This article comes from Eileen Linn’s insightful talk, ‘Recipes for creating customer engagement’, at our Las Vegas 2023 Customer Marketing Summit, check out her full presentation here.

You've heard it time and time again - customer engagement is the key ingredient to successful customer marketing programs. 

Whether you're running an advocacy program, customer advisory board, user community, or reference efforts, engaging your customers is what brings all those tactics to life.  

As the Director of Customer Marketing at ICE Mortgage Technology, I've had my fair share of adventures in the customer engagement realm.

In our highly regulated industry, we have the ‘unfair advantage’ of knowing exactly who our customers are. 

That reality has shaped my philosophy that customer engagement, much like cooking, allows for flexibility and creativity based on what "ingredients" you have available. 

Let me explain…

My customer engagement philosophy

When it comes to customer engagement strategies, I like to compare it like the difference between cooking and baking. 

Baking requires strict adherence to recipes and measurements - too much or too little of an ingredient ruins the final product. 

Cooking, on the other hand, is more of an art, allowing you to be flexible based on your personal tastes and what's in your refrigerator.

The same principles apply to customer marketing programs centered around engagement. We're all limited by different constraints - team resources, budget, executive buy-in, and more. 

Trying to force a rigid, one-size-fits-all recipe will likely fall flat. 

Instead, I encourage customer marketers to take a more flexible "cooking" approach. Get creative based on the ingredients (i.e. resources, customers, goals) that you have access to. 

With the right techniques and mindset, you can cook up an effective engagement strategy no matter how big or small your kitchen.

Increase customer engagement: Universal tips for businesses
Engaged customers are the holy grail of any business. After all, they don’t stop at simply buying your product or services — they sign up for events take part in customer surveys, as well as promoting your business.

Laying the foundation

Of course, even the most free-flowing cooking requires some basic foundation work. The first step is getting organizational alignment and support for your customer engagement efforts.  

At my company, we use slides mapping out how engagement impacts each stage of the buying cycle and showing its influence across our various marketing pillars. 

Having these visuals helps explain why customer engagement matters to the entire revenue team.

We also have a customer marketing "demand approach" that lays out the role of engagement alongside other core areas like awareness, industry leadership, and growth marketing. 

Documenting the objectives and past/future plans for our major engagement programs gives stakeholders a clear birds-eye view.

If you're struggling to capture leadership's attention, remember to always tie customer engagement back to hard metrics that matter to them - sales impact, ROI, or retention rates. 

Sharing stats on the benefits of engagement can go a long way in unlocking resources, and having an internal foundation paves the way for adding customized programs and engagement ‘flavors’.