Brands can strategize how they plan to create interactions with their customers by building and implementing a comprehensive customer engagement plan. It is important to execute this type of plan correctly — since doing so results in customers feeling that their opinions are valued and that the company is invested in ensuring their satisfaction. At the same time, your brand will discover valuable insights about your customers that it never knew, like finding patterns in their behavior.
In this article, we will delve into the components of customer engagement and outline a step-by-step approach to crafting a powerful engagement plan.
Let’s get started.
What is a customer engagement plan?
A customer engagement plan outlines how a business will interact with its customers across various stages of their journey — with the aim of improving the overall customer experience. The plan involves understanding customer needs, preferences, behaviors, and more — and then creating a strategy that aligns with these insights.
Whether it's through email campaigns, customer service interactions, onboarding, or any other customer touchpoint, a customer engagement plan ensures consistency, relevance, and personalization in each interaction. This allows businesses to not only retain their existing customer base but also foster trust that differentiates them in the market.
How to create a customer engagement plan?
Let's take a look at the seven steps you’ll need to take to create a customer engagement plan that drives results.
Each customer engagement goal must be crafted strategically so your brand has a clear roadmap of how your plan aligns with your business objectives.
But strategic planning is difficult, and you’ll need the precision and clarity offered by the SMART goal framework to help you stay on track over a certain period of time. This will allow you to better achieve your goals and adapt your plan if necessary.
Let’s take a look at what the acronym "SMART" stands for and how you can use its five components to create your goals for your engagement plan:
Specificity: In customer engagement, vague goals lead to poor results. Brands need a clear direction. Instead of saying, "We want to improve engagement," create a specific goal like "We want to reduce our mobile app’s churn rate by 15%."
Measurability: What gets measured gets managed. Without quantifiable metrics, it becomes challenging to gauge progress or determine the effectiveness of your customer engagement plan. If a brand’s objective is to boost customer feedback, having a target number and the right tools to track progress helps monitor growth and keep your team on track.
Achievability: Setting lofty goals can be inspiring, but if they're too far from reach, they can lead to demotivation. Achievable goals strike a balance between being ambitious and realistic, ensuring that the team remains motivated and resources aren't wasted.
Relevance: Every goal set should align with the brand’s broader mission and objectives. For instance, if your aim is to increase the retention rate for your SaaS brand, then the engagement activities should reflect that.
Time-bound: Deadlines create urgency. By setting a clear timeframe, like aiming to achieve a specific engagement metric within a quarter, brands can ensure momentum and prioritize resources efficiently.
7 goals to consider for your customer engagement plan
There are a number of different goals that’ll help you increase your brand’s customer engagement and overall experience. Let's take a look at 7:
Enhance customer loyalty: The core of any successful business lies in its ability to foster and enhance loyalty among its customers. The key is to ensure customers feel valued and recognized while interacting with your brand, leading them to prefer it over your competitors.
Deepen customer relationships: Beyond the first sale or interaction, deepening customer relationships means understanding their evolving needs and delivering experiences that align with them. By showing customers you're invested in their journey, you nurture a bond that goes beyond a transactional relationship.
Increase customer retention: Work towards retaining your existing customers instead of acquiring new ones to save money in the long run.
Improve brand reputation: A strong brand reputation can be a powerful tool in establishing your business as an authority. This can be achieved by building an online brand community where customers share their experiences with each other.
Boost customer advocacy: When customers genuinely love your product or service, they’ll willingly promote it within their networks, providing authentic word-of-mouth marketing.
Optimize multi-channel engagement: With customers interacting with brands across various platforms, it's essential to offer a seamless experience. This means ensuring consistent messaging, design, and user experience across all channels.
Enhance responsiveness to feedback: Customers expect quick and effective responses from brands. Whether they offer praise or voice concerns, acknowledging their feedback not only addresses immediate issues but showcases your brand’s commitment to continuous improvement.
Step 2: Creating customer profiles and buyer personas
At the heart of creating an effective customer engagement plan lies the understanding that not all customers are the same and want different experiences. Indeed, research shows that 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions — and 76% get frustrated when this doesn’t happen.
The first step in delivering personalized interactions is to create segments, personas, and customer profiles.
Segmentation is dividing your target market into groups of people with similar preferences, characteristics, and more. These subsets are called segments, and the primary goal of segmentation is to create a more tailored marketing strategy so you don’t have to target your whole market at once. Ultimately, segmentation helps your brand identify engagement opportunities while also preventing your team from wasting resources planning and creating irrelevant content.
With the data you gathered from segmentation you can create semi-fictional personas that mirror the shared characteristics of your segments. Depending on the nature of your business, you can create these personas based on background, gender, location, job title, pain points, industry and more. These detailed personas help you better understand your segments, often humanizing them and making it easier to learn about the type of interactions they want to experience.
Create customer profiles
Along with buyer personas, you’ll also need to create customer profiles. A customer profile is a person or organization to whom you want to sell your product — that would benefit the most and deliver the best possible return.
Customer profiles aren’t as in-depth as personas. To create them, you’ll need data like purchase history, interaction history, budget, revenue, industry, preferred communication channels, and other specific metrics.
It’s important to note the different types of customer profiles for B2B and B2C companies:
B2B customer profile: The customer in a B2B setting is typically a business, organization, or institution. Therefore, the profile often centers around the business's needs, size, industry, buying patterns, and decision-making processes.
B2C customer profile: The customer in a B2C setting is an individual consumer. Profiles here center around personal demographics, psychographics, buying habits, personal preferences, and lifestyle.
Keep in mind that creating segments, personas, and customer profiles isn't just a one-off task. It's an ongoing process of understanding, refining, and adapting. By continually updating profiles and analyzing behaviors, brands can remain agile, ensuring their customer engagement strategies are not only relevant but also impactful.
Step 3: Mapping out the customer journey
The customer journey is every action a customer has with your brand from the moment they first become aware of your products to after they make a purchase. A customer journey map is a comprehensive visualization of this journey, telling the story of how your customers interact with your brand at every touchpoint.
It's important that you map your customer’s journey for your engagement plan. To do this, you’ll need to list out all touchpoints across every stage of the journey. Let's take a look at what this can look like:
Awareness stage: Organic social media posts, paid ads, and viral content that introduce your brand to new audiences. Blog posts, videos, infographics, and podcasts that draw attention from those seeking information or solutions related to your industry.
Consideration stage: Product pages, service descriptions, FAQs, and chatbots that provide deeper insights about your offerings.
Decision stage: Sales interactions like personalized conversations with sales reps, be it in person, via phone, or through digital channels. In addition, timely offers or exclusive deals that your brand provides.
How to identify potential engagement opportunities
Once you’ve mapped your customer journey you can use it to find engagement opportunities. This is done by utilizing the necessary tools to analyze data at different touchpoints. Here’s how:
Social listening: If your customers spend a lot of time on social media, consider monitoring mentions of your brand, products, or industry-related terms on these platforms. Tools like Brandwatch or Mention can help. This can help you spot trends, pain points, or emerging needs in real-time and target your audience there.
Online communities: If you have an online branded community it can provide insights into what your customers are discussing, their pain points, their needs — and how you can further improve your community’s engagement. Tools like Bettermode offer the perfect solution for building an all-in-one customer community.
Data analysis: Use tools like Google Analytics to monitor user behavior on your website. Look for patterns, like which pages they spend the most time on or where they tend to drop off.
Step 4: Creating your customer engagement strategy
Crafting a stellar customer engagement plan involves aligning your goals with your customers’ different needs and wants to ensure your strategy caters to them all. This means you’ll need to create different tactics for different types of customers across all stages of the journey:
Tactics to engage new customers
Here’s a series of tactics that will not only attract fresh eyes to your business but convert leads into buyers:
Educational content: New customers may be unfamiliar with your brand or products. Offering them educational content, be it through informative articles, webinars, or tutorial videos, can be invaluable.
Welcome offers: A discount or a special offer can sweeten the introduction, making new customers feel valued and incentivizing initial purchases.
Onboarding programs: This can be especially relevant for service-based industries or software companies. Guided and self-service onboarding helps new users understand and navigate your offerings, ensuring they get off to a smooth start. For example, a tech company can offer access to their online community to first-time users as a part of their onboarding process.
Here’s a list of tactics that’ll allow you to deepen relationships with your existing customers and maximize their lifetime value:
Loyalty programs: Rewarding regular customers not only recognizes their continued support but also encourages repeat business. Think of coffee shops offering a free beverage after ten purchases. This could be achieved through personalized offers, customer loyalty programs, or exclusive events.
Exclusive previews: Let your existing customers have a first glance at new products, services, or content. This exclusivity enhances their connection with the brand.
Feedback sessions: Regularly soliciting and acting on feedback from long-term customers can make them feel heard and is integral to the brand's evolution.
Tactics to re-engage dormant customers
It's imperative to address segments that may have slipped through the engagement cracks. Use the following tactics to reconnect with and reinvigorate previously active customers:
Re-engagement campaigns: Use targeted email or advertising campaigns to remind them of the products they are missing.
Feedback surveys: Understanding why a customer became inactive can be the key to winning them back. Sending out a feedback survey can provide insights and show them you care about their experience.
Special offers: Sometimes, a special discount or an exclusive offer can rekindle interest. For instance, a SaaS brand might offer a month free to returning users.
Tactics to tailor engagement for high-value customers
High-value clients represent a significant portion of a company's revenue and require a specialized approach. Let’s explore tactics that cater to and elevate the experiences of your premium customers:
Dedicated account managers: Personalized service can be a game-changer for high-value clients, ensuring they always have a point of contact.
Custom offers: Personalized deals or packages can cater directly to their unique needs and preferences.
Invitations to brand events: Inviting valuable customers to special brand events or conferences can foster a deeper relationship and offer networking opportunities.
Step 5: Implementing your customer engagement plan
When it comes to implementing your customer engagement plan successfully, there are certain best practices your business should follow:
Unified experience across departments
Whether a customer interacts with the sales department or seeks support post-purchase, there should be consistency in brand messaging, values, and quality of service. A disjointed experience can not only confuse customers but also diminish their trust in the brand. This often happens when departments operate in silos and crucial data remains untapped. However, when marketing, sales, and support collaborate, they can piece together different facets of the customer journey — ensuring that the customer's transition from one function to another is seamless, making them feel valued and understood at every touchpoint.
Upper management's perspective can be invaluable. Their broad view of the organization's goals can help ensure that the customer engagement strategy aligns with larger business objectives.
Moreover, when key stakeholders feel involved and invested in the engagement plan, it fosters a sense of collective responsibility. This unified approach can lead to better strategy execution, as all departments are aligned and working towards the same customer-centric goals.
Understand where your resources are best spent to ensure your team allocates your budget wisely — this includes both financial budgets and manpower. For example, are paid ads more effective for your brand to improve customer satisfaction, or should you invest in content marketing? Make informed decisions and regularly review expenditures as your plan progresses to ensure that spending is aligned with outcomes — and make allocations when necessary.
Recognize and reward both team and individual achievements. This not only boosts morale but also reinforces the importance of customer engagement within the organizational culture. For example, you can share positive customer testimonials in internal newsletters, host celebratory team events after hitting significant milestones, or spotlight standout employees in company communications.
Risk and challenge awareness
Every engagement plan will face challenges so it's important that you anticipate hurdles that may occur. Whether it's technology hiccups, a change in market dynamics, or a global event affecting customer behavior, be prepared by always having a Plan B.
Team training and development
In order for your team to be prepared and implement your customer engagement strategy effectively, they need:
The right tools: It's imperative that your team is equipped with the latest and most effective tools, be it CRM systems, communication platforms, or data analytics. The right tool can dramatically elevate the quality of engagement.
Routine training sessions: Routine training sessions are indispensable to ensure that your team always has the knowledge they need to perform their tasks correctly.
Engagement workshops: Periodic workshops focused on advanced engagement strategies and industry-specific insights can be instrumental in keeping your team on track.
Step 6: Performance evaluation and refinement
It's essential to periodically evaluate your customer engagement plan’s performance and make necessary refinements. Here are key metrics you can use to measure its effectiveness:
Engagement rate: This metric looks at how often customers interact with your content, products, or services. It could be in the form of comments, shares, likes, or any other actionable response.
Customer retention rate: A high retention rate is a strong indicator of consistent and effective engagement. It quantifies the percentage of customers who continue to buy or interact with your brand over a specific period.
Net promoter score (NPS): Through a simple question, "How likely are you to recommend our product/service to others?", NPS gauges the overall customer satisfaction and loyalty to your brand.
Customer lifetime value (CLV): A measure of the total worth of a customer to a business over the entirety of their relationship. An increase in CLV often signals successful engagement strategies.
Feedback and surveys: Direct feedback, while qualitative, provides invaluable insights into areas of success and potential improvement in your engagement strategy.
Customer engagement doesn't have a finish line. With preferences, industry trends, and technology all continuously evolving your plan should adapt to meet these shifts by reviewing it periodically to ensure your customers receive a good experience.
Conclusion: Improve customer engagement
Crafting a robust customer engagement plan is more than just a strategy; it's a commitment to understanding, valuing, and evolving with your customers. By mapping out your customer journey, using effective engagement tactics to target the correct customers, acknowledging team efforts, and always keeping the customer at the heart of every decision, businesses can engage customers in a way that drives growth.
We have created a detailed customer engagement plan for your company to use — download it here today.
Customer engagement is the meaningful interactions that happen between a brand and its customers. These interactions aren’t merely transactional exchanges — but critical cornerstones in building trust, loyalty, and sustained business growth.
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