like in the next decade and is core to understanding what your engagement strategy should look like.

2: What does your customer really need and when do they need it?

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 when the triggers are for those needs. Keep in mind, old ideas about office hours and prime time 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 in to those needs as they arise is the 2nd key to a successful engagement strategy.

3: When is the best time to engage your customer?

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 3rd key to a successful consumer engagement strategy is the use of analytics which identify time and manner to contact customers to deliver on their needs.

4: What is the best way of serving your customer?

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 4th 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.

5: How do I talk to my customer?

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 5th 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 aseyeballs = 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.

 

 

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