Effective Engagement Requires Contextual Relevance
Closed-Loop Customer Engagement begins and ends with channels. It starts by fully-exploiting whatever online or off-line channels your company now uses to sell its products and communicate with customers. It requires a structured approach to gathering relevant data from each of these channels, effective analytics to derive actionable insights, and a robust CRM system capable of linking both raw data and derived insights to individual customers within holistic customer profiles. But this only matters if the data and insights are then used to re-engage with customers at each subsequent opportunity, through both existing and new channels, in a meaningful way. This requires Contextual Relevance.
Today’s customers can interact with brands through almost limitless technologies and touchpoints. But that’s only part of the challenge. Not everyone is ready to buy at any given time. When they are, their buying journey is often non-linear. They may bounce from device to device and channel to channel, researching you and your competitors online, interacting with friends and influencers on social media, connecting with your contact center or visiting your store. What is more, nearly 3/4 of customers do more than half their research before ever contacting a potential supplier (Source: Forrester). Thus, you may not even be aware that they are in the market for your product until they’ve largely made their buying decision.
The key to success in this customer-controlled, hyper-connected environment is to make sure your brand is present in each customer’s channel(s) of preference with the right message at exactly the right time. This is called being contextually relevant. Contextual relevance requires knowing as much as possible about the customer at every touchpoint (this is where your data-gathering and analytics come in) and presenting contextual information that recognizes who the customer is, what channel they’re engaging through and where they are in their buying window.
How to do this? Observe which channels customers visit, what content they view, how much time they spend and whether they make a purchase in a particular channel. Then develop relevant messaging appropriate to each channel and various stages in the buying cycle. Then deploy it. Place relevant messages in the channels— email, social media, websites, mobile apps— your customers and prospects use most. Use techniques like look-alike modeling to identify prospects who are similar to your existing customers, and customers with the potential to buy more. Employ customer journey maps to provide insight into appropriate content and messaging. Use retargeting to re-market to website visitors with digital ads. With these tools and techniques as well as others, companies can now target specific audiences with highly contextual and relevant content through the channels of their customers’ choice.
Closing the Loop
All this brings us back to the beginning: Appropriate Customer Engagement Channels. By all means, reach back out to your customers through the channels you employ today. But also make sure to understand any new or emerging channels where your customers can be found, and develop capabilities to both listen and engage through these channels as well. This is the essence of Closed-Loop Customer Engagement, and the gateway to greater customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy for your brand.
Barton Goldenberg explains Closed-Loop CRM during his Keynote at CRM Evolution 2017.