- Audience engagement translates to critical, trackable metrics like page views and email opens.
- Survey your audience to understand the people buying your products and services and how best to engage with them.
- Use journey maps, customer surveys, marketing automation software and live chat to connect meaningfully with customers and prospects.
- This article is for business owners and marketers who want to improve their audience engagement.
No matter your business’s industry, engaging your target customers is critical. Whether prospecting to generate new leads or communicating with customers, audience participation keeps your brand fresh and relevant.
Audience engagement translates to metrics like page views, email opens and Twitter interactions. While you don’t need to analyze every metric, focusing on specific measurements can help you achieve your goals.
We consulted with communications experts to bring you five essential strategies for building and tracking audience engagement. Here’s what you need to know.
Strategies to build and track audience engagement
Ideally, your marketing plan should engage current customers while drawing in new business. Fortunately, there are several proven ways to keep people interacting with your brand.
Here are five expert-approved strategies for boosting and tracking audience engagement.
1. Know your audience.
Audience engagement is a critical marketing element. To build your brand, you should know your current customers and understand your target audience. Who follows your brand? Who would you like to follow your brand? Has your audience changed?
“Sometimes your current audience is different from the group you originally wanted to communicate with,” said Chevon Drew, senior communications manager at Race Forward and Colorlines.
He used baby wipes as an example. “A business can manufacture and market baby wipes to parents for five years, experience an increase in sales, and attribute it to parents wanting more wipes.” However, if the business surveyed its customers, it might discover a huge upswing in people using baby wipes to remove makeup – a new, unexpected audience.
“That’s an example I fabricated,” Drew said. “But it illustrates the thinking behind doing less assuming and more surveying.”
2. Use engagement to achieve company goals.
Depending on your business’s size, your marketing and communication departments may be completely separate. However, they should always meet when discussing revenue generation.
“It’s important to make sure that your audience engagement initiatives align with your company’s overall goals,” said Elizabeth Riley Boyer, former vice president of marketing and communications at literacy courseware company ThinkCERCA.
She recommends following the OKR framework. “OKR” is a term used by Google, Intel, and other major corporations that stands for company “objectives” and measurable “key results.” Every objective should align with the company mission, values and vision statement, and each key result identifies how employees can work together to reach an objective.
“For nearly all businesses, you probably have some sort of revenue metric that you’re tracking,” Riley Boyer added. “At ThinkCERCA, we have some great data on platform usage leading to great student achievement results, which leads to increased customer renewals and expansions. So my team is currently looking at launching and growing engagement initiatives that support increased platform usage among teachers and students.”
In addition to revenue goals, ensure your engagement strategy aligns with your image. Media marketing guru Tony Tran pointed out that what works for Wendy’s is entirely different from the approach Starbucks or Nike would take.
Your engagement might be educational, supportive, or humorous, but it should be consistent; it should align with your company image and promote your goals.
Did you know?: OKRs and KPIs (key performance indicators) are both measurable ways to view a team’s performance. However, OKRs tell you where you should be going, while KPIs tell you whether or not you got there.
3. Hire an expert.
That’s why Christina Ochoa, social media strategist and founder of The Social Butterfly Gal, recommends hiring a tailored professional well-versed in social media for business. To best serve her clients, she uses analytics and powerful visuals to market on Instagram.
“Digital strategy can be time-consuming and overwhelming,” Ochoa said. “Small business owners should hire someone who knows the digital world, can respond in a timely [manner] and [be] one [who] isn’t afraid to try new things when it comes to strategy or content.”
However, since social media is publicly accessible, an experienced professional doesn’t have to work in the industry. Their following and content can show how well (or not) they grab an audience.
4. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Digital media is constantly changing, with platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook always adding new analytics features and engagement tools. Experiment with your digital platforms and marketing emails to find what works.
“Our audience engagement editor is constantly testing subject lines and [the] best times of day to send a tweet,” Riley Boyer said.
Be mindful of getting wrapped up in what your brand “should” sound like, because you could lose your unique voice. An overly promotional tone makes content feel less relatable.
Authenticity is especially important for new companies just beginning to develop their voices. “Too many feel social media needs to be so straightforward,” Ochoa added. “Don’t be afraid to be real. That’s how people will feel connected to you and want to follow you!”
Tip: If you use a CRM solution in your business, your built-in CRM analytics tools can share audience insights as well as customer service and sales insights.
5. Build an engaging website.
Stoney deGeyter, president of Pole Position Marketing, offered several tips for enhancing audience engagement with your website:
- Optimize your website for fast loading times. Website speed is an often-overlooked element of website design. DeGeyter stressed the importance of a fast-loading and efficient website.
- Make your website mobile-friendly. Mobile-friendliness is critical as mobile and social media shopping continue to grow. Design your site to look as good on a phone or tablet as it does on a computer screen.
- Design an effective landing page. Offer options on the website landing page that can take your visitors in different directions, based on their preferences. This increases the likelihood that they will linger on your site, enhancing engagement and providing you with more opportunities to record their interactions. Include clear calls to action (CTAs) to move customers and prospects through your sales process.
Key takeaway: Effective business websites have easy-to-find domain names, visible contact information and clear navigation menus.
Tools to help build and track audience engagement
These four tools can tie audience engagement strategies into your business’s everyday operations.
A journey map is a visual representation of how customers interact with your brand. It helps you identify the individual touchpoints that take your customers from first learning about your business to purchasing your products. This way, you can ensure each of these touchpoints is fulfilling customer expectations.
With programs such as UXPressia, Lucidchart and Microsoft Visio, you can create detailed flowcharts that lay out a customer’s journey through your brand’s sales funnel. This journey could include where they came from when visiting your website and what actions they performed on your site.
Use your completed journey map to see where you can better optimize users’ experiences with your business.
Customer surveys are the most direct way to get your customers’ perspectives on what resonates with them about your brand. With their opinions in mind, you can determine the best ways to build relationships with your customers and improve your products and services.
Simplesat, Startquestion, Typeform and SurveyMonkey are some of the survey tools that make it easy to gather feedback from customers. They also simplify organizing customer responses into information that will ultimately serve your business.
Marketing automation is software that automatically takes care of your marketing practices without needing constant oversight. Social media updates, email marketing, and text message marketing are all automatable tasks. Automating your marketing allows you to connect with your customers on various platforms while being free to focus on other areas of your business.
Marketing automation software gathers customer data to create relevant, engaging content. We reviewed the best marketing automation software to help businesses choose the right tool for their needs. Here are a few solutions to consider:
- HubSpot is our pick for the best marketing automation platform for small businesses. The solution is easy to use and scalable. To learn more, read our in-depth HubSpot review.
- Oracle Eloqua is our pick for the best marketing automation solution for enterprises. Eloqua is a comprehensive system that is highly effective for large companies and teams.
- Pardot is our choice for the most customizable marketing automation solution. Its robust features help you create quality content with ease.
- Zoho Campaigns earned our designation for best low-cost marketing automation software. This straightforward solution is highly usable and easy to learn.
Live chat gives your customers a convenient way to ask questions about your products and services. This audience engagement feature allows you to establish a helpful dialogue with your customers that keeps them around. They don’t have to initiate a phone call or visit your business in person.
Live chat can also help you identify any common issues your customers are having. Customers value this support and come away with a positive experience.
Sendinblue, LiveAgent and Intercom are just a few of the many live chat tools available for small businesses.
Getting closer to customers
As you implement audience engagement strategies, don’t hesitate to share your business’s story and mission. These elements give customers a way to relate to your company. Use the information you gather from surveys to create a personalized experience so customers know you have their best interests at heart.
With all the above methods in the works and the tools to implement them, you’re on your way to adopting a customer-focused business model. That gives current buyers more reasons to keep bringing their business to you and new buyers all the more reason to get started.
Adryan Corcione contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.