Why customer data is key to customer engagement

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Customer Engagement Platform

What is a customer engagement platform?

Companies spend a huge amount of their time making sure they reach their customers. Through ads, emails, product lines, promotions, and branding they do their best to communicate with shoppers and drive them to make purchases and remain loyal. But how do these companies check to see whether these strategies are working?

The key to making sure various forms of marketing are succeeding is to look at customer engagement—how individual shoppers are interacting with your business. In the past, customer engagement could only be measured roughly—employees could try to track when different customers visited, sales figures could be used to infer consumer numbers, and surveys could be distributed to get an on-the-ground view of what shoppers were doing. Today, the process is quicker, easier, and more accurate with the use of a customer engagement platform.

What is a customer engagement platform? This is a system of software which gathers data from different parts of your business and uses them to figure out how, where, and when you and your customers are making contact.

This software platform works by taking in information created when individuals interact with your business. This can happen in a brick-and-mortar store, in your online web store, or even elsewhere on the internet through ads. Many prospects and customers interact with your company in all of these places, and sifting through all the resulting data and pairing it with specific individuals can be difficult and time consuming. This is why companies concerned with customer behaviors need to invest in an omnichannel customer engagement platform—one which can compile and analyze all the data from all available sources and create a clear picture of what consumers want and how they prefer to shop.

These platforms are becoming increasingly vital in a market where customers shop both in person and online. Knowing how people interact with your business can tell management which strategies are working and which need to be revised or replaced. More effective marketing creates more customers and happier shoppers. This means better sales and a more competitive position in the retail landscape.

Customer engagement software

Customer engagement software is a broad term which can refer to many different types of software. Any application which helps your business study the ways it interacts with customers and how they interact with you can be categorized this way. That being said, there are a few types of software which are more relevant to customer engagement than others.

Data gathering software, at its base, deals with customer engagement. All the information collected with these tools correlates to engagement in the real world, and without this data, a platform cannot function.

Collected info is then fed into something called a CDP or customer data platform. Here, each piece of data is connected with a customer profile according to who produced it. With a CDP, business leaders can determine how each and every customer and prospect engages with their company—how they like to shop, what they like to buy, and when they usually make purchases.

Once all the data is collected and sorted, it can be run through various analytics programs. Analytics tools are incredibly diverse and can discover patterns and generate insights about everything from consumer demographics to stylistic trends. This can tell management what kind of customers respond to what kinds of ads and promotions and who prefers to do business in what ways.

The number of tools available is proportional to the number of customer engagement software companies producing them. Tracking consumer behaviors and preferences has become vital to businesses in all sectors, and the customer engagement software market has swollen as a result. Lexer’s full omnichannel platform stands apart from the competition for its all-in-one software system. By eliminating the need for compatibility testing between various different apps from multiple companies, Lexer constitutes the perfect solution both for businesses new to the field of customer data and experienced companies looking for a more streamlined and user-friendly system.

Customer engagement solutions

The role of customer engagement research is to drive customer service through better marketing.

Understanding the ways in which you and your customers are interacting and communicating creates a clearer picture of each individual shopper. Different customers have different preferences—what they like to buy, when they like to shop, and whether they would rather make purchases online or in person. Knowing what products they’re interested in allows companies to stock items in line with customer wants and needs. Knowing when they want to buy allows for targeted sales, promotions, and memberships. Knowing where they like to do their shopping lets companies focus their efforts in the right places. All of this results in a better experience for each customer and prompts them to buy more and remain loyal.

Loyalty is an extremely important facet of customer engagement. Engagement software allows businesses to learn what kinds of shoppers prefer to shop with you over others and why. It also tells companies what they can do to keep people from taking their business to competitors. Staying competitive has become increasingly complex and important given the move to e-commerce and the use of social media and other internet platforms for advertising. Monitoring engagement is now vital for any company seeking to succeed in such dynamic and evolving markets.

Customer engagement solutions will look different for every business. Each company has unique customers and unique ways of doing business, and the kinds of engagement which are possible will differ widely across different sectors and regions. Efficient communication will, thus, require different tools to capture and leverage this diverse data properly. Nonetheless, all businesses can benefit from this software and technology, and in coming years it is bound to become ubiquitous in all branches of retail—central to every kind of business.

Customer engagement platform vs CRM

Businesses interested in entering into the world of data and customer engagement will likely come across the term CRM—another software platform used to better understand how individuals relate to your business.

The function of a customer engagement platform vs. CRM features some overlap, but each tends to be used for different applications. Both systems are used to gain more information about how individuals interact with your business model and produce data to help management better cater to their specific wants and needs.

The main difference is where these systems are used and who makes use of them. A CRM tends to be used in the context of business-to-business transactions. Companies which offer services to other companies—financial, advertising, software, etc.—tend to use CRMs to examine their business sales pipelines. CRMs can help these companies figure out how to contact, meet with, and promote their services to other organizations. They also help generate data about sales cycles, sales strategies, and deal sizes. All of these have analogues in retail, but the CRM is generally better suited to b2b applications.

A customer engagement platform, on the other hand, deals with more spontaneous types of sales with fewer steps between initial prospecting and final purchase. The insights generated from a customer engagement platform are also meant to be applied more broadly, altering and improving aspects of the customer experience in line with the wants and needs of large demographics. CRM data tends to be used on a much more limited scale, working to cater to individual clients on a case-by-case basis.

In short, while both tend to examine the same kinds of information, a CRM is mostly useful in b2b transactions while a customer engagement platform is more relevant to retail. Retailers attempting to use a CRM will also likely find it is simply not built to handle the large number of consumers your business serves.

Customer engagement platform examples

To get a better sense of what these systems can do to improve business and revenue in the real world, some customer engagement platform examples may be helpful.

A company examines the data collected both online and in-store and uses it to generate info about the demographics of customers which shop in each location. Management finds that customers in the age bracket 35-60 tend to make purchases in physical stores while those aged 18-34 prefer to shop online. The company decides to deploy ads aimed at younger customers primarily online and ads for older shoppers mainly in their stores. They also promote products favored by younger consumers more heavily on their webstore, and sales increase on both platforms.

Another company uses its software to determine that most male shoppers tend to encounter their ads on Youtube while female shoppers are more likely to come across them on Instagram. It then formulates a number of new ad campaigns geared towards male and female shoppers, respectively, and places them on the corresponding sites. Here, too, sales are seen to rise.

A third company does not have an online store but uses its customer engagement platform to discover that sales tend to drop sharply when certain items aren’t in stock in the stores where they are in high demand. Rather than shopping around, customers tend not to make any purchases at all when something isn’t available at one store, though it can be found at another. The company decides to set up a webstore to allow customers access to their entire inventory, though not all physical stores can carry every product line. Sales increase and shoppers are found to buy more than they would originally, since they are more likely to shop around online.

These examples only scratch the surface of what is possible with customer engagement software, and every business can find a way to better leverage its data and drive revenue through its use.

Click here to learn the top 15 reasons customers choose Lexer as their preferred CDP partner and vendor.

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