A website has to be more than fast-loading and good looking to get people to spend time on it. It has to be engaging – a place where people linger and interact.
People have more online choices than ever. Getting them engaged in the content is critical.
A January 2018 survey published by online publication eMarketer, a data and research site, looked at the business objectives that marketing professionals in North America are trying to accomplish through enhanced customer experience.
It found that 58.8 per cent of professionals surveyed wanted to increase customer engagement. The other top priorities included supporting loyalty/retention, increasing conversions, growing revenue, and optimizing the seamlessness of customer journeys.
The same firm, eMarketer, released a survey in April 2017 that outlined customer engagement challenges according to marketers worldwide: tools (lack of technology/tools, complexity of tools, ability to manager across tools), ability to measure return on investment, organizational knowledge budget allocation, and executive support.
What exactly is customer engagement and why does it matter?
Simply put, customer engagement is the activity of building, nurturing and maintaining relationships with your customer. In today’s marketing landscape, customer engagement goes hand in hand with the customer experience. People don’t want to be treated like dollar signs by your business – they don’t want to just buy your product or service, they want to build a relationship with you.
Part of that relationship is being there when the customer needs you. That is where your website comes in. Today’s consumer spends more time than ever researching their buying decisions online – visiting your website, checking reviews and evaluating you against your competitors.
Lindsay McDonald, marketing manager at the Calgary Zoo, says customer engagement was an important consideration when the organization recently re-launched its website.
“We spent quite a few months working on that exact question about customer engagement,” says McDonald. “We recognized in the strategy that we were developing, and in the research that was coming back, that the customer experience for us doesn’t just happen on the park – the minute you buy a ticket and walk through the gate.
“It actually happens long before that, during the planning process. We weren’t servicing our customers very well online either from an e-commerce standpoint or even just from an information-gathering standpoint.”
McDonald says visitors go through lots of different steps before they come to the zoo, when they’re at the zoo and after they leave it.
“For us, customer engagement is about how we’re connecting with them when they’re making decisions along that journey,” she says. “Before a customer comes to visit the zoo they go through a couple of different stages.”
The first stage is discovery; then decision-making and then planning.
“And connecting with a customer in all of those stages . . . providing the kind of information that they want when they’re looking for it and providing it in a way that they can understand and can consume easily is really important.”
Measuring customer engagement is done in many different ways.
McDonald says the zoo will hear directly from customers if they are not happy.
“But we also use a lot of marketing science to measure engagement. We know what some of the more visited pages are on our website and we would hope to see activity on those pages grow year over year.”
The zoo uses analytical tools on its website to measure how long people stayed on that page or if they went to a different page. Tools to measure online activity include impressions, visits, clicks, time spent on certain page, conversions and sales.
These are all key tools marketers need to consider as they make decisions on how to fully engage with customers, clients, or the public.
The moral of the story? Be engaging online or lose potential customers to websites that do engage.