According to blogging expert Adam Connell, over 75% of visitors to a blog will never return.
That sucks, huh?
Wouldn’t you like your customers to visit your website again and again, purchase your products and services, and spread the word about you on social media?
If you want this to happen, you must increase your customer engagement.
But first, what do we mean by customer engagement?
Defining customer engagement
Customer engagement is all about having customers who want to interact with your business, then come back and interact some more.
Businesses that are focussed solely on extracting revenue are not building customer engagement.
Don’t be like them.
Be a business that focusses on creating value, whether that’s superb customer experience, outstanding content, or exceptional customer support.
If you do it right, a strong customer engagement strategy will reward you with a devoted and loyal following.
It’s like this: Give and you will receive.
Here are 9 simple strategies to increase your customer engagement:
1. Be human
Humans like to interact with humans.
So be human.
Your blog posts should be written in a conversational style. This will make them more accessible and less intimidating, especially to newcomers to your industry. You want to market to the widest possible audience, not a narrow, technically sophisticated elite.
A conversational style will help you convey some personality and emotion. Emotions are pretty powerful when it comes to building engagement. Your blog posts should read like you’re talking to a friend over coffee, not giving an academic presentation.
You can use your blog posts to promote yourself or selected personalities in your organisation to humanise your brand. Take some friendly headshots and make it easy for your customers to connect with you.
Social media is a great way to have spontaneous conversations with your customers. You can do the same in the comments section of your blog. By showing you’re willing to listen and respond to your customers, you can gain their loyalty and win new fans.
2. Be relevant
Do you truly know your customers?
What industries are they in? What size companies do they work for? What job titles do they hold? What income range do they earn? What newspapers, journals and blogs do they read? What words and phrases do they like to use?
What are the concerns of your customers? What are their problems and what can you do to help them?
Keep on top of trends and hot topics in your industry. Regularly check Twitter, Google News, and relevant Subreddits. Keep up with industry blogs, podcasts and forum discussions.
Listen to what your customers are saying. Now commission blog posts to address their needs using their words and their phrases.
Don’t push your products and services in your customers’ faces. Start your content by addressing your customers’ concerns and gradually introduce your brand into the conversation.
3. Show your expertise
Your customers are looking for an expert they can trust and rely on. So be that expert.
Create high-quality blog posts that are authoritative and demonstrate your experience and expertise in topics relevant to your business. Offer insights that can’t be found elsewhere. Show confidence in your opinions and make it clear that you stand by your convictions.
Don’t be afraid to tackle controversial topics and go against the grain. If you can make a strong case, you can win new converts.
Back your expertise with facts. Wherever possible, cite relevant data and statistics to make your case. If you have your own data to draw upon, that’s great. If not, relying on authoritative industry sources can work too.
4. Tell your brand story
A good brand story sets you apart from your competitors. More than that, it allows your customers to connect with you on a human level.
Don’t be generic. Don’t blend in and be like all the others.
Be bold, be different, be memorable. Don’t be afraid to be polarising. You may turn some people off but there will be others that share your values. They will become your devoted fans.
To tell your brand story, ask yourself what aspects of your brand are especially unusual or interesting. How did your company come to be? How did your products get developed? What motivates your team to do what they do? What do you stand for? What types of customers do you deal with? What is your unique value proposition?
But remember, for brand storytelling to be effective, it shouldn’t be all about your company. It should be about the experience that you offer your customers.
Your brand story should be told on your “About Us” page. But it should also guide and inform every blog post, every email and every customer service response.
5. Offer something valuable
Don’t rehash the same old information that everyone else in your industry is covering. This is not going to impress your customers. Offer fresh content that is useful and actionable. Target the needs and wants of your customers. Provide information that your customers can use to help their lives or their businesses.
This means producing high-quality content which cannot be easily found elsewhere. For sure, it’s not easy, and it will require some investment on your part. But the very fact that it’s not easy will eliminate most of your competition.
If you have to sacrifice quantity for quality, do it. It’s worth it. The engagement on one high-quality blog post can easily exceed the engagement on four low-quality ones.
Once you start producing valuable high-quality content, you’ll become a resource in your niche. You’ll build authority. People will come to check you out. They’ll remember you. They’ll want to discuss your content and engage with you. They’ll want to share it on social media.
And they’ll be back for more.
6. Share customer success stories
Telling your audience you can cut their processing costs by 20% is one thing. Having one of your customers tell them the same thing is much more powerful.
Customer success stories are like testimonials, but in greater depth. If your audience is new to your business, they may find it hard to imagine how your products or services can help them. They might find it hard to picture themselves using your offerings. Customer success stories provide what marketing expert Robert Cialdini terms “social proof”. Furthermore, they give a customer’s perspective on your business that your audience can identify with.
For maximum impact, you should find customers that most closely match your target audience. This could mean matching their industry, size of organisation, or location. Find the decision maker in your customer’s organisation that best fits the audience profile you are trying to reach. For example, if you’re marketing to IT managers, get an IT manager to relate their success story using your products or services.
Your audience does not want to have to make a leap of faith to do business with you. With customer success stories they don’t need to.
7. Ask a question
Using your blog to ask a question to your customers is the easiest way to engage them and build a connection.
Asking a question shows you are willing to listen to your customers. It shows you’re interested in understanding their concerns and needs. It makes them feel welcome and valued. It underlines your commitment to serving your customers.
Ask them about the challenges they’re facing, Ask them about their experiences in a field relevant to your brand. Ask them what they need help with. Don’t be afraid of asking provocative questions if they get the discussion going.
Allow your customers to respond to your question in the comments section of your blog or on social media.
Make sure you publicly reply to each customer. You’ll be making a positive impression not just on them but your entire audience.
You can bring the process full circle by expanding one of your replies and publishing it as a new blog post.
8. Make a call to action
Customer engagement is all about getting your customers to take action. And the best way of getting your customers to take action?
Just ask them!
Never be afraid to tell your customers what to do. If they’re reading your blog, they’re potentially interested in what you have to offer. Don’t miss the opportunity.
But first you need to think about what kind of action you want them to take. Customer engagement is a journey, with defined stages along the way. Remember that 96% of first-time visitors to your blog aren’t ready to buy. With a well-placed call to action you can generate customer engagement that will lead to future sales.
Your blog can have a variety of calls to action, each aimed at a different stage of the journey:
- Join your mailing list.
- Request your ebook
- Place an inquiry
- Sign up for a free trial
- Make a purchase
Try and match your calls to action with your blog content. For example, after a blog post on a particular topic, invite readers to request your ebook that explores that topic in greater detail. After a blog post sharing a customer success story, invite readers to sign up for a free trial.
9. Measure, tweak and repeat
You can measure your customer engagement using a variety of metrics. There are two broad categories of engagement metrics:
- Attention metrics. Page views, time on site, social shares, blog comments
- Conversion metrics. Subscribers to your email list, ebook downloads, sales enquiries.
Attention metrics measure how well you’re capturing your audience’s interest. Attention leads to conversions.
Conversion metrics measure how well you’re persuading your audience to interact with you. Conversions lead to sales.
Each time you publish new content on your blog, measure your success according to these metrics.
Analyse your results. What worked? What didn’t? What needs improvement?
Once you’ve got it figured, just tweak and repeat.
Be persistent and the rewards will follow
Building customer engagement is a gradual process. As you enlarge your customer engagement, you’ll be rewarded with a loyal customer base who love to do business with you again and again.
Your business blog should be a key driver in your customer engagement strategies. Hubspot found that businesses with blogs gather 68% more leads than those without blogs. It’s simple: engage your customers, and you’ll generate leads.
Is your blog engaging your customers?
Main Image Credit: dwphotos