3 Steps Marketers Must Take to Improve Customer Engagement

By: Sarah Borchers
customers holding a sign with positive phrases

The demand for customers’ attention is at an all-time high over the last few years. They have more power than ever to choose how and when to engage with a brand. Relying on a good product to grow brand loyalty isn’t good enough anymore to engage customers.  

In fact, 80% of customers say the experiences provided by a company are as important to them as its products and services. In other words, organizations that prioritize and measure customer engagement will see improved customer retention, loyalty and advocacy, setting themselves apart from the competition.

“Most companies must realize that they are no longer competing against the guy down the street or the brand that sells similar products. Instead, they're competing with every other experience a customer has.” —Dan Gingiss, Author and Customer Experience Expert

Customers Gravitate Toward Personalized Experiences

Customers want to feel the brand understands them on a personal level. And the personalization must happen from the point of first contact through product purchase, support, upgrade, renewal and any additional transaction phases. 

For example, here’s how Delta Airlines personalized the customer engagement experience for my colleague in a way that surprised and delighted them. 

Before their first flight in a while, they posted on social media and tagged Delta Airlines saying, “So glad to be back.” Once they boarded the plane, the flight attendant welcomed them on board and said, “We’re glad you chose Delta for your first flight back!” The engagement didn’t stop there, when my colleague returned home, there was a handwritten note in their mailbox from the pilot who flew the plane that day. Wow! Now that’s pristine customer engagement.

Moral of the story: Delta listened to the customer through an engagement platform and responded in a personalized way we typically haven’t seen in the past. My colleague said it best, “Delta will always be my first choice for any flight in the future.” 

Talk about long-term brand loyalty.

Increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can increase profits between 25–95%. —Bain and Company

3 Steps to Improve Customer Engagement Starting Today

Delta put systems in place to be able to listen to my colleague—their customer—and act on that data in real time to provide a memorable experience. Implement the following three best practices so you also can create a personalized customer experience with your brand. 

1. Capture Customers’ Attention in the Moments That Matter Most 

We all receive or see countless digital ads every day. Cut through the clutter by reaching customers at key moments along the customer journey with a surprise-and-delight engagement. We like to call those moments “breakthrough touchpoints.” The touchpoints can be used in a variety of ways, such as: 

  • Customer or subscriber onboarding
  • Milestone or thank-you gifts
  • Service or product recovery
  • Stagnant loyalty
  • Rebates
  • Reactivation 

Breakthrough touchpoints deliver unique customer experiences at any point in the customer journey. Going the extra step for personalization ensures customers hear your brand’s message and see the value you provide. In the end, your brand stays top of mind, and you improve retention, generate loyalty and build affinity. 

Related: Do you have a loyalty program that needs some rejuvenation? Read how we helped a leading financial institution develop a creative recovery tactic. 

2. Promote Your Core Values, Not Just Products & Services 

Customers decide when and how to interact with brands or whether to ignore a brand based primarily on how brands are positively contributing to society. Customers want to hear from brands beyond just products and services to form deeper connections. When they’re more connected to brands, 57% of consumers will increase their spending with the brand and 76% will choose that brand over a competitor

For example, footwear and apparel retailer TOMS believes in philanthropy and addressing issues that matter. The beliefs served as the foundation for a postcard-writing campaign advocating for gun reform on its website and social channels. Within the first year, TOMS estimates consumers sent 750,000+ postcards to state legislators.

Customers crave authenticity and real connections with brands. The key to effectively reaching them by taking a social stance is making sure the stance is authentic to your brand’s mission, purpose and core beliefs. 

3. Measure Specific Metrics to Personalize Purchasing Experience

Organizations have access to data by surveying customers regularly and putting the feedback to use. Focus on metrics like what customers value and how they realize the value. Then use that data to understand what ensures customers stay and are willing to buy more. Unified reporting and analytics tools can measure customer engagement levels at every touchpoint.

Instead of just thanking customers for sharing feedback, show them how you’re using it! By evolving beyond basic demographic information and purchase history, you'll collect more zero-party data to make every customer experience personal, relevant and enjoyable, ensuring the brand and customers both win.

Related: How can you leverage customer data to create exceptional experiences? Read our data best practices for designing a targeted customer strategy.

Optimizing Customer Engagement Creates Long-Term Brand Advocates

Customers expect more from brands than ever before. Personalizing their experience is no longer a nice to have—it’s a need to have. Continuing to engage with customers after the sale is critical to retaining customers and building brand advocacy. Happy customers drive deeper, more engaged and more profitable relationships over the long term. 

Unsure about your next step? Take our customer experience solution assessment to see what’s right for your organization.

Sarah Borchers
Sarah Borchers

With over 15 years of experiential marketing and branding experience, Sarah is passionate about bringing ideas to life while connecting people with brands. Sarah tries to live her life by her favorite quote, “Live fearlessly in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” Sarah loves all things art and traveling and sees the world as an empty canvas waiting for a splash of color. When Sarah is not working, you will find her volunteering, attending concerts, refinishing furniture or camping with her family.