Consumers are making companies work harder than ever to keep their business. With access to the borderless world of commerce at their fingertips, empowered customers are no longer willing to accept an unsatisfactory service or below-par product. There are no second chances: they simply move their custom elsewhere, happily flitting from one business to another.
These flighty customers are proving a challenge to marketers who know that they can attract customers with the 40+ physical and digital marketing tools and techniques they have to hand, according to research from Smart Insights. But when it comes to keeping those customers, developing the relationship, understanding lifetime value and driving customer engagement, it becomes more of a challenge.
Customer engagement is more than a nice-to-have measurable objective: it’s a top priority for 81% of marketers. It has become a crucial metric in its own right, more meaningful than customer satisfaction survey responses or retention figures. Infact, it has become a critical temperature check for a business’ current and future performance, as it identifies to what extent customers are willing and ready to invest time in a company.
Research by Gartner has found that “engaged customers are usually better advocates of the brand and are more loyal and more profitable”. They advise businesses to:
- Increase active customer engagement through social, mobile and traditional channel alignment
- Build emotional customer engagement through transparency and trust
- Target rational customer engagement through greater customer participation and knowledge availability
- Gain ethical customer engagement through demonstrated commitment to fairness with employees, partners, customers and community
Consumers like to engage and identify with a brand. Perhaps it’s aspirational, has values they share, or makes them feel they are part of something exclusive. More and more businesses are creating marketing campaigns which elicit an emotional response, so the customer feels a connection with the brand.
Think of the latest Lloyds TSB campaign, ‘For the journey’, celebrating its 250 years in banking, or the new Nationwide advert. Banks aren’t the most emotive of businesses – at least, not usually in a positive way – but both have created moving short films which can be shared across social media to create impact, painstakingly designed to create a powerful emotional response within a very short space of time.
This love of the moving picture and its ability to create a connection with customers has driven marketers to refresh their engagement strategies. Video is an increasingly effective method of creating a distinctive voice and personality for a brand – unsurprisingly, given that 100 million Internet users watch online video each day. Until recently, video has been a one-way medium, but this is changing: we view video on interactive swipe screens, and media companies are including interactive ‘red button’ viewer services to their TV programmes, and social media interaction, like Twitter hashtags. Consumers have come to expect a degree of participation – and smart marketers are responding.
Thanks to the ability to capture and use customer data and predictive analytics with precision and accuracy, marketers are now combining video with two other customer marketing super-powers -personalisation and real-time delivery; creating a triple-whammy of customer engagement, in the form of interactive personalised video.
Interactive personalised video is taking the customer engagement world by storm, with Pitney Bowes figures revealing it has improved engagement by up to 100%. Users have reported an increased understanding of a business’ services by up to 74 percent. Engagement times with customers average five minutes in length, and in some case, customers have viewed the video for 40 minutes or longer. With the ability to draw on individual consumer insights, interactive personalised video can present tailored information for new customer on-boarding or billing inquiries, as well as delivering up-sell and cross-sell opportunities specific to the customer.
Consumers have high expectations when it comes to customer communications. Likewise, businesses have high expectations when it comes to investment in customer engagement programmes. Now, these expectations are being exceeded at all levels. Interactive personalised video has stamped an expiry date on one-size-fits-all marketing, creating immersive, tailored, real-time communications which drive results.