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In any organization, it is important to understand the needs and satisfactory levels of their customers. Understanding these factors will not only benefits the customers but also benefits the firms to a greater extent. To achieve these things, the active engagement of the customers becomes of the utmost importance in any kind of firm. Customer engagement is a psychological state that occurs under interactive, co-creative customer experiences with a brand.
Based on the number of research survey’s consumer engagement is broadly divided into four types, namely:
The increased levels of competition have made to use the marketing mix a tool for marketing tactical tools that can be controlled to produce the desired response in the target market. The marketing mix enables the trading of the benefits of one’s competitive strengths in the marketing mix against the benefits of others. It also helps in the allocation of the resources among various demands, and also among the various competitive devices of the marketing mix.
These concepts and methodologies will help to instill the marketing philosophy in the organization and they are much needed in the present time where marketing is far more customer-oriented than ever before and also the service sector of the economy has come to dominate economic activity. Customer engagement is a firm-initiated resource, which involves companies’ explicit strategies to stimulate Customer engagement. (Ex: Asking them to like certain videos etc.).
Customer engagement conceptualization differentiates between behavioral and psychological engagement. To build the gap between the customers and the brand/companies the importance was given to social exchange, reciprocity, and opportunity cost in strategic Customer engagement initiatives, like cognitive, emotional, and behavioral dimensions. From a Social exchange theory perspective, it is claimed that Customer engagement provides an opportunity to build exchange relationships not only based on tangible resources such as money, goods, and services but also less tangible or even symbolic resources like information, sympathy, etc. The Customer engagement outcomes are of two kinds such as customer interaction value and customer multiplier value which focus on the transactional interaction between the customer and the firm and the actions between the firms. ex; Traditional brick and mortar stores such as Walmart are expanding aggressively into online space while pure online retailers such as Amazon are building brick and mortar stores to provide tangible, physical experiences. Customer engagement also differs online and offline based on physical surroundings.
Fuelled by rapid developments in digital environments, and by a desire to build personal connections with consumers, brands are increasingly seeking to engage with consumers on digital platforms. On various digital platforms, a wide range of engagement practices has evolved, including, for example, playing advergames, learning (and writing) customer reviews, and watching, liking, and sharing brand videos, blogs, and other content. With the interactive role of customers in the marketplace, we enter a new time where the consumer plays an active role in the practice of marketing. It is therefore especially valuable to understand digital engagement practices from the consumer’s view.
Consumer engagement practices have been associated with financial, reputational, and competitive advantages. Effectively predicting engagement practices is complicated when technological advancements give rise to new, unexplored programs, and media. Categorizing the digital engagement practices taxonomically will reveal opportunities for employing new practices in comparison to the existing brand engagement offerings.
The fragmentation and lack of combination in the digital engagement research create a strong need for standardization of the classification of engagement practices. It is important to recognize that differences between brands and products can lead to differences in engagement practices and their effects. For instance, consumers may choose different ways of engaging with a hedonic product (e.g., co-designing a denim jacket) than with a practical product (e.g., giving feedback on an insurance package). Although particular practices may be more appropriate or famous for one type of brand than another, at a more abstract level, the set of possible engagement practices does not necessarily differ between brands.
Marketer-generated content by different platforms like social media etc. will also have a great influence on the sentiment of customers’ digital engagement. This kind of interaction leads to better engagement which is beyond the normal interaction with the customers and such kind of sentiment leads as an indicator for customer lifetime value. It is also verified through various social media page research that emotional content has a positive and significant influence regardless of the outcome of the event. Marketers can use marketers generated content, surrounding experiential events to influence the sentiments of the customer’s digital engagement even with no change in their objective performance during the events.
The major engagement-related customer outcomes are generated by their brand or firm-related interactive experiences. It is expected that the integration between attitude and customer relationship management practices is pretty good. Certain task-based and experimental initiatives involving customers’ actions must be strategically adapted based on firm performance during the customer’s interaction event.
The present section introduces a conceptual model illustrating the hypothesized nature of relationships between customer brand engagement and selected concepts addressed in the previous section, which are thought to exhibit a key association to customer brand engagement.
The model shows consumer engagement as a customer brand-engagement antecedent.
Relationship between involvement and customer brand engagement.
The engagement process in marketing unfolds under two-way interactions between the engagement subject and a specific engagement object, such as a brand generating particular customer/consumer engagement states typified by specific engagement levels under particular contextual conditions.
According to some researchers, more than consumer engagement the loyalty nexus matters a lot in the purchase decisions. Although customer satisfaction and perceived quality is a necessary step in loyalty formation, it becomes less significant as loyalty begins to set through other mechanisms. It is claimed that loyalty is directly proportional to customer engagement, but after a certain period in the future, this might not be true because of the decreased levels of an individual’s self-perceived capacity to perform based on a potential compensatory function of engagement in performance circumstances and also due to the increasing levels of an individual’s self-perceived performance capacity. The engagement concept has been observed in the marketing method as a promising variable that may provide enhanced predictive power of customer loyalty outcomes.
Many of the customer engagement activities are also happening online, where most of the top global brands have established online brand communities. These specialized members of the community are non-geographically bound based on the set of social relationships among these brand admirers. The shared consciousness, the rituals, traditions, and certain behavioral norms and values typically center on shared consumption experiences with the brand and the sense of moral responsibility felt among the community members are certainly major factors that make them a community.
Certain brands also fund their brand community to have better engagement among their members Ex: Harley Davidson, Blue Band, etc. The online brand community engagement also provides functional benefits for the consumers in situations like purchasing decisions, helps in uncertainty avoidance, and also in providing quality information. Firms often provide financial incentives such as loyalty points, lucky draws, and price promotions to promote participation and engagement among the consumer communities. Even though the online brand communities have greater importance in engaging the customers with the brand, it also has some other negative impacts wherein the rumors spread across very quickly and many consumers tend to believe this easily as they have high credibility with perceived information of the co-consumers in the community.
In the case of luxury brands, the desires and the social value are related to consumers engaging strongly with the brands which will, in turn, lead to subjective well-being. This desire leads to the motivation for the decision-making process which is based on a variety of social, emotional, or evaluative sources and is further followed by behavioral intentions or actual behaviors.
Customer engagement in such cases is manifested in purchasing and referring a brand, as well as sharing brand experience and improving the brand products by contributing to the brand community and giving feedback. The customer’s taste under such luxury brands will highly depend upon the uniqueness of the product and also the one which is difficult to possess, as a means to demonstrate exclusivity and social status. Such investments have been proved to provide positive emotional and psychological benefits. Luxury brand consumers receive incentives and also enhance their social identity within the luxury community by referring to the brand.
With all the things the customer experience has also become the necessary part for the better engagement of the customers. Among these, the physical and the social environment of the service firm will all be an important element in engaging the customer, as this elicits a sense of comfort among the customers. In improving such services, the factors like ‘moment of truth’ become necessary, where customers have an unusual amount of emotional energy invested in the outcome with few interactions.
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