Brands that engage with their customers across multiple channels and touchpoints are edging ever closer to reaching the north star of customer satisfaction, with a cross-channel approach proving to be a key driver for business growth by increasing the lifetime value of customers.
That’s according to Braze’s inaugural Global Customer Engagement Review, which set out to define what good customer engagement looks like, how that translates directly to business goals and where brands can find opportunities to improve their strategies. It found that companies that excel at customer engagement see higher customer lifetime value and lower customer acquisition costs, resulting in long-term, capital-efficient business growth.
“The past year has shown us that there is no question about the importance of customer engagement,” says Bill Magnuson, co-founder and chief executive of Braze. “The secret weapon that differentiates exceptional, enduring companies is the quality of their customer engagement, which encompasses the full set of activities through which companies build direct relationships with their customers. We wanted to provide brands with a tool to evaluate their own relationship building to help shape their own strategies, with customer satisfaction as their north star.”
The report combined a decision-maker survey of 1,300 marketing executives (vice-president level or above) at B2C companies with annual revenue of at least $10m together with Braze customer data drawn from over 5 billion global users, covering 10 markets: Australia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the UK and US.
As part of this analysis Braze has developed a new framework, The Braze Customer Engagement Index, to assess the maturity of brands’ customer engagement strategies based on 12 factors across two key axes:
- Tech: channels, classification, data, orchestration, performance, personalization
- Teams: culture, experimentation, metrics, objectives, staffing, strategy
Below are some of the key findings from this framework to help businesses evaluate and elevate their own relationship-building efforts:
1. Customer engagement is critical to business growth
Most brands understand that providing excellent customer experience is critical to building loyalty and retaining customers, but there’s also a direct correlation between the level of customer engagement a brand provides and business growth; marketers who rated their own practices as ‘excellent’ were more likely to hit their revenue goals than those who rated it as ‘poor’. Mirroring this trend, 56% of brands that ranked highest in the Braze Customer Engagement Index surpassed their revenue goals as well.
2. Even the most confident brands struggle to show success
While 88% of marketers stated that they are confident in their customer engagement practices, almost three out of four (74%) still worry that their metrics don’t translate into tangible business outcomes. A major contributing factor to this problem is a disconnect within teams that don’t always agree on what success looks like. Just 26% of marketers have a shared, company-wide definition of success when it comes to their customer engagement campaigns.
3. Marketing budgets will increase – with a heavy focus on customer engagement tools
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has emphasized the importance of a digital-first and digital-only customer experience. As a result, 60% of all marketing decision makers plan to increase their budget over the next 12 months, specifically with a focus on investing in customer satisfaction measurement and engagement, as well as mobile optimization/apps.
4. Marketers can’t live on one channel alone
While many brands technically leverage multiple channels, they tend to rely on only one for the majority of their campaigns – which is not necessarily ineffective (sending messages via a single channel is better than sending none at all), but brands that message customers across multiple channels saw a 58% increase in 30-day retention, customers that were 73% more likely to make a purchase, and four-times the increase in lifetime value.
Just showing up isn’t even half the battle. The research found that brands that take a cross-channel approach that blends both in-product (in-app messages, in-browser messages and in-app inboxes or feeds) and out-of-product (email, push (mobile/web) and SMS) messaging channels tend to have the highest overall performance. In order to create seamless, memorable experiences, brands need to use each channel based on its particular strengths.
HBO Max: converting free-trial users into paying subscribers
For example, WarnerMedia’s HBO Max launched in May 2020 using a seven-day free-trial offer to entice users to sign up and to persuade them to convert to paying subscribers. It found that free-trial users who watch multiple shows and movies, and those who watch on more than one device, are the most likely to become paying subscribers. It leveraged Braze to send push and email notifications to drive that behavior by recommending series, movies and other content as soon as users registered for the trial offer and opted in to receiving messages. The result: HBO Max’s marketing strategy boosted by 3,000% conversions of free-trial users to paying subscribers, versus a control approach that sent users standard messages.
What does a good customer engagement strategy look like?
In our increasingly online world, it’s clear that brands need a digital-first strategy, but without the definition and measurement of appropriate metrics, marketers can struggle to quantify the effectiveness of their engagement against company goals. Brands that used a diverse set of benchmarks were 55% more likely to exceed their revenue goals in 2020.
Customer engagement is critical to growth and more brands are expected to point more of their growing budgets towards it while working to connect metrics to tangible business outcomes. The top-performing brands have embraced cross-team collaboration, data agility and other customer engagement must-haves, supporting relationships that drive real business value. Every brand has a toolkit available to activate and retain valuable customers; by using a cross-channel approach, brands that leverage the best technology, latest channels and real-time data are most likely to succeed in the face of new and unforeseen challenges. You can find out more about the report here.