We love the internet. A study conducted by Hootsuite and We Are Social discovered that we spend about 6 hours and 42 minutes a day online. The question then is; if we are more connected, what are we really paying attention to?
Between social networks, instant messages, videos, podcasts, and emails, how long can we truly focus on just one thing? Or better yet, for how long can you stay on a single website?
The answer is pretty simple; it all depends on how engaging what you’re seeing is and the experience being offered.
What is online engagement?
Simply put, digital engagement refers to the use of digital tools by people and brands to interact and engage other people, brands, etc.
Hubspot defines this engagement as “the process of interacting with customers through a variety of channels and strengthening your relationship with them. For many businesses, this process begins with the first interaction and extends beyond the point of purchase. Companies can engage with customers via social media, email, websites, community forums, or any other space where they’re communicating or consuming content.”
With all this in mind, the term can refer to blog posts, companies using social networks to interact with their customers and other stakeholders, asking for feedback on products/services, consumers leaving comments online, etc.
Precisely because it uses online channels, where everything happens in real-time, in digital engagement, organizations practically lose control of the messages communicated. If in the past a company advertised a product only through its communication team, today anyone can “advertise” in a positive or negative way.
Also, to better understand online engagement, its important to talk about a concept that is closely linked to it: omnichannel.
Omnichannel and online engagement
The concept of omnichannel means that all channels that a company uses to communicate with its consumers provide a unique experience. In this case, it is the consumer, not the brand, that is at the center of communication.
With omnichannel, consumers can make a purchase or request information from wherever they are. Essentially, what it does is remove the boundaries between the different sales, marketing, and communication channels in order to create a unified and integrated experience. This way, everything that could exist between social and physical channels is erased through the concept of omnichannel.
And what does this have to do with online engagement? Going back to Hubspot’s definition, when talking about ” any other space where they’re communicating or consuming content ” any other space where they’re communicating or consuming content”, they are referring to the fact that any space is a way of reaching customers and providing them with a complete journey, continuous and integrated.
A consumer comparing a price on a website on his computer while opening an app to make the purchase is going through an omnichannel experience.
That’s because when interfaces are integrated, consumers can have interaction across multiple channels. And this is exactly the magic of online engagement: involving consumers in all channels to strengthen the relationship. In doing so, your company expresses, even if indirectly, the commitment to the success of its consumers, in addition to showing that you are paying attention to them.
How to start an online engagement strategy?
Your online engagement strategy should be based on four pillars:
- Who is your consumer?
- What type of content do they like and consume?
- When should you reach out to your consumers?
- How and where should you reach out to your consumers?
1. Who’s your consumer?
To find out who your consumer really is, you’re going to need data! Find out their shopping history and habits, which social networks they use, purchasing power and every other type of data that will help you put together your consumer’s profile.
Along with finding out “structured” data such as an address, age, and sex, you’ll also need to find out “non-structured” data such as a social media post, a message in a forum, who they follow and so on.
2. What type of content do they like?
What do your consumers watch? What do they read? What do they listen to? Would they rather watch a video, read an article, look at images and infographics or listen to podcasts?
To engage your consumers you’ll need to know what type of content they actually enjoy. That means if they like videos, you should produce videos. Keep in mind that online engagement works with an omnichannel strategy. That means that every time you reach out to them (directly or indirectly), you should give them the opportunity to interact with you.
Knowing the type of content they like is important because that way, you’ll know where to focus the biggest part of your marketing strategy
3. When to reach out to your consumers?
If a consumer reached out to you on your company’s chatbot, left their contact information and asked for information about your products and/or services, he or she already showed you some interest.
How much time do you need to reach out to them? If you want to turn a lead into a customer, if you wait a month to contact them, by the time you reach out, they’ll most likely already have reached out to one of your competitors.
You can, for example, publish a quick video on social media showing a product and, days later, create a strategy to showing its benefits, and then offer a discount or explain how the customer can make the purchase.
Keep in mind that digital engagement suggests that your customers focus on your brand as long as possible.
4. How and where to reach your consumers?
Does your client interact more on social networks, through emails, on your website or via text messages? In order to be consistent in your messages, identify your consumers’ preferred communication channel and ensure that it receives information through the right channel.
And don’t forget to take good care of your company’s website!
A survey entitled Digital Insights 2019: How marketers confront the obstacles of digital customer engagement showed that 84% of companies surveyed said that one of the website’s main functions is to act as a folder. Among the challenges identified by the interviewees were a cohesive strategy for content, technical problems, performance, analysis, and accessibility.
The same survey draws attention to the fact that “The website is not just the face of a business, but also one of the first customer touchpoints. Companies should use these power sources to the max and invest in creating a smooth, cohesive customer journey from awareness to explanation to sale and service. ”
So, don’t forget that online engagement is not just about creating profiles on social networks. It’s about taking care of all the points of contact through which your customer can reach you. And that, of course, includes your company’s website.
If it is increasingly difficult for most of us to focus our attention on just one thing, companies need to think of strategies to place their customers at the center of their marketing initiatives in the digital ecosystem. This will help consumers interact with the brand and be able to be effectively reached by your business’ messages.
Successful consumer engagement goes beyond mass marketing emails, with calls to sales action. After all, an increasingly digital world requires brands to build more humane and authentic relationships and experiences.
Finally, don’t forget that with so many channels and opportunities to interact with your consumers, it is very important to adopt a strategic omnichannel approach. Invest in channels that generate value with your target audience, whether through social media, instant messaging or others. All without forgetting, of course, the personalization of the message.
‘Till next time!