By Andy Preisler
Customer engagement. It means lots of things to lots of people. Is it all content? Is it all social media? Is it all offline conversations?
Sure, creating a blog and getting yourself set up on social media platforms is a good thing.
Writing good content and publishing it on your blog is a good thing.
Posting stuff on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or wherever else your audience hangs out is a good thing.
Even running the analytics is a good thing.
But all of that combined is only half the battle. The other half is actually the customer engagement part—getting their attention and pulling them into your content because they really want to read it.
We can all take some lessons from great classroom teachers. They know how to engage their kids in learning—their kids are compelled and motivated because the presentations are exciting, they are listening and paying attention, and they can participate in their learning.
It is no different with customers and potential customers.
So, here are your 10 commandments of customer engagement, taken right from the best classrooms anywhere in the world.
Thou Shalt Solicit and Participate in Customer Engagement
One of the most important ways for customer engagement is to invite and promote conversations about the content that you write.
In addition to sharing buttons on your blog posts, you must invite readers to respond to what you have written. And then, you must respond to their responses.
The same holds true for anything you post on social media. People like to be invited into conversations, and they will often then share those conversations with others. They share them because they want their friends and communities to know that they are contributing to a conversation about something that is important to them.
The more conversation you can stimulate, the more your content and brand will be spread.
Thou Shalt Use Visuals Whenever Possible
Teachers know this, and you need to know it, too.
There are many different kinds of learners (customers), and you must appeal to them all.
While some like to read text, far more will react positively to some type of visual—a photograph, an image, a meme, a video.
That’s one of the things that make social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest so popular. They rely on visuals to grab attention.
If you can place images, timelines, graphs, chart, interesting infographics, and such throughout your blog posts, you will have master customer engagement.
Brains are wired to respond to visuals, and you will save on content writing if you can create a visual to take its place.
Thou Shalt Tell Stories
People’s brains are also hard-wired to respond to stories. When a story is told to illustrate a point, to entertain, or to inspires, readers pay attention.
You can tell stories about yourself and the history of your company/brand; you can tell stories about customers; you can tell stories about team members.
You can tell stories through text, and you can tell stories through pictures and images.
You can tell stories in your blog posts, emails, on Facebook, and through the new carousel feature of Instagram.
Every time you tell a story that engages your reader, you are bonding with that potential customer a bit more.
Bonding promotes trusting relationships, and eventually customer engagement.
Thou Shalt Create Great Headlines and Opening Sentences
David Ogilvy, marketing guru for years, says this about headlines: “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written you headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
When people read a headline, they decide immediately whether to go further or not; they decide whether they will want to share what follows with others.
Headlines, and, after that, the first few sentences of any post or email, must be engaging and compelling.
Headlines should appeal to emotions and tell the reader what follows will be important to him/her.
And headlines are just as important in email subject lines are they are for posts.
If you are not spending as much time on headlines are you are on the rest of your content, then your headlines are probably failing to grab attention.
Thou Shalt Divide Content and Make it Scannable
Most readers decide whether to read content based upon an initial scan. They also decide whether to share based upon that initial scan.
If all they see is paragraphs of text, they will not take the time to read. They want to know immediately if your stuff is worth the read.
Using bold headings and subheadings, along wither numbered or bulleted points, lets a reader scan your content within a matter of seconds.
That’s all you are going to get, before you lose the customer engagement.
Make those seconds count.
Thou Shalt Get a Cause
Millennials have about $200 billion in buying power today, and much of that buying is done online.
It only makes sense to understand this generation and to appeal to it with engaging content.
In addition to demanding trust in relationships with retailers with whom they do business, they demand those businesses be socially responsible. One of the best things you can do is support a cause and publicize that cause and your participation in it.
If you are not sure how to do that, visit Toms Shoes website and blog. You will get some excellent ideas about taking up a cause and being certain that it is publicized. See the company’s Facebook page and Instagram account, as well. They have customer engagement down.
Thou Shalt Be Mobile Friendly
Shopping increasingly occurs on mobile devices—tablets and phones.
People demand a seamless shopping experience too, which means they don’t have to spend a lot of time scrolling and swiping in order to read your content and make a purchase.
Make sure all of your content can be accessed and easily read on mobile devices.
This may mean you get a responsive or “mobile first” designer in tow who makes you mobile friendly, but consistently tests your content appearance on all devices.
If you don’t master customer engagement this way, they will go somewhere else.
Thou Shalt Provide Value and Benefit
Value is in the eyes of the beholder. Yet, you can provide value if you know your target market.
Your content must do one of three things:
- Entertain; or
A great headline will get you nowhere if the content that follows is boring and meaningless. You have to keep on top of your business niche and find out what conversations are going on everywhere—on social media and your competitors’ platforms.
This is the only way you can provide content that is of value to your target market.
Benefit means several thing, too. Perhaps it is a discount or a coupon for a discount that your customer must get by linking to your site; perhaps it is a free trial or an eGuide.
Promote your benefit everywhere with a link back to your site for better customer engagement.
Thou Shalt Produce Interactive Content
In the area of content production, this is the newest and most engaging genre.
Think of all of the Facebook quizzes you have taken; think about the polls and surveys you clicked.
The reason for the popularity of interaction?
First, the customer is intrigued and wants to know where s/he stands in relation to others.
Secondly, the target will most likely share that quiz, poll or survey with his/her community.
Every time a piece of your content is shared, you improve customer engagement.
Thou Shalt Never Sell via Content
Consumers are smart people, and they “smell” a sales pitch quickly and easily. They don’t want a sales pitch when they access content. They want information or a laugh or an inspiring story. Give that to them, understanding that you are building a relationship first, a trusting relationship.
If you do that, when they are ready to buy, they will remember you and come to you.
There. You have 10 commandments for customer engagement. What else would you add?