Why Customer Engagement is More Important Than Likes

When it comes to followers and likes, it's not just about the numbers.
March 14, 2012

Do you remember crushes in grade school when you passed notes asking classmates to check a yes/no box in response to whether or not they liked you?

While we’ve all matured in our personal lives, a lot of marketers are still using schoolyard approaches to attracting and sustaining relationships with their intended.

For example, through actions such as “Like-gating” exclusive content or downloads and refer-a-friend programs, we’re able to amass an enviable amount of “Likes”, followers or subscribers on social media platforms. This does increase awareness and improve campaign ROI, but it’s not just about the numbers.

Once you have the attention of your customers and prospects, you need to take the interaction to the next level to foster and cultivate longer-term customer relationships. This may at first sound a bit daunting when you realize that some campaigns can lead to tens or even hundreds of  “Likes” in a very short period of time. However, consider that we already know with any given campaign, online or offline, a certain percentage of responders don’t have any intention of revisiting your business beyond the initial discount or introductory offer. Now with social media, we have a clearer signs of who’s more likely to return, share your offer and become public proponents for your business based on their reactions to your campaigns.

Those two elements—“Liking” and sharing—are critical to campaign success, but to really see your efforts pay off, there’s another piece of the equation to consider. The next step is to find meaningful ways to engage those customers over the long term.

Just like attracting the attention of your intended can be fleeting, the same applies to fostering relationships with customers. When customers have more than one option for purchasing your goods and services, engagement is going to be the key differentiator.

So instead of solely counting numbers, focus on getting to know more about your target audience. Ask about their interests, learn what attracted them to your business and cultivate relationships based on their needs.

If it’s not possible to reach all or your customers individually, you can identify subgroups with similar interests and demographics and customize your communications to them. What you’ll create is a smaller yet more focused and responsive customer base. These are the communities that will carry your message to the masses and boost campaign results while reducing the costs of constantly trying to attract new customers.

While we can’t apply an ROI to those personal exchanges, there’s something far more qualitative in what we can learn from customer comments and word-of-mouth. Of course, metrics will always play a critical part in evaluating the success of marketing efforts. Yet it should be considered in the context of quality, quantity and level of engagement.

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