11 min readThe Rules of Online Consumer Engagement
If you can get consumers to interact on your website, you’re more likely to win a customer. The rules of consumer engagement may seem like common sense, but there are so many detractors today that end up driving these website visitors away.
THE RULES OF ONLINE CONSUMER ENGAGEMENT
Time and time again when I re-visit websites, I get frustrated because the experience isn’t personalized to me. I feel more like a statistic than an actual human being. I want to learn more about a product before making a purchasing decision, but all too often the messaging is strictly buy, buy, buy.
Many website visitors, however, are still in the research phase. You have to build their trust and motivate them to want to purchase from your company, not a competitor’s.
You’ve spent countless hours making your showroom or storefront personal to make visitors feel comfortable and want to stay longer. Gaining that online customer is about creating an experience on your website that’s personal, too. It’s all about getting that visitor to stay longer and interact with your brand.
When I talk to customers, I often use Amazon as the perfect example of a website that treats its visitors like humans, not robots. Amazon offers me product suggestions based on my searches and wishlist. They’ve learned that personalizing the experience for its customers is key to customer engagement.
And it’s no surprise that Google sets the bar when it comes to consumer website engagement, too. They know essentially everything there is to know about you. With the information based on your searches, they create a seamless experience that’s customized to you. It’s all about convenience, making it easy for you to get the information you need.
Today, consumers are starting to expect that same personal experience on other websites, including when they shop for a car, furniture or even an apartment. By creating a personalized experience on your website, you show consumers you care.
Let’s take a look at the 5 basic rules of online consumer engagement:
Consumer Engagement Rule 1
Please, don’t ask me for the same information twice. If I visit your site once and entered my name and email, the next time I visit, don’t ask me for the same information. You’re essentially making me do more work and my time is valuable.
What you can do: Use interactive tools on your website that talk to each other and remember your customer. Rather than serve up another static lead form, engage them in an experience so they’ll remember you.
Have them complete an interactive quiz, for example, and then collect their contact information and email them the results with a special offer. When they return to your website, you should already know who they are, so serve up a different interactive experience and collect other valuable information.
For example, if I enter my name and contact information into an interactive trade appraisal tool on an auto dealership’s website, and then click on Get E-Price for a vehicle, it shouldn’t ask me for my contact information again.
There’s absolutely zero tolerance with the consumer to fill that information out again. In fact, data shows that the visitor will leave your site when asked the same question. Again, when was the last time Amazon asked you who you were? Which leads to no. 2…
Consumer Engagement Rule 2
Personalize my experience and learn more about me to make my shopping experience customized to me.
If I can answer a few questions to help a company narrow my shopping selection, you’ve essentially saved me time from searching through tons of search results.
What you can do: When a consumer visits your site, ask them questions to better serve them. For example, in a mattress assessment experience, you could ask them questions to help them determine what type of mattress is best for them.
Your CTAs on your website should then adjust so they focus on mattresses, not sofas or dining room tables — because they’re not shopping for those items. You wouldn’t ask this visitor to schedule a sofa consultation, but you might ask if they’d like to schedule an in-store mattress consultation.
Personalization tells me that you are listening to what I am telling you.
Consumer Engagement Rule 3
Don’t interrupt my research with a call to action that has nothing to do with what I’m researching.
If a chat call to action continually pops up on my screen when I’m in the middle of reading about a product, I’m going to get annoyed and search on another site. You’re not engaging the consumer, you’re interrupting them.
What you can do: During the research phase, visitors are looking for information and to educate themselves before narrowing their selections to determine what they want to buy and what they can afford.
You can help educate the buyer by providing videos on your site, you can serve up an interactive CTA assessment that again helps them to narrow their options (for example, asking them questions to help them determine what furniture style fits their personality), or even provide a calculator to help them determine their budget.
Better yet, experiment with all three and see what brings the best results.
Consumer Engagement Rule 4
Remember me and the information I have shared when I come back. No one wants to start over. If you remember my name and contact information, that’s a good start, but if I took a quiz, calculated my budget and went through interactive experiences on your website to help narrow my shopping preferences, your website should be able to capture all of those details and not ask me the same questions over and again.
What you can do: Your CRM captures leads and all the valuable data that a website visitor just gave to you. For each visitor, you’ve created a consumer profile with many points of data.
With today’s technology and dynamic pathing, you should be able to serve up new experiences on your website to visitors, so you don’t need to ask them the same questions over and over again.
Entice your visitors with new experiences like a Spin-to-Win or Scratch-Off promotion that emails them a special offer.
Consumer Engagement Rule 5
Make taking the next steps easy. Get the web visitor to make an appointment to meet a member of your team in person.
What you can do: In an interactive experience, you can easily have the visitor schedule an appointment. If you get them to schedule a date and time online that works best for them to meet with you in person, you’re more likely to finalize the sale.
With all of the data you’ve captured, your sales team can be well prepared to assist the consumer, without having to ask unnecessary questions, too.
Don’t use business jargon. Assume I don’t know your jargon… because I don’t.
It seems simple, but so often we get caught up in the day-to-day and don’t realize a visitor to your site doesn’t know the industry (or the terms of your business) like you.
What you can do: Make sure anyone can understand the language you use on your website.
Have an honest friend who’s not as familiar with your industry review your site and tell you if there’s anything they don’t understand. If they don’t understand it, your customers won’t either, so edit and simplify.
Following the rules and developing a consumer engagement strategy to engage customers takes time, but the results will pay off.
People today expect a personal experience online and are more likely to view you as a company that cares about helping them get the information they need to make the best purchasing decision. In return, expect to win a loyal customer.