The relative implosion of technology and social media into our everyday lives has changed everything from making a phone call to working out to buying a car. We are continually reliant upon technology and our smart-devices to help us organize, track and manage the details of our daily lives. Paper is slowly becoming less and less a factor as we can store nearly all documents in the cloud. It is no different for businesses and their practices are changing to keep pace. But there is still something to be said for the ‘human touch’. So just how is customer engagement defined in this new virtual world vs. the world of brick and mortar?
Regardless of the platform your business offers and your customer uses, customer engagement can be simply defined as customer and brand interaction via various means of communication. Advertising, whether online, in print, broadcast or any other medium is a primary form of customer engagement. Increasingly, as companies spend more marketing dollars on internet and social media campaigns, advertising is becoming interactive.
“Sign up for a coupon for a free sample.” “Like us on Facebook and we’ll send you a coupon for 50% off.” “Go to Facebook to see our daily deals.” The technology embedded in social media sites allows companies to track consumer behavior and tailor marketing programs by consumer type, creating a more interactive and genuine experience for the customer. The result is a customer who is more likely to return and interact with a specific brand.
By utilizing and defining customer engagesmart via social media and the internet, companies are able to better capture, track and analyze customer data including shopping habits, general trends and ad campaign effectiveness. Not only does this create an opportunity for improved marketing, but also customer engagement. Our digital age has allowed customers to truly interact with brands, companies, products and even to create communities of like-minded consumers.
One customer engagement trend that is seeing resurgence are loyalty card programs. These programs are ‘clubs’ that provide special perks, discounts, information and other opportunities for loyal customers of nearly any business type: restaurants, coffee shops, salons, drugstores, the list is endless. For many years these programs utilized plastic bar-coded cards that needed to be presented at the time of purchase. Now many companies are opting for programs that simply require customers register their credit or debit card. All purchases are then tracked and no extra cards or coupons are needed.
Loyalty programs create constant customer engagement by building an ongoing conversation between brand and customer. Brands are able to track buying behaviors and preferences and then build the next customer perk. Customers feel rewarded for their loyalty and with normal buying behaviors show their loyalty. In addition these customers are more likely to engage in marketing surveys, social media interaction and other campaigns.