Competitive Advantage: The Do’s and Don’ts of Brand Engagement with Your Customers

Competitive Advantage: The Do’s and Don’ts of Brand Engagement with Your Customers

As marketers, we invest a lot of time and money into getting the attention of our target audience. We launch campaigns and measure results. We craft messaging, design creative and position our offerings for strategic and competitive advantage. So why, despite all these efforts, are our customers not responding with higher levels of engagement with our brands?

A recent survey from Pitney Bowes, an international software, hardware and services provider, asked 6,000 consumers across the UK, US, France, and Germany about the things they expect while interacting with a brand. The results illuminate a straightforward list of Do’s and Don’ts for marketers to follow when they interact with their customers or attempt any initiative to raise brand engagement.

The findings from this survey show that consumers are clear about what they want from their business interactions. These survey results can provide marketers with a competitive advantage if they choose to implement personalization and customer satisfaction surveys, which are deemed perfectly acceptable, and even anticipated by respondents.

Contrary to some opinions, personalized messaging is in fact working for brands. Some 59% of surveyed consumers said they appreciate personalization on websites. So implementing a greeting such as, “Welcome, John” for eCommerce sites, especially when purchases are being made, can provide reassurance by showing that the site recognizes him and his previous interactions.

Also, 75% of survey respondents felt open to answering short and simple customer satisfaction surveys to help personalize their shopping experiences for future visits. It’s also important to note current consumer and marketing trends as they can amplify the results of effective (and ineffective) customer communications.

Consumer Trends:

  • Access to information – Global, local, and social information is at each consumer’s fingertips, and consumers seek out the best information faster than ever before.
  • Brand transparency – Consumers can check the authenticity of a brand promise faster than it takes a 60-second spot to air during the Super Bowl.
  • Cross-channel sophistication – Consumers seamlessly fly between marketing channels to swiftly explore, shop, transact, and educate themselves.

Marketing Trends:

  • The days of tossing one-sided campaigns at a target are gone. Today, interactions between brands and customers are two-way, real time conversations.
  • Customers have preferences. Marketers must use each customer’s preferred channel to conduct a conversation.
  • Segment marketing has been replaced by one-to-one marketing (the dialogue goes to the consumer, then back to the brand, etc.)
  • Brands are sitting on mounds of data about their consumers and prospects. By making each engagement campaign relevant, whether it’s through retargeting, display ads or Real Time Offers, retailers will draw consumers closer with each brand interaction.
  • Businesses can share intelligence across multiple channels. Conversations in the call center should inform Web interactions and even in-store conversations (and vice versa.) We have the technology today to achieve cross-channel recognition and relevance.

With all this insight, you would think it’d be easier than ever to target prospects, engage with customers and ultimately win the love and adoration of your audience, but we all know that it’s never that simple.

Many of the initiatives and campaigns being deployed are not having their intended effect. This is because unfitting communications often shrink a brand’s pool of available prospects and customers because targets opt out of the brand conversation altogether.

By identifying a customer’s desires and concerns more accurately, marketers can greatly reduce the number of off-target communications while saving substantial marketing dollars.

Better targeting, real time data and customer behavioral analytics will go a long way in helping to determine which consumers are ready for this next level of interaction with the brand. With insight gained from real time behavioral data and analytics, brands can create a personalized or customized experience for each customer based on his or her preferences—a practice the majority of survey respondents deemed acceptable.

Do’s and Don’ts of Brand Interactions With Customers

1. Personalization
Do: Definitely amp up the level of personalization on your website (59% respondents found this positive.) Don’t: Let your sales and or customer service reps get too chummy on the phone (70% of respondents agreed this is annoying.)

2. Asking the Customer for Action
Do: Conduct customer feedback surveys regularly (75% find these to be helpful and positive.) Don’t: Invite consumers to customize their own profile (69% find this tedious and negative.)

3. Frequency
Do: Send a special offer via email or retargeting at least once a month (74% positive.) Don’t: Send weekly emails (89% negative.)

4. Invitation to a Brand’s Cause
Do: Keep customer forums with customer service efforts, not marketing (81% positive.) Don’t: Ask the customer to support the brand’s charity (84% negative.)

The survey results confirm that marketers should listen to consumers before they send out communications. The companies that take note of their customer’s desires and act accordingly will stand a far better chance of breaking through and winning a competitive advantage in the efforts of brand engagement.

by Kristin Tinsley, Content

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