Increasing Customer Engagement


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B2B customer engagement

As an avid explorer of food and wine, I seek out new places to visit and different cuisines to try. My experiences range from satiated to unimpressed and delighted to disappointed. It’s all good, I enjoy the adventures. Then I have my list of favourites, the tried and tested wines and restaurants that I will go back to any time with pleasure. Not all of these are fancy labels and/or expensive ones. But they work for me every time, especially when I don’t have the time to plan ahead or just don’t want to plan my meal. This, my friends is a standard, very typical human choice. And we don’t give much thought to this behaviour in general.

As a B2B marketer, however, this is perhaps one of the key behaviours one should pay attention to. Seth Godin talks about being rational and fickle at the same time in their choices. He explains competitive advantage as a situation where you win as a marketer because your customers choose you. Your ideal customer, he says, wants you as a marketer to remember these 4 key points:

  1. Matter to me: Not matter to you or to the next guy, but matter to me. That’s all I care about. (Example: it might mean more to me that my friends use your product than it does that you’re cheaper).
  2. Worldview: Based on the way I see the world, the assumptions I make, the truth that I believe in. (Example: If I don’t trust young people as a matter of course, I’m not likely to choose you if you’re young, all other things being close).
  3. Options I’m aware of: If I don’t know about you, you don’t exist.
  4. Switching cost: The incumbent gets a huge advantage, especially in high cost/high risk/network effect instances.

In my opinion, this wisdom from Seth is worth its weight in gold if only all marketers pay attention to it. But most of us don’t. So we have studies that tell us Customer engagement is the top concern keeping CMOs up at night” (new study by executive recruiting company Korn/Ferry International mentioned inB2B Magazine).

I’m actually glad to read that more and more CMOs are thinking beyond the numbers—past the Likes, Fans, Followers, Shares, Tweets, web traffic—to focus on building engagement. The important thing to remember is that to appeal to the fickle-yet-rational customer, you really need to differentiate yourself from the others in your industry. You need to sell that competitive advantage to customers, and each customer is unique. So this can get quite complicated, right? How long can you keep second guessing, employ trial and error, drain your resources, waste your time? You cannot and there is no need.

6 Ways to Simplify and Grow Customer Engagement

Automation and now digitalization has clouded our marketing vision. We see “leads”, “prospects”, “customers”, “lists”, “data”—do we see people somewhere in all this? Let’s start with this very basic step towards simplification. The concept of human choice that I started this piece with is based on the premise that our customers are living, breathing, thinking individuals and we can engage them because they are so. No matter how advanced your CRM system, sales automation software, email marketing engine and whatever other technology/tools you use for lead generation may be, there are some simple ways in which you can start counting real, valuable relationships.

  1. Humanize your social properties. Don’t worry about how many new links have been posted to your company’s Facebook wall or how many times your latest promotion has been Tweeted and Re-Tweeted or how many Pins and Re-Pins your latest product photos are attracting. Update your social platforms with stories that are of interest to your community of users and potential customers.
  2. Be Socratic. Ask questions, pertinent ones. Provide answers to questions being raised by your customers even outside of your direct interaction with them; for example, on industry forums, review sites, third-party blogs and user groups. This may have been the method of Socrates and his contemporary Greek philosophers in ancient times but it is still the most scientific method of inquiry and observation.
  3. Use the power of the crowd.Or crowdsourcing as it is now called. You don’t have to be solely responsible for starting and sustaining brand conversations. Your prospects and customers are already doing it informally. Now bring them into your own forums and reward them for sharing insights, best practices and comments about your brand. There is a lot more power in what others say about you than you can ever hope to infuse into a piece of communication on your own. At the same time, monitor your LinkedIn groups and other social communities—keep an eye on who comes to the party and filter out the ones that don’t or cannot add value. Anyone who wants to get up there on the bandstand all the time to shout overtly promotional messages is just not in the right place. Set your guidelines and regulate the conversations to ensure there is no “noise pollution”. Those who are engaged will remain and be more engaged seeing that you are keeping the spammers out. We recently started a new LinkedIn Group specifically for Channel Executives to discuss B2B lead generation and social media. One of our mandates is to have this group become highly engaged, to have real, value added discussions. (By the way, if you think you can add value, please apply to join the group.)
  4. Enhance the longevity of your content.Marketers today have a plethora of content formats available to them—audio, video, mobile content, social networks, online news portals, and more. You don’t need to use all channels all the time, but knowing which one is best suited to the target audience you want to reach is important. Here is a useful Infographic on Content Marketing Media Matrix for Small Businesses.

Content marketing media matrix for small businesses

5. Get a 360-degree view. Too often there are just too many holes in our sales and marketing processes. Cracks and gaps develop in relationships, as a result, and high potential, good quality leads simply disappear into thin air…because no one was looking from a 360-degree perspective. There was no all-round feedback loop created. To impact customer engagement, you need a steady dialogue at every touch point or interaction with a prospective customer and even after the sale is complete. There needs to be employee accountability at all levels within the organization and only then can you hope to engage customers and win them for the long term.
6. Get your channel partners and supply chain on board. The guy behind the wheel of your delivery truck, the technician who installs your product at the customer’s site, the reseller or dealer who you depend on to serve a specific local geography, all play an important role in customer engagement. Take the time and make the effort to get them on board your marketing vision so you can start creating a consistent customer experience all around.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Louis Foong
Louis Foong is the founder and CEO of The ALEA Group Inc., one of North America's most innovative B2B demand generation specialists. With more than three decades of experience in the field, Louis is a thought leader on trends, best practices and issues concerning marketing and lead generation. Louis' astute sense of marketing and sales along with a clear vision of the evolving lead generation landscape has proved beneficial to numerous organizations, both small and large.


  1. Hi Louis, nice post and great chart! With regards to #4, I’d say this is a key issue. You need to be able to direct content depending on where they are in the customer decision journey. Tamar, Insightera

  2. Hi Tamar, thank you for your kind words 🙂 Yes, timing and the dissemination of right content at the right time is critical.


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