CONSUMER BEHAVIOR 105: THE STATE OF ENGAGEMENT

Today I read a story. It was one of those stories that leave you impacted and forever change your perspective of life. It was one of those pieces that leave you yearning for more. I mean if this guy was trying to sell me anything, I would buy it on the spot.

Vivid description, raw emotions evoked and the imagery used was enough to keep you hooked from the first line to the last one. It was at this point that I began thinking; how often do we make content tailored for our consumers and not just for furthering our own marketing agendas. What do consumers wish we knew about them and the information that they want to access?

Do we really listen to them? Have we changed our marketing tactics to favor us or them? Who really wins in this current market and economy?

67% of consumers say that the engagements are relevant but still primarily transactional. 26% say that marketers take the time to understand their needs and develop a relationship while 8% feel like they are just being marketed to.

With the shift and changes in consumer behavior, both consumers and marketers agree that there is an engagement gap when it comes to content consumption. Some of the gaps include:

1. Improving customer retention.
With the competition and all the noise in the digital marketing world, it gets harder and harder to retain a customer. More incentives, discounts and promotions have to be used to retain consumers.

2. Creating an emotional connection to a brand.
Emotions is the cornerstone of all marketing efforts. Humans are driven by emotions and most decisions made are based on our prior experiences and emotions attached to them.

3. Increasing customer experience.
Experience, not product, sells. The modern consumer values the experience more than the product/service being offered and thus it is important to transfer the same to your online content across the different platforms. We live in an era where everyone and everything is connected.

How do consumers view brand engagement?

As a digital marketer, it is our duty to know what our consumers perceive of our marketing efforts. What do they want as well as the expectations. A consumer’s perspective on brand engagement differs from a marketer’s view.

A consumer wants a brand that shares the same value and belief system as they do. That aside, they want the brand to live up to its word and promises. Gone are the days when it was easy to lie to the consumers or take advantage of their ignorance.

With the ease of accessing information, most consumers can tell if a brand is trustworthy or not. They want a brand that actively listens to them and acts on their feedback. They want a brand that cares about their voice. They want to be heard and feel valued.

What are some of the things consumers expect?

1. Integration of experiences across channels.

The modern consumer expects you to anticipate their next move. They expect you to send them information on the latest products based on their purchase and browsing history. They want personalized discounts, coupons, promotions and interactions.

The top integrated channels include the website/e-commerce, social media and email. The engagement channels includes email, website, mobile devices, chats, blogs and online communities.

2. Deep understanding of their needs.

Barriers to great consumer engagement includes relevancy, complexity, lack of social proof and the time or energy that the consumer has to expend. Based on the above information, consumers want content tailored for them and solutions aimed at making their lives easier. Knowing their preferred channel of communication matters a lot as well. Do they prefer emails, online chats, social media etc.

Understanding their psychological and physical drive helps you in making content suited just for them.

What to avoid

  • Sending too much irrelevant information

While it may be tempting to think that more information means more engagement, the truth couldn’t be further from that. When a consumer gets information overload, the brain automatically blocks any information from you and thus it’s always important to be straight to the point.

  • Using the less preferred channels of communications

As I always say, different generations prefer different modes of channels. Generation Z and Millennials are more into Instagram and snapchat while the older generations prefer Facebook. Women are easily more convinced on Pinterest as compared to men. Get to know the needs of your audience to avoid them losing interest in your brand.

  • Not offering anything outside your products and services.

As a marketer and a brand, I always like to think that there is no better company that can do what I do, how I do it. And so many marketers think the same way. While this kind of thinking may be healthy in the short run, it does more harm than good in a marketing campaign. Think outside of the box. Engage with your consumers and ask them to be contributing ideas to make your content more versatile. It’s not always about you!

  • Not offering an opt-out/unsubscribe button

As humans, we are bound to change our minds from time to time and thus there should always be an unsubscribe button otherwise a consumer may flag you as a spam. If a consumer says they are no longer interested in receiving information from you, it is always best to respect their wishes.

What are some of the benefits of consumer engagement to consumers?

1. They feel valued, heard and wanted.

This is always satisfying to consumers when they know that their opinions count and matter. It helps them make an emotional connection to a brand.

2. Faster resolution of issues.

When you have a deep understanding of your consumers, it then becomes easier to solve their issues as per their preference as they also know how to get in touch with you.

3. Improved consumer experience.

As I said before, experience sells. The better the experience, the higher the rate of consumer retention. Consumers want a tailored personalized experience.

4. Getting the latest information on products and services

Once you have personalized and automated experiences for your consumers, it then becomes easier to send them the latest information based on their needs and wants.

Conclusion

More and more companies are shifting their focus from products to consumer experience and engagement. To contribute further into this conversation, leave your thoughts in the comment section.

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