Build Customer Engagement Without Going Broke

Remember the last time your company nailed that perfect advertisement that was shared by millions of people? How about that time you wrote that brilliant blog that went viral all over social media, driving people worldwide to your website? Now those were awesome events that launched your business into a new realm far past your competition, and now that you are awake you realize they never happened.

It's tough to nail that perfect message, especially with a small marketing budget. Limited promotional funds is the norm for most businesses, meaning that a company’s creative team better be smart, nimble and ready to take chances. When you don’t have the resources to compete head-to-head with the big boys, you have to be willing to take risks, says Rob Lynch, brand president and chief marketing officer of Arby’s in an interview with Ad Age.

The restaurant chain’s marketing budget is far smaller than competitors McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s, but the restaurant that built its name on stacking high piles of shaved roast beef on a bun is finding new and creative ways of reaching current and potential customers without breaking the bank. From the hat Tweet episode with Pharrell Williams during the 2014 Grammy’s to the farewell commercial to John Stewart that aired during his final episode as Daily Show host, Arby’s has left no opportunity to engage its consumer base untapped. 

Customer engagement is good for business. The more you can reach the people who support your business, the more successful your business will be. Customers who feel connected to your business are more likely to refer others.

Social media has become the main trunk line for building brand awareness and consumer engagement. Reaching out to consumers through Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and other platforms is the primary driver for increasing customer engagement. Using these tools along with other digital and traditional marketing strategies are an important part of continued business growth. Here are a few tips for raising brand awareness and creating consumer touchpoints.

Ask a Question

People want to be heard and they want to help others. Posing a question, especially on Twitter or Facebook, can launch a conversation that will get and keep people engaged. Be thoughtful when selecting your questions. Make it interesting and helpful to your customer; something they will want to think and talk about, and be involved in.

Sponsor An Event

People love to get together and they love activities that allow for a get-together. Think about your products and how you can share them in a way that appeals to people. If you’re a winery have a wine tasting or maybe take it one step further with a wine run. If there is one thing that runners love more than running it’s relaxing with a good drink after a satisfying run. Ste. Chapelle Winery in Idaho figured this out when it started its Idaho Wine Run, with half marathon, 10K and 5K races that start and finish at its winery in Caldwell. What better way to celebrate your big day than with a nice merlot and what better way for the winery to showcase its products to consumers.

Create a Group

Forming a group, be online or in person, is a good way keep customers connected and it creates a magnet to attract new customers. Meetup is great for organizing groups that bring consumers together for all types of events. Reddit, Facebook and Twitter are perfect virtual outreach tools that allow you to interact with your customers and for them to interact with one and other. It’s kind of like hosting a party and the buzz they create is happening in your house. Grand Rapids Marathon Race Director Don Kern does an incredible job at this. Between his blog posts and social media presence on Twitter and Facebook, Kern is regularly engaging followers with interesting topics, race details and positive antidotes that always wind back to running and his big event in October.

Hold a Contest

People love challenge and reward. Sponsoring a contest with prizes, preferably ones related to your business, is a great way to get customers in the door and on your website. The prize does not need to be tangible either. Take for instance a request Trail Runner Nation posted to its Facebook page asking followers to post inspirational quotes that could go on the back of their new TRN t-shirts. The response was enthusiastic and it allowed people to engage not only in the conversation but in creation of the TRN brand. What better way to make people feel that they are part of your business.

Have a Party

Use a milestone to celebrate your business and your customers. Maybe it’s an anniversary, you opened a new store location or just served your one thousandth customer. Celebrations can come from anywhere and anything, and it's a great way to recognize the people who got you to where you are today. Celebrate your success with your customers, and make sure they know how much you appreciate their loyalty.

Generate Unique Content

Original content is appealing and valuable to customers. Speak as the subject expert and share interesting information that your customers will enjoy and find useful. Make it specific to your product. This will deliver an added level of trust knowing that you are speaking from a position of authority on the topic. Offer this content through your website and share it through social media and blogs. This will further strengthen the trust of existing customers and bring in new ones as the information is shared. Adding unique content to your website also builds search engine optimization, or SEO as it is commonly know, and keeps your site’s look and feel fresh.

Respond to Feedback

Social media reviews can be a powerful tool for reaching your customers. Always respond to writer reviews and especially the negative reviews. This is a chance to address their issue and remedy the problem, or if there is no way to fix it apologize and assure them you will do everything you can to avoid a recurrence.

Running and triathlon race director Dan Quick said in an interview with that there is not always a fix, but an apology and smile go a long way to building good will. Whether it’s a complaint about the wind being too strong, someone not finding a parking space four minutes before the race begins, or the rainy or cold conditions, he makes sure all concerns are addressed with a smile: “You have our sincerest apologies and we promise to rectify the situation immediately (smile, smile, smile).”