The term customer engagement (CE) covers various types of interactions and relationships between customers, brands and companies. CE can be described as the level of engagement a customer has with a brand or company. The engagement relates to cognitive, emotional and behavioral aspects that can be effective in the context of on-line media and can be measured under various circumstances. Strategies to increase customer engagement are aimed at strengthening customer relations in the long term. In this way, the promotion of customer engagement is also part of customer relationship management (CRM).
Against the backdrop of the development of the Internet, customer engagement is a social phenomenon that is fundamentally different from the engagement in over-the-counter retail. The experience that a customer has with a company in digital media, especially on the Social Web is critical to a high degree of customer interaction. At various touchpoints in the Customer Journey, customers not only access the internet as an information source, but also participate through the technologies available there.
Live chats, forums, communities, rating portals, or Social Networks provide customers with a wide range of contact opportunities. Companies that communicate on these channels are not only receiving feedback from customers in the sense of Customer Empowerment. They can also specifically control the customer interaction in order to generate relevant content, strategic company values, and useful interaction patterns. Customer Engagement is therefore focused on generating different values for the customer that are not targeted towards Conversions or sales.
A customer will pass through various stages from the first customer contact to a completed purchase. For example, they are informed about a product using a search engine. They click on a blog from a company that describes the product. If they read this post to the end, the amount of time spent on the website is correspondingly high, which constitutes a high commitment. The information needs of the customer are satisfied. They consume the information provided by the company.
If the user likes the blogpost for a variety of reasons (easily readable, understandable, attractive, helpful or useful), they will remember it. They may subscribe to the blog in hopes of finding more useful content. They have established a relationship with the company already at this stage and are much more engaged. They may now look at reviews and recommendations to include other customer opinions in their purchase decision. The engagement of existing customers in the form of reviews thus has an indirect influence on future purchase decisions of potential customers. The different stages of the customer journey are important in measuring customer engagement and to determine where they had their first contact with the company.
Customer engagement is often described as the future of online marketing. The connecting of complex topics such as psychology, marketing, and web analysis pose a bit of a problem. Since a high CE is a result of the interaction of these topics, an interdisciplinary or holistic approach is particularly important.
In online media, the customer journey can be designed with different means and tools, but an emotional connection does not necessarily result. Therefore, strategic, communicative, and cognitive aspects should not be neglected. This means that CE is highly dependent on what a company stands for, how it communicates, and how it is perceived by customers, even in an ethical sense. Only when these diverse aspects interrelate will high customer engagement, high customer loyalty, more customer dialogue and a high customer lifecycle result.