In the marketing world, we constantly talk about how to engage customers. We could even call customer engagement the Holy Grail of personalized marketing. When you get a customer engaged, they are much more likely to purchase your services, spread word of your company, and yes, even like and share your Facebook posts.
But how do we create engagement with our content?
Engagement doesn’t have to be positive
We’re tempted to equate engagement and fans of our work, but those two things do not always go hand in hand. In fact, some of the most passionate and engaged customers I’ve personally ever met are critics and reviewers.
As an entrepreneur, it’s important not to assume that critics don’t care about your business; don’t brush them off and assume that they “just don’t understand what you’re doing.” Some people will never be satisfied, and those people aren’t of use to you either, but those who approach your company and remind you of your goals, your mission statement, or challenge you to live up to the standard you’ve set? These customers are worth just as much as those delighted fans.
Engagement looks like information sharing
Engaging content offers something to the viewer. It may be facts and figures of which they were previously unaware. It may be comparisons of two different products, showing them pros and cons of each. It may be a person they trust offering an analysis of current events. But engaging content will share information with the viewer.
This doesn’t have to mean that the content is focused on educating the viewer. Information sharing happens between equals; education happens between a teacher and a student. Trying to do the later from the position of a big business runs the risk of coming off as patronizing. Always proceed with caution.
Engagement looks like emotional responses
There’s a reason we all share pictures of cute babies and cuddly kittens on every social media platform that’s ever existed. We, as humans, like to feel good. Our emotional responses encourage us to share those feelings with other people, because it feels like we’re sharing those feelings and taking care of our tribe.
Manipulative emotional content can overplay its hand easily, and creating false outrage or scandal is bad form. But if there’s a way for you to share positive responses to your product, do it. Show potential customers that other people have found joy in your products, and encourage them to think that they will find joy in them as well.
Engagement looks like inviting clients into the inner circle
If you sell a budgeting software, for example, and are contacted by a client who tells you that they’ve changed their entire life with your software, ask them to tell you more about it. See if they can write a guest post for your blog, or work with you to create a customer profile on your website. At the very least, perhaps they’d be willing to have their statement excerpted for a testimonial.
Telling your customers how crucial they are makes them feel special, and increases the chances that they’ll tell their circle about your product.
Engagement looks like conversation
Twenty years ago, marketing happened in a vacuum. Marketing companies created ads, and placed them in magazines and newspapers and subway stations. Products increased in sales, or they didn’t. Was it because the ads were placed in the wrong magazines? Was it because customers didn’t engage with the ads? There often wasn’t a direct mechanism for a company to find out.
That is no longer a problem. In fact, it can be difficult for a company to sort out the helpful commentary, since there’s now so much of it. Some businesses have reacted to this change in the wind by pushing back, closing the doors and accepting as little customer engagement as they can get away with.
The more successful businesses, however, accept the feedback they receive, share the stories of other customers, and generally work to build their online success along with their customers, instead of in spite of them. After all, without the customers, none of us would be here.