What does ‘customer engagement’ really mean?

Before we are married, we get ‘engaged’. Public toilets say ‘engaged’ outside them when they are locked. The word ‘engaged’ means busy or taken. When we use this term to refer to customer engagement, we mean keeping them busy or occupying them (and not proposing to them).

Obviously our customers and hot prospects will not be busy or occupied with us all the time. So, how often do we need to engage? This really depends on the nature of your business. Nothing is set in stone, but here’s a benchmark to help guide you.

How much is too much?

Your local supermarket engages with you every week. If you have a loyalty card they’ll engage you with relevant coupons and discounts based on what you’ve previously purchased. This is good customer engagement because you will visit the supermarket every week – either online or in store, therefore it doesn’t feel excessive. Providing customers with vouchers and coupons is a suitable engagement tool as your behaviour is based on transactions.

When dealing with a law firm, it would be wrong to expect money off vouchers and coupons for their services. If they interacted with you once a week it would annoy the life out of you. Your interaction with a law firm is not transactional – it is based on a relationship between advisor and partner. Providing clients with whitepapers, market trends and changes in the market would be a more appropriate form of engagement.

The same applies for your car insurance company. You’ll only deal with them once a year, for your renewal (hopefully), so it would ridiculous for them to send emails or whitepapers every week. If they were to contact you three times a year, with offers for other types of insurance, it would be a much more suitable form of engagement.

As you can see, from three very different sectors, there are very different ways to engage with customers. It’s up to you to work out the correct strategy for your business.

How do you measure engagement?

Now you should understand how you can engage, but you’ll also need to understand how to measure if you’re engaging effectively. The best way to find out if your engagement strategy is working is of course, sales.  This is measured by assessing who you are engaging with and who is buying. But aside from transactions, how else can we measure customer engagement?


Use embedded links and tracking software to see who opened your email, read an article, or how many people watched a video. If people are not interacting with your communications, they are not engaged. If 5000 people open your newsletter, it doesn’t mean that 5000 people are engaged. Finding out how many people clicked through to your site, would be a much better way of analysing it.


Measuring influence is to measure how much action is taken due to the communications you deliver. Do people buy or sign up to the suggested webinar or click through to other pages on your website? This would show that not only have your promoted content been seen, but has also prompted that person into taking another action.

It can also be measured by how much a message is shared, retweeted or linked to etc. This shows people are not just reading your content, but are willing to share it and spread the message to others. By looking at your levels of interaction and influence you can really measure the effectiveness of your engagement with the public.

Engagement is such a ‘buzzword’ at the moment, that it can sometimes lose meaning. People talk about the need to engage with customers, but without having any understanding as to what that means; this post should help you analyse if you’re engaging effectively.

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