Many of today’s most successful companies focus on engaging their customers by positioning their brands and products in their lives rather than by concentrating just on the classic advertising and selling model. With this shift, marketing initiatives change and customer engagement KPIs move to the forefront.
What is customer engagement?
Customer engagement focuses on regular interactions, communications or any other means of creating a relationship between an organisation and its customers. An engaged relationship can take lots of different forms and can include, among many other things:
It should be clear that customer engagement for one company might be something completely different to another. It is therefore important for all marketers to determine the role of customer engagement in their organisations and then define what an engaged customer means in that context, before they consider any KPIs.
Remember, if customer engagement is not part of your strategy or business model, then you don’t have to worry about measuring it. I see too many companies measuring and reporting on KPIs that are not aligned with their strategic priorities.
Before you measure anything, define your customer engagement goals
Just like you must define what customer engagement looks like for your organisation, you must also determine your customer engagement goals so you know which indicators are important for what you’re trying to achieve.
Perhaps you determine that the amount of time individuals spend interacting with your brand is paramount; therefore, rather than just track the number of people that interact with your brand, you’d want to measure the amount of time they spend with your brand across all channels and initiatives.
How do you measure customer engagement?
Here are a few key ways many of the brands I work with end up measuring customer engagement.
Social media likes, comments and shares: Every social media platform offers engagement touchpoints. You can measure the number of likes and review the comments people give your brand on Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Instagram; individuals are engaging with your brand when they reply to you on Twitter or indicate your tweet is a favourite. When individuals share your posts on any social media platform, that is another method of engagement. Most of the social media platforms make it easy for you to monitor likes, comments and shares via dashboard and analysis tools.
Reviews and comments: The online reviews and comments—positive and negative—your organisation receives can be incredibly important to monitor and track. When individuals engage with your brand in this way, they offer you tremendous insight into what you’re doing well and what you could do better—in their own words. There are many tools that allow you to track comments and even monitor the sentiment of comments automatically.
Events: Not only does Red Bull create content and ads in support of its brand of an energy drink to help you live an exciting and adventurous life, it also stages events that appeal to that target audience such as its Flugtag events where individuals build homemade flying structures that they launch off piers around the world. By creating experiences that are appealing to its target market, Red Bull and other organisations like them use experience marketing as an important way to engage with their customers. It is usually pretty straight forward to measure the number of people that take part in or visit events.
Engaging with content (blogs, podcasts, downloads, videos): You can easily track returning visitors and duration of visits to your blogs, the number of downloads of your podcasts and the views of your videos. For example, Red Bull produces great videos about their events and then puts them on YouTube to amplify their event’s engagement to viewers who can experience it vicariously through the video.
App or device use: Another way to engage with customers is to track how often they use one of your apps. For example, Weight Watches might track how regular their customers interact with their smart phone app while Fitbit might measure how often people check their fitness tracker devices to check their steps or calorie consumption. With the stratospheric rise in connected, or so called Internet of Things devices, our ability to track customer engagement in the physical world increases every day.
Website engagement: There are many engagement measurements for a website that most organisations will track including time on site, subscriptions, repeat visitors and bounce rate. Again, interpreting these metrics has to be done in the context of your organisation and its goals. A short time on site and a high bounce rate could indicate that your website is optimised to give repeat visitors what they need in a quick and easy way, or it could indicate that you are failing to engage customers if your goal is to increase the time they spend participating in an online community.
In summary, if customer engagement matters to your business, then it is important for you to develop ways to measure it. Many companies will measure their customer engagement using a number of these measures, if not all of them.
Bernard Marr is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, and advisor to companies and governments. He has worked with and advised many of the world's best-known organisations. LinkedIn has recently ranked Bernard as one of the top 10 Business Influencers in the world (in fact, No 5 - just behind Bill Gates and Richard Branson). He writes on the topics of intelligent business performance for various publications including Forbes, HuffPost, and LinkedIn Pulse. His blogs and SlideShare presentation have millions of readers.