To stay relevant, we come up with ways to get our prospects’ attention. We find innovative hacks to stand out. We fight our way to seize our prospects’ momentarily attention — then what?
We engage our prospects with a thoughtful message and a call-to-action, hoping to build trust and move them closer to buying our products. While such one-size-fits-all approach is efficient, it’s not very effective.
We can all agree that personalized engagement is better. The problem is the difficulty to execute such a complex and customized task at scale. In this article, we will walk you through on how to put in place a systematic approach to achieve personalized engagement.
Control Your Customer Journey
To address the variety of customized engagement at scale, you start by controlling your customer’s journey with pre-defined customer segments, nurture flow, and curated content. You likely need a marketing automation tool to manage this process.
What is it?
A group of customers that share the same key discriminating characteristics, enabling you to engage them with similar messages and value proposition. (Read more from our customer segmentation article)
Why is it important?
You need to prioritize your resources to focus on engaging your most important customer segments.
Nurture Flow by Segment:
What is it?
A typical customer buying cycle is a series of customer sentiments for your product, including awareness, consideration, purchase, and retention. A nurture-flow is the engagement workflow designed to move your prospects through the buying cycles. You should develop the nurture-flow for each customer segment based on its discriminating characteristics.
Understand your customers’ expectations, preferences, and goals. Anticipate their concerns and needs in different phases. Establish a workflow to consistently engage your customers with the proper channel and message.
Why is it important?
Your nurture flow is your guide to engaging your prospects or customers at any given time and circumstance.
What is it?
Your content is everything that reflects your business in each interaction, including images, texts, voices, videos, offerings, etc. You develop a library of curated content in advance to engage your customers. Examples of curated content are email templates, brochures, proposals, articles, etc.
“Content is the entire user experience.” – Kristina Halvorson, CEO of Brain Traffic.
Why is it important?
To engage customers efficiently and effectively, you can’t afford to create new content on the ad-hoc basis. You need to have well-thought-out content that can be used to target customers under any circumstances.
By having well-defined customer segments, nurture flow, and curated content, you can start to control the entire customer experience with highly targeted engagement that eases specific concerns, builds trusts, and moves them closer to the purchasing decision.
Develop Customer Insights
The marketing automation tools today can automate some degree of customer engagement through digital format (e-mail, social media, etc.). But, much of the personalized engagement still rely on sales to initiate contact and interaction. Before these engagements, you need to assess your customer for specific signals, and you do that by the combination of the following:
- Experience: Interpreting the data based on experience, logic, likelihood, trend, etc.
- Pattern Recognition: Analyzing the data against historical patterns (by person or software)
- Trial and Error: Learning through repeated testing
The customer insights should give you a sense of your customers’ likely concerns and where they are situated on the buying cycles. This allows you to determine which curated content to use to best engage the customer at that given moment.
The biggest challenge in personalized engagement is how to scale it with limited resources. By developing the pre-defined nurture flows and curated contents, you create a process to reduce the time wasted in decision making and coming up with new contents. As a result, you can react to customer signals with a timely and targeted response.
It takes time to develop the sophistication and effectiveness of such engagement system. You start by focusing on your most important customer segment and critical activities. Over time, you want to develop the breadth and depth of your curated content that enables you to respond to all kinds of circumstances across engagement channels.
This approach helps you stay organized on engagement activities, but it’s still only a framework that may not accommodate all customer interactions. You should still be attentive to your customers’ needs and adjust your engagement as necessary. A genuine attitude of caring for your customers still goes a long way.
Measure and Refine
While developing your customer segments, nurture flow, and curated content, you inevitably make many assumptions in the face of uncertainties. Not all assumptions are correct, and that’s why it’s important to have the mechanism to measure your outcome and revised any assumptions if necessary.
The following is an example of the process to measure and refine:
- Identify a set of key metrics to measure the success of your engagement. Identify areas that need improvement (e.g., email conversion rate).
- Evaluate the nurture-flow and curated content. Hypothesize an explanation for under-performance.
- Develop an alternative nurture flow or content to test your hypothesis.
- Randomly test both versions in customer engagement at equal frequency. Measure and compare the results. Make sure you have enough data to show statistical significance.
- Update any changes for improved performance.
You want to develop a refinement process that continuously tests for a better channel, message, content, or nurture flow.
To personalize customer engagement at scale requires a lot of effort and planning. You need to develop the capability to respond to customer signals quickly with the appropriate engagement. By establishing a systematic plan and a library of curated content, you can evaluate the circumstance efficiently and engage your customers in a personalized and targeted fashion.
As the products and technologies in your industry evolve, your customers evolve to develop new expectations and preferences. Therefore, engagement marketing is a work-in-progress endeavor that needs to change and adapt accordingly to stay relevant and effective. As the scope grows, it can be worthwhile to have a dedicated team to research, develop, launch, and implement the iterations of curated content for customer engagement.