Definition

customer engagement

What is customer engagement?

Customer engagement is the means by which a company creates a relationship with its customer base to foster brand loyalty and awareness. This can be accomplished via marketing campaigns, web content, and outreach via social media, mobile and wearable devices.

Why is customer engagement important?

Customer acquisition costs can run many times higher than those for customer retention. Customer engagement strategies can help curb churn rates by prolonging the customer journey beyond purchasing. Engaged customers become repeat customers.

For instance, customers that receive social media responses from brands may shop more with those organizations in the future. Additionally, customers may be more likely to recommend engaging brands to people they know.

Strategies for engaging customers

Customer engagement methods are diverse and far-ranging, but many experts suggest companies begin with active listening -- this means scanning for feedback left on websites, sent via email, phoned or mailed in, and posted to social media channels. Simple active listening strategies, such as responding to customers on social media, can reduce an organization's churn rate.

Experts also advise companies view social media as not just a broadcast platform. They should improve online customer engagement with regularly posted content and contests launched through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other sites. Responsive brands that exhibit "fun" and "sassy" personalities catch customers' attention and can result in valuable retweets and likes, as fast food chain Wendy's experienced when a customer launched a campaign in 2017 to earn free nuggets for a year and set a world record for the most retweeted tweet.

Customers can also be engaged via messages sent to smartphones or wearable devices. Internet of things sensor technology can capture customers' attention by helping them to proactively schedule maintenance on a product, buy new products or demonstrate loyalty through connected devices. Customer service agents can also use mobile data to approach customers and engage them by highlighting products they may be interested in.

Another customer engagement method is to improve customer support and activity by creating new ways to interact with consumers. Slack channels, customer support help desks and forums, and mobile apps can not only be new avenues for feedback, but also foster communities of users.

A chart that lists email, chat, social media, customer service, mobile and phone interactions as key customer engagement touchpoints
Customer engagement touchpoints include social media, customer service and mobile interactions.

How to measure customer engagement

While there is debate about how to truly determine engagement, companies can determine the return on investment (ROI) of their customer engagement efforts by taking related metrics into account.

Customer engagement metrics include the following:

  • website traffic;
  • interaction with certain links on websites;
  • likes and shares of content on social media;
  • text analytics of customer sentiment;
  • response times;
  • time to resolution;
  • click-through rates in email campaigns;
  • Facebook and Twitter analytics; and
  • audience growth.

Companies can derive data about their customers and products from observing customer engagement patterns. A/B testing of certain website presentations or marketing campaigns may be conducted to determine which methods are more effective in closing a purchase. Testing and data analytics enable companies to better determine which of their efforts they can correlate with higher sales, greater membership or other measures of customer success.

A chart that shows key stages of customer loyalty, such as prospect, client, advocate and partner
Customer engagement strategies build customer loyalty because clients are more likely to advocate for and partner with engaging brands.

Customer engagement trends

With form factors such as iBeacon technology and wearables, the digital experience of customer engagement combines with physical experiences. So, for example, a company may use beacons to identify that a customer is in a store and send that customer messages about items in an abandoned shopping cart online or discounts based on that person's presence in-store.

Customer engagement has also moved beyond the realm of retail or traditional product sales. Industries like healthcare are using technologies such as customer portals to engage patients in their health regimen and communication with doctors; and healthcare platforms have emerged with the express purpose of facilitating this communication and patient engagement. Wearables have also been identified as a key tool in patient engagement, enabling patients to measure various health indicators and track their health regimens.

Editor's note: This article was written by Jacqueline Biscobing in 2017. TechTarget editors revised it in 2022 to improve the reader experience.

This was last updated in December 2022

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