Brands always want to gain the upper hand on customer engagement. Forging meaningful relationships with customers is the key to success for any brand.

Debra Ellis, president of Asheville, NC-based Wilson & Ellis Consulting, shared her 10 Tips for Better Customer Engagement with Loyalty 360.

1.) Educate your customers. If people don’t know that you have participation opportunities and how to do it, they won’t participate. This seems obvious, but many companies presume that everyone knows about their programs and activities. Use every channel to provide information on how, where, when, and why to join in.

2.) Think baby steps instead of giant leaps. Hold your customers’ hands as they move from unengaged to actively participating. Use a carrot system to keep people moving forward and coming back for more.

3.) Always include a call to action. Tell people what to do next so they don’t have to stop moving forward and think. When someone hits the thinking point he or she is more likely to abandon the process before becoming fully engaged.

4.) Recognize your customers. Everyone wants to be treated as if he or she is the most special person in the world. The people that are in your loyalty program are more special than the ones who aren’t. Acknowledge them when they participate and let everyone around know that they are valued. This keeps program members happy and makes non-members want to join.

5.) Give people a reason to participate. Why should anyone participate in your activity? The reason doesn’t have to include pay for play. It can be as simple as “It’s fun!” Games and puzzles pull people in even when the only price is bragging rights.

6.) Encourage social interaction. It provides social proof in addition to increasing engagement. Make sure that you have established rules of engagement and have a monitor standing by. Failing to do so can lead to your brand being hijacked.

7.) Include action. If you want people actively involved, give them something to do. Idly watching activity isn’t motivating. Providing something that requires action moves them toward engagement. Games of chance and puzzles work well.

8.) Provide special events and activities for the people that are in your loyalty program. If points or discounts are the only reasons for being in your loyalty program, money is being left on the table. Give people something to do that will bring them back while everything is full price.

9.) Make participation easy. If everything is equal, the easier you make it, the more likely people will participate. Start with something easy and then add higher levels. This provides something for everyone.

10.) Acknowledge participation. Engagement requires participation by you. Be responsive and appreciative of the people who are participating. Pay special attention to the people who are in your loyalty program. They have a higher level of expectation.

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