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Understanding Patterns of Customer Engagement

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

In a recent post, I talked about the customer marketing lifecycle and the marketer’s most important job—getting customers to the Maintain Phase as quickly as possible and keeping them there as long as possible. Achieving that goal requires marketers to know the marketing maintenance patterns for their business and for their particular breed of customers. Getting customers to that place and then keeping them there is all about the nudges, which include both interactions and enticements.

Nudge too much and profitability goes down. Nudge too little and buying frequency and revenue go down.

Patterns of Customer Engagement

Profitability, frequency, and revenue aren’t limited to finding high-spending customers. You can have a very profitable relationship with a customer who doesn’t spend a great deal but stays with you a long time. The takeaway is that customers differ and each industry is unique, from grocery to specialty retailers. Subscription businesses, while less transactional, fall into a pattern as well, though the characteristics of that pattern can be very different.

The key is to know the pattern that works for your business and spend accordingly. 

Finding the Customer Engagement Pattern

Patterns take many forms, but one of the easiest to understand is frequency. Frequency can take on these visual forms:

  • steady state: a very consistent, even pattern
  • sawtooth: they come and go with regularity that creates peaks and valleys, but with predictability
  • episodic: varies more in size and frequency

Each of these patterns is healthy as long as the marketer can see and decide how and when to engage optimally.

These patterns form but they also change over time and require continual analysis. What’s more, first impressions being critical, these patterns are often set early in the relationship as customers pass through the Acquire, Develop, and Grow phases. The past is the best predictor of future patterns, meaning that attention needs to be paid to how patterns form and take shape over time, not just where a customer is during a static moment. Only marketers who understand patterns of customer engagement can dig deeper into the drivers and identify smarter, cost-effective, and pattern-sensitive ways to improve engagement.

To learn more about patterns of customer engagement and other factors for marketing success, check out our webinar, Nudges, Influences and Rewards Part 2: Must-know Factors for Success in Retail Customer Loyalty.

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