The digital age transforms how businesses interact and communicate with their customers. It also levels the playing field between small businesses and large enterprises. This disruption is changing the dynamics of the marketplace. Simply compare the list of market leaders today with those from 10 or 15 years ago, and it becomes patently obvious that digital makes a huge difference. Indeed, a recent study by PwC shows businesses that do a great job engaging their prospects and customers on digital channels are twice as likely as their peers to achieve rapid revenue and profit growth.
The objective for your digital engagement may vary. In some instances, the aim is an electronic purchase. For other scenarios, it might be nurturing loyalty and ultimately advocacy. And sometimes you may simply want to foster a deeper relationship.
Two Fundamental Strategic Starting Points
A critical starting point in developing your digital engagement strategy is understanding your customer personas and their preferences and needs at the different journey stages of their customer lifecycle. For example, a prospect who is still in the awareness stage of the purchase funnel is looking for information and ideas. Offering her a discount with a time-sensitive expiration may drive her away rather than motivate her to make a purchase. However, providing her with a customer case study—video or written—or an eBook cultivates a greater level of trust and engagement.
This brings us to the second foundational element in your digital engagement strategy: customers expect personalization, and they want it across all of their engagement channels—both traditional and digital. It should go without saying that you cannot develop an effective personalization strategy without knowing your personas and journeys. The two are inextricably intertwined.
Digital personalization takes many different forms. The most mature digital engagement employs account based marketing (ABM) to target known prospects and customers with content and offers that specifically reflect their persona and journey stage as well as your sales objectives.
But ABM is not accessible to every company. There are many other ways that you can personalize the digital experience for your prospects and customers. Even if you do not know the identity of the visitor on your website, you can personalize your offers and content based on their behaviors. A visitor who has spent significant time on your website and has items loaded in his shopping cart should get different offers and content than a visitor who has only looked at your blog posts. The same is true for live web chat. You do not want to proactively offer live web chat to every visitor, but rather only those that exhibit certain purchase behaviors. In fact, offering live web chat at inappropriate moments can be intrusive and irritating.
6 Digital Engagement Tactics
So, what are some things that you can do to ensure that your digital engagement tactics are effective?
1. Content. To build brand awareness and stickiness, create content that engages your prospects and customers and positions your company as an informational guide and thought leader. Your content needs to be educational and give prospects and customers new ideas that help them personally or professionally—depending on whether you are a B2C or B2B company. Blogs are a great way to foster engagement and generate new leads (through subscriptions). Videos, eBooks, solution guides, podcasts, visuals such as infographics, and other content types are also effective.
2. Social Channels. With billions now using social networks to connect with family, friends, peers, and their brands, social channels are a must for virtually every company. It is important to remember that social media posts need to follow an 80/20 rule—80 percent educational/instructional and 20 percent promotion/offers. Pushing too much promotion and too many offers will push prospects and customers away. Your social accounts also require attention; a couple posts per month simply doesn’t cut it. You need to post to your accounts regularly and ensure that the communications are bidirectional (reposting and retweeting other interesting posts and tweets, follows, likes, etc.).
3. Mobile. Sixty-eight percent of Americans now own a smartphone, up from 35 percent in 2011, and spend an astonishing two-plus hours a day on it. Nearly 40 percent of Internet traffic is now generated through mobile devices. In addition, the majority of mobile users prefer to engage with brands through mobile apps. Businesses that fail to provide mobile-friendly user experience will get left behind. But it’s more than just responsive website design; engagement methods also need to be mobile friendly, including live web chat and contact and registration forms. Branded mobile apps are fast-becoming an additional engagement channel, with 85 percent of customers favoring apps over mobile websites. And with the bar for mobile app development now accessible to businesses of virtually any size, the entry point is no longer a barrier.
4. Rewards and Gamification. Psychology 101 teaches us that human beings desire recognition in response to their behaviors. They also like challenges and the ability to compete for rewards. These create tighter alignment between you and your customers who are likely to visit your digital brand destinations more often, buy more, and advocate more frequently. Indeed, rewards and gamification are used in customer referral programs to incent advocacy.
5. Omnichannel. Research shows customers want to engage with vendors at their convenience—anytime, anywhere, on any device, and on through any channel. A one-size-fits-all engagement approach simply doesn’t work. Further, while customers prefer self-service channels to answer their questions or solve their problems, the need for human engagement still exists. Customers also expect to move between different channels and customer service agents and have their information follow them. In fact, needing to repeat themselves when they move between engagement channels is cited by customers as their number one service complaint.
6. Nurture. Not every prospect is going to buy immediately, and they may even opt to purchase from another vendor. Customers also want to develop a relationship with their vendors. Here, nurturing is a valuable engagement tool. Specifically, non-selling situations allow you to provide customers and prospects with information that positions your brand as a thought leader. This creates a more cohesive relationship that ultimately results in more purchases and advocacy.
The Davinci Virtual Approach
Motivated prospects and customers spend more, pay higher margins, and advocate more often than other prospects and customers. The digital age necessitates that businesses know their customers and their journeys and personalize experiences to reflect those.
There are various ways that a business can engage with prospects and customers. Davinci Virtual knows this well and offers its clients a fully integrated experience across multiple channels and devices. This enables Davinci Virtual to motivate prospects to purchase and customers to advocate on behalf of the company. For more details on how Davinci Virtual does so, check out the Solutions Guide, “Davinci Live Receptionist Services: Connecting with Your Prospects and Customers.”