Are you happy with your volume of referral business?
If not, it could be that your “engagement marketing engine” is not revved up.
What is Engagement?
Engagement is not just about unending, feel-good conversations on your blog or Facebook page.
According to Gail Goodman, author of Engagement Marketing: How Small Business Wins in a Socially Connected World, engagement is when people qualify themselves – when a prospect raises her hand and says, “Yes, I’m interested in your company. Help me to get to know you a little more.”
Invariably people who have engaged with you online become customers at higher rates, and they in turn tell their friends about you, revving up your marketing engine over and over again.
If you’re a small business owner who wants to strengthen engagement with existing customers, get more repeat sales and even more referrals, Engagement Marketing is exactly the book for you.
Here are a few things you should know about it.
Gail Goodman wrote this book for small business owners who understand what it’s like to struggle to find new customers, retain old ones and get the biggest bang for your marketing buck.
As a small business expert, she knows firsthand that word-of-mouth and social media marketing can be game-changers for small organizations looking to achieve more success.
This book is about making your company so interesting and providing so much value that people will want to stay connected and maintain a relationship with you.
What to Expect
At 185 pages, Engagement Marketing is an inspiring book with relevant ideas for small business owners. In a down economy where small business has borne the brunt of the recession, Gail’s book points to a silver lining that will have you feeling more confident about the future.
She shows how small organizations across the country (Gourmet Coffee, Maas Nursery, Currier Museum of Art, The Beantown Sound and many others) are using creative engagement tactics (despite the fierce competition) to find new customers, win back old ones and make more money.
Here are some useful things you will learn:
- The engagement marketing cycle – the idea of getting new customers through existing ones.
- How social visibility happens – when your social network shares your content, your business is exposed to new prospects whom you can subsequently convert.
- Engagement marketing tips and tricks – 5 additional insider tips that further increase your social visibility and ultimately bring in new customers.
- And much more!
The gist of Engagement Marketing is that when you delight your customers by serving them well, and then deepen your relationship with them via social media, they will give you more repeat business and even lead others to you.
Engagement marketing is a three-step process.
The Engagement Marketing Cycle – experience, entice, engage!
#1: Deliver a WOW! Experience
One of the best ways to figure out whether you’re delivering a great customer experience is to look at your business from the outside in. Ask yourself the following:
- When people call your office, are they put on hold for 5 minutes, stuck listening to “Your call is very important to us” every 10 seconds?
- What happens when you try to access your website from a mobile phone?
- Is your website built on Flash?
- When a customer complains about your service, does someone from your office respond immediately or are these comments ignored?
Here’s what a WOW! experience looks like: Gourmet Coffee Service delivers office refreshment products to companies in the greater Los Angeles area.
Following their slogan ”We’re going to spoil you,” they send a driver out to the customer’s workplace every four weeks. When the driver arrives, he doesn’t just drop off the products (and an invoice). He straightens up and restocks the pantry, and then he cleans and maintains the coffee brewer. That in itself helps to keep costs down for the customer. The company also sends out nice, easy-to-read invoices.
Remember, when you deliver a WOW! experience, customers will be interested and open to keeping in touch with you.
#2: Entice Customers to Keep in Touch
Now that you’ve wowed your customers, the next thing you’ll want to do is entice them to keep in touch via email or social media. It’s important to keep in touch with customers for two reasons.
- It drives repeat sales because it helps draw them back to your business.
- It keeps you top-of-mind. Even if they delete your emails, your name stays on their radar and the next time they need your product again, they’ll be more likely to call you.
Repeat business is more likely to happen when you’ve kept in touch with customers. Image source: iStockphoto
Gourmet Coffee Service knows how to entice customers to stay in touch.
First they use their email newsletter to feature new tea and coffee products, biscotti or eco-friendly cups and napkins. Customers choose whatever they want to sample and email their requests back to the company. Dedicated reps then handle the orders and ensure that customers get their “goody bags” when their driver visits next.
They also have a “Refer a friend” campaign whereby customers who refer a friend via email receive gift certificates for more delicious treats.
There’s one thing that you have to be careful about with email newsletters and social media content, however. “You have to walk a fine line between content that benefits your customers and content that is self-serving,” cautions Bob Tullio, owner of Gourmet Coffee.
#3: Engage People
Once your customers opt into your social content, you have to make sure they stay by engaging them on a regular basis.
Engaging people means delivering interesting, relevant content that gets them to take an action. Engagement includes everything from likes, comments and shares to downloads, event registrations and online purchases.
Keep in mind that online participation often translates into offline engagement.
Gourmet Coffee engages fans on their Facebook page with exciting giveaways and contests such as their “Driver Contest.” Customers were invited to post comments about why they love their drivers. (Editor’s note: All Facebook competitions are subject to Facebook’s guidelines. You can find out more here.)
The company also committed to giving away valuable prizes (e.g., Bose SoundDock Digital Music Systems) by entering people who liked their page in a weekly drawing. Winners were announced each week through videos posted on Facebook.
In just 11 months after implementing these easy engagement tactics, Gourmet Coffee earned more than $100,000 in additional revenue, and the “Refer a friend” campaign netted dozens of referrals, with 7 of them turning into $5000-a-month accounts!
If you put yourself in customers’ shoes, you can see why it would be easy for them to keep in touch with a company that delights them with sample goody bags, clean pantries, dedicated reps and drivers, interesting newsletters and amazing content.
- Figure out how you can provide a WOW! experience to your customers. It doesn’t have to break the bank, it just needs to be delightful (being on time, nice packaging, thank-you notes, customer rep phone calls to ensure everything is OK and so on).
- Start with one initial connection method (e.g., email newsletter or a blog) for enticing customers to keep in touch. Remember engagement marketing is an opt-in strategy, so give customers a reason (i.e., a benefit) to keep in touch with you.
- Once you have that piece gaining traction, add a social media platform (where your customers hang out) and experiment with different types of content to see what your potential customers like. Be sure to measure results and repeat what works.
Gail’s book offers a practical, hands-on approach to using social media for customer engagement. I especially enjoyed her case studies because she used ordinary small businesses that were easy to relate to.
I also liked many of her budget-friendly content marketing tips. For example, when creating incentives for your email newsletter, do something simple and cheap such as bundling your five most popular blog posts into a special “toolkit” report.
On the downside though, I felt that the whole idea of “engagement marketing” is nothing new. Most business owners know that they must provide a great customer experience if they want to stay in business.
It’s true that social media has created new opportunities to entice and engage customers (and the book gives many good examples), but even that has been in place for a long time.
That said, I highly recommend the book because it delivers very important yet achievable strategies for using social media to attract repeat and referral business.
Social Media Examiner gives this perceptive book a 4-star rating.
Over to You
What do you think? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.