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  • Alex McEachern

The 2 types of customer engagement you need to start retaining more customers now

Everyone wants better customer engagement, but very few people are able to define what it truly is. Without going into too much detail, customer engagement is the effort you put into a site/product to encourage interactions in the absence of a real person.


“Technology makes it easy to reach more people but harder than ever to interact with customers in a genuine way.”

The need to focus on the absence of a real person, is a new world challenge. Technology and apps have made it easy to create interactions on our sites, as well as automate almost everything we do. But this power comes at a price. We often implement these tools to solve our problems without thinking about the experience it creates for our customers.


We end up creating interactions points rather than customer engagement. Focusing on what we want rather than how the customer will naturally interact with it. The most successful brands are intentionally creating two types of customer engagement.




The 2 types of customer engagement


Passive customer engagement


These are actions that your customers/users do that don’t require them to think, or require a lot of effort to complete.



Having a customer like an Instagram post or log into your app are two examples of passive engagement. In other words, they did something but with minimal effort.


Active customer engagement


These are actions that are high effort for your customer/user.. This type of engagement requires them to do some “work” or at least apply some brain power to complete.


When someone decides to write a review, refer a friend, or read an article after Googling a question, they are actively engaging with your brand/product.




The biggest customer engagement mistake


The biggest mistake you can make is getting too focused on one type of engagement. When you are not considering both types, you create BIG problems for your business.


The two most common issues I hear about when it comes to customer engagement are:


1. I am getting all sorts of likes on Instagram/Facebook/etc. but my sales aren’t increasing. It is useless!


2. No matter what I do, I cannot get my customers to write a review/refer a friend/etc. They just won’t engage.


While these might sound dramatically different, these are actually two versions of the exact same problem. They are the result of focusing too heavily on one type of engagement. Let me explain how each of these problems can happen.


Too much focus on passive engagement


When too much focus is placed on passive engagement, you end up with large audiences of people who are of very little value to you. When people are conditioned to just passively engage with your brand, it becomes very difficult to actually monetize that as a retailer or activate with a product.


Think about the last Tweet or Instagram post you personally liked. Do you remember it? Chances are you don’t — in the moment it was funny, helpful, or entertaining, and then you continued on with your day.


If you consider these small passive interactions a win by themselves, you will always struggle to turn the sum of all those micro actions into something more powerful.


Too much focus on active engagement


When too much focus is placed on active engagement, you end up asking for and expecting interactions from your customers that they are not ready to perform yet. It is like proposing to someone on the first date. You need to ease customers into active engagement.

The most common version of this mistake is asking for someone to buy your product or subscribe to your service as soon as they land on your site. Here is an example that I ran into just yesterday.


All I wanted to know were a couple of tricks and tips, but before I can even explore what those are I am being asked to subscribe to use the product.


Another common example of this is when a marketing tool asks you to share with your friends in the first few steps of onboarding. Why would I want to tell my friends about it when I have not even had the chance to experience it myself?


I have no doubt in my mind that these tactics will get you “some” conversions, but it is more likely annoying people. You need to be aware of what people will and will not tolerate. This article does a fantastic job describing what is tolerated (Scroll to the bottom to see what people really think).


Make sure that you are easing people into these types of asks with lower involvement/passive asks first.




Successful customer engagement comes from having both types in balance


When a brand is too focused on one type of engagement, things fall apart. Successful brands use a combination of low involvement asks to keep a loop of pre-purchase engagement happening. This allows them to build up trust and transparency with what they are selling, and ultimately allows them to introduce higher involvement asks down the road.


This combination of both active and passive is what creates true customer engagement.


For example:


Instead of offering discounts and product offers on your blog or social accounts, why not give people a reason to subscribe and get that content faster? This is a low involvement active ask that allows you to convert previously passive engagement.


“Look for places you are getting continuous passive engagement and introduce an ask that will make it active!”

Once you build a list of subscribers, you suddenly have a group of customers who like your brand, your message, and your content. This means you have a much better chance of turning that interest and engagement into an actual purchase.


If you are having any trouble finding places where you can get low involvement asks in before the purchase, just reach out in the comments below :)



The key takeaways


The above was a lot, I get it! That is why I always include the key takeaways for you to grab at a glimpse.


  1. Technology has made it easier to most things, but not create genuine relationships

  2. Because of that we need to focus on customer engagement techniques

  3. There are 2 types of engagement (passive and active)

  4. Passive engagement is easy for the customer but low value to the brand

  5. Active engagement is a bigger commitment to the customer but vital to the brand

  6. If you do not have both you will fail to create true customer engagement




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