These days, customer engagement ideas are a dime a dozen. When was the last time you read an article that actually excited you about captivating new or old customers? That’s what we thought. Often the best ideas are a bit unconventional and completely out-of-the-box. Because big goals — and big profits — never come from holding back, here are four unique ideas to up your engagement and make your sales fly through the roof.
1. Acknowledge your (less than) loyal customers
We’re not saying to ignore your already-loyal patrons, but giving a little TLC to customers that are MIA can provide you with significant ROI over time. If you’re already collecting email addresses at the point of sale and staying in touch with people, keep at it. But you should also consider setting up an email marketing campaign, one that is tailored solely to customers you haven’t seen for three or more months.
Since one-off emails can often get lost in the endless amount of correspondences your customers receive daily, executing an email marketing series can remind, encourage, and intrigue people to return to your store.
Email #1: We miss you
In a series of three emails, consider the first to be a “We miss you” note aimed at reminding readers about your store or business. The goal is to convey that you appreciate a past purchase or visit, and would love to see their faces again. You can also include information on any current promotions or upcoming sales. Put bluntly, get them to remember that you exist, that they once shopped with you, and that you are still open for business. If you’re lucky, this reminder will compel them to rush over. If not, one of the next two emails will send them flocking your way.
Email #2: We’ve got your back
For the second email, make it informational — drawing attention to both your store’s expertise and value. For example, if you’re a clothing boutique, consider sending a list of tips and tricks on how to transition your summer wardrobe into fall. You can tie it back to your store by recommending specific pieces you currently have in stock. This is also the time to push upcoming sales and include a discount code for that particular date.
Email #3: We have a little something for you
The third and final email in your series should entice your customers to return. If they haven’t visited so far, provide them with a promotion that is too good to pass up. Then, once you have them back in your store, give them such exceptional customer service that they’ll never imagine shopping anywhere else. We can’t emphasize enough the impact that above-and-beyond service has on your business.
2. Train your staff well
While we’re on the topic of customer service, let’s talk about those who are responsible for just that. That’s right, your stupendous staff. Though hiring and retaining incredible employees is crucial to your in-store engagement strategy, training said staff well is of equal importance.
If you have more than a handful of employees, you’re most likely not spending all of your time on the sales floor. That means that for those who are, they’re responsible for representing your brand. For this reason, and this reason alone, you should always train your employees as if someday they’ll be taking over your business, even if the chances of that are slim. When employees are well-trained they come across as more professional and more invested in the customer experience. This translates to higher satisfaction and an increased likelihood that people will keep coming back.
Teaching staff exceptionally well allows them to take on more responsibility, which means fewer headaches for you as a business owner. Need to run downtown for a meeting, leaving no one to close up shop? If your employees are schooled on the basics, you won’t need to close early — possibly throwing off your customer base — to make your meeting on time. The extra time it takes to train employees might seem like a hassle in the beginning, but trust us, the more people you have to depend on, the better.
3. Text my customers? Oh yes!
Life gets busy. Like, really busy. So how can you stay connected with customers when you’re competing in their already-full inbox? It might seem unorthodox, but using text messages can give you a leg up.
The number of emails we all receive daily can be in the hundreds. And honestly, how many of those go unopened? While email marketing has proven to be extremely successful (for every $1 spent on email marketing, $38 is generated in ROI), there’s a reason that the retail industry’s open rates are just a little over 21 percent. People receive a ton of emails and nobody has that kind of time. SMS messaging on the other hand, though used incessantly for personal use, still hasn’t been widely adopted for B2C marketing. This is your chance to take advantage of an unsaturated avenue.
There are many ways that you can harness the powers of SMS messaging. Our personal favorite, however, is to use it in conjunction with email marketing. For example, let’s say you’re about to send out the second of the three emails outlined above, but were disappointed with the open rate of the first one. You’re looking to increase that number this go-around, but aren’t sure how. What if you paired the email with a text? Simply send the email out first and then immediately follow it up with a text letting your customers know that they have something waiting in their inbox — whether that be a spring style guide or a coupon for 15 percent off their next purchase.
The key to this tactic is to use it sparingly — not every email should be followed by a text. You want to surprise and delight your customers, but not come off as spammy. Try it out. If you see your open rates increase, you’ll know you’re on the right track.
4. Teach and reward people on social media
Used correctly, social media can be the ultimate free (or inexpensive) marketing channel. Having you, or one of your employees, learn the ropes of the staple networks — Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram — is crucial. But getting loyal customers to join the party is even better. Positive reviews or shoutouts are the best in word-of-mouth marketing.
How to do it
The key to engaging people on social media, especially if it’s not something they commonly use, is to work it into a promotion. Offer a 10 percent discount to any customer that positively engages with you before making a purchase.
First, choose the channel you want to concentrate on. Place signs up around the store and point customers to your promotion when they arrive. You can also promote it via email marketing or SMS messaging. You probably already have at least one social media maven on staff, so make them the gatekeeper of whatever prizes and promotions you have in store. Have them work the floor, offering traditional customer service with the added benefit of helping any social media newbies. When a customer tags or mentions your store, hand over a treat!
A way to create a sense of urgency for this promotion is to offer it for only part of the day, preferably during slower hours. It will not only bring business into your shop when you need it most, but you’ll also have more time to lend if a customer needs help. Trust us, customer appreciation and engagement can go a long way when it comes to increasing sales. You just need to let it.
Providing an amazing customer experience doesn’t have to be complicated. Often, the best ideas just require a dash of ingenuity and a spoonful of creativity. Remember, building relationships with your customers takes time, and you’ll need to adjust along the way. So if you have an idea — even if it’s out-of-the-box, just go ahead and try it out. You might be surprised by what you discover inside.