5 Tips for Staying Engaged with Customers in 2021

The world has been increasingly digital for many years, but the last 12 months accelerated this in a huge way. Through the pandemic, customers became more accustomed to engaging with brands online, and brands had to adapt accordingly.

As we enter a new year, it will be more important than ever to continue creatively engaging with customers. Our social, cultural, climate has forever been altered, but one thing is still true: your customer experience is the driving force behind your success. It is these experiences that set organizations apart from their competitors, for better or for worse, and research shows us that the businesses that prioritize it are winning in today’s marketplace.

In addition to customer’s comfort levels having changed, it’s important to realize that their expectations have too: whether consciously or subconsciously, they have increased expectations for what they are able to do virtually, the access they have to the brands they wish to do business with, and the speed and ease with which those brands respond. Hopefully your sales and marketing team honed their social and digital skills as a result of the changes in 2020; now, it’s time to scale them, continue building on them, and weave them into the fabric of your day-to-day-business. Here are five ways to keep your customers engaged and keep up with your competition.

Personalize your customer experience.

As a consumer, you know how powerful an interaction with a brand can be when they use something as simple as your name. The more relevant you can be to a customer and their needs, the greater the changes they will come to know, like, and trust you.

To grab their attention, consider launching targeted Account Based Marketing campaigns this year directed at your largest accounts, offering them a marketing and sales experience that is tailored to their business and their needs. Personalize the visuals, messaging, and approach their organization. Update the aliases that customers receive emails from (customer service, invoicing, email marketing) to be from a real person with a real name.

Be sure to revisit your segmentation. As we have discussed before, segmentation is a powerful tool for ensuring that your message lands with the right people at the right time. Separate your audience by business need, product, location, or whatever other criteria allows you to be most relevant to them. It is very likely that these segments shifted due to the changes in 2020, so revisit these segments as you launch 2021’s marketing and sales efforts.

Just as you personalize your customer experience, consider also personalizing your business. Highlight your own team members on your website and in your marketing–allow customers to get to “know” the people they are interacting with. Humanize your brand to connect on deeper, more emotional level with prospects and customers.

Get social.

Chances are your business (and your individual employees) all spend more time on social media these days than they used to. These behaviors are unlikely to change; social media is a cornerstone in the lives of your customers. And anywhere your customers are, you should be too.

Ensure that a regular social media presence is included in your marketing plan, offering content that is not solely promotional, but focuses instead on offering value, insights, and engagement opportunities that your customers are compelled to interact with.

Use social media as an opportunity to present a different facet of your brand, something they might not get via your other marketing channels: give “behind the scenes” looks that help your followers see another side of your business. Highlight what you’re doing in the community or the successes of team members. Social media creates a unique opportunity for connecting with customers on the things that matter to them — both business-related and otherwise.

In addition to posting, leverage the popularity of social media for business insights. The act of “social listening” means paying attention to what your key customers are saying online. Since social media is often the place where grievances are aired (or large wins are highlighted), paying attention to these can give you powerful insights into what your customer is needing, where competitors may be falling short, and what expectations you need to be sure you are meeting when you engage with them.

Staying abreast with the trends of social media will keep you relevant when it comes to consumer purchasing trends and engagement. In order to keep your customers engaged, you need to meet them wherever they are throughout their day.

Update your website.

Your website is your brand’s virtual “front door.” It is where prospects will visit before ever engaging with you directly, and therefore has a big job to do; it is responsible for communicating your value, establishing connection, and driving action all on its own. Often brand websites are put to the side in favor of other, more immediate customer-facing activities, when in fact they are the entry point for almost all of them.

Complete a thorough audit of your organizations’ website as you begin this year. Is it easy to engage with you online? Do you clearly articulate your organization’s value drivers and the ways you solve your customer’s business needs? Is the journey intuitive, simple, and mobile-friendly? Each of these things will impact your top-of-funnel metrics and should be addressed in order to best engage with customers. Consider implementing virtual stores or ordering functionality, on-site chat, or an improved site structure in order to make it as easy as possible to understand what you offer and take action on your website.

Honor customer loyalty.

Many organizations forget that one of the simplest ways to improve customer retention is to acknowledge them. They get caught up focused on retargeting or upselling (both of which are very important!) but forget that small gestures of acknowledgement can go a long way.

Intentionally engage with long-time customers this year, thanking them for their business and honoring their loyalty. Celebrate their successes and big wins: did they launch a new community initiative? Hit a big anniversary? Don’t hesitate to promote these on your own channels.

Be sure to also highlight the ways in which you view your customers as partners, not mere numbers. Use case studies, testimonials, and customer spotlights to further feature these relationships–this is beneficial for multiple reasons as you strengthen the relationship with that customer while at the same time offering powerful social proof to other prospects and customers who are considering entering into a relationship with you.

Include them. 

Let customers know you value them by asking for their feedback and input. Then, when you get the feedback, act on it and let them know you’ve done so. When a customer feels like they have the ability to influence or improve something, they are more likely to feel loyal to your business and view you as a partner who values the things that matter them.

Launch a customer satisfaction email automation that runs on a rolling 6-month schedule, capturing customer feedback on a regular basis. Not only will you be automating meaningful customer interactions, but you’ll also be creating opportunities for 1:1 customer engagement to remedy problems, capture testimonials, improve experience, and upsell.

In addition to a formal customer satisfaction strategy, encourage engagement and feedback gathering by asking probing questions on social media and include surveys or voice-of-the-customer interviews in your sales and service engagements.

At the end of the day, customer engagement is about remembering that they are humans too, then connecting with them on that level. Something as small as acknowledgment can go a long way, and by making it easy for your customers to understand the value you offer them and how to do business with you, you lower the barriers to becoming a long time, loyal advocate of your organization.