The Relationship Between Customer Engagement, Loyalty And Revenue

Marketers know that finding ways to increase customer engagement is good for the bottom line. “Customer engagement is highly correlated to customer loyalty,” says Aimee Lucas, Customer Experience Transformist and VP at the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm.

That’s because loyal customers are more likely to buy again, and buy more than before. “We see companies who have improved engagement increase cross-sell by 22%, drive up-sell revenue from 13% to 51%, and also increase order sizes from 5% to 85%,” says R “Ray” Wang, Principal Analyst and CEO at Constellation Research, an advisory and research firm.

However, customer loyalty can also generate revenue on another front: demand generation.

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Engaged customers draw in more loyal customers

Customer engagement isn’t only for current customers. It begins the moment a potential buyer spots a mention of your company on social media, or hears about your product from a peer in their industry.

In today’s hyper-connected world, people aren’t shy about sharing their opinions—and B2B buyers are listening. The 2016 B2B Buyer’s Survey Report found that 62% of B2B buyers were relying more on peer recommendations than the year before, and 49% listed colleagues and peers as one of their top three resources in the search for new software.

The bad news is that, if B2B marketers don’t get into word-of-mouth marketing now, they risk having others drive the conversation around their products and services.

However, there’s a group your prospective customers will trust: your current customers.

By engaging your power users throughout the customer lifecycle and turning them into vocal advocates for your brand, you can improve what’s being said in third-party channels about your company.

Increasing customer engagement makes it more likely that your customers will spread positive word of mouth about your brand through blogs and social media, videos, case studies, speaking engagements and other activities. This social proof will help you attract more prospects, close more deals and shorten your sales cycle.

However, you have to engage your customers throughout their lifecycle if you want them to advocate for you at every stage of your potential buyer’s journey.

Building customer engagement & advocacy throughout the customer lifecycle

To increase customer loyalty, you first need a consistent way to connect with your customers. “Companies need to start by understanding how their interactions are meeting the functional, accessible and emotional expectations of their customers through a ‘voice of the customer’ program,” suggests Aimee.

Amongst other customer engagement activities, a formal advocate marketing program can ensure you’re engaging your customers, encouraging them to advocate for your brand and recognizing them for their contributions.

Here’s how you can leverage and motivate your advocates throughout the customer lifecycle.

1. Discovery

This is the stage in the buying process when your potential buyers are learning about the features of your products and services. Word of mouth, blogs, social media, user reviews and other online content are all big influences at this stage. In particular, 55% of respondents to the 2016 B2B Buyer’s Survey Report said that online reviews influenced their decision to purchase.

Ask your advocates to contribute to this social proof by sharing their positive experiences on various social media and review sites. Then, thank them for their contributions and promote their online profiles. They’ll appreciate the fact that you’re helping to boost their online reputation, making this a win for both of you.

2. Final selection

By the time buyers reach this point, your advocates have likely already influenced their decision-making process through word-of-mouth and reviews.

To help your prospects finalize their selection, connect them with advocates from similar industries and roles who can offer case studies, testimonials and reference calls. Position this as an opportunity for your advocates to increase their professional network and talk about their success with your product or service, and they’ll be happy to oblige.

3. Onboarding

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In this stage, buyers have made the commitment to invest in your solution and are looking for advice from current customers and product experts to get the most from their investment.

Try crowdsourcing tips and suggestions from your advocates to create a best practices guide to share with your new customers. You can also set up a community program where customers can connect with peers and share advice. Share your advocates’ success stories, and help foster professional relationships, and it will be a win-win for all parties involved.

4. Providing feedback on the product or service

At this stage, a customer has spent some time with your product or service and is in a position to provide input on what is working and what needs adjustment.

Reach out to them to ask for their feedback on everything from your newest product release to your next marketing campaign. They’ll probably have some great suggestions, and it will make them feel valued—as long as you try to implement their suggestions.

5. Contributing referral leads

In a 2015 study by Heinz Marketing, 82% of sales leaders surveyed agreed that referrals are the most useful leads. If your customer advocates submit the names of peers who would also be a fit for your organization, it can really contribute to your company’s bottom line.

Encourage advocates to refer new prospects by making your referral process smooth and transparent. Then, reward advocates appropriately for making an introduction and keep them in the loop throughout the sales cycle.

To build customer loyalty throughout all these activities, the key is to keep the lines of communication open and listen to what your customers are saying. This will increase customer engagement throughout the buying process and customer lifecycle—driving both demand gen and revenue.

More resources for boosting customer engagement:

This blog was originally published October 12th, 2015, and was updated March 14th, 2017.

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25 Responses to The Relationship Between Customer Engagement, Loyalty And Revenue

  1. […] Owning the email communication necessary to connect with customers and keep them engaged throughout the customer lifecycle […]

  2. […] the tie-in with your business goals needs to be clear: How does starting an online community drive revenue, translate to cost savings, or contribute to member retention and increased wallet […]

  3. […] Below are four customer experience areas Joseph believes B2B marketing teams should focus on if they want to foster more customer advocacy—and, increase loyalty and revenue in the process. […]

  4. […] from acquisition to advocacy, presents you with new opportunities, technologies and tactics to engage the customer and enhance their overall experience. It’s a whole new zone of influence for marketers to […]

  5. […] equipped to lead the charge than CMOs. A Gartner report on CMO leadership found that leading the customer experience across all touchpoints is an important expectation CEOs have for marketing […]

  6. […] Investments in scaling and operationalizing advocate marketing programs are paying off. Most of the B2B marketers interviewed for the report could tie revenue directly to advocate participation. […]

  7. […] services companies to secure Iron Mountain’s position as a thought-leader and inspire more customer loyalty. Watch David’s Advocamp presentation to learn how the company engaged and leveraged their Board […]

  8. […] more modern businesses now understand the effect of referrals on their bottom line, many of their referral programs fail or underperform—and they can’t […]

  9. […] you have a direct or indirect relationship with your customers, every touchpoint adds up to the end customer experience. And the process isn’t linear—it’s progressive, particularly as you move into the SaaS/cloud […]

  10. […] Chandar says the goal of building long-term relationships with customers is not a new concept. What is new are the technologies that allow brands to do this. He says it is the job of the marketer to use this new technology—like an advocate marketing program—to scale customer engagement efforts at every stage of the buyer’s journey. […]

  11. […] can make your customers more invested in your brand and more engaged with your product. This will strengthen their loyalty—and likely result in them submitting more […]

  12. […] leaving your coworkers a crappy card and stale candy cane before you leave for the holidays. Put customer engagement and advocacy at the top of your New year’s resolution list. Your customers and your co-workers will thank […]

  13. […] Advocate marketing technology can unite fragmented customer engagement programs—like customer reference, referral, loyalty, success management and voice-of-the-customer initiatives—to create a cohesive strategy that spans the customer lifecycle. […]

  14. […] Listen to what your customers are telling you and be apart of the conversation around your brand. Engaged customers are more likely to spread positive word of mouth about your brand. Simply put, the way you engage […]

  15. […] 7. The Relationship Between Customer Engagement, Loyalty And Revenue […]

  16. […] opportunities, and the chance to spread their thought-leadership. Then they’ll be happy to spread their love for your brand with other potential customers on social […]

  17. […] good part is that once you deliver value, programmers and developers tend to be a loyal bunch. Once they feel you’ve actually taken the time to understand their craft, they’ll appreciate […]

  18. […] a mandate so we can improve the customer experience. By proactively addressing these issues, we drive customer loyalty and customer willingness to advocate on behalf of Iron Mountain,” says […]

  19. […] your business objective might be to increase customer retention, build brand loyalty, or reduce costs. On the other hand, your community objectives might be to provide a safe space for […]

  20. […] worked hard to build up tremendous loyalty with your customers. Because of that, you’d be amazed at what customers are willing to do at events—if you give […]

  21. […] proof will help you attract more prospects, close more deals and shorten the sales cycle,” says Jim Williams, vice president of marketing at […]

  22. […] Creating and nurturing vocal advocates for your brand requires the support and enthusiasm of every part of your organization—from product, to sales, marketing and customer support, right up to the executive level. At Advocamp 2015, three experts—Jenny Cheng, Chief Product Officer at InsideView; Jeanette Gibson, former Vice President, Customer Experience & Community at Hootsuite; and Jill Rowley, Social Selling Expert—debated how organizations can shift their thinking and increase customer engagement. Watch the session below, or read our recap, to get insights on creating advocates at every stage of the customer lifecycle. […]

  23. […] are beginning to recognize one of their most underrated assets: their customer promoters. These loyal advocates are valuable because they have higher retention and up-sell rates, and they tend to refer more […]

  24. Valerie says:

    This is a great list. It’s also one that circles back on itself. When I was reading the first step “Discovery,” I was thinking to myself, Discovery comes through customer advocacy, that’s the connection! And that’s the only thing I would add is that it’s not just referrals but referrals from customer advocates that’s the real driver of revenue.

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