Engagement isn’t just another marketing buzzword — it’s the difference between challenger brands that soar and ones that don’t. Fully engaged customers are 23% more likely to spend money with brands than average customers. However, customer engagement is hard to define and even harder to quantify. That makes it challenging for brands to know what they’re doing wrong (or right) and what they could be doing better.

Engagement includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • Interacting with digital properties — commenting, liking, sharing, clicking
  • Purchasing from a brand
  • Writing reviews or promoting a brand online
  • Visiting a brand’s stores, online and off
  • Talking to people about a brand

And that’s just a very brief list. Let’s go over a few ways to increase customer engagement.

Keep Your Promises

A brand promise is precisely what it sounds like — any implicit or explicit declaration that a brand will do something for their customers. These promises are often related to the product and what it can do for consumers, but they can go much further than that. Some examples might be:

  • “Our products are made using sustainable materials and processes.”
  • “Our products are the most reliable in the industry.”
  • “We believe in safeguarding our customers’ data.”
  • “Full satisfaction or your money back.”
  • “We will build a community based on diversity and inclusion.”

Building engagement means understanding what promises your brand is making to customers and keeping them. Unfortunately, that kind of trust-building is in short supply — only 34% of consumers say they trust most of the brands they purchase from.

To inspire customer trust, don’t make vague and implied promises. For a compelling (and reasonable) promise, make sure that you:

  • Focus on your inherent strengths and values as a brand. If you already have loyal customers, ask for their feedback so you can uncover what your brand does best. You can’t go wrong building your brand promise around what people already respect you for. 
  • Communicate your brand promise to your company. This is to ensure accountability and to align team goals. 

Also, consider putting together a brand promise bible: A single source of truth that enumerates the brand’s values and ideals in a way that links them to customer expectations and actions. 

Keep Messaging Consistent

It’s impossible to be everything to everyone. Brands need to identify their core messaging and keep it consistent and precise in every communication with customers. Walmart, for example, has an exceptional set of brand guidelines to make sure that every time they communicate with a customer, the Walmart voice comes through.

Brands need to create a set of guidelines to ensure this consistency of messaging. Building trust requires that customers understand how a brand will respond to them in every situation. When companies know and trust a brand, they’re more likely to purchase from them and are more likely to engage.

To make sure your messaging is consistent across all channels, follow these tips:

  • Provide employee access to your logo and design elements. 
  • Keep your brand’s tone and personality consistent across channels.
  • Develop a sales playbook with the sales team.

Set Communication Expectations

According to the Direct Marketing Association, 87% of executives believe that a contact frequency rule needs to be implemented in their organizations. The problem arises when it comes time to pick the frequency. Is once a month enough? Is it too much? Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast rule for how often brands should push messaging out to their customers for optimal engagement. 

Instead, companies need to listen to their customers’ responses and adjust based on what the consumers want. Even more importantly, brands need to set clear expectations for how often and on what channels they’ll be communicating. It’s easier to engage with a brand when customers know what to expect.

A great trick is to keep an eye out on what other companies are doing. Observe how many times influencers and thought leaders are sending emails or different types of messaging and emulate your communication strategies accordingly. 

Always Overdeliver

Whether it comes to customer service or the quality of the product, experience matters. Research shows that 67% of shoppers are likely to recommend a brand if they’ve had a positive customer service experience, and 54% are more likely to increase their purchase or use of that brand’s products. 

That experience goes far beyond a brand’s products — only 47% of surveyed consumers trust brands for their products alone. That goes up to 55% when they also provide excellent service. For brands, a great product is just the beginning of building trust. They need to understand the context that product exists in, and deliver more in everything they do.

Overdelivering doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. The key is to focus on your customer service strategies. Something as simple as speedily replying to customer inquiries, a handwritten thank you note, or holiday card is enough to leave a positive and lasting impression. 

There’s No (Brand) Love Without Trust

What increased customer engagement boils down to is making and keeping promises as a brand. That builds trust, and trust builds loyalty. Brands need to know what promises to make to customers, how they communicate those promises, and how they can deliver more of everything they promise. Without those building blocks, brands lose the trust of their customers, and without that trust, loyalty and engagement are impossible.

Read more on how to understand, influence, and connect with customers. 

Aly Kline
Author