Indifferent customers are likely to start shopping elsewhere.
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Excited and engaged customers bring in 23 percent more profits. However, with advancing technology and decreasing face-to-face encounters, companies are having to find new ways to get customers excited.
Excitement is an emotion that fosters engagement. Positive experiences lead to increasing connections. Sports fans, for example, are so engaged they frequently describe their beloved team as part of their personality. This is the ultimate brand engagement.
By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. And yet, only 58 percent of executives have a formal engagement program. Companies must adopt a customer engagement strategy or get left behind. Here are 10 innovative ways business leaders can excite their customers in the ultra-connected digital age.
1. Share behind-the-scenes content.
Taking customers behind the scenes humanizes companies. This can be as simple as sharing employee stories on social media, or it can be a complex, immersive experience.
Disney offers “Behind the Scenes” tours to guests to engage customers in the “magic” of Disney. These tours present an unseen side of the company, demonstrating how Disney is changing the world through agriculture research or by valuing minority causes. The tours reinforce the Disney brand while providing visitors with a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
2. Launch a user conference.
Harley-Davidson understands the value of bringing users together. They have long held “brandfests,” which offer a place for customers to meet and create memorable experiences that build loyalty. These experiences generate emotional connections with the brand and with other users, which leads to better brand attitudes. Brandfests have been shown to increase sales by 20 percent.
The events should be an escape from normal life. They should “jive” with customers’ lifestyles and present event goers with opportunities for personal growth.
3. Survey customers to better understand them.
Marketers must understand customers in order to excite them. Surveys can be useful if companies use proper analytics to interpret data and implement necessary changes. Get creative with surveys. Many customers will shy away from filling out a lengthy survey, but will be happy to answer a single question.
Put a quick poll on social media or after an order, ask a couple of questions when following up with customers, or casually poll customers during checkout at a retail location. Use this data to make better decisions and help employees to better understand the target audience.
4. Use personalization.
Eighty percent of people say that brands are not tailored to their needs. In a world where some brands like Netflix and Amazon are doubling down on personalization, smaller brands must also commit to this growing consumer trend.
Amazon’s Alexa “gets to know the customer.” The more “she” learns, the easier it is for consumers to buy products. Analysts predict that in the near future, 30 percent of all searches will be made with voice searches. This disruptive change means that excitement and engagement will matter even more in the future, since ordering online through voice assistants will be about instant brand recall.
5. Package products in unique ways.
According to a report conducted by the American Psychological Association, first impressions form in 39 milliseconds. Once an opinion is established, it tends to be held firmly, even when the person is presented with contradictory information. That’s why the world’s best brands focus on developing remarkable “unboxing” experiences.
Apple, for example, has a secret packaging room dedicated to creating an emotional experience when customers open the box. The experience feels so valuable that many of us save Apple boxes, though we toss out packaging for other products.
Business leaders interested in creating a remarkable unboxing experience can use specialty services to create beautifully printed packaging. Brands including HP, Shopify and Google use outside providers to create extraordinary customer experiences from the instant the customer receives their package.
6. Create a purposeful brand.
Generation X and millennials want to believe companies care about the same causes they do. One study found that while 73 percent of customers want to support companies for doing something meaningful, only 5 percent think that companies actually do so.
IKEA is one example of a brand that focuses on sustainability. They buy 50 percent of their wood from sustainable forests, use solar panels and control water usage in their stores. Similarly, Seventh Generation changed the cleaning products market by developing sustainable cleaning products that cater to consumer values.
7. Build a contest.
Contests on social media increase online audiences by as much as 34 percent and boost email sign-ups by a similar amount, according to data cited by Hubspot. While contests do not necessarily build brand loyalty in the long term, they can be an exciting way to start a relationship.
8. Develop a product for an underserved niche.
When a company targets a small group of people, it is easier to build trust and loyalty. Niche products typically have very high profit margins.
Tesla has operated with this strategy since its inception. They are only now starting to enter the mass market with their less expensive model. Their exclusivity has created positive feelings toward the brand for many people. Tesla is the aspirational car for today’s younger generations who care both about the environment and about technological innovation.
9. Focus on creating added value.
The heart of brand loyalty is always value. Value is not about giving away free things or being the cheapest product. Instead, it is about giving customers what they want. Take Amazon Prime as one example. Consumers are willing to subscribe to Prime because of the added value they get in return.
Not only are items shipped to their home faster, but they receive access to cloud storage, movies, music and world-class customer support. As a result, Amazon has been able to grow their Prime membership dramatically over the past few years.
10. Try something new.
According to a study cited by NBC, pumpkin spice in the fall has been shown to evoke positive memories of childhood. Perhaps this is one reason why Starbucks found incredible success when they launched their pumpkin spice latte in 2003. In fact, the company could barely keep up with demand in the early days.
In some instances, luck is a meaningful component of well-timed initiatives, but so is a willingness to try new things. Starbucks took a calculated risk in introducing the pumpkin spice latte, and it paid off spectacularly. Similarly, business leaders must ensure that their organizations are daring enough to try new things.
There are a variety of ways for business leaders to develop excitement and engagement in consumers. However, the common component in all 10 of the tactics mentioned in this article is putting the customer first. Once the customer is the primary focus for you and your colleagues, it will be considerably easier to develop innovative approaches to creating customer excitement.