The 10 Golden Rules of Engagement from Today’s Most Successful Marketers

The 10 Golden Rules of Engagement from Today’s Most Successful Marketers

What if you could gather in a room (or on a Zoom call) ten of the smartest marketers on the planet and ask them their number one rule for user and customer engagement?

That’s exactly what we did in the latest episode of CleverTap Engage, our podcast and video interview series spotlighting marketing leaders who are achieving meaningful and memorable customer engagement.

Co-hosts Peggy Anne Salz and John Koetsier have curated the top 10 pieces of actionable advice regarding customer engagement from the show’s dynamic guests throughout 2021. The wisdom you’ll hear in this episode comes from a group representing the pinnacle of marketing leadership:

Authenticity, Empathy, and Emotional Connection

Many of their individual insights are built around themes of authenticity, empathy, and emotional connection. 

Visible’s Pearl Servat, for example, discusses the importance of “having a sincere and genuine approach” in marketing, and “building the sort of campaigns, tactics and plans that truly allow you to connect with the consumer.”  

For MasterCard’s Raja Rajamannar, a deeper connection with customers can be achieved in part by engaging as many of the senses as possible. A brand, he says, “need not be perceived only through the medium of vision, [but in forms including] audio, which we call sonic branding.”

And Maple Media’s Ashley Fauset emphasizes the simple yet elusive principle of fostering a one-on-one conversation with the customer: “Be honest and transparent and speak to the user as a human being, because that’s when people will listen. Nobody wants to feel like they’re just one in a crowd.”

Listen to the full episode for the complete list of 10 golden rules for customer engagement.

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Full Transcript

 

John Koetsier

What if you could get the 10 best rules of user and customer engagement from 10 of the smartest marketers on the planet and some of the top brands anywhere?  Welcome to “CleverTap Engage,” my name is John Koetsier.

 

Peggy Anne Salz

And I’m Peggy Anne Salz.  And John, this is exactly what we have, we’ve had 10 amazing episodes in our series, many, many more to come.  We’ve looked at the best shows, the best marketers and taken the top actionable advice from each one, it’s almost like late night.  We’re just going to go through a list of pure knowledge.  What is it, knowledge bombs?

 

John Koetsier

Kind of, absolutely. I mean, we asked each guest specifically, “Hey, what is your top tip for customer engagement, your top tip for user engagement?”  And so, we’ve got 10, and we think they are the 10 golden rules of engagement.

 

Peggy Anne Salz

We’ll do it in the order of the shows that we did.  And we started with Sheri Bachstein, Global Head of Watson Advertising and The Weather Company.  Her rule, very focused on being an amazing subscription app, is engage with customers by providing the information they need to make the decisions that matter.

 

Sheri Bachstein

It’s all about giving people the information they need to make decisions.  Some of those decisions you want to make today, some of those decisions you’re making for your future, like, where am I going to go vacation?  And what do I need to pack for my vacation a week from now?  So, it’s the same thing for advertisers.  It’s really about how do you connect those brands and those marketers with those consumers, and have them anticipate what their actions may be so they can better serve them, and they can better, frankly, wisely use their dollar.

 

John Koetsier

What I like about this one is that, look, we’re always making these tricks, so, you know, how can I get somebody’s attention?  Or what should I do?  You know, what’s my…?  You know what?  Give them what they need.  Give them what they need.  And guess what, you’ve got engagement.

 

Peggy Anne Salz

Exactly.  She asked them, the subscription app rocketed through the roof.  And on top of that, use AI to anticipate what they might want to have, serve them better, serve them wisely, and make money in the process.

 

Number two, Raja Rajamannar, our favorite, I think.  Can I say that, John?  Can we play favorites here?

 

John Koetsier

No, we can’t play favorites, we love all of our children.

 

Peggy Anne Salz

We love all of our children.  But Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at MasterCard, an amazing episode with his rule, brand impacts all the senses, so harness all of your presence, your vision, your sound, your proximity to your customer, to engage customers more holistically.

 

Raja Rajamannar

A brand is something which stands for a set of values, characteristics, imageries, functionalities of something.  It could be a product, it could be a service, it could be an entity, whatever, right?  This particular thing called brand, embodies everything about it in a holistic way.  Now, the key thing is, many of the times, marketers look at “brand” as probably the name and the logo as the brand.  It’s not just the name and the logo of the brand, the name and the logo of the brand are the physical visual identifiers of that brand, that is not the brand in itself.  The logo and the name are just a way to identify that whole concept of brand.  It has to be embodied into every aspect.  How?  For example, you know, let’s take the physical aspects, and then I’ll come to the second and the third layers of the brand.

 

At the physical aspect, now I say that brand need not be perceived only through the medium of vision, which is what I said we predominantly do, you need to have brand represented in an audio form aspect, okay.  Because that’s a second sense that you have got and it’s an identifier, right?  And audio, for example, why is it important?  If you have a smart speaker at home and you say, “Hey, Alexa, I want to buy something.”  And Alexa tells you something, gives you an answer, and then you make your purchase and go.  Throughout this entire transaction or interaction, there is no brand that you can show because the medium is audio.  So, you need to have an audio form of representing your brand, which we call it sonic branding.  That’s one example.  Or you’ve got the sense of smell, so are we leveraging the sense of smell to be able to create a branding identity, right?  Some brands they do, and some brands they do not, some brands are just scratching the surface.  But that’s a huge opportunity.  So, leveraging all the five senses is extremely there, in front of us to be able to leverage, to create the right kind of a brand identity and the recognition of that identity.

 

John Koetsier

Again, pretty simple insight, you would think, but you know what?  So few of us follow it.  We’re thinking what’s our brand voice when we say something, when we print something?  Hey, it’s all of the senses.  It’s everything.  It’s, you know, how we sound.  It’s how close we are, how we connect all that stuff.  It’s a holistic presence to humanize the brand and make it make sense.

 

Peggy Anne Salz

And the real nugget that we keep hearing now, surround sound.  Sound is part of the brand, that’s something I’m going to take with me into 2022.

 

Number three, Katherine Ray, seasoned CMO from Babbel, Shiseido.  Number of consumer facing brands, her rule, very straightforward, but all of the more impactful, drive emotional connection to add value for consumers and your business in the process.

 

Katherine Ray

If you’re not human, the consumer won’t stay with you because it feels two-dimensional.  Another aspect of my particular background is I’ve been able to work with a lot of the best brands around the world, whether it’s sportswear with Nike, or luxury with Louis Vuitton and Gucci, and one of the things all of these brands have beyond integrity and great quality is emotional connection with consumers.  So that’s probably why I have a strong sense of that humanity.  Because when you’re offering products that have an emotional connection to their consumer, you actually create greater value in the marketplace for the consumer and for you as a business.  Because that’s where you’re starting to create a higher and irrational level of value.  So, if you’re on the lowest rational value and you’re selling a consumer product that is very basic, people will be competing and they’ll often be competing on price.  When you start to add an emotional layer into it, you’re creating an intangible value that should represent your brand in and of itself, and there, the sky’s the limit.  You can start to create additional emotional value through which competitors have a harder time taking you off your pedestal, because you have created a strong and a loyal following to your brand, and the consumer trusts you.

 

John Koetsier

You know what I love about this one, is it reminds me of the saying, “Look, we don’t always remember what people said about us or what people said ever, but we remember how they made us feel.”  And you know what?  We won’t remember every brand’s jingle, we won’t remember every brand’s campaign, but we will remember when we have a brand experience that makes us feel great, or that makes us feel awful.

 

Peggy Anne Salz

That is very true.  And the other point she made, it also means that you will not be competing on price because price is not about emotional connection.  So, if you don’t want to compete on price and go down that slippery slope, then drive emotional connection, you will not be competing on the lowest common denominator. 

 

So, number four, John, Patrick Stal, VP of Global Marketing at N26.  His rule, find your voice and align it with customer context.

 

Patrick Stal

I think it’s very much starting from within the brand, I think that authenticity and understanding, “Look, this is us.  This is how we speak, and if I was an individual, you’d want me to speak like Patrick, not like anybody else or anything, it’s inauthentic.”  And hopefully, that voice is also differentiating for the competition.  Then your entire style guide comes into that.  And understanding what it is that you’re talking about and finding…for us what’s extremely important is finding a use case to communicate something that appeals to people, or that raises their eyebrow or gets them to almost be surprised at something because it is about grabbing the attention.  And attention-grabbing by just shouting out loud is easy, but attention-grabbing by generating real interest and engagement is a lot harder.

 

John Koetsier

So many brands want to be everything to everybody, and so they always have to have an opinion on everything, they have to have 25 different campaigns for different things, different seasons, different events, different things that are going on in the popular culture.  Look, some of that matters, and it depends on your brand, which ones you go into and which ones you don’t go into, but finding your voice, finding out what matters to you and being consistent on just that is really critical to having a consistent customer voice.

 

Peggy Anne Salz

Absolutely.  Authentic, genuinely authentic.  And in his case, genuinely helpful because as a FinTech app, it’s about a voice I can also trust with my financial future.

 

And number five, Vivian Chang, VP growth at Clorox, the DTC part of the business, really interesting rule, remove friction with intelligent recommendation and curation.

 

Vivian Chang

Yeah, where we’re really working towards is that idea said earlier of, we know enough about you and maybe your past purchase behaviour, that we can really start curating what’s the experience and recommending products that fit together into your life, so that you don’t have to go through every single brand and make a decision.  We all have too many decisions that we’re making throughout a day, so how can we make it really easy, whether it’s through bundling or through suggestions.  And then play it out in the actual site experience of making it super easy to purchase, to cancel, to add, change quantities.  Like, some of these really fundamental things that sometimes just become hiccups because we haven’t really had the chance to get that experience as fluid as we would want.

 

John Koetsier

That’s a perfect rule of customer engagement for a DTC or direct-to-consumer start-up.  I mean, what do we want to do?  We want to remove friction, we want what we want, when we want it.  And we want it easy, we want it simple, we want it without having to think about it, especially having to get on the phone and talk to somebody about it, or having to go through a long rigmarole to get it.  Make it simple, remove the friction, and your brand will have a positive impact on a customer’s life.

 

Peggy Anne Salz

Absolutely.  And the curation means that I have all the content I need in one place, so, again, no friction, and a total no-brainer, ad recommendation, you liked X, you love Y, and all your friends loved Z.  Does that sound familiar, John?

 

John Koetsier

Maybe.

 

Peggy Anne Salz

Does it sound like a big retailer with the letter A?

 

John Koetsier

I do not know.

 

Peggy Anne Salz

Well, it worked for them, so she’s saying it can work for every brand.  So, a solid piece of advice there.

 

Number six, Pearl Servat, Head of Brand Marketing at Visible.  Her rule, it’s a customer journey, so show up always, meaning everywhere, and in a genuine and sincere way.

 

Pearl Servat

Pay attention to your product, customer experience, the whole end-to-end consumer journey, every single step matters.  It’s not just about one piece or the other, the whole ecosystem has to work together.  So, if a brand doesn’t show up or behave in a sincere and genuine way, you know, consumers know that right away, like we all know those signs right away, right?  So, with us, it just all goes back to having a sincere and genuine approach.  You know what your KPIs are, you know what your objectives are, but you build the sort of campaigns, tactics, and plans that truly allow you to connect with the consumer.  And, especially, as a digital brand, we could have easily lost sight of that, of that emotional connection with our members, but it’s something that we just remind ourselves of every day.

 

John Koetsier

Too many marketers get caught in the trap of looking at the numbers all the time.  Numbers are important, KPIs are absolutely critical.  But it’s not just about the sale, it’s not just about when money changes hands, as Pearl says, “It’s a customer journey.”  And that journey doesn’t have to end after a sale, it can continue for a long period of time.  But you have to show up at different parts of that journey, not just the one where you get paid.

 

Peggy Anne Salz

Absolutely.  And it’s about connecting with the customer at every level, that’s what she does at Visible, and losing sight of that is something you can’t do.  So, she reminds herself of that every day, and that’s why she tells us to think about it at every step.

 

Number seven, James Moorhead, CMO of Acorns, identify the touchpoints and address the pain points.  You could almost have a t-shirt with that, John.

 

John Koetsier

You could, it’d be fun actually.

 

James Moorhead

I think one of the most amazing developments, you know, over the last decade has been much more granular understanding of a customer journey mapping, right, especially in a direct-to-consumer business where you can track every touchpoint. I mean, obviously, Apple and privacy, and some other things are evolving here over the last 6 to 12 months, but mapping a customer journey from the first touch of awareness, right, or engagement with the brand for the first time, all the way through the full life cycle, you know, of retention and referral, you know, that is something that over the last 10 years, you’ve really begun to be able to map and track at a very granular level, right?  Every touch inside the app, right, we can watch a consumer’s, you know, journey and their growth.  So, I think that that’s, you know, number one for boosting customer attention is looking at your customer journey roadmap, and then identifying the pain points and then solving them one by one by one.

 

John Koetsier

That is interesting.  We just talked about the customer journey, we just talked about Pearl, what she said, right?  Look, the journey is long, you hope, but there are specific touchpoints on there that are critical, and yes, purchase is one of them.  But first touch, first time reaching out and asking for something, first time giving information, registration, those are some of the really, really critical parts of the journey for the marketer and for the customer.  Identify the key ones for you, and address them.

 

Peggy Anne Salz

And the good news, through data, you can get very granular about this, and that was his other piece of advice.  You can be granular in understanding the customer journey.  So, yes, do use the data, do map it, do track it at the proper level, but you can do it, and that was the point.  And solve those pain points one by one.

 

Number eight, Kieran O’Leary, COO of Rovio, very interesting rule pertaining primarily to gaming, but really to all marketers out there, understand player motivations and expectations to match audience segments with the games they’re sure to love.

 

Kieran O’Leary

There is no one single recipe to keep your players engaged.  Like, depending on the game genres that you have, well, people are expecting different things.  Like, for example, to be concrete, RPG game, it’s all about power, it’s all about increasing your stats, it’s all about the depth that you can go into, whereas if you play a casual game, it’s all about this feeling of solving puzzles and getting better at it.  So, you give different progression vectors.  And to identify that you, again, need to start from what are the expectations from the audiences that you’re building games for?  So, if you don’t have a perfect understanding of this, you’re clearly fighting an uphill battle.  I mean, there is a plethora of choices out there, so you might as well make sure that this game that we’re working on is fully catering to the needs of your audience.  Identifying why your players engage in the game in the first place, what are their motivations, and needs so that you can ensure to find the right people for the right products.  Then you keep on providing the content that they were interested in the first place, you stick true to your DNA, and you segment them as needed to make sure that even within this fairly consistent group, you address the very specific needs.

 

John Koetsier

I mean, it’s all about walking a mile in your customer’s shoes, right, and finding out, “Okay, maybe they smell a little bit.”  But you know what?  There’s things you learn when you do that.  And when you learn your customer’s motivations, what matters, which also helps by the way, if you are your own customer, if you are your own user, if you eat your own dog food, when you understand your customer’s motivations, your user’s motivations, then you can tailor, not only your communications, not only your services, also your product and what you deliver to what they need and what they want.

 

Peggy Anne Salz

Yes.  It goes back to that intersection we’ll be seeing more of, psychographics, and behavioral segmentation.  It’s not just about the segmentation you’re thinking about, it’s about those deeper motivations.  And if you understand that and nail that, and build that into your product, well, then you have the combination.  I mean, from Rovio, he would have to know.

 

Number nine, Ashley Fauset, VP of Marketing, Maple Media.  Be smart with your messaging to deliver customers what they value, and importantly, be empathetic to show you care.

 

Ashley Fauset

I think you just have to be really smart about the messaging, you have to be really smart about the timing.  And, you know, if you’re going to attempt personalization, you can’t just do it halfway, you can’t just add somebody’s name into an email, right?  Like, that is not personalization.  I watch other companies and I see other companies sort of, you know, attempt, and trip, and fail at some of these things.  I will use a department store as an example of, you know, it’s like, “Did you love your recent purchase?  Great.  Like, you’ll also love these items.”  And I scan through the little carousel at the bottom of the email, I’m like, “Oh, you should know that I already bought this item, you should have data on that because I signed in with my email, I bought it on your app, you should know.”  Don’t show me that, that’s a bad experience.  And if you’re going to make an attempt to personalize, be really smart about it, think about all the edge cases, all the corner cases.  And then, you know, just be honest and transparent and speak to the user as a human being, as an individual because that’s when people will listen.  Nobody wants to feel like they’re just one in a crowd that you’re shouting through a megaphone to.

 

John Koetsier

It’s almost like we teed these up to have a nice flow to really fit together in the order, and we totally didn’t, this is just the order that they came up in the show.  But this is amazing because you’ve got this customer journey, you’ve identified these motivations, these emotions, now, be smart with your messaging, deliver the right message to the right person at the right time.  You have to know your customer to do that, and you have to have technology that enables that kind of high leverage engagement to get the best out of that relationship.

 

Peggy Anne Salz

And she also called out all the companies who think that personalization is the first name in the email, that is not personalization, that’s a myth.  This is the real deal, it’s be smart in the messaging and give us what we want, how we want it, in a personalized way.

 

And finally, number 10, Emma Baines, Global Director of Creative Services at HelloFresh.  Again, similar, John, I think we almost put it together this way, delivering a consistent customer journey and a consistently good customer experience, that simple.

 

Emma Baines

If as a new customer, as a loyal customer, as someone in the middle, if you experience the best possible customer experience that you can get from that first ad, or that first word of mouth, or someone telling you about the product right through to when that’s delivered, and you’ve cooked it, and you have enjoyed that meal, and you have put a meal on the table that everyone enjoys, then that is the golden rule of retention.

 

John Koetsier

It reminds me of the famous phrase, 99% of life is showing up, right?  99% of success is showing up.  You can’t just be a flash in the pan as a marketer or as a brand, you can’t just over-deliver once and then cruise off into the sunset of that glorious customer relationship, that’s a multi-year thing, just doesn’t work that way.  Show up consistently, day after day after day, month after month, year after year, and you’ve got a customer for life.

 

Peggy Anne Salz

And, of course, from that first moment, so you nailed that first moment at the upper funnel, you’re going through, and it’s consistently good, well, guess what?  That ends up in longer-term retention.  So, it is absolutely the win, if you just start off the right way.

 

John Koetsier

So this has been kind of a quick recap of the uploads that we’ve done so far for “CleverTap Engage.”  And it’s just amazing.  We’ve asked each of the people that have been our guests, the amazing guests that we’ve had from incredible brands, what is your golden rule of engagement?  These are 10 golden rules of engagement, the best rules for user and customer engagement.  We hope you’ve enjoyed them, hope that there’s something in there that you’ve learned.  Hey, reach out to Peggy, reach out to me, we’re on Twitter, we’re on LinkedIn, let us know which was your favorite rule, which one had the most impact on you.  And we’re looking forward to an amazing season of engagement, and user retention, and customer retention content in 2022.

 

Peggy Anne Salz

Absolutely, John.  I mean, I will preview it because I am very proud.  2022 is going to be bigger and better, more of these insights, global names, Pepsi, some others, I won’t go through the list, but it’s all very good reason to keep on checking in, and we’ll have a couple of surprises as well along the way.

 

John Koetsier

Excellent.  Thank you.

 

Peggy Anne Salz

Thank you, John.  It’s been a pleasure by the way, John.

 

John Koetsier

It has been a pleasure.

 

Peggy Anne Salz

It has been a great year, and I am looking forward to year two.  This is year one, it’s just like Jeff.

 

John Koetsier

I’m looking forward to year two as well, I hope our listeners are.  And, yeah, let us know who you want to see on the show also.  Perhaps, you are an all-star of engagement, we want to hear from you also.

Last updated on February 8, 2022