Published by Demand Gen Report – April 22, 2012
Byline article by: Troy Burk
Organizations are always looking for ways to decrease costs and increase sales. The key to achieving these goals is not blasting your database with “nurturing” emails, or your sales team making ‘X’ number of cold calls in a day; rather, it’s encouraging meaningful engagement with your prospects and customers. The problem is, while many companies go to great lengths to educate and engage their prospects, many more fail to recognize that their most valuable asset is right in front of them: the customer.
According to Gallup, organizations that focus on customer engagement out-perform their competitors by 26 percent in gross margin and 85 percent in sales growth. That’s because customers who have a relationship with a brand tend to buy more and refer more business.
Think of the brands that you love – chances are, they do a great job of engaging with you throughout your “customer lifecycle,” as you develop a relationship with the brand, and you move from a prospect to a customer and eventually to a brand advocate.
It’s important to understand that engagement does not come just from spending marketing dollars. It’s all about reaching out to prospects and customers in a way that makes them want to interact back. Whether this is by opening an email, liking a Facebook page, attending a webinar or meeting with a sales rep, it’s all valuable engagement, and it’s up to you to determine and encourage how your customers are doing it.
Want to know how? Here are five easy steps to help increase engagement.
1. Target the right people. Measuring engagement is two-fold: getting people to engage with your brand is essential, but engaging your ideal audience is what ultimately makes a business succeed. For example, an association launched a campaign to increase prospect engagement, which resulted in impressive engagement metrics. However, deeper analysis proved that 90 percent of the people interacting with their campaign were current members, not the target audience. Another telling scenario is reflected in traditional measurements of marketing effectiveness: how many prospects are fed into the sales funnel. But, if these prospects aren’t the right fit (they aren’t the decision-makers or they don’t have the need for your solution), those measurements don’t provide an accurate forecast in a business’ ability to fulfill the goal: drive more revenue. Before running a campaign, identify your ideal prospect or customer profile. Strategically communicate with your target audience. Lastly, measure engagement levels to make sure you’re on track.
2. Map out the customer lifecycle. Sometimes it’s necessary to take a 30,000-foot view to execute the tactical pieces of a marketing plan successfully. True engagement is not encouraged by one-off campaigns or a one-size-fits-all approach. “Batch and blast” email campaigns are dead. Instead, develop a strategy with a holistic view of your prospects and customers, moving the right people through the stages of the customer lifecycle. To do this, it’s crucial to understand what behavior you want to drive. Map out key milestones and use personalized content to encourage activity that propels them forward. Provide incentives for ideal prospects to interact with your brand, reward engaged customers and don’t ever forget to recognize advocates.
3. Score engagement. As people begin engaging with your brand, develop a scoring system that determines their customer lifecycle stage and assigns points based on desired behavior. Speaking generally, meeting with a sales rep will be worth more points than clicking an email link because the customer engagement is higher. But, your scoring strategy must accurately reflect your business model in terms of what you deem as valuable engagement. As you aggregate more data, it’s easier to determine the likelihood of individuals becoming loyal customers.
4. Test and tweak. Evaluate the tactics and determine if your prospects and customers are engaging the way you want. Determine which tactics and messages are working the best, then optimize your program to do more of what works for each defined audience. If your prospects are not moving forward at the pace you expected, review your profile criteria to make sure you’re targeting the right individuals.
5. Track your results. Implement the right technology that will help you track the progress of individuals through the entire customer lifecycle. Look for a solution that allows you to see all engagement regardless of where it takes place: in sales calls, marketing email campaigns or website visits. And with whom: suspects, qualified prospects or customers. Measure the value of engagement by looking at how your relationships are growing and which of these relationships are driving revenue.
As a final exercise, think of a brand that does a great job of engaging with you. Vote for that company and see the results of the Most Engaging Brands survey at www.engagingbrand.com. Take advantage of the opportunity to be one of the first to see the results and sign up!
This article can be found on DemandGen Report here.