The world changed last year in the wake of Covid-19, forcing businesses to reassess and recalibrate their offerings. As consumers struggled to make sense of an evolving reality, companies also had to pivot their roadmap in a bid to survive and grow. And in this pursuit, the relevance and value of customer engagement has grown even more significant, becoming a key component of businesses globally while chief experience officers (CXOs) work hard in connecting metrics to tangible business outcomes.
In fact, brands are increasingly seeing customer engagement as a critical cog in their growth paradigm, leading brand owners to apportioning more budget to make the most of it. According to the recent Braze 2021 Global Customer Engagement Review report, some 60% of marketers expect budgets to rise this year, of which customer engagement and customer satisfaction measurement is top of the list.
According to Bill Magnuson, CEO and co-founder of Braze, the leading global customer engagement platform, “The secret weapon that differentiates exceptional, enduring companies is the quality of their customer-engagement, encompassing the full set of activities through which companies build direct relationships with their customers.”
The study deep dives into the evolving customer engagement landscape and how that translates directly to business goals. The report is based on a survey of more than 1,300 marketing executives at consumer-facing brands across the globe and provides insights for brands looking to improve their customer engagement strategies and see stronger business results.
Customer engagement is going to be a priority
According to the study, 60% of marketing decision-makers expect their budgets to increase in the next 12 months. The top three areas where brands plan to invest are: customer satisfaction measurement, customer engagement, and mobile optimization/apps.
Interestingly, for both bigger and older brands, meeting consumers’ rising expectations and demand for effective customer engagement is the top priority for marketing investment. 48% of tenured companies (20+ years) ranked investment in customer engagement technology first, while only 39% of younger businesses did the same.
‘Showing’ success will be a big struggle
As the world gets more and more digital, it is obvious when people are clicking and converting, but it’s not always clear what the greater impact of customer engagement is on brands’ bottom lines. As per the study, 88% of marketers believe their teams have excellent or good customer engagement practices, but 74% still worry about translating it into tangible business outcomes.
One of the main factors contributing to the problem is that often teams within a given organization don’t agree on what success looks like. Only 26% of marketing leaders say their firms have a shared, company-wide definition of success when it comes to their customer engagement campaigns.
Increased belief in customer engagement will be critical to business growth
Nothing succeeds like success. A point in case: successful customer engagement forms a strong business case for increased investment. As per the study, 83% of brands who exceeded their revenue goals had plans to boost their 2021 marketing budget, compared to just 23% of those who fell short.
In terms of what these trends mean for brands now, Braze has also shared some of key customer engagement practices which, if done well, could be the route to successful outcomes for brands in a range of different industries and regions:
Want to be digital-first?
Have a good engagement plan in place Having a good customer engagement is a critical and integral component of brands having a sound digital-first strategy. In reality, a large number of brands still don’t have a customer engagement approach in place, which is counter-productive and can undermine the relationship between your brand and your customer base.
Cross-channel plans are good plans
Brands need to remember to have a well-integrated marketing plan in place - just as consumers use more than one channel (e.g. email, push notifications, SMS, etc.), it would help brands also to do the same. The study compared users who received messages in any two messaging channels, as against those with a cross-channel combination that included both in product and out-of-product messages and found that brands make messages more valuable with a cross-channel approach. This includes 25% more buyers, 64% more purchases per user and 13% greater 30-day retention.
As per the study, while sending messages via a single channel sees stronger results than sending none at all, nothing beats orchestrating campaigns across multiple coordinated channels. Users who receive these sorts of campaigns tend to have much higher engagement, lifetime value, and retention, boosting their value to the companies that serve them.
Intelligent channel planning is critical
As obvious as it may sound, if brands want to create seamless, memorable experiences, they need to use each channel based on its particular strengths. Brands who take a cross-channel approach that blends both in-product (e.g., in-app messages) and out-of product (e.g., email, push, SMS) messaging channels tend to have the highest overall performance.
Excelling at customer engagement is a business decision and a critical one. For brands that invest time and care into a customer engagement strategy that keeps the user front of mind and leverages a cross-channel approach, this decision can directly lead to in higher customer lifetime value and lower customer acquisition costs, resulting in long-term, capital-efficient business growth.
The upshot? The time to relook and get your customer engagement policy in place is ‘here and now’.
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Context underpins every Braze interaction, helping brands like Zalora, Pomelo, Domino’s, HBO, Truemoney, Traveloka and Canva foster human connection across email, mobile, SMS, and web. Recognised a Leader in Forrester Wave™: Mobile Engagement Automation, Q3 2020, Braze is headquartered in New York with offices in Chicago, London, San Francisco, and Singapore.