When it comes to retaining customers and strengthening brand loyalty, increasing customer engagement is a critical goal.
And, as 54% of consumers think that businesses need to change how they engage with customers, there’s clearly room for improvement in this area.
So how do you make sure your customers are enjoying the best experiences and interactions you have to offer?
What are the best ways to elevate and increase customer engagement?
In this article, we'll take a look at what the experts have to say.
We'll provide valuable insights from 25 marketers, brand strategists, and consultants on how to increase customer engagement.
How to increase customer engagement
Let's dive into the top tactics for increasing customer engagement - straight from the experts themselves.
1. Erin Blaskie, CMO & Marketing Advisor
When it comes to increasing customer engagement, I have two ways that have worked really well for me in the past.
The first is to leverage social media to surprise and delight existing customers.
Social platforms can be such a negative place, so infusing it with positivity for your customers is always well received.
The second thing that's worked well in the past is to celebrate new feature/product releases online with your customers.
You can use YouTube Premiere or live streaming to showcase the news and engage your customers in a chat.
Consider giving away some swag or featuring your customers in the event to make the experience even more engaging.
2. Christina Garnett, Senior Marketing Manager, Offline Community & Advocacy at Hubspot
People share their opinions and feelings about things all the time but they only share that with brands when they think they'll be heard.
If you want customers to engage with your content, you need to show that you see when they engage.
If someone responds to your content, talk to them. Have a conversation. Acknowledge that you see their complaints AND their fan love.
Most teams spend all of their energy on complaints and ignore their fans. This conditions your audience to see they're only heard when they are angry.
Foster the online engagement you want to see. Be supportive, appreciative, and caring to your customers.
Feeling heard and appreciated fosters loyalty and future engagement.
3. Lena Sernoff, Google alumni & Content Marketing Blogger at Wix
One of my tips for increasing digital customer engagement is through maximizing your social media marketing efforts.
I recommend leveraging user-generated content, running contests and giveaways and commenting, sharing and liking user’s content.
Make sure you’re using all the latest features and jump on trends that are happening on a given channel.
An example is to use Instagram polls, question stickers and quizzes on your Instagram Story.
All of these are opportunities for customers to engage with your content and brand in an authentic, engaging way.
4. Janet Machuka, Digital Marketing Strategist & Trainer
If you know how to use User Generated Content (UGC), it most definitely will create an upward spiral of increased customer engagement and more social media followers.
Nine out of ten online consumers trust organic UGC way more than they trust traditional advertising methods and posts.
So in other words, your social media audience would rather hear from your existing customers instead of you.
Additionally, having almost perfect social media customer support is a plus.
Customers love engaging and being associated with brands that respond quickly and speak their language.
5. Lauren Dudley, Founder & Director of Auxo Creative
Being personable, and having a cause - the two top tips I would scream about until I’m blue in the face.
Be about more than just your products. Nowadays, consumers don’t care just about the quality of your product, they demand to know who you are and what you stand for.
Cone Comm’s "Gen Z Purpose Study" found that 90% of Gen Z believe companies must act to help social and environmental issues.
There’s a tonne of studies out there that reflect the same feelings from various consumer groups - no matter your age, gender, political beliefs, the trend of demanding a wider purpose stands strong.Creating a personal connection is just as important, and long term effects are pretty much guaranteed if you do.
Whether it’s a physical in-person approach or digitally so, let consumers know you and your team are people, just as much as you are a brand.
6. Shana Browne, Founder & CEO at Magnolia Heat Creative
I abide by two principles when working to increase customer engagement.
Be the first to reach out, and authenticity attracts authenticity.
My genuine interest in building relationships opens the door to making connections and building engagement. Works every time!
7. Liz Beechinor, Marketing Agency Owne
I think people tend to focus on content first when trying to increase customer engagement, instead of first taking a deep look at their audience to understand what they want.
If someone doesn't have buyer personas, they should start there to understand the challenges, motivations and interests of their audience.
Crafting engaging content and messaging will be much easier when you truly know your customers.
8. Kaleigh Moore, Freelance Writer for eCommerce & SaaS
I think one of the best ways to increase customer engagement is by "reading the room."
Not being afraid to get creative with meme culture and GIFs on social media is a great way to break down the walls between brands and customers (when done well).
For example, BarkBox does a really good job of this.
9. Emma Foote, Chief Customer Advocate at Advocitude
Customer engagement for me really starts with creating a real sense of community.
Wherever that might sit: social, a purpose built community, or your website.
If you want customers to engage with your content then they need to feel like they own it and contributed to it.
Everyone loves to be asked for their expert opinion.
If you can move beyond just seeking engagement by likes, and move towards driving engagement by seeking contributions and sharing within your community, you're onto a winner.
Of course, being an advocacy expert I am going to say you should drive this by having a customer advocacy programme in place.
That way, you'll be able to keep track and work with your advocates more effectively.
10. Nia Gyant, Freelance Writer
Unlike other tactics that drum up engagement only when you use them, rewarding customer engagement promotes additional customer interaction both now and into the future.
Make it a daily priority to respond to feedback, spotlight user-generated content, and otherwise acknowledge the actions your customers take.
11. Natalie Furness, Hubspot Consultant & Growth Marketing Strategist at Niam Marketing
Be social on social media.
Comment on tweets and thank people who choose to follow you.
When posting, share value with your audience. Teach them something. Inspire them. Make them laugh.
People follow social media accounts that make them feel good.
12. Matt Thomas, Online Entrepreneur & Marketing Consultant at Insider Secrets
I think where most businesses drop the ball is by not taking advantage of the natural opportunities to participate in social media discussions about their product or service.
This is especially true when the discussion involves criticism.
And even worse, often when they do participate, it's the same canned outreach script.
By engaging the critic, you not only have the opportunity to show that you're on top of your customer engagement game, you also get the chance to create a positive brand impression in the minds of countless other potential customers.
13. Amy Sliger, Senior Creative Marketer at Pastel Pixel
My top tip for increasing customer engagement is to stop worrying about jumping on the latest fad or bandwagon and hone in on your customers' wants, needs, pain points, and preferences.
Focus on spaces where your audience naturally lives and deliver relevant, valuable content they actually want.
Which social platforms are they active on? Which topics are they interested in?
What are they posting, sharing, commenting on, and liking? What conversations are they having? What problems are they experiencing?
Delivering interesting, customer-centric content in your audience's natural habitat will go a long way towards increasing customer engagement.
14. Medya Gungor, Account Executive at Truffle Social
Before you do anything, listen to the issues that are important to your customers so that, as a brand, you find your relevant place in the conversation.
Don't make customer engagement about you, make it about them.
Engage with customers on a personal level and use your platform to elevate their communities. Then, let them come to you.
15. Christina Donati, Content Marketer at Octane AI
Think about how you engage with customers online — it's through content.
And I don't just mean building out a blog. Content is found everywhere: from social media, to email, SMS and even the ads you create are all different forms of content.
You should be creating a cross-channel content experience on the platforms that engage your audience the most.
Another popular engagement tool that's been driving a lot of success for brands this year is an online quiz.
Plus, when quizzes are built with data collection as a priority, you can capture a customer's likes, dislikes, preferences, demographics, contact information and more personal data.
This gives you a full profile of who your customers are, which can be leveraged to create personalized campaigns on email, SMS and ads, and even inform the other content you create for your customers.
16. Magnus Hvidtfeldt, Branding & Visual Communication Consultant
My best tip for engaging new online customers is to build an audience by sharing your journey on building your project.
This will create authenticity and provide something the audience can follow and get behind.
17. Logan Thompson, Digital Marketing Consultant & Director of Marketing at Dropified
For most SaaS based companies, I always suggest building communities that users can join as soon as they sign up to your service where they can learn from others and engage with your brand.
Segment your users into different communities (I still love using Facebook groups for this but you can use whatever works for your customers) based on plans or where they are in their customer journey.
That way, your customers feel like they are exactly where they belong.
As they move along their journey with you, funnel them to other higher tier communities so they will keep engaged without outgrowing the community.
18. Shwathi Srinivasan, Social Media Marketer at Kiez Digital
When it comes to building customer engagement, you're looking at long-term strategies that develop an unparalleled customer experience.
Be personal, develop a sense of humour, show the human side of the brand.
People want to connect with people.
19. Steven Macdonald, Founder at Kingspoint
The best way to increase online customer engagement is to be yourself.
As a company, ask yourself: who are you and what values do you follow?
Earning attention and building trust from customers takes time and patience. That means there’s no single tactic or “hack” you can implement to win customer engagement.
Tactics and hacks are short-term strategies. Creating a loyal following that supports you is long-term.
So, if you aren’t being true to yourself in who you are and how you help people, you’re going to find it incredibly difficult to last more than 6-12 months.
Focus on being you and the right audience will engage with you every single time.
20. Michelle Garrett, PR Consultant
To increase customer engagement, be accessible to your customers through social media.
Social listening can help you monitor for customer comments so you can respond - and you should always respond whether they're good or bad.
21. John Ozuysal, Head of Growth at User Guiding
The best thing you can do is to give a great first impression and wow your customers.
If you can give a great first impression, your customers will be more likely to engage with you.
You do that by having a superb user onboarding process, where you help your customers to get the most value out of your product.
If you know what they are trying to achieve with your product, and you help them to get there faster by onboarding them properly, then you’ll have the customer engagement you want.
22. Lindsey Hancock, Social Media Strategist at Brand Vixen
The key is to be authentic. Avoid canned responses at all costs.
If your brand is playful but your responses are dry and robotic, you create an immediate disconnect.
Translate your brand voice to social. If you do it right, it takes on a life of its own –– a “person” your audience can relate to.
When you start getting comments like, “I want to be bffs with the smm in real life,” you’re on the right track.
23. Brianne Fleming, Consultant & Marketing Instructor at the University of Florida
Ask your audience questions on social media, but make it easy on them to answer.
This can be done by asking your audience to choose “this or that”, fill in the blank, or select from a numbered list or poll.
By giving options for the answers and making the questions less open-ended, you’ll have a better chance of disrupting your audience’s scroll.
This will allow them to quickly respond and boost your engagement.
24. Haley Fraser, Senior Content Marketing Manager at Pixlee
Go where your customers already are and join the conversation in an authentic and value-added way.
If you're not sure where your customers are already engaging, social listening or UGC platforms can help identify where these passionate customers are.
Show up authentically and most importantly, show that your brand is listening to customers already engaging.
Listen, respond, and champion super-engaged customers to build out the trifecta of online engagement with your customers.
25. Ashley Ashbee, Marketing Consultant at Ashley Ashbee Communications
First, create a profile of problems your customers experience in their business or personal lives.
Then, use this profile to create online content with information that solves those problems: tutorials, how-to's, ideas, example images, etc. and post them to your social media.
When you are helpful and build rapport, there's a good chance a lot of people will respond with questions, gratitude, likes and shares.
This also gives you resources you can have your message bot offer in response to certain questions.
So there we have it. We hope that the above tactics from the experts will help you take your customer engagement to the next level.
To make it easier for you to apply these strategies, here are 10 key takeaways to bear in mind:
Question your company’s values and what your brand stands for.
Take a deep look at your audience and create buyer personas.
Use an omnichannel customer experience to speak to your audience.
Leverage social media, not only for interactions but for surprise and delight. Customer experience is about more than great service.
Share your journey on social media. Wins and successes allow customers an insight into the people behind the brand.
Use social listening tools to engage with complimentary and critical posts alike.
Create customer advocates by inviting customers to share their own use of your products and services.
Encourage User Generated Content. Even social shares and testimonials are extremely effective.
Focus on long term growth by being true to you, rather than trying to hack the process.
Remember to have fun and be personable. People want to connect with people. If you’re consistent, your audience will find you.
With the advice and insights provided in this article, you'll be armed with a valuable toolkit to elevate customer engagement.