This is a piece I originally wrote for the Future of Customer Engagement and Commerce.
Customer engagement is about making a connection. It’s what gets people not just to come to you or your brand but to keep coming back – and in so doing, bring your business to life. There will always be a place for old-school direct marketing to tell people what you do, but this goes further. Investing in customer engagement makes every interaction part of a long-term strategy and creates relationships that will build and strengthen over time.
It includes great service, thoughtful interactions, quick and easy fulfillment. Everything that makes you a go-to advisor as well as the best supplier in the eyes of your customer. In my view this will increasingly be complemented by blending this with omnichannel content and devising ways to create credible, personalized interactions. These will range from best practice in traditional and analogue methods to experiential pop-ups, augmented and virtual reality at events, mobile-first digital storytelling and everything in between.
We already get news and features via social networks from the brands that are on them. Over the next few years the ways brands act as content providers will continue to evolve, as will the platforms and channels they use. More and more, B2B will cross into a B2C way of doing things—we’ve already seen this trend spreading.
In the broader scheme we will see a sort of rolling meritocracy dominated by brands that are perceived to be making good content with broad appeal that drives engagement (think Red Bull), as well as those who are able to directly answer their customer’s questions through specific, helpful content that fulfills a use. Brands that do well are ones that can be agile, stand out and react positively in this environment.
Of course, the big challenge is to keep customers engaged – and if they’re going to channel hop, to make sure they do it within your brand’s network; or at least that if they do go elsewhere it’s because you’ve sent them a great recommendation.
So that means increasingly sophisticated understanding and delivery of what makes people tick, but also ensuring that each element of content serves a purpose—that it will be seen, heard, read, enjoyed and shared…and that above all it is good. Ultimately, the audience itself will be the biggest driver of customer engagement.