How to Build a Winning Digital Customer Engagement Strategy

February 15, 2023
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How to Build a Winning Digital Customer Engagement Strategy
Companies that invested in a digital customer engagement strategy grew topline revenue by 70%—2022 Twilio State of Customer Engagement Report

We’ve all changed the way we interact with our favorite brands over the last few years. Maybe you browse inventory on a company’s website on your phone instead of going into a store, or speak with a customer service rep over web chat instead of calling in.

Every interaction is an opportunity for the brand to leave you feeling good about your relationship with them. But to build those relationships, they need to develop and execute a digital customer engagement strategy to make sure that the way they engage with you across all of these digital channels fosters positive feelings instead of frustration. To do this well results in higher customer loyalty and retention, while reducing customer acquisition costs and growing customer lifetime value.

Not sure where to start? Check out our following guide for developing a winning digital customer engagement strategy.

Get the whole picture by adopting a holistic approach to customer data

64% of leaders cite a lack of consolidated data and analytics as a hurdle to delivering a seamless customer experience—Genesys The State of Customer Experience

We know that brands want to understand customers, and customers want to be understood. But how do you really get that holistic understanding of who a customer is and what they want?

The answer lies in unifying different types of data from different digital customer engagement solutions so that it’s actionable and accessible for all customer-facing teams. And that data falls into four main categories:

  • Behavioral data, like interaction and purchase propensity data, helps you figure out what to say to each customer to engage them
  • Transactional data helps you measure the outcomes of engagement
  • Use case and pricing data tells you how to adapt to the channel of best fit, to maximize customer ROI
  • Channel engagement data, like link tracking, message scheduling, and open rates, informs the best time to contact the customer for highest engagement

When all of these types of data are unified in real time and work in concert, they create a holistic understanding for every customer and act as an engine for precise personalization; customer-facing teams can provide experiences tailored to each individual in order to drive loyalty and retention while growing customer lifetime value.

Be precise when you personalize by focusing on data

62% of consumers say a brand will lose their loyalty if they deliver an un-personalized experience—2022 Twilio Segment State of Personalization Report

While an email that addresses the recipient by their first name might've felt personalized years ago, nowadays that feels a bit impersonal. We may wonder, how many people receive an email with that same first name in the opening?

Feeling like part of a batch-and-blast communication doesn’t feel personal. Customers want to be treated according to who they truly are, not straightforward facts about them. This is where precise personalization within digital customer engagement comes in, helping brands stand out above the rest.

First, you have to understand your customer and their preferences through their behavior when they interact with your brand. You can then precisely personalize with tailored communications, like product recommendations tailored to an individual's purchase history, or a text about a sale relevant to a product that they had previously reached out to support about but not yet purchased.

Make sure your customer experience is cohesive across channels

Only 35% of companies feel they are successfully achieving omnichannel personalization—2022 Twilio Segment State of Personalization Report

Think about all of the different ways you can interact with your favorite brands today. There’s email, SMS, chat, voice, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, the list goes on and on. Digital customer engagement use cases span marketing, sales, identity verification, and service, making it easy for customers to reach brands when, where, and how they prefer.

As amazing as that accessibility is for consumers and brands alike, it also makes the customer journey far less linear and less predictable. That makes orchestrating a unified, cohesive customer experience across all of these channels far more challenging for customer-facing teams. When brands get that wrong, it can be very frustrating for customers.

Say you’re asked to provide the same profile information by several customer service agents, when they should already have it in their database. Or a brand’s marketing department sends you a cheery marketing email right after you’ve had a bad consumer experience with them. It feels like the brand isn’t hearing you at best, or doesn’t care at worst—and that impacts how you decide to engage with them in the future.

In short, brands need to ensure every customer-facing team is able to access and use the same up-to-date information, taking into account different interactions across touchpoints and adjusting their digital customer engagement strategies accordingly. With an omnichannel personalization strategy, brands can create a customer experience that differentiates the brand and drives loyalty.

If you truly want to understand your customers, earn their trust

Only 65% of consumers actually trust the brands they do business with—2022 Twilio State of Customer Engagement Report

Brands have been bracing for the depreciation of cookies for several years, marking a seismic change in how companies can try to understand what their customers want. Plus, customers themselves are increasingly invested in data privacy and security.

By the end of 2024, brands need to be able to source and leverage first-party data and zero-party data, instead of relying exclusively on third-party data. Some may already be familiar with first-party data, which is customer data received as part of a transaction like a full name, date of birth, address, and so on. Zero-party data is the customer data that customers trust brands enough to volunteer in order to improve or further tailor an experience, like preferences about products, lifestyle, habits, and so on.

Zero-party data is arguably the most valuable to brands, but it’s also the most difficult to come by throughout digital customer engagement channels. To get customers to speak up, brands need to earn customer trust with good data policies and practices. That way, customers can rest assured their data won’t be shared, sold, or used otherwise inappropriately. Investing in the ability to earn their trust and the data that comes along with it also helps with precise personalization, driving not only loyalty but also ROI.

Start building a winning digital customer engagement strategy today

Everyone is feeling the impact of today’s macroeconomic conditions. Brands are increasingly expected to deliver more with fewer resources; as a result, they have to be really intentional with their digital customer engagement strategy spend and team bandwidth.

Despite this economic climate–or perhaps, because of it–brands need to invest in tools that help them maximize ROI while growing customer loyalty and lifetime value, and pivot quickly and easily where necessary. Learn how Twilio’s Customer Engagement Platform, powered by Twilio Segment’s Customer Data Platform, can help.