As a former advertising man, I must say that the principles of customer engagement remain the same as they have ever been - and center around an attractive proposition / appealing offer. It has always involved context, packaging and delivery method. If you apply the same sort of philosophy to the digital domain, it is about how you frame your content, and apply calls-to-action and contact triggers - and connect those to the relevant target audience.
As with all consumer activity - you have to be able to put yourself in the mind of your consumers and be able to understand what their motivations are - what challenges they face, and how those could best be resolved. Use of language is a critical component - particularly within professional services disciplines, and you must target the relevant audience with absolutely the correct visual stimuli and vocabulary.
Right at the start of this exercise is the process of honing in on who is the definitive target audience for your product or service - who is most likely to buy what you specifically offer. You need to isolate the appropriate character types, with the relevant lifestyle markers and extrapolate key motivations and likely triggers. This involves putting together an ideal ’customer profile’ template - which should be able to identify sector, type of company, size of turnover, job title and likely spend. It’s a match-making exercise to a large degree where you compare and cross-reference the most pertinent attributes.
There is a fairly straightforward mechanic to attracting the right sort of customer - as we lay out in ’Marketing 101 for All’ - i.e. the Hook > Proof > Action approach. You need to project a strong beneficial offer, which solves a/the key challenge faced by your target audience. The ’Hook’ is in the form of said offer, and must contain words and reference relevant imagery which is familiar to the audience and will trigger a positive affirmative response. The ’clincher’ then is how you tie the hook directly to your own specific offer (what I call funnelling) - know that there will likely be competitors - at the very least indirect one, if not wholly similar - so a critical point of difference is an essential here.
All of this is done towards establishing some degree of contact with the prospective customer - via Calls-to-Action and other key interactive triggers. ’Contact’ is actually a broader category, for it is often a two-step process - hooking prospects on social networks and relevant media, and bringing them to your website where you can reinforce your proposition and seal the deal as such. There are lots of beautiful and well-appointed websites out there, but they cannot serve their purpose if they don’t get enough passing traffic - just like a shop on a street needs a certain density and volume of passing trade to be in a position to convert sufficient numbers.
So someone has been hooked into your site via search engine or social network / relevant feeder site / feature / ad / viral video etc. In terms of fishing analogies - you have them on the hook as such, but you now need to reel them fully in and land them. This is where Signposts, Collateral and Calls-to-Action really come into play. You don’t want to be overly pushy, but you want to provide the prospective customer with all the comforts they need to make up their mind and take it a step forward - on their own terms. You have to have a sufficiently broad base of content and references plus testimonials to set the prospects’ minds at ease, make them feel that you are wholly transparent about what you say you are offering, and that you have all the relevant pertinent references needed to convince and encourage further interaction. You then allow the customer to interact in several different ways - of their own choosing, and to their own particular comfort level. The ideal outcome here is that you manage to capture some way of identifying and contacting the hopefully prospective customer. A conversion does not have to be a final sale - it just needs to be a significant step in that direction - an online registration, a white paper or prospectus download or some other significant interaction.
For many businesses, the first point of contact is an enquiry - likely to establish just how close a match your solution is to their needs. Often, the prospect has not bothered to read around the subject, and is using the enquiry as the first stage of due diligence. This means that a fairly swift and fully professional response is essential to gaining the customer’s trust and to have them properly onside and considering you as a viable choice. The bigger the ticket price and the more complex your offering, the less likely is the consumer to commit on the first or even second contact. There are lots of other factors like financial years and budget availability which may mean than a first-time passing prospect may not be in a position right then to make a purchase. For some deals, the interactions can go on for months or even up to a year or more. Throughout this time you need keep the prospect interested or still on the hook - with relevant features and collateral which strengthen and reinforce your position, and each time make it more likely that the prospect will do business with you. We have witnessed numerous prospects diligently read through a significant series of features and articles before they feel confident enough to take things forward. So Customer Engagement is not just a one-off action, it is getting prospects hooked in the fist place, and then keeping them interested sufficiently long enough to be able to persuade them to deal with you. For some prospects, dozens of follow-ups are required - which means you have to have sufficient content to keep said prospects interested long-term. Selling is so often about timing, and about keeping things on the boil until the time is just right for a deal to be made. A very big part of Sales and Marketing Automation is in the area of autoresponders and progressive follow-ups - which help maintain ongoing contact.
20+ years of high level Branding and Advertising, in Digital since 1999 and have worked with brands including: Audi, Bausch & Lomb, BBC, Champion Automotive / Federal Mogul, Eli Lilly / IVAC, EMI, Diesel, Filmutea, Gill, Humanity Direct, IMRG / Peermap, Kimberly-Clark, Lanes Health, Loctite, MasterCard, Procurement Leaders, Rovio / Angry Birds, Royal Opera House, TSG, Wrigley. Key expertise in Brand Strategy and Brand Origination.
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