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Sophie Crenigan

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Customer engagement: Your new marketing tool

By | Content Marketing | No Comments

Having loyal customers is like hitting the jackpot. But remember, customers don’t owe you loyalty, you have to earn it. But once it’s yours, it could be the start of something beautiful. According to Alex Lawrence of Forbes magazine, 80% of your future revenue will come from 20% of your current customers. So how do you get them to fall in love with your brand? Engagement. Remember the days when advertisers and marketers told us what we need? As we mentioned in our previous blog, cold, hard advertising and basic marketing tactics don’t cut it anymore. It’s 2018, your customers are now your new marketing tool, so it’s imperative to embrace and implement customer engagement.

The power of customer engagement

Summarising ‘customer engagement’ into one sentence is a difficult one — there are many varying definitions out there. However, in simple terms, it refers to the way in which customers interact with brands; or, to go a little deeper, the way in which the relationship between customer and brand can develop. Smile, a company that offers reward programs for online businesses, defines the idea quite nicely — “Customer engagement is the degree and depth of brand-focused interactions a customer chooses to perform.” The operative word here is chooses. Customers can build relationships with brands in their own way, in their own style.

I often get asked, “is investing in customer engagement actually worth the money? Well, in short, the answer is yes. If you’re a new business, no one knows you exist yet, so how on earth do you expect a customer to suddenly purchase your product or service? If you follow LEP Digital on our social media accounts, you might’ve noticed that I recently got engaged whilst overseas in Europe.

I’m right in the thick of planning, and it’s so much fun. I’m following a wealth of wedding-related accounts on Instagram — venues, florists, makeup artists and designers — I’m a marketer’s dream! I’m getting served more wedding-related ads than you could ever imagine.

So… what exactly has this got to do with return on investment on customer engagement? Well, take the wedding dress for example. At the end of the day, I’m going to need just one. However, I’m probably following 20, maybe 30 designers on Instagram. I’m in research mode — sourcing inspiration, learning more about the designers, seeing if their pricing and positioning work for me. As mentioned in our previous blog, you could say I’m in the consideration process of the buyer’s journey, working out if these designers align with my values. The ironic thing is that I may not even purchase a dress by any of the designers I follow. However, I’m actively engaged (pardon the pun) with these businesses and their social media accounts. Every time I double tap the heart, tag a friend or save an image, that’s me, participating in customer engagement. Later down the track, I might refer a friend to a designer, who in turn, purchases a dress when they choose to get married.

Here’s another example. A prospective customer purchases your product or service. Great, you’ve made a sale (yes, you’re welcome to do a happy dance). But from here, they are in a position to take an array of different actions. In the best case scenario, they might leave you a review, share their experience on their social channels, or refer you to family and friends. As Sujan Patel of INC explains, ”when the right systems for nurturing and mobilising customer advocates are in place, they can drive new and positive word-of-mouth – which is necessary for today’s well-educated buyers”. It’s these sorts of behaviours that indicate that these customers could be vocal brand advocates. They look forward to an opportunity to interact with your brand. It’s here where businesses’ need to focus on how to deepen their relationship with these sorts of customers. Getting this right is absolutely critical to your overall growth and success.

So ready to share the love? We’ve outlined three ways that you can be maximising your relationship and strengthening your customer engagement:

Get clever with your content

If you met someone for the first time, would you prefer being screamed at in your face or gently tapped with a lovely introduction to start a conversation? I’d probably guess the latter. The same applies when it comes reaching out to your customers in the digital space. Consumers have increasingly become desensitised to and disengaged from direct advertising. It’s harsh, it’s annoying and, let’s be honest, we all know it’s a bloody ad being served to us. To really win your customer’s trust, your content marketing strategy has to be softer, more persuasive and relevant. As Rebecca Sentance of Econsultancy explains, “brands have recognised that some sort of value exchange needs to take place: rather than simply directing consumers towards their product, they need to provide insight, inspiration, and an informative message”.

It’s all about bringing brands to life through storytelling. A study completed by Econsultancy found that an overwhelming 93% of marketers believe that customers increasingly want to buy experiences, not just the product or service itself. So what can you be doing to offer value to make the experience better? There are many ways you can keep your relationship going. A well-thought-out digital marketing strategy may include many digital touchpoints including inspirational social media posts, interactive stories, cleverly designed eDMs (electronic direct mail or e-newsletters) and beautifully written educational blogs. Whatever you do, make sure there’s consistency of brand, message and value across all of the platforms you use — you want your customers to interact with the content.

Listen to your customers

In relationships, communication is key. The same applies when it comes to building a relationship with your customers. Would it surprise you that many brands out there simply don’t listen? According to statistics provided by Bain and Co. in the Harvard Management Update, 80% of companies surveyed said that they offer superior customer service, but only 8% of their customers actually agreed with them. Yowsers. It’s all well and good to request customer feedback, but if you’re not going to interpret it or act upon it, then you’re wasting your time. As Frank Eliason, the Global Director of Client Experience at Citi explains, “truly listening is hearing the needs of the customer, understanding those needs and making sure the company recognises the opportunities they present”. Listening to your customers helps better the overall customer experience. As we’ve discussed, customers aren’t just buying a product, they’re buying a brand affiliation — therefore, if you focus on providing the best customer experience at every touchpoint (consideration right through to purchase) you’re more likely to build that loyalty. What’s the most obvious way to do this? By asking them. Provide surveys, polls across social media and post-purchase follow-up emails. If you want to say ahead of your competition, never stop listening to your customers — whether it’s positive or negative.

Be authentic

In a space dictated by the digital, customers crave a little bit of transparency and genuineness. Plus, they’ve become extraordinarily savvy and are perfectly capable of calling BS when it occurs (don’t forget the digital space is their platform too and, yes, many people know how to leave Google Reviews). As a brand, you need to be authentic: staying true to who you are and what you do. When putting your brand out there in the virtual world, the human elements matter. Authenticity creates value, builds loyalty and that all-important connection that can get lost when you’re dealing with digital matter. A study published by the Harvard Business Review, which included 7,000 consumers around the world, showed that loyalty to brands is almost impossible to achieve without one key element — shared values. According to the report, “of those consumers who said that they had a strong brand relationship, 64% cited shared values as the primary reason”. Take global cosmetic chain Lush, where sustainability, being charitable and ethical is at the root of their brand. Across social media, they create high-quality content to promote their ethical business practices and sustainability programs. However, most importantly, Lush always puts its audience at the heart of their social media strategy, thus building those all-important authentic customer relationships and increasing brand affinity.

To the start of something beautiful

As you can see, building relationships with your customers is an extraordinarily powerful thing and can impact the overall growth and direction of your business. At LEP Digital, developing and implementing meaningful content for our clients is at the heart of what we do. We love bringing brands to life and giving brands a voice across the digital space. If you’re struggling to build your customer engagement, let’s have a coffee. (And, if you know of any wedding dress designers, please leave me a note below!)

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Why blogs are banging for your business

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For business owners, having a platform to reach out to your customers is vital; but, having a two-way conversation with prospective buyers? Well, that’s just smart. According to Jason Kapler of Adweek, “It’s time marketers put down the megaphones and join in a dialog with each customer”. You’re probably already doing this: you can implement contact forms, reach out to customers through your social media presence, and connect through electronic direct mail (eDMs), but are you aware of just how powerful and effective blogging can be?

For many, when they hear the word blog, they hear the word, burden. Yes, at LEP Digital, we do admit that blogging can be time-consuming. I mean, who in your business is going to regularly research, develop and write effective content on top of their full time role? You’re probably thinking, ‘what could I possibly keep writing about?’ Most importantly, for any business that is conscious of their bottom line (let’s be honest, that’s pretty much all of us), the cost of running a blog can be a little bit daunting.

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However, I want to convince you that a blog is an exceptional brand tool. It can be used to generate leads and build a digital presence if implemented correctly. Whilst on the outset it may feel like extra task added to your to-do list, a blog should be treated as any other element in a marketing strategy – and trust us, it works.

Let me tell you why blogs can only boost and benefit your brand.

Blogs can give your customers major feels

Every business out there is craving customer loyalty and a blog is the perfect platform to start those long-term relationships. According to Quick Sprout, 60% of consumers feel a sense of positivity about a corporate brand after reading their blog, and 61% have made a purchase based solely on a blog post.

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What’s fantastic about blogging is the capacity to share content with your customers in a human and personal way. For example, you can give ‘behind the scenes’ access to your customers, provide insights and stories around your business operations, encourage two way conversations and build trust with your target audience through high quality content that they find relevant and interesting.

Blogs can boost your social efforts

It’s 2018 – most businesses out there should have social media accounts. Whether you’re on Facebook, Instagram or Linkedin, we all know that social media is another effective tool to build your business. However, for many, deciding what to post on social media can be a quandary. If you’re producing regular content for your blog, you have regular content to share across your social media platforms. With your blog being out and about across the social media sphere, there are more opportunities for people to click through to your website and ultimately encourage leads for your business.

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Don’t forget the power of sharing too. According to Complete Business Online, “One of the most powerful benefits of blogging is the opportunity it creates for others to share your blog to their personal networks. This sets you up in good stead for potential virality or exponential market growth. With so many different sharing platforms available in 2018, visitors can share the direct link to the blog, Tweet it, Instagram direct message it or email it to a friend”. Um, marketing on the house? Yes, please.  

Blogs set you apart from your competition

Be the brand that’s always ahead of the game. Blogs can allow for you to do this. No matter what industry you work in, you want to come across to your customers as an industry leader. Having a blog provides your business with a launch pad of information and a source of knowledge. As WishPond suggest, “If you’re a retailer, for example, write blog posts about your products. Your customers will get to know you as the knowledge source for the products they want. If you’re in B2B, post articulate, well-researched articles about your service”.

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By focusing your content around your market, your business can present themselves as well versed, whilst highlighting your knowledge and providing insights that perhaps your competitors cannot. It can also help to remedy sales objectives.

Blogs get you into Google’s good books

We all want to be number one on Google. Whilst a blog might not get you there overnight, it can certainly assist with your search engine optimisation over a longer period of time. Google adores activity, so don’t get lazy. According to pixeld.com.au, “static pages that have displayed the same content since Google can remember are quickly de-prioritised by search engines as they make their way to the wastelands of ‘page 57’ in search results.”

As I have done in this article, it’s important to embed backlinks. As Kelly Thomas Mango of OpenVine notes, not only is it good online etiquette to reference other sources, but high-quality links are a valuable commodity for a business to rank higher on Google.

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And, don’t forget to video log (or vlog for all the cool kids). Pick up that camera and go on a video rampage people! I can’t stress enough how important video is. But, if you’d like to be reminded, you can read my six reasons here. Creating vlogs is another way in which you can speak with your customer base. Not only does it break up the content, but, as you guessed, Google’s going to love for you for it. Search Engine Land explains, “Video is evidence of quality content, and as part of a media mix on a site, it helps send signals to search engines that your page or site contains rich media relevant to search requests”.

So, this means regularly updating your website with fresh content and making sure your blogs are keyword rich. Don’t forget to integrate backlinks and fill your blogs with plenty of images and video content. If you want to be besties with Google, blogging is the way to go.

Embrace the blog

Ultimately your blog provides your brand with the capacity to reach out to current and prospective customers in a way that other tools may not. Consumers are looking for transparency and honesty in brands that they associate themselves with. Additionally, you can be a source of relevant industry information. At LEP Digital, content creation for our clients is at the heart of everything we do. If you’re keen to introduce a blog for your business, then let us help you. Invite us to a coffee date today.

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6 reasons why video in content marketing is hot right now

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As referenced in Zoolander, video is so hot right now. Very hot.

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It’s probably no secret that video content is on the rise, especially when it comes to digital marketing. Think of all the videos that you’re seeing on Facebook now and, since Snapchat came along, both Facebook and Instagram have released a story feature in response. YouTube is now the second largest search engine after Google, and has over four billion views a day. More and more brands are turning to video to tell stories, and engage with customers to keep their attention.

According to Jason Park from the Content Marketing Institute, “video is projected to take up over 90 percent of the online content pie within the next decade.” Some common questions that we get asked include:

  • What sort of video content should my brand be producing?
  • Do videos work for all industries?

Hubspot suggests the best types of videos that brands should be sharing across there platforms are:

  • Explainer videos
  • Product demonstrations
  • How-tos
  • Testimonial videos.

As for the second question, in my opinion, yes. There’s always a story to be told if you find the right angle. So if you’re not developing engaging video content for your brand then, unfortunately, you’re dragging your feet behind behind your competitors. Let me share six reasons why you should be contemplating video content for your digital marketing strategy.

1. Start a conversation

We know that visual content is the key to engaging with a broader base of potential customers. Think of all the videos that have gone viral this year alone. Admit it, in the last few weeks, you’ve likely shared a Facebook video or tagged a friend that the video might be relevant to.

People are 10 times more likely to engage, share and comment on video content compared to blogs and other text only social posts.

 

2. Build trust

Don’t ever underestimate your customers – they are your brand representatives. We’re bombarded with marketing information, receiving up to 600 messages a day, according to B&T. Consumers are getting savvy, so being transparent and honest with them will help you build brand trust. Video content can do this significantly better, and faster, than text content. Visual content gives you the opportunity to express your brand authentically, share your core values and encourage loyalty. Providing your potential customers with valuable or revealing information and speaking to them as if they are your friend can quickly build up trust.

3. Impress Google

If you embed a video on your website, then chances are your visitors are going to be hanging around for a little longer. Why does Google love this? Well, your visitors are spending more time on your website which, in turn, signals search engines that your site is content rich, putting you in the Google’s good books. With Google purchasing YouTube back in 2006, there has been a significant way in which videos affect your ranking on search engines.

According to Moovly, websites that embed videos are 53 times more likely to show up on page one of Google.

 

4. Befriend Facebook

When you think Facebook, you think algorithms. Running and maintaining business pages can be overwhelming, as Facebook constantly changes the way algorithms work. However, Facebook is rewarding businesses that produce video content, particularly sponsored video content. According to SEO.com, “Facebook video views are among the most cost effective forms of social advertising. Facebook is on a mission to dethrone YouTube as the video king, and in its quest to own your marketing dollars, it is offering some awesome incentives. Which is to say, they’ve created a platform for video ads that is extremely affordable.”

5. Get those click throughs

If you’re already creating video content for your brand, are you including them in your email marketing campaigns? Think how many emails you receive daily. How many of them are currently including video? “Video content increases the open rates by 5.6% and increases the click through rates by 96%” says . This is a great technique to set yourself apart from your competitors and double your chances to improve your click-through rate and convert customers on your website.

6. Trigger emotions

Video means you can humanise your brand, evoke emotion and ultimately drive action. Voices, music and animation can be used to bring your brand to life and allow the watcher to feel something. Unlike large amounts of dense text, video content can convey dry information in an engaging manner, pull at heartstrings, make people chuckle or make people tear up, all whilst playing to the subconscious. Vidyard explain, “Current research breaks emotional triggers into two main actions post-viewing: sharing and buying. While your specific goal may sit along a spectrum somewhere between building awareness and converting qualified leads, these two categories of emotional impact will get you well on your way”.

We make moving stories

At LEP Digital we’re so excited to offer video content as part of our clients’ digital marketing and content strategies. We’ve established some seriously great relationships with talented production companies and freelancers and to offer our clients end-to-end production services. We also offer some production and editing services in-house. We oversee everything from script and storyboard development, to filming, talent direction and post-production services.

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If you want to make magic and drive even better engagement for your brand, get in contact today.