The three C's of customer engagement in eCommerce
This post was last updated on December 16, 2022.
It’s one of the most widely-used terms in the world of eCommerce marketing, and yet, it’s one of the hardest to define.
Is customer engagement just a means to an end? Or, is it a goal all its own? Does it only happen on social media? Or, does it exist at every part of the customer journey?
Getting clear answers to these questions is essential for understanding how to break through the digital noise and to build a brand that shoppers remember.
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What is customer engagement, really?
Customer engagement is the attention your brand earns, as expressed through a range of interactions, such as clicking on a search ad, signing up for SMS deal alerts, purchasing, redeeming loyalty points, and more. These interactions ideally cumulate over time, signaling a buyer’s growing interest in your brand.
The engagement challenge
While customer engagement seems like a straightforward goal, actually achieving it is much tougher.
Consumers are inundated with as many as 10,000 advertising messages per day, a fact punctuated by overflowing inboxes and constantly-refreshing social media feeds.
Fewer than one in five shoppers open email from retailers, according to Campaign Monitor.
One in five U.S. consumers deploy ad blocking technology, with more than one in 10 doing so on their phones, according to Blockthrough’s Adblock Report.
Shoppers spend less than a minute on a web page on average, Contentsquare’s Digital Experience Report found, and will move on after an average of five pages if they don’t see anything relevant.
The three Cs of successful customer engagement
In this crowded, rapid-fire environment, convincing shoppers your brand has something to offer—and doing it over and over again to earn consistent attention—is the core challenge of customer engagement, no matter the type of business.
While it’s natural to want to reach shoppers everywhere all at once, it’s wiser to hone in on a few key channels and build brand trust among the right audience. To succeed, focus your strategy on these core concepts.
Half the battle of engaging customers is anticipating their needs and wants; anything you offer should be relevant and timely. Along these lines, it helps to:
Personalize your content. Ecommerce personalization is now a must-have: nearly three in four consumers (73%) expect brands to understand their unique needs and expectations—and more than half expect every offer they receive to be personalized, a Salesforce survey found.
Be opinionated. The products you showcase can reflect the sassiness, sophistication, or sensible frugality of your brand. But it also pays to give the experts on your team a platform for sharing their thoughts and recommendations for customers; helping shoppers sift through their options can be a great way to express your brand voice.
In the digital era, communication between brands and consumers is a two-way street. Rather than begrudging this change, embrace it by creating highly interactive experiences centered around a give-and-take dynamic that empowers customers.
Deploy conversational commerce strategies. Conversational commerce inherently invites shoppers into a dialogue with your brand to discuss their product and service needs. Whether through phone calls, messaging apps, live chat, or video sessions—people can engage with your brand in real time as they shop.
Elevate customer voices on social media. Spark conversations through user-generated content (UGC). Given that 89% of shoppers trust recommendations from people they know, it pays to highlight UGC—like customer reviews or influencer content—to showcase real customer voices. You can repurpose UGC in social posts, across your site, or through other channels. Then, invite participation, whether through polls on Instagram stories or hashtag challenges on TikTok.
Once shoppers start interacting with your brand, building a cohesive journey is key to extending their engagement. Think of ways to increase customer retention without being pushy or intrusive.
Tell a serial story with email. It’s no secret that eCommerce email marketing is an effective means for engaging shoppers regularly with well-timed messages and offers. There are various triggers that can set email sequences into motion: a first purchase, a newsletter signup, or a review submission, to name a few. Interestingly, Wix partner Klaviyo found that triggered series achieve open rates that are 47% higher than standard campaigns, and also generate 19 times more revenue per recipient.
Reward loyalists with VIP experiences. Offer unique experiences, like “sneak peek” shopping events or members-only stylist consultations, that keep your customers on their toes. If you have a loyalty program, institute a points system that rewards re-engagement online. Members could earn credit for sharing social media posts or writing reviews, as well as making purchases.
Shameless plug: A comprehensive toolset like Wix’s eCommerce marketing suite can help you to create that cohesive journey.
Thinking outside the (conversion) box: metrics for tracking real engagement
Customer engagement goes far beyond a single transaction or click. To really understand how customers are interacting with your brand, you’ll need to explore ways to track people at various stages of the eCommerce customer journey. Consider using the metrics below to supplement and give context to standard revenue-centric metrics like conversion rate.
Analyze where shoppers linger and, by contrast, what makes them leave. Compare behaviors by source, device, and content type to better understand which marketing strategies are most effective. Along these lines, you could track:
Time on site/session length
Time on page
Watch time (for video)
Usage of interactive features (quizzes, profile builders)
Number of visits prior to purchase
Number of days prior to purchase
When shoppers make the effort to introduce your brand or products to their friends, that’s a powerful indicator that your messaging is engaging and appealing. Get a better understanding of how referrals work for your brand using data points like:
Number of “shares” your social media posts earn
Social media tagging and hashtag usage
Number of promotional emails forwarded
Number of shopping carts saved and emailed
Shares of product links
Promo code redemption by non-subscribers/non-followers
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Number of wish lists created, or number of items added to wish lists
Over time, a successful engagement strategy should yield repeat visits and purchases. Capture customers’ deepening commitment by tracking these metrics:
Creation of a username and password on your eCommerce (see our guide on what is eCommerce) site to store payment and shipping details for future reuse
Number of customer reviews contributed
Loyalty club membership signups
Usage of loyalty club features
Redemption of loyalty rewards
Customer lifetime value (CLV)
Successful customer engagement is within reach
As more and more brands clamor for consumers’ attention online, earning brand engagement can seem more challenging than ever. But by staying true to your brand’s authentic identity and by connecting channels to create meaningful experiences, you can foster long-term loyalty among your customers.
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Head of Outbound Marketing, Wix eCommerce
Bogar leads thought leadership and outbound marketing for Wix eCommerce. He has an extremely soft spot for all things eCommerce, retail, tech, content, and marketing.
Allison Lee Editor, Wix for eCommerce
Allison is the editor for the Wix eCommerce blog, with several years of experience reporting on eCommerce news, strategies, and founder stories.