Customer Engagement from the Very First Date!

I thought it would be good to share my thoughts on engaging with potential customers as we start the new year.  As a marketer for a company that spends a good amount of time providing services that help companies enable digital engagement resulting in enhanced customer relationships and business growth, this is a topic that is near and dear to me.

It is nothing new that customers are more demanding and the way companies need to engage with prospective customers is very different than it was just a few years ago.  We tend to say that it is those millennials that have caused such a dramatic change, but I don’t think they should get all the credit.  How prospects learn is very different, there has been a shift from a time when a salesperson was the only key resource to provide education and discovery for what is possible.  Buyers are now in the information driver’s seat.

There are some examples of companies that might not depend on their digital footprint to engage with customers, but those are in the minority.  Regardless of how much of your company’s business model is dependent on digital, there is a very good chance that a poor digital footprint will have a significant impact on your company and its growth. Depending on your company, sales continue to be a critical element in the buyer’s journey, but sales come in much further down the funnel, assuming you are not providing a self-service buying experience. It is essential that you engage, educate, intrigue them well before you talk or meet.

When it comes to digital marketing I find it very similar to online dating.    There is no longer a one-size fits all for online dating and that rings true for digital marketing.  Digital marketing and online dating can both be exhilarating, enlightening, disappointing, scary, or a complete waste of time and sometimes all at once. If it is done with integrity, honesty, with best intentions and with a partner that shares your values, it can provide the foundation for long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships. You can Photoshop your picture or put someone else’s picture in your online dating profile, lie about all the amazing things you’ve done, how you love to hold hands walking on the beach, etc. This might get some initial interest, but it will all come crashing down when it becomes obvious what you’ve claimed is not what or who you are.  The same holds true for B2B marketing.  We all try to portray our company, services, products, in their best light and that is okay if it is genuine, but we need to think customer first and talk about what interests them.  First, businesses need to truly understand and empathize with customers and the specific issues they are dealing with, and only then share how you can help them solve those issues with your products or services.

Not to oversimplify the approach to building digital relationships, but it boils down to three things.

  1. Honesty and Integrity– making sure that what you share and how you share is true to who you are.
  2. Listening to the customer– understanding their pains, requirements, and doing everything you can to personalize your marketing for that customer.
  3. Leverage advances in technology for the sake of the customer, not for the sake of technology. Digital engagement is not an optional accessory to have, it is required today, and the newer technologies are not just interesting gimmicks they are really making a difference in meeting the demands of today’s buyer.

In today’s digitally demanding, mobile first world there are more and more ways to connect with a customer or prospect on a personal level.  Leveraging mobile devices, web and an ever-growing list of IoT devices gives marketers an opportunity to personalize engagements and do it consistently across multiple marketing channels. Further, when you take advantage of the vast amounts of customer data and use newer technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Augmented and Virtual Reality, Machine Learning, etc. the digital customer experience takes on an entirely new dimension.

It is critical that you have a strong digital strategy for customer engagement. Combine technology with a customer first approach and it will give your company an opportunity to convert every interaction with a customer into a potential lifelong relationship.

Leverage the advanced digital tools and technology to better engage with customers for improved growth and ROI.

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