As marketers our efforts are centered on engaging consumers to drive revenue. In today’s digital environment, we know consumers’ preferences have shifted from receiving coupons or earning rewards to expecting personalized experiences. Why? Because consumers can now connect with brands in the moment when it’s relative to their needs.
The next level of customer engagement must be focused on creating highly relevant and personalized experiences for consumers. This quote from Dr. Thomas Gilovich, psychology professor, Cornell University explains the concept succinctly:
“Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods. You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless, they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are a part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.” In order to make brand-to-consumer connections and achieve engagement, understanding your customer and his/her behavior is essential.”
As brands continue to evolve their engagement strategy, they need to first understand what their customer’s profile looks like and put parameters in place to capture those characteristics to define their customer segments. For example, when identifying new customers, it’s important to understand if they are newly acquired (never interacted with your brand) or lapse customers (dormant for 2+ years). Understanding their relationship with your brand enables the most appropriate message development. Take the retail brand Justice for example, their target audience are the parents of young females between the ages of seven and fourteen. Typically, parents of fourteen year old daughters become lapse customers as their daughter moves to a different brand based on her stage of life. How can retailers like Justice adapt to this lapsing behavior?
As retailers analyze lapsing behavior, they need to consider the demographic data of an entire household. In the Justice example, are there any younger siblings within the household who is a ‘soon to be Justice customer? Or, are there any older siblings who’d be interested in a Justice brand affiliate?” Data can help you understand demographic and lifecycle information and recognize when there’s an opportunity to increase share of wallet.
To succeed consider these five elements of customer engagement:
- Augment your current data assets and fill data gaps to understand the characteristics of your customers and deploy relevant offers.
- The next step is to find their ‘look alike,’ which is your preferred or ideal customer profile by applying modeling strategies. Your target customer has become your model. This model can be used to help identify potential customers by providing strategic guidance and eliminating the guesswork about what an ideal customer looks like.
- Understand where they shop, what they buy and when they buy
- Develop a communication cadence that applies the insight gained
- Measure results
Develop a strategy that keeps your brand top of mind via multiple media outlets while at the same time remaining relevant. For example, if you’re marketing to new movers, plan your communication strategies accordingly. At the onset of a move, consumers’ priorities are phone, cable, utilities, etc., within the first 30 days. If you’re a retailer, send an offer that expires within a six month time frame versus 30 days. Once the new mover has addressed ‘the immediate’ new mover to do’s, he/she will be in the mindset to explore what’s in the neighborhood and will be more apt to visit your store. Understand where your offer might fit into the lifecycle of decision making for your audience.
Be careful not to read results pre-maturely and draw false conclusions. It is not uncommon to see a “halo” affect after an offer has expired. Construct your measurement to capture those responses and understand where the breaking point is. Develop a strategy that allows you to test and measure throughout the year. Learn from your results, modify your strategy and execute on insights.
Once you’re effectively engaging with a customer, you will be able to identify those that are most likely to be your most loyal customers.