Worried about operating in a saturated market where similar products and services are readily available from competitors (often at lower prices)? Even if it's possible to capture large market shares despite tough competition, it's not easy to maintain that position in the long term.

To really win, you need to differentiate your business from the competition by offering new or upgraded products or services, exploring new markets – and providing customers with an unforgettable and unmatched experience. The latter is crucial for customer retention and will help you extract more value from every customer that comes your way.

xTo provide a brilliant customer experience, you must focus on building customer relationships and increasing satisfaction. Read on to discover seven effective customer engagement strategies, plus tips for getting the best out of them. But first...

What are customer engagement strategies?

Customer engagement is a term that describes the ongoing development of the relationship between your business and customers. By implementing a customer engagement strategy, you can gain customer loyalty and reduce churn (people who've stopped purchasing from you).

Customer engagement strategies can be conducted across various online marketing channels, like SMS, email, social media and your business's mobile app or website. You can also engage customers offline and in person, for example, through store visitors or booth activation.

Why do you need a customer engagement strategy?

A solid customer engagement strategy leads to increased brand loyalty and awareness, word-of-mouth referrals (free advertising, no less!) and reduced customer churn. Other benefits include:

Essentially, the end goal of a customer engagement strategy is to encourage customers to return (frequently and with an increased spend) – and become ambassadors for your brand.

Seven popular customer engagement strategies for businesses

From offering tailored communication and unique content to being visible and accessible on every social media platform – here are some key strategies to consider implementing.

1. Personalisation

Adding a human touch to your communications is vital for building an authentic customer connection. When talking to customers on the phone, ensure your side of the conversation is real and empathetic - customers know when you're reading from a script and giving a standardised response. Use the customer's name throughout and pull up previous notes on their account to get an understanding of their history with the business.

Observe customer behavior to decide how best to approach them in the future. For example, if customers don't seem keen on receiving phone calls, try reaching out via SMS or email instead. When messaging individual customers, it's essential to personalise your content – again, address them by name and provide tailored recommendations based on previous activity.

Adding custom touches to the user experience can help make customers feel special – an example is letting them change the colour or fonts in their online dashboard.

2. Quality content

All promotional and informational content you publish should be high-quality and provide relevance and value to your target audience. This includes your website copy, social media posts and online ad campaigns.

Ensure your content is fresh and unique so customers, web visitors and followers are motivated to consume it and share it with others. Types of shareable content include:

  • Articles about trending topics and where your business fits in with those

  • New product, service or feature announcements

  • Infographics

  • Whitepapers

  • Newsletters

  • Customer case studies

  • Videos (e.g. social media reels) and presentations

User-generated content (UGC) can also be a great way to influence engagement. Look out for customers using or reviewing your product or service on social media, and get their permission to share their content on your business pages or website.

3. Gamification and competitions

Gamification is a marketing technique that utilises game rewards like scoring points or winning prizes to encourage user engagement. An example is a 'spin the wheel' game on an e-commerce website that offers buyers a discount. Or a virtual scratchcard that reveals a freebie for the customer if they place an order over a specific amount. The thrill visitors get from 'winning' something makes them inclined to share their achievements with friends or family.

Fun competitions can also get your audience buzzing about your brand and sharing your content online. Text-to-win contests are not only exciting but also give you a chance to grow your SMS subscriber list. While LinkedIn and X (formerly Twitter) polls provide you with feedback as well as engagement.

A social media prize giveaway is a popular engagement strategy often used by influencers and smaller businesses. Entrants are typically asked to mention a few friends in the post comments section and share the post on their own profile.

Excited person looking at mobile phone

4. Rewards for loyal customers

The purpose of customer loyalty programs is to give customers an incentive to keep coming back and spending with your business. There are several ways to do this:

  • Referral schemes – where customers earn rewards or discounts when someone they've referred to your business becomes a customer themselves.

  • Spending schemes – rewards are based on reaching a certain amount of orders or a particular order value.

  • Tiered loyalty programs – a strategy that encourages customers to keep spending in return for higher value rewards.

  • Points systems – customers earn points for each purchase, which can be redeemed against future purchases.

  • VIP loyalty schemes – special discounts and incentives (e.g. birthday or Christmas treats) awarded to long-term customers or those who sign up to be exclusive email/SMS subscribers.

  • Early bird offers – where regular customers or club members get exclusive access to sales before the general public.

Another option, closely linked to rewards, is to offer beta testing to a select few customers so they can experience your new product or service for free before you launch it. In return, they'd give you valuable feedback and promote your product in their circle (and hopefully become one of your first paying customers upon launch).

5. Self-service channels

Customers love convenience. The easier it is to do business with you, the more customers will likely be satisfied and return. Offering self-service support helps customers quickly resolve their enquiries or issues without waiting in lengthy phone call queues or going back and forth on email with an agent.

Self-service channels include web portals or mobile apps where customers can access a knowledge bank with demos, tutorials, answers to FAQs or provide feedback online. Live chat is another example of self-service on websites or in-app; you can have real agents or autoresponders depending on your budget. Or use SMS chatbots to deliver automated support messages straight into your customer's hands.

6. Social media and forums

Truly diverse audiences are now found on every social media outlet, and many businesses are realising this. That's why you'll find cereal companies on LinkedIn and B2B businesses on TikTok – no platform is out of bounds.

A key part of customer engagement is amplifying your brand voice and presence in spaces where your audience is most active. That might mean building communities in forums like Discord and Reddit, as well as being visible on Facebook and LinkedIn. Why not have your audience participate in 'Ask Me Anything' (AMA) sessions, X (Twitter) hours, or fun branded hashtag campaigns?

7. Easy and active feedback collection

Surveys and questionnaires are great for engaging customers and making them feel listened to, and of course, your business will benefit from helpful feedback to improve your services. There are several feedback collection methods you can employ:

  • Quick SMS reviews – this can be as simple as sending customers a text and getting them to reply with one-character answers. For example:

    "Your feedback matters to us. Please tell us, were you satisfied with our recent service? Reply ‘Y’ for satisfied, or ‘N’ for unsatisfied."

    Or you could ask:

    "How happy are you with your order? Reply ‘1' for ecstatic! 😍, ‘2' for fairly happy, '3' for neutral or '4' for unhappy."

  • Detailed questionnaires – these could be created in Google Docs, and you can just copy and paste the link into your request.

  • Social media reviews – which you can enable on your business pages for customers to give public feedback and ratings.

  • Google My Business reviews – send customers a link to your profile where they can leave a detailed review about their experience and add photos if they wish.

Customer communication channels and responsiveness

Not all communication channels suit every customer engagement strategy. For example, not shifting a customer from a chatbot to a live agent despite multiple complaints will only increase their frustration. The right channel – and responsive communication – is vital.

1. Choose the right channel for your customer engagement strategy

An SMS service is best for sending short informative texts (with no photos) that need to be digested quickly by customers. SMS, being a fast and direct channel, is also ideal for sending urgent content like flash sale alerts or limited-time promotional offers – or for rapid customer support that doesn’t require too much back and forth. Texts can also be offered to help customers place orders or make payments.

Long-form video content, like extended tutorials or demos, is best delivered over a webinar or posted to YouTube (along with an email or text to let customers know how to access it). Likewise, a long talk or update could be made available as a podcast. And details of a new product might be better written up as a blog article or promotional email that your audience can refer back to.

2. Respond quickly to your audience

Fast turn-around times are essential at all points in the customer’s journey. Ensure that your business is responsive on all the platforms you make available to your audience, even those where you receive fewer enquiries. Use automated replies where possible, as this makes communication instantaneous. Live chat is also a good option if your budget allows for a dedicated contact centre. Give your agents scripts to help them reference vital information quickly (but don't forget the importance of personalising each customer interaction).

Customers waste no time switching to a competitor due to slow responses. If a potential buyer reaches out to multiple businesses, there's a 35 to 50% chance that the first one to respond will make the sale!

The foundations of an impactful customer engagement strategy

Here are six steps you should take to ensure your customer engagement campaigns are built on a strong foundation, starting with nailing your branding.

1. Define your brand’s identity – once you've identified your audience and created your value proposition, mission and values, consider visual branding (colours, logo and typography) and decide on your brand voice and personality.

2. Define user or buyer personas – who your ideal customer is; their demographics, needs and wants, pain points and what their customer journey should look like.

3. Personalise your campaigns – when you 'know' your customer, you can deliver highly targeted and personalised engagement content.

4. Measure and analyse performance data – track customer engagement to see whether you're getting the customer satisfaction and retention increases you expect.

5. Collect feedback – throughout the process, collect feedback from both potential customers and existing customers.

6. Optimise your engagement efforts – by using audience feedback to make improvements.

Customer satisfaction rating on mobile phone

Boost brand loyalty through customer engagement

A good customer engagement marketing strategy will generate brand awareness and word-of-mouth referrals, reduce customer churn and increase customer lifetime value. You can tap into several strategies, such as implementing a customer loyalty program with rewards, offering high-quality, personalised content and experimenting with gamification.

Remember to choose the right communication channel for your engagement strategy and ensure all customer interactions are responded to quickly. Consider using automated messaging to provide immediate assistance and answers to FAQs and continually collect customer feedback to ensure your engagement efforts are well received.

Before you go, read how to use two-way SMS for better customer engagement.