Before you read this article, there is a question you’re mandated to ask. It’s okay if you’re not so sure what the right response should be, but the emphasis is on ‘attempt’. Here you go – does your brand really need engagement? Well, reading till the end will help you decide a clear-cut response.
General acceptance of marketing communication’s roundure, brands are built on relationships and to form a relationship; an engagement in the form of connection has to take place through intentionally strategic tactics. A whole effort is poured into the cup to arrest an attention-driven down the aisle with customers. Truly, connection is a key factor that helps the best brands in the world to emotionally flow with both prospective and existing customers.
To ride on, brand engagement is a coined term used to explain the process of forming an emotional, rational and empirical attachment between target audience and brand. It also signifies commitment, awareness as well as loyalty. More of a reason, it combines both internal and external factors. So, when a brand prepares to engage, it starts with its employers – drivers of the brand and extends to the external audience – the consumers who patronize what comes from the brand’s stable. So why does your brand matter when it’s not engaged?
Research has shown that brands that engage less with customers rarely make way into the minds of the customers, while those that get engaged more with customers end up building customers’ loyalty and brand’s equity. Brand engagement increases the level of emotional connection a brand has with its existing and prospective customers spread across several locations.
Fully proven, consumers first learn about businesses before deciding to patronize certain products or services. Hence, to hand over what they need to know, messaging is essential as it provides relevant information, distinctive standpoints and imaginative inspiration of the mental picture the products and services can accord them if tried out. With that on, the need to put in place a sweet relationship and bonding through brand engagement.
Now that emotional connection has been emphasized and experiential communication has been spelt to help in engagement, let’s consider the following messaging tactics still for maximum brand engagement journey.
Don’t gain only, balance the equation. Of truth, brands are mostly concerned with getting new customers while they lose the existing ones daily to ‘ever hungry brands’ – competition because of relationship-error. It costs more to regain/lure a lost customer than to get a new one. Therefore, strive to keep the existing customers by engaging them as much as possible.
Be humane. A poll that was run some weeks ago suggested that customers desire brands to relate with them as humans, not as aliens. Their reasons, being humans having emotional touch points. It’s okay to have chat bots, but ensure what they do is brief and they can direct customers to customer service representatives as promptly as possible.
Start and drive a conversation. This method is more potent online. Of course, online communities and social media platforms are a good place to start and moderate conversations. Though they could be crowded because every brand wrestles to gain traction, when your brand enters exponentially with intelligent and consumers’ focused conversation, it shakes the table and controls the thread of line. Do not bother about how many people get involved. A rich reach without reaction is a potential converting point at the nearest moment.
Be consistent. How would you feel if you got to your favorite news website and found no new blog there? Maybe I should answer. I sure will feel disappointed and if it happens often, I will change my route. That’s exactly how important consistency is. A conversation with huge reach and low interaction could water down morals, but there are residual results that would come handy when potential customers need what you offer. So a brand must keep communicating known value with a fresh approach to suit the current taste of every dynamic consumer. Careful crafting of emotional connections in the hearts of customers must be deliberate and at a consistent rate.
Ask direct questions. Customers are always eager to tell the state of brand relationships. 80% of brands that ask their customers’ questions are perceived as customer-oriented brands. Question is one of the potent, yet popular ways by which brands can solicit honest feedback. Asking questions through the social media platforms–Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn et al. can help your brand get insightful information that could birth new product discovery or improvement. A brand can likewise leverage polls and surveys. Since the goal is engagement, the questions must be concise, simple and easy to attempt, putting into consideration what your target audience are.
Understand each touch points. What it takes to attract a first-time buyer is on a different template, with converting such to a fully engaged customer. So, the goal should determine what is said and how it is said. New customers are like infants, very sensitive and with a short attention span. Hence, the engagement should attempt the nature-kind and the touch point of conversing.
Challenge them to a contest. Digital contests are a big deal these days and keying into them would add up to the overall organisational mileage. It can be as simple as posting regular day-to-day activities to earn a prize like cash or products and services. Apart from the fact that it is an essential tool to pitch the brand in a powerful way, it is a lighter way to champion a fun-packed experience for the participants–customers. Depending on your target audience, Instagram and Twitter is highly recommended for a digital contest as they both provide a real-time experience for the users through hash-tag pin pointing. The focus should be on the customers, not on the brand. People love it when they are at the center of focus.
Create a community and add value. A community is a small and global village where people of similar interests can come together, bond and have a conversation on certain discussion. Leveraging this from a brand’s perspective can make the brand a personal belonging and a ‘thing of ours’. One of the best platforms for the community is Facebook, now Meta. In there, important information about the brand’s new offers could be shared as a special treatment for affiliating with the brand.
All being said, you can then revisit the starting question. By now, without mincing words, every brand needs to engage its customers strategically because one size does not fit all.
The level of emotional connection wave-up by a brand goes a long way towards determining the customer experience of the brand. That suggests that whenever customers come in contact with the brand, they must be tactically engaged, and otherwise they will get engaged to some other brand. Each customer’s encounter is yet another opportunity to reinforce and renew the relationship between the brand and the customers.
Olayemi Samuel is a marketing communications and brand engagement practitioner with close to a decade’s industry experience. He stays in Lagos, Nigeria. You can reach him on Twitter @olayemisamuelo or email firstname.lastname@example.org