The New Era of Customer Engagement: Evolve or Dissolve

Cecile Baltazar

Monday, October 8, 2018

In today’s Engagement Economy, it’s all about staying connected, staying fluid not just because you have to, but because you want to.

Why? Because engaging means winning and disconnection means dissolution.

Today, it’s all about getting to know our customers intimately and building long-lasting relationships that go beyond the walls of our business. Once a true partnership forms, more opportunities arise.

“Our choice is binary. We engage our customers early, everywhere, in meaningful and life-long personal journeys. Or we risk being sentenced to irrelevance.” - Marketo, Marketing Automation

In the present digital landscape, everybody and everything is connected. The result?

Customers are smarter and more particular than ever. They have 24-7 access to information about your brand and others mainly online which includes millions of human connections that make word-of-mouth instantaneous even if unsolicited. So without consistent engagement, you’re missing out on a gazillion opportunities to learn about your customer and share your brand.

So what is your current customer approach: are you marketing to customers or engaging with customers? Is your brand transactional or transformational? And how do you determine how to engage?

Today’s unlimited access to information is the customers’ new superpower. In fact, 94 percent of buyers leverage online information during the buying process. In the hands of consumers, this superpower is what continues to elevate what’s expected from our brands. It pushes us to deliver more valueon the spot and with ease.

Marketers also have a hand in the game with big data as their superpower. If we’re really paying attention, customers will show us what they expect and how they want us to engage at each touchpoint.

Personalization is not a cliche

Listening, learning, and using personal insight to engage a customer sounds cliche, but it’s more important than ever. Close to 70 percent of purchases are based on how well the customers feel they’re being understood. And a majority of customers are going for brands that care about them and understand who they are. Why? Because not only have we evolved into a “this-is-me-market,” but customers now have many other options available to them right at their digital fingertips.

Next, when you’re considering how to engage at all the different customer touchpoints, are you considering all the right voices? What is the customer data telling you? Where are you pulling your data from? And how are you using that data to engage? How efficiently are you engaging with your customer in a real-time market? Remember, in a market where attention span is significantly diminished, precise engagement is key.

“Businesses that personalize web experiences see an average 19% increase in sales.” - Marketingprofs

In this new digital paradigm shift between buyer and seller, picture the customer and their data in the driver’s seat, and you are the vehicle. It’s all on you to get them where they need to go, as quickly as possible.

Values Create Alignment

But before anyone hops into your vehicle, they need to know what you stand for. So before you engage, it’s important to establish your value system, and this needs to permeate through every person in your organization.

Your value system is a big part of your personal brand because what you stand for is often the very thing that will captivate or lose a customer.

Let’s take Uber as an obvious example to understand how a lack of organizational values thwarted customers from literally hopping into their vehicles in 2017. The company’s scandals and controversial pricing during a government-imposed travel ban prompted a #deleteUber campaign resulting in more than 400,000 Uber riders deleting their accounts and a 4.5 billion dollar loss. Who was there to save customers from this Uber monstrosity other than Lyft, with its positive track record and noble value system:

“We created Lyft to be a model for the type of community we want our world to be: diverse, inclusive, and safe.” - Lyft

The rideshare underdog nearly tripled their market share following the Uber scandals.

Uber, on the other hand, was forced to rethink how their core values like “always be hustlin’,” “principled confrontation” and “toe-stepping,” wound up creating a hostile work and consumer environment.

Today, the company is redeeming itself with a new CEO and a set of new cultural norms that include “doing the right thing,” “celebrating differences,” and “being customer obsessed.” Uber has since recovered, narrowing its quarterly losses from a year earlier, although the company still has a long road to recovery.

Scaling to Win

Now that you’ve gotten customers to jump in for the ride, how fast can your vehicle go? Although value trumps volume when it comes to content, marketers still need to put tools in place that will help them move content along efficiently and effectively. And that involves marketing automation and choosing the right marketing technology platform.

Your technology should be easy, fast, and configurable to help marketers succeed at each stage of the customer lifecycle. This can be difficult when there’s no one marketing solution to execute on all fronts. If you have multiple systems that make for a data management nightmare, you probably want to move to an open platform that can integrate with other sales and marketing software via iPaas integration tools.

For instance, if you were able to integrate NetSuite with Marketo initiatives, your team would be able to work more efficiently and seamlessly at understanding customer behaviors across multiple channels; building long-lasting relationships through continuous, personalized engagement over time; and managing strategies across teams.

Evaluating and Measuring

The Engagement Economy is all about moving to a proactive rather than a reactive state. This is a must, especially living in both a hypersensitive and viral environment where information can be misconstrued, exaggerated, and spread instantaneously. Outbound content for a client via social media post, email, video, text and so on, should be vetted.

Take for instance a failed email blast by Adidas. A cringe-worthy email was sent to customers who participated in the 2017 Boston Marathon with the subject line, "Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!" Who wouldn’t find this tacky and offensive given the fatalities of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing? Adidas wound up issuing an apology but just like Uber, the damage will take time to undo.

Now, when it comes to generating leads for your customer, what are you doing to identify the path to conversion when you are successful? Where are consumers going when they first land on your website? Where do they click? Which social media ads and blogs are getting the most interaction?

Remember, in the land of the Engagement Economy, data is king.

Continuous Evolution

Today, companies with staying power are the ones who can continuously evolve. According to Forbes’ Top Ten Success Drivers, four out of the ten involve how companies engage in this new market. Today, those drivers include:

  • A willingness to embrace artificial intelligence to elevate the customer experience through consistent, data-based interactions.
  • Live events to interact with customers face-to-face
  • Live-streaming content
  • A passion for serving the community, not just their customers

But what the drivers are today might not be the same tomorrow. That’s what the Engagement Economy is all about. Companies who can stay in touch and ahead of the ever-changing pulse will be the ones who ultimately win.

Click here to learn how to integrate your marketing automation software with any other software that houses data.