If you want a thriving business with happy customers, one of the most effective marketing strategies is to engage your customers on an ongoing basis. However, many businesses remain stuck in a mindset of focusing all of their marketing energies on getting in front of new prospects instead.
Here to walk you through the powerful benefits and the practical methods underlying engagement marketing is Gail Goodman, author of the book Engagement Marketing – How Small Business Wins in a Socially Connected World. Goodman is the CEO of Constant Contact,
a leading provider of e-mail marketing, social media marketing, event
marketing, local deals, and online survey tools for more than half a
million small organizations.
Named one of Boston’s top 30 innovators by the Boston Globe, Goodman has revolutionized the
way small businesses and organizations
build relationships with their customers, clients, and members. The following is StartupNation's interview of this small business expert and marketing visionary:
What was the impetus for your book "Engagement Marketing"?
Goodman: Over the last ten years, Constant Contact has proven that small businesses’ best marketing ROI is engaging with their current customers. Marketing to current customers drives repeat sales and also inspires more referrals. That value proposition got even stronger as social media started gaining traction. But we always got a bit tongue-tied when describing this kind of marketing. It needed some explaining and a simple descriptive term. Answer: call it Engagement Marketing and write a book to define it and share best practices.
What are some of the best forms of engaging with one's customers?
Goodman: Engagement Marketing moves online what we’ve been doing forever offline – talking about our experiences with our friends, family, neighbors and colleagues. It’s basically building off an age-old principle: happy customers drive word-of-mouth referrals. In today’s socially connected world, customer comments, Likes, shares and world-of-mouth referrals are publicly visible, to a much wider audience, on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and, of course, review sites like Yelp. Together, these social platforms create what we call social visibility.
We have found that successful engagement is tied to three key steps, what we call the Engagement Marketing cycle:
- Deliver a WOW! experience – create memorable experiences, ones that rise above the ordinary, the kind that people want to share.
- Entice customers to stay in touch – extend the impact of the WOW! by asking customers to Like your Page or subscribe to your e-newsletter. Entice them with a fabulous offer, such as a free report, coupons, special event announcements, early access to new products, etc.
- Engage people – this is really the fun part! Using social media and email, engage your customers by posting content that inspires participation – content that gets them to comment, Like or share with their friends and networks.
What's the most effective engagement marketing that you've come across?
Goodman: I’ve personally come across countless great examples, but here’s one: Gourmet Coffee Service is a small business in Southern California that has to compete with the “big boy” food service companies. How do they do it? Each time drivers stock a corporate customer’s pantry with coffee and other items, they also clean the pantry and the coffee brewer. That’s what I call a WOW! experience. They also feature 2-3 new products in emails, and offer free samples. By creating this kind of effective customer engagement, Gourmet Coffee realized more than $100,000 in additional revenue in just 11 months. That’s Engagement Marketing in action.
How can a business owner or marketer get more people to join their social networks? Are there any secrets to driving significant growth in these numbers?
Goodman: The simplest answer is: ask. Make it clear that you want customers to join, and why they should. Teach everyone on your team to remind customers, “Are you a Facebook fan? We give our fans advanced notice of specials and events.” And then make it really easy. Send them emails with quick links to your page. Put up a poster with your Facebook address or a QR code.
Then, make sure you engage your fans, so they tell their friends. Create platform-specific content, meaning if you use an e-newsletter and LinkedIn, for example, make sure the content fits the platform so it feels authentic. Be sure to spread out your posts to avoid overload. If you hit your audience with a lot of content at a time when they’re busy and offline, they’ll miss it because your post will be pushed way down into their feed by the next time they log on. As your Engagement Marketing engine picks up steam, you’ll see Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn discussions blossoming, or a blog post will go viral. When this happens, jump in and stimulate the conversation to keep it going.
What are a few ways that a small business can use engagement to increase the number of positive reviews they are receiving?
Goodman: Once again, you have to ask – really. Your loyal customers are your best brand evangelists and many of them will be more than happy to share their positive feedback if you just ask. You can then extend the reach of those positive reviews by posting them on your website, linking to them from your social networks, and sharing a sampling in customer emails. Of course, don’t forget to thank customers for any positive comments they make about your business on social media because, at the end of the day, your customer experience is the anchor of your social experience.
Any predictions for what the coming few years will bring us in the evolution of social marketing?
Goodman: Three predictions: more social, more mobile, more short content. Today’s world is more social and interactive than ever before. On the plus side, that means small businesses and entrepreneurs have access to many new tools to engage customers and drive real, measureable results. Of course, that kind of access makes standing out from the crowd and respecting the relationship with your audience more important than ever. Second, with skyrocketing consumer adoption of all things mobile, even the smallest small business will need to mobile-optimize and enrich their online presence to get easily discovered and engage customers. Good news there is shorter content. Gone are the days of long-form content and multi-article newsletters. Things need to be fun, fast and have a clear call-to-action that works well on a smart phone.