According to a study conducted by Gallup, companies that effectively engage their B2B customers experience 63 percent lower customer attrition and 55 percent higher share of wallet. This explains how crucial is customer engagement for the overall health of an organization.
Actively engaged customers spend more money, participate in branding initiatives, and often become your company’s best brand advocates. Therefore, you need to devise engagement strategies that would keep the existing customers engaged and make them the best advocates of your brand.
Why Is Customer Engagement Important?
If you have long-term plans for your business, the mere acquisition of customers will not help in its survival. B2B customers generally do not rely on impulses to make purchases and tend to stick with your brand for a longer period. Therefore you need to give them concrete reasons so that they choose your brand over and over rather than switching to competitors.
Besides giving them reasons, you also need to develop an emotional connection with them.
Some years ago, Google along with CEB’s Marketing Leadership Council surveyed 3000 purchasers of 36 B2B companies to reveal the reality behind B2B marketing and the results were surprising:
- B2B customers are more emotionally inclined
- There is a 50 percent more chance of B2B customers to buy products from firms that give them personal value.
- Out of 9 B2B brands, seven have an emotional connection with more than 50 percent of customers.
Having clearly-defined customer engagement strategies is essential to develop an emotional connection and build a strong bond with the.
Let us take a look at some of the strategies you can adopt to increase engagement with your customers:
1. Add a Personality to Your Brand
Your brand is a separate entity for your customers. When you add a personality to your brand, you let the customers relate with it in a better way. This not only enables you to stand out but also makes the customers keen to be associated with your brand.
They become more loyal and ‘fond of’ your brand because of the quality you deliver and the distinctiveness your firm portrays. Another part of humanizing your brand could be letting your customers know the actual persons behind your brand. This can be done through webinars, live video sessions, etc.
Offering your audience a sneak peek into your brand by posting behind-the-scenes creates an impression of authenticity, which in turn helps customers connect with your brand on an emotional level.
One great example of this comes from a US-based multi-billion dollar giant, General Electrics, that works across a wide range of B2B sectors. It has created a well-reputed brand persona mostly by providing exquisite customer support and engaging with customers on social media. It has also established customer experience centers to collaborate with its B2B customers.
Buzzfeed Tasty also provides a good example of customer engagement. It aims to create a seamless experience for consumers who find inspiration from tasty cooking videos. But it is not just confined to that. It comes out with fun behind-the-scenes videos to ensure its customers know everything about the brand right from the workspace to the people working there. This lets customers connect to the brand instantly and invest in it.
2. Design a Comprehensive Loyalty Program
Acquiring new customers is way more expensive than retaining existing ones. Designing a comprehensive loyalty program can be helpful here. It urges customers to become advocates of your brand, which further helps in attracting new clients through word of mouth.
According to a survey of 600 B2B professionals from across North America, 84 percent of B2B decision-makers start the buying process with a referral. Despite this, only 30 percent of B2B companies have a formalized referral program. Referrals have actually proved to have a higher conversion rate. After you have acquired customers, you must make them a part of your loyalty program to retain them.
Analyze what works most for your business. A simple point system that rewards customers with points on every purchase that can be redeemed or a tier system to reward initial loyalty and encourage more purchases.
3. Facilitate Personalized Communication
Personalization is vital to the success of any business. Brands these days, extensively rely on personalized communication to improve customer engagement.
According to a 2015 report, 16 percent of B2B buyers repeatedly purchase if they get personalized recommendations across multiple channels. This proves how important it is to keep track of customers’ preferences and communicate with them on a personal level by giving them what they want.
Personalized communication for B2B audience can be best done by:
- Personalizing the web site content according to the demographics, interests and search history of B2B visitors
- Micro-targeting audiences by focusing on personalized digital ads
- Create buyer personas based on the company type, industry, pain points, geographic location, etc.
- Sending personalized emails based on industry type and more
For B2C firms, personalization is not just limited to first names, birthday coupons, anniversary discounts, etc. It has expanded to provide the right kind of product to the customers, as and when they need it.
Amazon and Netflix are great examples of such personalization. Technology helps them keep track of what their customers love to watch and then provide appropriate content suggestions.
4. Organize Customer Engagement Summit
B2B companies most commonly use this strategy since they have high-value customers, and relationship with them needs to be developed and nurtured. This can be done in many forms like webinars, seminars, and conferences.
According to Adobe’s 2018 Summit Attendee Survey –
- 99 Percent of attendees believed that the summit met or exceeded their expectations
- 94 Percent of the attendees would recommend the summit to their peers
- 95 Percent of them thought the summit provided practical information
This explains how beneficial summits can be both for an organization and its customers. They can be instrumental in improving existing relationships with customers by helping them engage with the brand directly, put up questions, and provide suggestions. This makes them feel that they are an integral part of the brand.
Brands at the same time will get to know the customers and their expectations regarding the product.
5. Emphasize on Content Creation
With so much noise and information overload on the internet, the only way to stand out and get people’s attention is to provide them with high-quality useful content.
Useful and engaging content in the form of video tutorials, FAQs, self-service knowledge base, etc. keeps visitors glued to your web site for a longer time. These content pieces aim to provide visitors a seamless information-gathering and problem-solving experience, which increases conversions significantly.
While the content for B2C audience is majorly focused on generating awareness and creating an emotional connection with customers, B2B content marketing revolves around:
- reinforcing brand identity
- providing straightforward solutions
- building trust
For B2B audience, highly researched and insightful content pieces like white papers, online knowledge base, and case studies work better.
Here Are Some Customer Engagement Tips for You:
Tip 1- Provide All-Hands Support
Many companies are using this new customer support approach to ensure that all employees, from project managers to developers, have a hand in supporting customers. This can be done by creating a customer support knowledge base where all your teams contribute knowledge pertaining to their divisions.
Your B2B customers can then access this knowledge base to resolve queries instantly. You can also have a SPOC whose job is to supervise everything and make sure that all your client’s needs are met.
Tip 2 – Focus on Personalized Newsletters
Although this technique was quite prevalent until a few years back, yet, its effectiveness is still intact today. It’s one of the best ways to reach out to prospects and grab their attention. You can use automated marketing tools to create customized newsletters for different customer profiles.
Tip 3- Track User Behavior and Gather Feedback
Use predictive analytics to get insights into customer expectations. This can give you details like purchase and search history of buyers, products they are continuously looking out for and more. Once you know what they want, engaging with them won’t be that difficult.
Having a full-fledged feedback mechanism is crucial for two reasons. First, it helps you identify areas of improvement and understand customer pain points. Second, it gives customers a channel to voice their concerns. Comment boxes, survey forms, live chat, etc. are some of the ways that can help you capture feedback from customers.
Tip 4- Connect on Social Media
Social media is where others witness your customer interactions. This is the platform where you can make or break your business’ reputation. Therefore, it is essential to connect, provide instant support, and handle negative feedback on social media in the most graceful way possible.
Being a B2B firm, you can:
- Engage with decision-makers and build your business relationships on LinkedIn
- Widen your reach through SlideShare
- Elevate your brand visibility on Twitter
- Indulge in customer interactions and provide customer support on Facebook
- Use hashtags on Instagram to enhance customer interactions
Tip 5- Avoid Click-Baiting at All Costs
Click-baiting doesn’t guarantee conversions. It also harms the reputation of your business and only leads to disappointed users. More than catchy, your content needs to be useful and relevant.
Tip 6- Question and Answer Sessions
Question and answer sessions are fun, to begin with. They lead to direct engagement of customers with your brand. They also give a clear understanding of what customers expect from you. A platform like Reddit works great to engage with your B2B audience.
Customer engagement, at its core, is about creating long term relationships with your customers. Brew a better bond with customers, and you will find a spurt in your customer base as well as revenue. Engagement increases loyalty, and with loyalty comes trust. When customers start trusting you, think that you are on the right path.