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I am not sure if the world needs another ‘n rules of this or that’ either. However, these are ideas that have been hanging around for a while so I thought I would just put them together into a set of pointers and things to consider if you are developing a stragey for measuring and delivering customer engagement:

1 Be sure of your business objectives online. This one is so obvious, but I am still struck by how many businesses aren’t really sure what they are trying to achieve with their online presence. Awareness, sales, community, customer service, market research are all options to explore.

2 Know how you want to measure these objectives. What does success look like to you? It’s not just numbers of visits or unique visitors to your site that matters, in fact focusing on this can be a dangerous distraction. Look beyond this; what do you actually want people to do once they arrive? What would you call a successful encounter? Define your engagement goals – set the value of each transaction or interaction, and build these values into your analytics.

3 Get organized and plan what you are going to do with the data you are capturing. Buying in the infrastructure is only half the way there… that’s just a big spend of money. Plan your reporting and allow time to analyse and turn the numbers into something your board can understand and make decisions based on. As they say, ‘buying a Gibson doesn’t make you a great guitarist’. You have to understand what it means.. and act upon it… and that takes practice, transparency within the organization, and trial and error.

4 Roll your own reports and analytics. Reports are fine, but the ones you are likely to get canned as defaults within your analytics systems aren’t going to offer you much real value to your specific business. This is because until the analytics are linked to the value of your customer’s interactions, they cant tell you much. (To paraphrase someone: ‘Remember, its not the size of your audience that matters, its what they do that counts’)

… and don’t forget to cross reference the resulting reports with the experiences of your front line customer service people. They know the most about your customers anyway, and are probably trying to be heard. Ignore them at your peril

5 Supplement the numbers with qualitative – the what and the why. Involve your customers where you can. People like to be involved in discussions that contribute to creating new products and services they care about and use. Your audiences, hold them close and consider holding competitors customers closer still… Successful companies are now setting up panels of customers of their competitors and are asking them: why did you go buy elsewhere?

6 Engagement with Social Media is unavoidable outside the business and with Yammer and other internal systems becoming more prevalent, inside too. Learn about it, build it into your digital strategy and look upon it as the source of incredibly rich data and targeted audience exposure it has the potential to be.

7 Integrate online across your customer journey. If your business has shops, use them, don’t cannibalise or set them in competition with online.. Have your staff allow me to compare prices.. John Lewis are introducing free broadband so you can check whether its cheaper elsewhere… customers will always do this, where would you rather have the conversation? In your shop with your trained staff demonstrating the value of buying through you? Or while your customer is looking at a cheaper offer on a competitors web site? Think about it very carefully before setting on division of your business against another… it might seem a great way to drive cost effectiveness, but how will it affect the customer experience?

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