How To Automate Customer Activation
According to the popular 80-20 rule, only 20% of your customers are responsible for 80% of your sales. This data indicates that a vast majority of your customers are inactive. Even the active ones are at varying stages of activity within the customer lifecycle. The truth is, no matter what stage these customers are currently at, they can always become better customers if you employ the right strategies.
Customers can always purchase more, use your service more, advocate for your brand more, and so on. The challenge of course is how to activate these customers effectively and get them to do more for your brand. This is where customer activation comes in. This article explains what customer activation is and the various ways of automating this all-important process for better results.
What Is Customer Activation?
Customer activation refers to the series of strategies aimed at motivating customers to move on to the next stage of their interaction with your business. This is done by making them realize the full benefits of your product and services and increasing their level of engagement with your brand.
Customer activation may involve re-engaging an old inactive customer or activating a new one. Whatever the case may be, the goal is to get your customers to become more excited about your product, service, or brand through relevant marketing.
Customer activation is basically that 'aha!' moment when customers realize the benefits of your product or service and decide to move on to the next stage of their relationship or engagement with you. Whether it’s a one-time customer returning to make a return purchase or a frequent user becoming an advocate, the goal of customer activation is to motivate customers to move to the next stage of their journey.
The truth is, the process can proceed naturally. But allowing it to progress this way can be slow. And it might never happen. This is why customer activation is necessary. You’ll need detailed planning and efficient strategies to get a customer to proceed to the next stage of their customer journey faster.
Why Is Customer Activation Important?
If your customers stop engaging with your brand or remain at the same level of interaction for too long, their buyer’s journey is likely to end there. This is why marketing leaders strive to identify the various factors that may be delaying customers from moving along in their buyer’s journey in order to get rid of them.
Customer activation will influence the customer’s movement through the buyer’s lifecycle and bring them closer to the next level of beneficial interaction with your business. Whether the goal is to get them to make their first purchase, become a repeat buyer or tell others about your brand, for every new customer activated, there’s a benefit that comes to your business in the form of added revenue or increased customer base.
How To Automate Customer Activation?
To move your customers to the next stage of their interaction, you need to know how to nudge them to take action. This is what customer activation is all about. There’s also perfect timing for this. There’s an ideal time to push and a time to leave them. If you will catch your customer’s attention and take your engagement with them to the next level, being right there when they need that nudge is vital.
This is where customer activation automation comes in. Being familiar with the concepts of activation and combining it with various marketing automation strategies will ensure that you’re there when your customers need that push to get them to make a purchase, register for an event, sign up for a new product offering, refer a friend and so on.
So how do you go about this? The following are the various steps in customer activation and how you can automate them:
Define your personas
To get your customers excited about your brand, you need to deliver value to them. According to a recent study, 68% of customers will pay higher for your services if you handle customer relations effectively. However, since every customer is unique, their definition of what counts as value is different. Thus, delivering value to your customers begins with a deep understanding of who they are. This is why you need to work on creating your buyer personas for your customers and potential customers.
The buyer persona gives you a picture of your target audience. It helps to capture their unique characteristics which are crucial to how you engage them. Factors such as demographics, needs, and motivations play an important role in capturing who your customers are and how to engage them better. By creating these personas, you can create content that is relevant to them and learn when and how to deliver it to them effectively.
Map out your customer journey
If the buyer persona helps you to know who your customers are, the customer journey tells you where they are in their interaction with you. This is what mapping out your customer journey is all about. You need to outline the various stages of the customer lifecycle and classify your customers based on where they are on this journey.
Mapping out the customer journey also helps you to know which stage you want to move the customers to and how automation can help you achieve this. This way, you can easily determine the kinds of information that would be relevant to them and deliver it as accurately as possible.
Track your customer behavior
Your customer persona is only one-half of the picture of who they are. Tracking their behavior is necessary to paint a full picture. It also reveals what interests them and where you’re likely to interact with them.
Knowing how your customers behave will help you predict how they’re likely to interact with your marketing messages. If you’re sending irrelevant content or not sending content through the channels they use often, you’ll never get them to take the actions you need them to.
It’s all about learning their browsing habits, search history, social activities, and preferred medium for getting content. The behavioral data of your customers will give you an idea of what their next step is likely to be on their customer journey and how to meet them at that point.
Plan out your customer activation strategy
With all of this information, you can now proceed to plan out your customer activation strategy. In the real sense, you need multiple strategies for different categories of customers. There’s no one-cap-fits-all approach to this since different customers are at different stages of interaction with your business.
Prospective customers are at an awareness stage and may not be familiar with your brand yet. The goal of this stage is to make them realize why your product or service is the solution to the problem they’re looking to solve. Prospective customers need to be drawn in with content that will interest them based on their personas and behavior. Free resources like blog posts, infographics, videos, and newsletters will be valuable to your strategy at this stage. Promotional and advertising materials like catalogs telling them about your products and services are needed here too.
One-time customers have purchased your product or tried out your service, but are not returning for more. But this does not mean you should leave them hanging. Your strategies here should be focused on keeping your business at the top of their mind and getting them to see the value of the services and products you offer.
Lapsed customers have become inactive for a while because they stopped purchasing from you. Some of them might still engage with your brand while others may not at all. The goal is to get lapsed customers to keep on engaging and possibly get them to make a repeat purchase in the future. Your marketing messages at this stage should update them about upgrades to your products and services, prices, and promotions with attractive offers that can get them back on board.
Repeat customers have made numerous purchases from your brand and are likely to come back each time they need your product and services. However, you must keep cultivating your relationship with them in order to keep them engaged. Your strategy for this class of customers should include updates on new products and features, promos, newsletters, and other marketing materials.
Loyal customers have moved beyond just buying from your brand, they are your ultimate brand advocates that keep on recommending your business to others. Loyal customers should be targets for your customer loyalty programs and rewards. You engage them by showing how much you appreciate them, making them feel like a part of your brand, and sending personalized thank you messages.
See what can be automated
Going through all of these, you should be able to see which of these steps and strategies can be automated. Automation can be used to collect data needed to define customer personas and map out their journey. But more importantly, the ultimate purpose of automation is to deliver relevant information at the right time.
Automation also ensures that you’re personalizing content based on the identity of the customers, their interests, and the stage in the life cycle. This ensures that you’re able to offer content that triggers them into taking action.
Track your results
Thanks to various digital tools, it is now possible to view and analyze customer data in order to assess how well your customer activation automation strategy is going. This gives you a perfect picture of the effects of what you’re doing and areas that need to be optimized.
Whatever automation tool you’re using to interact with customers and deliver marketing messages should also capture data that gives you a 360-degree view of how you’re performing with the customers and measure the result of your engagement with them.
Examples Of Automated Activation Tools
Customers may move through the lifecycle on their own. But you don’t want to be the marketer that leaves this in their hands. It is always better to move to control the fate of your business by activating your customers on your own.
Thankfully, there are several tools that make this possible. The following are examples of simple strategies and tools that you can use to automate activation.
Put a means of contact on your different touchpoints
In the pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase phases of your customer interactions, there will be numerous touchpoints with your customers. At these various touchpoints, customers will have a lot of questions and inquiries about your product and services.
Whether or not you’re there to answer these questions and how you answer them will determine if will move on with you. Therefore, the sensible thing to do is to highlight all of these touchpoints and automate your responses and interactions with your users there.
Adding a conversational AI chatbot to your website is an example of a strategy like this. Using a tool like Ideta, you can create a conversational bot powered by machine learning algorithms and natural language processing.
These bots can understand user conversations in context and provide answers to queries that your customers might have about your product or service. Conversational bots can be integrated across different communication channels that you use so that users can connect with them.
Use social media
In today’s digital age, social media is a powerful tool for engaging with both new and existing customers. The various social media channels allow you to personalize interactions with your customers, understand their behavior and address their concerns. Thus, social media can be a key driver for driving business interactions and nurturing relationships.
It is also possible to automate social media interactions using autoresponders, automated customer chat plugin, automated promotions, post scheduling, automated social listeners, comment and reply tool among others. All of these can boost connections with customers and eventually lead to more conversions and activations.
Email is an age-long marketing tool that still remains relevant today as a means to remain constantly in touch with your customers. Email marketing can be automated to deliver personalized messages for customers at different stages of their customer journey. With email marketing automation, you get to have contextual communication with your customers based on previous and ongoing interaction with your brand.
Increase Your Customer Retention
Customer activation and retention are intricately tied. To motivate customers to move to the next stage of their relationship with you is to retain them. This means making a prospect a first-time customer, getting a dormant customer to re-engage, or turning a repeat customer into an advocate. It is customer activation that gives life to customer retention. Retained customers will remain in a dormant state within the sales funnel if there are no measures in place to activate them. This must be done continually if you will keep up with the challenges of managing the modern customer.
Customer activation is all about nudging and pushing customers towards the next stage of your interaction with them. In order to motivate your customers to move forward in their customer journey, you need to use the right approach.
An in-depth understanding of the various mechanisms of customer activation combined with the effective use of automation tools across the right channels or platforms will be very valuable to achieving your customer activation goals and moving your business forward.