I attended the Engaging Times Summit hosted by Alterian last week to soak in what the pros, the big vendors and major brands, are saying about customer engagement. Here are 10 things I learned about engagement and customer loyalty. And what this may mean for my small nonprofit, SCORE Chicago.
Customer Engagement Themes
1. Leading companies big and small will focus increasingly on customer engagement — at the client segment and even individual customer level.
2. There are stages of engagement.
Presenters described different continuums:
influence, intimacy, interaction, involvement and transaction
unknown, aware, conversation, customer, advocate
for the buying process: consideration, research, transition, decision
3. There is consensus that we are all trying to understand and market to increasingly small segments. This means customizing landing pages and messages to small customer niches.
4. Engagement is measured with a range of metrics. On-page items include registrations, inquiries, downloads, video views, etc. Off-page measures include those from call centers, mobiles and retail contacts. In analytics stats, there are heat maps, time on page, depth of visit measurements, and social media monitoring.
5. Engagement involves listening and analysis over time and across channels. Thus, it requires granular data. But at the firm level, prospect and customer purchase data is often difficult to map into Google Analytics, demographics, email marketing clicks and social media mentions. In other words, there are significant data problems with assessing and encouraging engagement.
6. To engage clients, it has to be on their terms, not ours. “My choice, not marketing choice.” Customers must opt in to engagement, not be force-fed by marketers. It has to be “incentivized”, not assumed.
7. Customer loyalty is related to engagement, but not equivalent. Murli Buluswar of Farmers Insurance said: “Customer loyalty is the ‘what’ and engagement is the ‘why.’ ”
8. Not all customers, even loyal ones, want to actively engage with a business. A grey-haired audience member said he had been with his insurance company since he got out of the army, but had no desire to engage regularly with that company. He only wanted was to maintain good coverage and to get fast and fair service on any claims.
9. A business may not, in fact, want to invest to engage all client profiles. If the company can profile good clients, they might focus engagement resources on those. The team at Farmer’s Insurance have profiles of customers with good “lifetime customer value.” They optimize their messages, engagement activities and web pages to appeal to these clients, not the “high churn” policy holders. Buluswar points to positive ROI from booking more profitable customers, not just more customers.
10. A new breed of vendor is emerging to offer integrated strategic marketing, database management and web analytics solutions. It’s called the “customer engagement agency.” But some brand managers described the benefits of using different vendors for different purposes.
One final sound bite: “marketing is the integrating force for the customer.” Or if it isn’t now, it should be.
Engagement RX for SCORE Chicago
As marketing chair for the nonprofit SCORE Chicago, I’m thinking about what all this means for our organization and its minuscule budget. We have to do a better job to:
- think through and segment high-value customers
- address and customize our website for client segments and needs
- make it clear what people will get when they opt in to our email database
- sort customers by behavior or interests and create emails targeted to those areas
- make the website more interactive with social features and ratings options for counseling and workshops.
- dig deeper into Google Analytics and better understand customers’ technical sophistication using data on browsers and screen resolutions. Use heat maps to identify key webpage sections and review the content.
- do basic social media monitoring with free tools like Google Alerts and Twitter’s search.
What’s your take on customer engagement? What are the biggest problems you face? What are your action items?
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