The 12 Best Customer Engagement Ideas (+Examples)
- Matthew Turner
Updated by Tara Malone
As a business owner or marketer, you likely spend a lot of time thinking about lead generation.
But how much time do you spend nurturing the customers you already have?
Research shows it’s six times more expensive to acquire a new customer than engage with existing ones. You’re also fourteen times more likely to sell to an existing customer than a new one.
Effective customer engagement strategies can help you make the most of your relationship with existing customers. They can also provide you with many benefits, including higher conversions, lower churn rates, and more referrals.
And they also help you build the kind of business your customers rave about!
In this article, we’ll share 12 customer engagement ideas to help you build a loyal tribe of customers. We’ll also share examples of other businesses WOWing their customers with unique and memorable experiences.
Let’s get started!
What is Customer Engagement?
Customer engagement is how your customers interact and engage with you. As a business owner, it’s crucial to consciously build the right customer engagement strategies.
If you don’t, you risk falling behind your competitors and turning once happy customers into unhappy ones. Or worse, indifferent ones.
The good news for you is…the bar is set low!
Most businesses focus on lead generation, sales funnels, and how to make more money. This creates an opportunity for YOU to build a memorable experience your customers will treasure.
By using the customer engagement ideas we discuss in this article, you can do what most of your competitors aren’t even aware of.
The 12 Best Customer Engagement Ideas
Here are 12 of the best customer engagement ideas that you can use to win over your existing audience. As you read through these ideas, remember that you don’t have to try all of them. Using just two or three of these customer engagement ideas will set you apart from most competitors.
1. Build a Complete Customer Experience
Good customer engagement doesn’t just exist inside a marketing funnel, over the phone, or through the occasional survey or lead quiz.
Great customer engagement strategies focus on the big picture. It’s about the WHOLE experience your customer goes through. It’s about how they interact with you, and how you interact with them.
It has to involve multiple touchpoints across multiple channels, occurring often so you remain top of mind, relevant, and valuable!
Scott Oldford discusses this strategy in his ROI Method (here’s an article from Danny Iny, diving deep into Scott’s core method). The ROI Method itself is rather simple, based on:
Instead of creating a single marketing funnel that tries to speak to everyone, you create different Nurturing Funnels for those on different stages of their journey (Sidewalk > Slow Lane > Fast Lane).
This doesn’t stop at email. Your Email Funnel is just the beginning. You also need to engage customers in your:
- Content Marketing
- Videos and Podcasts
- Micro Content (social media)
- Online Ads (specifically, retargeting ads)
- PR and Media Features
Yet the point of all this content isn’t to sell or even bring in new leads (at least, not always), but rather to provide value and show up in front of the “right” people.
With this approach, you build immense trust with your existing audience.
You don’t just sell to them, but nurture them and create a lasting impression.
This, quite simply, is the heart and soul behind all customer engagement ideas.
Your customers want to know you care.
Well, if you only show up when you need them to buy, how can they?
Be present, with value.
Show up, often.
Focus on them, always.
It doesn’t matter what other customer engagement ideas you use from this list, without this first one you’ll struggle to stand out for the right reasons.
If you don’t have the time or expertise to do it yourself, hire someone. There are plenty of marketplaces that will let you find and hire an expert freelancer or agency to assist you.
Suggested Further Reading:
- How to Become the Coca-Cola of Your Industry Practically Overnight
- The Definition of Omni-Channel Marketing – Plus 7 Tips
- 15 Examples of Brands With Brilliant Omni-Channel Experiences
2. Personalize Customer Communications and Outreach
It’s easier than ever to personalize your customer communications.
Through email, text, ads, and content…you can personalize what you send based on their:
- Past experiences/actions
- Time of day, week, or month
- Interests and desires…
Data is big business these days. The reason is, the better the data is, the better you can personalize your marketing, sales and customer engagement strategies.
But you already know this.
And you already personalize your communication, right?
You add their name to the emails you send, segment your customers based on what they buy, and share specific content based on their interests.
The problem is, this is no longer enough. It’s the baseline that everyone does.
To go beyond and make your customer engagement stand out, you must go deeper. Not necessarily into the data, but rather to commit fully to making it about them!
This takes personalization beyond adding their name to an email.
It involves knowing who your customer truly is, and personalizing the entire experience.
3. Reward Customers For Loyalty and Engagement
Have you given someone a gift where you spent a lot of time investing in it?
- Maybe it was a Christmas present for your partner?
- A special birthday gift for a friend or family member?
- Something for a client that you knew they would love?
How did it feel when you gave it to them? The look on their face…how was it?
People love gifts and rewards.
Not just because of the gift they receive, but because they know the person giving it to them cares.
They appreciate the time, thought, and care placed into it. It doesn’t feel like a token gesture.
You can replicate the same feeling with your customers. You could do the bare minimum like send an eCard on their birthday with a 10% discount.
Or you could, as Dan and Chip Heath describe in their book ‘The Power of Moments’, create a lasting, memorable, powerful moment. This might be:
- Special access to a new product before anyone else
- A gift on their birthday (something they will actually use and like)
- A congratulatory message when their daughter graduates college
- Donating to their charity of choice in the lead up to their marathon
- Even just a stamp, reward, or points for each time they buy from you (or engage)
Reward their loyalty. It doesn’t have to be a big gesture. Once more, the bar is set low. Most businesses DO NOT do this. They’re so busy selling to them that they forget to reward them, to say thank you.
A good example of this comes from Starbucks.
For each coffee you buy, you’re rewarded. Before long, you get a free coffee.
You also get:
- Special promotions
- Unique vouchers
- Themed gifts (i.e. around Christmas)
- Special messages
People often go to the same coffee shop for this reason. They want the reward.
So, how can you reward your customers so they want to come back again and again?
4. Leverage Social Media
We live in a social world driven by social media.
Your customers turn to social media for many reasons.
They might want to:
- Contact customer service
- Research something
- Escape their life for a few moments
- Share their feelings
Most businesses use social media for two reasons:
- Customer Service
It’s important to use social media for these reasons.
Yet it also offers a great opportunity for customer engagement ideas.
Take this example from Morton’s Steakhouse.
An influencer in the ”steak” world, Peter Shankman has 150,000+ followers. I imagine this tweet was in jest, yet Mortons took it as an opportunity to create a memorable moment for Shankman.
When he landed, they were there with a Porterhouse steak, order of shrimp, potatoes, bread and silverware. Mortons used social media to listen to their customer and do something memorable for him.
Another business that uses social media in this way is Wendy’s (especially their Twitter feed).
Renowned for engaging with their customers in funny and unusual ways, Wendy’s became part of a world record attempt when Carter Wilkinson asked how many retweets it would take to get a year’s supply of chicken nuggets.
The tweet went viral and Wendy’s received huge amounts of press.
Whether you use social media in a funny, serious, or emotional manner, the point is to go beyond simple marketing and customer service. It’s one of the best ways to create lasting customer engagement.
As Wendy’s and Morton’s Steakhouse prove, there’s limitless potential.
5. Encourage Customer Testimonials
One of the most important aspects of any customer engagement strategy is to gather their feedback and testimonials.
There are many ways to do this:
- Feedback forms
- Review sites
Depending on your product, a simple ask may be enough. Amazon has created a massive platform of customer reviews and social proof, simply by asking you to review the product (via the site and email).
Yet asking isn’t always enough.
Sometimes you need to go beyond this by making it about THEM!
- How can you reward them for their testimonial?
- What do they get out of it?
- Can you make it fun, enjoyable, and seamless?
It’s obvious what you get out of their testimonial…
Yet what do they get out of it?
The best customer engagement strategies take this into account.
They also commit to action which means asking for a testimonial isn’t even necessary.
Take Warby Parker for example…
By committing themselves to remarkable customer engagement and service, Warby Parker received one of the best testimonials you’ll ever see. Not only do they gain a customer for life, but this single screenshot will likely inspire others to become customers too.
Oftentimes the best customer engagement ideas don’t come from long strategy sessions, but rather committing yourself to do the right thing each day, no matter what.
6. Create Value-Driven Content
One of the best forms of customer engagement is to provide content they NEED.
- Provides value
- Solves a pain
- Offers a solution
- Helps them feel that they’re not alone!
Not only does content like this fill your Nurture Funnel, but it helps you learn a lot about your customers.
A good place to start with value-driven content is the FAQ Page. Most websites have an FAQ page based on their most common questions. Yet few provide more than a couple of lines of text.
This is an opportunity for you to create relevant, engaging content that your customers need right now.
Buffer provides a good example of this.
Each main section houses several articles that go into the question in-depth.
Get creative with this. Use screenshots, videos, live demos, anything that provides your customers with the valuable content they need!
Home Depot achieves this with their “How To” video collection.
Although these “how-to” videos promote Home Depot’s many products, they first and foremost provide their customers with value.
From videos that show you how to clean a washing machine to growing asparagus, it’s a great example of value-driven content that enhances the customer engagement experience.
7. Create an Omnichannel Customer Service System
This is one of those customer engagement ideas where most businesses do the minimum. Few go above and beyond. Yet it’s one of the customer engagement ideas that can have the biggest impact on both you and your customers.
- Social Media
- Chat Bots
- Email Form/Address
- Live Chat
- Call Back Service
- Product Demos
- Text Message Service
- Video Call
- In-Person Hotspot
Your aim should be to create an Omnichannel Customer Service System that gives your customers what they need when they need it.
Each customer is different. Each situation is, too.
Sometimes they will want to send an email. The next time, they may want to speak to you over the phone. Sometimes they don’t have the time to do that, so arranging a “Call Back” is most useful.
The best customer service is the one they NEED NOW.
Don’t push the same one or two options on everyone.
Provide an omnichannel experience and allow your customers to choose the best method for them.
8. Encourage Collaboration
Do you see your customers as people that are a part of your business?
- Are they part of your team, in the same way that your team is?
- Do you treat them the same way as you do investors and suppliers?
- Do you communicate with your existing customers like you do potential new ones?
Most businesses, most of the time, do not.
Involve your customers. Invite them into your story. Give them a chance to be part of your team. WordPress is an excellent example to follow.
They empower their Power Users to become moderators inside their private forums, which are used by customers for troubleshooting, customer service, and advice.
These moderators take ownership of certain forums, clean up spam, engage users, and offer practical help. They play a huge role in WordPress’s team even though they aren’t an official team member.
It’s a collaboration between the business and their most loyal, experienced customers.
There are many ways to achieve this kind of customer engagement:
- Unique customer-led projects (IKEA)
- Case study articles, videos, and films (Zendesk)
- Referral programs and partnerships (ClickFunnels)
One of the best customer engagement ideas is to partner with your customers.
Not only do they give you unique insights, but doing so builds massive trust and rapport.
It isn’t you vs. them.
It is you AND them, together!
9. Collect Customer Feedback
One of the best customer engagement ideas you’ll ever implement is a process that regularly collects customer feedback.
Not only does it help engage them on a deeper level, but it potentially fuels your product development.
Go to the source. Find out what your customers think, want, and need.
Especially if they’re a new customer, their first impressions can offer you unique insight.
Above all, it creates a direct line of communication between you and them. This is the sole purpose of good customer engagement. It shows that you’re listening and helps your customers feel important.
However, this relies on you actually listening to what they say.
Collecting feedback cannot just be a marketing exercise that fuels social proof.
You need to listen to what they say, act on it and improve their customer experience.
The eCommerce industry offers many great examples of this. Collecting customer feedback and reviews plays a large part in their process. Yet the best examples are those that make it a WIN for the customer.
Both platforms encourage their customers to leave feedback and reviews. Yet what makes these different from most businesses is that their hosts and drivers also “review” their customers.
As a customer, the higher your rating, the greater choice you have.
Leaving feedback is an important part of the whole process, engaging customers and hosts alike.
When it comes to Customer Engagement Strategies, Uber and Airbnb are worth studying.
10. Nurture Those Who Sign Up For a Free Trial
This customer engagement idea is more relevant to some businesses than others. If you run a Saas company you’ll almost certainly offer some form of Free Trial (or discount). Yet even if you don’t offer a Free Trial, chances are you provide:
- Free Guides
- Lead Magnets
- PDF Workbooks
- Free Online Course
- Training Videos
The point here is that you’ve engaged a new customer (at least, a potential new customer). Yet you haven’t gained their trust yet. They’re likely on the fence about taking the next step with you.
Most businesses in this situation place their potential new customer into a Leads Sales Funnel.
Yet wouldn’t it be better to nurture this new person with valuable content and HELP?
Through nurture funnels and omnichannel marketing, you can build trust and rapport. Because they’ve signed up for a Free Trial, they’re clearly aware of the pain they need to solve.
They think you can solve it, but they may not be sure just yet.
Prove to them you are by providing VALUE!
Asana is a great example of this…
When you sign up for a Free Trial, you’re nurtured throughout the process. The opportunity to purchase is always available (though soft-sell call to actions), yet the primary focus is on value to you.
For example, they:
- highlight their core features
- provide video demos of how to use them
- collect feedback and are available to answer questions
- offer training, case studies, and examples
Asana’s focus during your Trial Period is to help you use their platform.
It’s a great example of customer engagement because it places focus on you.
11. Create a “Hub” for Your Customer
One of the best customer engagement strategies you’ll see is when a business creates a community.
Instead of keeping the conversation between you and them, provide a platform so your customers can connect with one another.
- A FORUM — like WordPress provides their community
- A SLACK CHANNEL — like Buffer offers their customers
- A PRIVATE APP — like Salesforce gives to its customers
- A PRIVATE FACEBOOK GROUP — like Thinkific offers their course creators
It’s easier than ever to create a private community that only your customers get access to. Not only does a community like this breed feedback and testimonials, but it brings together your customers.
A community lets your customers:
- Share ideas
- Collaborate with one another
- Help one another
Being part of a strong community creates greater loyalty. We’re a social species. By giving your customers a place to feel at home, you’ll increase your customer engagement.
No matter what industry you’re in, you have the opportunity to create a community like this.
Give your customers a “hub” where you introduce them to other like-minded people.
12. Share Your Story and Be Human!
The final one of these customer engagement ideas brings the focus back to YOU.
Share your story.
Invite your customers into your journey.
Storytelling’s one of the best forms of customer engagement. As humans, we trust stories. We learn from them and let down our barriers. By being human, transparent and sharing your own story, you invite them to engage.
- Social media
- Email marketing and funnel
- Online advertising
- Content marketing
- Your website
- Each customer touchpoint (email, phone, feedback)
Share your story. Be human. Invite them into your world and they may invite you into theirs.
Customer Engagement Ideas: Which Ones Will You Use?
In time, you may use all of these customer engagement ideas. Right now, you may only need one or two. Whatever you choose to do next, you’re sure to set yourself apart from your competitors.
Everyone else focuses on lead generation and sales. They provide their customers with value but then move onto the next one. By creating a customer engagement strategy, you’re more likely to reduce churn rates and improve conversions.
Customer engagement strategies make good business sense. Yet, beyond the numbers, it helps you have a greater impact on those you serve.
So which customer engagement ideas will you use?
If you’d like further help igniting your own customer engagement ideas, you may like to read ENGAGEMENT FROM SCRATCH: a book with insights from 30 of the world’s most successful audience- and community-builders to turn your internet business into a true audience business. Download your Free Copy of This Book Here.