The days of the impersonal, old-school customer engagement strategy — one that entailed semi-relevant, somewhat-targeted messaging sent to top prospects and existing customers across a few, seemingly lucrative channels at imprecise times — are gone.
In place of this dated approach is a brand new customer engagement model.
Specifically, one that accounts for the distinct interests and behaviors of both individuals and segments in one’s database and delivers the right message to them in real time.
And as Gallup's Vibhas Ratanjee and Teresa Tschida noted, there are two key components required to construct a high-quality customer engagement program today:
"[T]o truly drive emotional engagement with customers, your organization will need to balance user-focused technology and highly personalized human connection."
In other words? You need both the right tech — starting with a centralized database to unify all your first-party data — and a people-centric, privacy-conscious marketing game plan to craft a prosperous, scalable customer engagement strategy for your business.
The first step to developing this model? Understanding its importance — and how failing to adopt it can lead to myriad issues: from poor customer experience (CX) and lower conversion rates to a decline in customer loyalty and potential rise in your churn rate.
Why your customer engagement strategy must evolve in 2021 and the years ahead
The passage of data privacy laws like GDPR and the CCPA. The release of browser privacy updates such as Apple ITP. The ongoing (and increasing) frustrations among consumers regarding the collection and use of their personal data.
These are just a sample of the biggest contributing factors that have led enterprise businesses worldwide to construct more advanced customer engagement strategies.
(Not to mention give up on their "customer journey orchestration" efforts.)
They've even led organizations to rethink their business models and reevaluate if they offer enough value to audiences in exchange for their personal data.
It's these companies — ones that understand both the potential negative ramifications of failing to evolve their marketing and the vast opportunity to earn more loyal customers through consent-driven digital marketing programs — that 'win' today.
Thankfully, more companies are coming around to the idea they can do better regarding their use of first-party consumer data.
Half of executives who replied to a 2019 CMO Council survey said "respecting the data that the customer has voluntarily provided" and "communicating in a personalized way, honoring the data the customer has given" are two top priorities for their companies.
And this prioritization clearly pays off.
Gallup research indicates businesses that provide the largest levels of "customer impact" (e.g., a strong customer support team to promptly address issues, answer questions, and collect customer feedback) have 72% more engaged buyers and greater bottom lines.
Mindfulness with data use, respect for your audience's willingness to receive messaging that promotes your products and services, and a focus on front-end customer experience.
That is how leading organizations become leading organizations.
Humanizing your brand to boost customer interactions — and customer satisfaction
"The more personal your marketing, the more likely the audience is to feel a connection to the brand, to care and to know what matters to you."
This insightful tidbit from modern marketing expert Andy Crestodina is right on the nose. (And, really, should be the mantra for every marketer today.)
You may have a robust, ROI-improving personalization strategy that helps you serve pertinent messaging to members of your customer base across channels.
But 'people-based marketing' — a term that's taken off in recent years — involves much more than showing a social media ad to or creating content recommendations for individuals based on their browsing histories, purchases, and other interactions.
Rather, people-based marketing — and effectual customer engagement — is about:
Connecting with your audience on an individual level based on first-party data you've collected about them — not soon-to-be-extinct cookies
Communicating with them in a human way (following consent opt-in, of course) across their preferred channels and mediums of choice
"Shifting the focus from cookies to people, marketers of the future realize they have all the data at their fingertips," Inc. magazine guest contributor James Paine wrote. "The good ones just know what to do with it."
An astute point. And one worth reiterating: The deprecation of third-party cookies, and its once-sizable role as a vital resource for businesses, is actually a blessing in disguise.
Its “end” now allows marketers, along with other growth-focused teams (CX, ecommerce, digital product) to (finally) focus all their promotional attention and energy on the far more lucrative first-party data to deliver bespoke customer experiences.
It’s certainly very important to consider how you use this customer data in your strategy. (And, in turn, how you make your customers feel with your messaging.)
But it’s equally vital to unify your first-party data in a single source of truth.
Specifically, one in which you can readily activate that data when and where you need and see contacts’ profiles update dynamically in order to realize your revised customer engagement strategy.
Put another way? Your modified engagement model requires a new, long-term vision regarding how you can better interact with and convert your customers — and, in all likelihood, a new, primary database to be the central hub of your stack.
CDP: The tech you need to improve your long-term customer engagement efforts
Authentication, consent, and value exchange are the core tenets of the modern customer engagement strategy. Neglect one of these central components, and you simply won’t be able to execute a productive lifecycle orchestration strategy.
As we've discussed, companies that excel in the data privacy era are the ones that put customer identity in the middle of their operating model.
Translation: Every engagement activity — from individualized email recommendations for particular prospects to customer service chats with current website visitors — incorporates customer identity and, therefore, the related PII that lives in contacts' profiles.
And the CDP is what growth-focused professionals continue to turn to to:
Better understand and interact with their target prospects and customers
Deliver more resonant, relevant messaging to individuals and segments
Build a consumer engagement program that help grow the business
Sure, data lakes, CRM software, and other legacy databases still have a place in one's stack. But it's the CDP that helps growth teams extract more value from their other tools — particularly when it comes to customer engagement and data privacy measures:
CRM software offers incomplete customer records that don't account for anonymous data (e.g., browsing behavior) — a vital part of compliance with the CCPA and GDPR.
Campaign management tools provide customer records that only know a given individual within the context of some, but not all marketing channels.
Data warehouses host inaccessible customer records that are difficult for marketers to both utilize across channels and with the speed required for data compliance.
By integrating the first-party data — and only first-party data — collected in these disparate systems into your CDP of choice, you get the once-mythical, now-mandatory single customer view that can facilitate your customer engagement strategy.
In other words? This data unification into a CDP helps you authenticate contacts' identities, earn consent from them (and update consent statuses), and determine the distinct value exchange that will convince contacts to remained opted in long term.
Download our eBook to learn how you can develop a customer engagement model that helps your business thrive in the consumer privacy era.