How to Win Customer Engagement and Build a Successful Brand
The development of mobile technology and, in general, the advance of digital platforms have changed our way of life. We use the Internet to search for information, buy products and services and interact with other people. On a daily basis, the average user spends 6 hours and 43 minutes on online activities. Almost a working day! And we’re talking about more than 4.7 billion active users worldwide.
In this traffic, social networks play a leading role. While the forecast was to surpass 3.5 billion users by 2023, that figure seems conservative today. It was estimated that there would be more than 3 billion regular Internet users by the end of 2021 already.
The potential of this audience has not gone unnoticed by marketers. Currently, digital strategies are the focus of a significant part of companies’ marketing efforts. Given that, we will explore the benefits of a proper network presence and how to boost your results. We explain some key approaches that will help you attract customers and establish solid and long-lasting user engagement relationships.
Consumers and digital marketing
Online activities cover all areas of human life. We use the Internet for medical consultations, shopping, family conversations, reading news and for just about anything else we need. The result has thus led to the transformation of the digital dynamic from an informative channel to a space for connection. People communicate through networks with other users but also with governments and companies. Consequently, marketers have become interested in these channels.
It is already nearly compulsory for small and large companies to have some kind of online presence. In this respect, the pandemic prompted many SMEs to venture into the digital environment.
Where are your customers?
Portable devices have facilitated a ubiquitous connection capability and have created new channels of interaction. Consumers have been receptive to these technological innovations and do not hesitate to take advantage of all their benefits. Geolocation marketing, for example, is a clear example of the user’s interest in receiving personalized information. However, the reasonable concerns about privacy protection cannot be ignored.
Companies know that their target audience is online, so they are searching for the best way to communicate. Social and digital marketing enables organizations to raise awareness of their brands and increase sales at a low cost. It is an opportunity to speak to the consumer through the media they usually use at the right time.
Is digital marketing the same as e-commerce?
The application of digital marketing strategies goes far beyond the mere commercial transaction. Although online shopping has experienced explosive growth, online networks also have other potential. Brands can communicate directly with consumers, make themselves known, receive feedback and improve their products and services.
Many large companies have been observing this trend for some time now. According to industry sources, Coca Cola invests more money in the creation of digital content than in its TV commercials. The reasoning behind this decision is simple: high quality content can be a valuable tool for building trust and loyalty. This is especially true if the consumers are millennials or Gen-Z. These demographic cohorts are digital natives and do not respond to one-way communication or asynchrony.
How do brands communicate on social networks?
Posting on social networks and websites, however, is not sufficient. To connect with their audiences, brands need to connect with their interests. With all the available content online, it becomes more difficult to differentiate yourself each day, so your content must be unique, entertaining and memorable. This is precisely the essence of digital content marketing. Create and disseminate relevant and valuable information related to the brand and reach current or potential customers through digital platforms.
The concept also heeds another very important aspect and that is the purpose of communication. Gone are the days when advertising tried to directly persuade consumers to buy a product. Now we seek to establish a relationship of trust, which generates identification and commitment.
Why is engagement crucial in the age of digital content?
Digital and social media technologies enable consumers to build a greater role in their relationship with brands. What was once an isolated opinion can now reach a massive audience. This is what is known as electronic word of mouth or eWOM. When the message is positive, brands are validated and gain the trust of customers. If a person feels engaged with what a product or service offers, they are more likely to share their experience.
This produces an amplification effect of the message, which can significantly impact the degree of credibility and loyalty to a brand. Studies with millennial consumers show that peer recommendations influence their behaviors. In the long run, this translates into customer retention and consolidation of purchase intent. Conversely, one complaint can trigger a snowball effect and drag down a company’s reputation.
What is the relationship between content creation and user engagement?
Engagement is a two-way relationship; it is a dialogue where both parties express their ideas. According to studies, more than 90% of consumers are willing to interact with a brand online. You just need to find the common interest and capture the attention of the audience. It sounds easy, but by January 2021 there were almost 2 billion websites on the Internet. This saturation of information makes it difficult to disseminate messages.
It is essential to identify content related to the brand that sparks the public’s curiosity. It is a good strategy to join existing conversations and make meaningful contributions. Likewise, it is necessary to humanize the relationship because, as the accurately stated in The Cluetrain Manifesto,”Conversations between human beings sound human.” To establish engagement, consumers must see themselves reflected in what a brand conveys to them.
How to create engaging content?
Creating engaging content is not a matter of luck or magic. It has little to do with proper spelling or grammatical accuracy, although both are necessary. It is the result of following a methodology with planned and intentional actions. The result is content that is interesting: Responds to a consumer need or interest and is not necessarily innovative but useful and credible; Accessible: It is transmitted through the channels and media that consumers usually use; Timely: The consumer receives the information at the time it is needed or relevant.
It might seem like a wish list that is impossible to achieve. The reality is that it is hard work but, fortunately, well-documented and tested. The formula for creating powerful content combines five principles:
1. Know your audience
Even in traditional marketing, companies need to invest resources to know their customers. Digital channels facilitate this research. They allow you to familiarize yourself with the consumer profile in greater detail and thereby reach a much larger audience. Even without sophisticated tools, the administrator of a website can learn a considerable amount of data about its visitors. Moreover, since it is a two-way communication system, there is a real possibility of interaction. Brands can converse with their consumers and get direct feedback.
On the other hand, online communication allows information to be segmented according to the audience. With traditional media, you reach a large number of consumers, while assuming the cost of waste. Marketers know that not everyone who sees a billboard or TV commercial is their target. They trust that there will be a greater representation of their target audience in that location or watching that channel. Messages on digital platforms can be differentiated and accessible only to those who meet certain parameters.
2. Yes to stories, no to cold data!
The best way to achieve the “human voice” referred to in The Cluetrain Manifesto is to tell a story. It should be something authentic and coherent and built on an idea that is recognizable. There has to be a common starting point, possibly something to which the consumer can relate.
How to tell a good story
The creators of children’s illustrated stories are the undisputed masters of the art of storytelling. For many years, film schools based their screenwriting classes on the analysis of Disney films. The contributions of Pixar Studios as revealed by one of its former collaborators, Emma Coates, were then added to that. Overall, these stories reflect 22 tenets for life from which we glean a few relevant lessons for our purposes:
- You admire a character for their attempts at success rather than for their actual success. Don’t be afraid to share your failures as these can strengthen your brand.
- You have to keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. These can be very different. In our case, the word “writer” can be replaced by “brand.”
- Proving the point is important, but you won’t see what the story is really about until you get to the end. Now rewrite. In social media, for example, campaigns should always be tested. Apply judgment and adjust messages.
- Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Skip the detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable things, but it sets you free. Get to the point; your customers will thank you for it. Include all the relevant information but without insubstantial details.
- Think of your end before you discover your means. Seriously. Endings are hard, so make yours work from the beginning. Focus on what you want to say. Once you have clearly determined that, it will be easier to develop the message. Do not be distracted by digital tools and create irrelevant content in which only the novelty of the resource is visible.
- When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULD NOT HAPPEN next. Many times the material will appear on its own. Sometimes you might feel as though you’re running out of ideas or that you have no stories to tell. To unlock your creativity, you can try making a list of everything your brand is NOT. The mind works in unique ways; by thinking in opposites, you may be able to discover other facets of the brand.
- If you were your character in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty gives credibility to unbelievable situations. Take on the role of the audience and question the accuracy of what you want to tell. Does the story hold up? Is it credible?
- What is the essence of your story? The thumbnail version of it? If you can express this, you can build from there. Eliminate all superfluous data and make sure the message is direct and precise.
3. Define the communication objectives
Artistic creation differs significantly from creativity when applied to marketing. Branded content can be clever and innovative, but, above all, it must have a defined intention. Talent should be applied to the transmission of the brand image and the promotion of an action. Any action must be preceded by strategy and planning, and this involves setting objectives.
Quality content is content that reflects a brand’s intention and effectively reaches the target audience. It is essential to analyze “why” and “for whom” a certain content is being created. The message and audience must merge. Valuable content delivered to the wrong target or an irrelevant message to the target audience will not yield positive results. Success is based on getting the right message to the right people at the right time.
This should be the compass that guides all marketing action. It even affects the choice of media or channels. Each platform has its advantages or disadvantages; the best efforts use these strategically. Repeating the same message on all platforms is not sufficient. First, it is necessary to analyze on which platforms it is most appropriate for your brand to have a presence. The content must then be adapted to the format. Cohesion of discourse should not be confused with uniformity. All marketing efforts should point in the same direction, but each must be adapted to the medium or channel.
4. Connect with your audience emotionally
The use of emotions in brand messages significantly influences consumer response. This resource humanizes the relationship and strengthens it. Although it seems like an obvious approach in marketing now, many companies avoided emotionality for a long time, or r, at least, the expression of their feelings and positions as a brand. Consumers’ emotions were appealed to from an indifferent and condescending perspective.
It is generally accepted today that brands must come down from their pedestal and communicate with their audiences at the same level. Their success depends on their ability to integrate into a community and share its values. Psychological and affective processes ultimately guide human action. Therefore, if a company intends to persuade a consumer, it must discover their main concerns and tune in to their emotions. Content that does not engage the audience emotionally and does not reflect the essence of a brand is not authentic.
The public demands that companies take positions. Corporate indifference breeds apathy. Consumers do not engage affectively with brands that stand on the sidelines and are afraid to speak out. Low commitment is often a consequence of this indifference. Companies must take advantage of all the opportunities available to them to relate emotionally. An open attitude and a willingness to enter the public dialogue will prompt interactions and generate relevance. It’s a great way to boost the relationship and establish customer loyalty.
5. Add value to customer interaction
Branded content should be valuable to both the company’s interests and its audience. This is what potential buyers and regular consumers will see. Marketing communications is a continually evolving process. A company should commit to nurturing the relationship and connect in a meaningful way.
The user must be able to find some incentive to interact with the company. On your website or your platforms, you should create content that is worthwhile or piques consumer interest. Otherwise, your message will fall into oblivion. The value contribution can be an additional incentive to buy, reflect the inquiry of preferences or provide useful information. For example, the organic supermarket chain Whole Foods shares healthy tips and recipes on its platforms. The brand does not necessarily have to be the spokesperson of the content; sometimes it is preferable to be the host.
The goal of digital marketing, both in organic search and in advertising, is not limited to appearing in the results. The idea is that customers find a reason to engage with brands. And to enable this, we must give that interaction an incentive. The customer must find “something” to justify the use of their time and attention, and ultimately their monetary commitment.
Do only love brands achieve engagement?
The key to a digital marketing strategy is to create appealing, intentional content that persuades the consumer to engage. This means the content should be objective and emotional to establish deep and permanent relationships. That is the basis for a love brand. Obviously, this is a very exclusive ranking which not all brands attain. However, it is possible to replicate their strategies to achieve customer loyalty and increased sales.
It involves showing a sincere interest in the customer and representing the brand without artifice. We must recognize that the consumer is in control and that companies are willing to give up control. You should not wait for consumers to come to you but rather meet them where they are and create a dialogue about what matters to them. If you relate authentically, you will receive commitment and loyalty in return.
Engagement and conversion rate
Conversion rate refers to the ratio between the revenue earned and the traffic achieved by a page. The higher this rate is, the higher the profits are. However, this is a short-term strategy that also tends to have a linear growth. Engagement focuses on the long term, but this will lead to exponential audience growth. At a certain point, engagement can generate more revenue, even if its growth rate remains constant. In short, engagement is the authentic representation of how a customer feels about a brand. This is the emotion that can initiate the transition to a stable and meaningful relationship.
Tools to build engagement with a content strategy
The most common tools to develop a content strategy are blogs (65%) and social media networks (65%). Users also value the opinions of other customers and eagerly look to prompt those interactions. But be careful! Consumers are not naive and know that companies sometimes engineer these sites. As a brand, your presence should be limited to responding to and offering support for complaints or suggestions. It is essential to avoid intervening in and undermining the independence of these channels.
A corporate blog should serve to add value. They are ideal spaces to address topics related to the interests of the users and the brand. In terms of credibility, 81% of online consumers say they trust the information they find on blogs. This offers you opportunities to gain exposure and authority in the field. Although all marketing efforts lead to commercial objectives, not all actions are directly focused on sales.
On the other hand, social media networks are suitable platforms for constant interaction. They can generate traffic to the blog and sales opportunities, gather market insights and keep the brand alive. Building customer loyalty and commitment is a long-term job. It requires perseverance and consistency, but it is worth it.