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Customer Engagement News Reaching New Customers Strategy

Stabilizing Your Facebook Advertising Strategy Post-iOS 14.5 Release

On Monday, April 26, Apple released iOS 14.5, the first version of the operating system to enforce Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) policies. ATT requires iOS users to opt in to share their unique Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), a randomly assigned user-specific identifier with app developers. This would, in turn, allow advertisers serving ads within those apps with the data needed to personalize ads and track performance across platforms, from view to click all the way through to conversion. In anticipation of this change and other privacy regulations, players across the digital advertising space have been responding with changes of their own. Most notably, Facebook has made significant changes to its conversion tracking and application settings.

 

A month after the iOS 14.5 release, opt-in rates for US-based users is sitting at 6% and Facebook advertisers are starting to feel the effects in the form of increased conversion costs, loss of attribution data, and new challenges to ad targeting and lookalike audience building. If you’re grappling with the impacts of the iOS 14.5 release and ATT enforcement on your Facebook ad campaigns, here are some key considerations and recommendations to help you navigate through the immediate challenges and set a course for a smoother road ahead.

Facebook users are a no less valuable audience to your marketing strategy now than they were before.

Stabilizing Steps to Take Today

Secure Ownership of Your Facebook Accounts

Previously inherent capabilities to track movement between your website and Facebook will no longer be available and pixels previously put in place to support user targeting and conversion tracking will no longer be as effective. This is where ownership over your Facebook account and business website become critical. In the past, agencies have commonly created digital marketing accounts for clients – including Facebook Business Managers and ad accounts – under agency ownership. The benefits have been increased speed, reduced burden on clients who may not have resources available to manage account setup, and the benefit of agency history with the platforms, which eliminated spend thresholds and other speed bumps in the path of rapid execution and performance. The implications of iOS 14.5 have created the need to shift ownership from agency to business in order to reconnect some critical dots:

 

  • Your Facebook account and business website can’t effectively speak to each other until your website is claimed through your Facebook Business Manager account. This will allow cross-platform performance tracking and change how your web links appear on your Facebook page. This is also a requirement for configuring conversion events, which are used by Facebook’s machine learning to drive better targeting, optimization, and performance measurement.
  • The Facebook Conversions API can be put in place to enable tracking and optimizing for conversions outside of Facebook, like purchases made on your website or a Shopify account, among others. It can also mitigate the effects of losing access to 28-day click, 28-day view, and 7-day view attribution windows, which will no longer be supported. However, the API cannot be implemented when ownership of Facebook pages, Business Manager accounts and ad accounts are split between business and their partner agencies.

Keep a Customer-centric Focus

While the ability to track based on audience behaviors may be changing, the behaviors themselves are not. If you were finding success with Facebook users before iOS 14.5, resist the urge to move away from Facebook based purely on trackability. The known habits, behaviors, and preferences of your audience should always be the guiding force behind your marketing mix. Bottom line: Facebook users are a no less valuable audience to your marketing strategy now than they were before. What’s changed is the way users are tracked and attributed and how to interpret the value of that data.

 

Also read: Data Driven Insights Into the Evolving Customer Experience

Consolidate Campaigns and Conversion Events

With Facebook shortening attribution settings to 7-day click and 1-day view by default, fewer conversions are being tracked and more scale will be needed to move ads through the learning phase toward performance-driving optimization. The larger the number of campaigns, ad sets, and ads businesses are running, the fewer impressions served and conversions achieved, making it harder to hit an even higher bar for scale. Consolidating campaigns, ad sets, and ads as much as possible will create efficiencies during the ad learning phases, helping drive performance more quickly.

 

Additionally, advertisers will need to consolidate and prioritize the events being tracked within Facebook’s event manager. Domains are now limited to no more than 8 website conversion events. If your campaigns are being optimized for more than 8 conversion events across the same domain, you’ll need to narrow down to the 8 or fewer conversion events most critical to your marketing objectives and configure them in Facebook’s Aggregated Event Measurement tool. Once your 8 or fewer conversion events have been selected, they must be put in priority order with the most valuable action first and the least valuable action last. The priority of the events will come into play when and if a user takes multiple actions with the 7 day conversion window. For example, if a user adds a product to a cart (achieving one conversion event) and leaves the site without completing the purchase only to return the next day after being served a retargeting ad and completes the purchase at that point (achieving another conversion event with a higher priority), the purchase event will show in Facebook’s event manager and the add to cart event will not based on the priority set. Thinking through the conversion events that are most important and their order of importance will help ensure Facebook continues to be an effective lead- and revenue-driving channel despite the latest changes.

Expectations for performance are going to have to change.

Recalibrate Your Goals

Expectations for performance are going to have to change. CPAs and CPMs on Facebook are on the rise and the increase is likely to continue as advertisers grapple with the previously unknown impacts of iOS 14.5 and the corresponding ripples through Facebook. Those who can stay the course, test new approaches, and adapt how they think about, interpret, and apply data to optimize performance will continue to find long-term value in Facebook as part of their marketing mix. And as advertisers who can’t adapt pull back from the platform, those who remain may find themselves in a less competitive environment over time.

 

For many businesses, especially those with sales cycles that extend beyond Facebook’s pre-iOS 14.5 28-day attribution window, there were always gaps in the data. To help fill some of the gaps within Facebook’s reporting capabilities, ensure you are implementing best practices for tracking, like adding UTM parameters so that you can track ad and campaign performance and conversions within Google Analytics. In addition to a narrowed attribution window, reporting delays of up to three days will make short-run campaign optimization challenging and breakdowns based on age, gender, region, and placement for delivery and actions will no longer be available, necessitating a different approach to campaign optimization. Creating benchmarks based on the most reliable data points you have and adjusting your performance goals based on that data will help steer campaigns in the right direction. Similarly, stepping back from channel-level performance goals and focusing on incremental impact to business goals (i.e., how much incremental lift you’re seeing in sales, revenue, new customer acquisition, etc.) will help you evaluate the impact of your channel-level investments in a more meaningful and sustainable way.

BONUS: Big-picture Best Practices

Ensuring the health of your digital marketing in the long-run requires adapting your marketing strategies beyond Facebook. Here are some big-picture best practices that should be on your long-term strategic marketing roadmap:

 

  1. Greater Data Ownership: From taking advantage of first-party data you may already have in your CRM to creating and gating high-value content or using other incentive-based strategies to convert zero-party data, businesses with greater data ownership will have the advantage as access to second- and third-party data becomes more limited. And those who invest in their data insights infrastructures to make the most effective use of that data to inform marketing strategy and drive performance will win.
  2. Holistic Marketing Intelligence: For shrewd companies, a decrease in the precision of the targeting capabilities available on third-party marketing platforms driven by shifts in the consumer privacy landscape is signalling a need to know their customers better. A deep understanding of your core customers–their personas, the language they use to describe their pain points, their search and shopping behaviors, etc.–will help insulate against the potential impact of ongoing changes in the consumer privacy landscape.
  3. Full-funnel Engagement: Now more than ever, building the kinds of consumer relationships that drive long-term growth requires full-funnel engagement rather than an overreliance on low-funnel paid media tactics to do the job alone. Now is the time to prioritize content and customer engagement strategies to maximize audience reach and build trust and consumer advocacy along the way.
  4. Evaluate Your Customer Experience: Long-term, sustained growth requires a focus on both customer acquisition and retention. Delivering a great customer experience every time is core to both keeping your customers and supporting data ownership strategies. According to a PwC survey, over a third of customers say they’d leave a brand they love after a single bad experience and 63% of respondents would be willing to share more personal information with companies delivering great experiences. Investing in delivering a best-in-class customer experience today will pay dividends on multiple fronts tomorrow.

Need more help stabilizing and optimizing your integrated marketing efforts? Contact us here.

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Customer Engagement

Developing Nurture Strategies That Decrease Time to Value

Whether you’re nurturing prospects or guiding product qualified leads through a free trial, intentionally crafting their journey allows you to coach potential buyers toward a purchase decision. Weak points in your nurture could be the cause of a low conversion rate.

 

Understanding the mechanics of a great nurture hinges largely on the concept of time to value (TTV), which refers to the time between when a customer takes an action and when the value of that action becomes obvious to them. TTV can help you diagnose where your nurture might be weak. For example, if you’re seeing low conversions from your free trial, it could be the case that your TTV is actually longer than the trial itself. This concept could apply to many points in the customer journey. Marketo found that 96% of website visitors aren’t ready to buy based on their initial visit. That’s when nurturing strategies come into play. Your nurture strategy helps to move customers through the marketing funnel with touch points that help communicate the value your product or service provides.

 

Tweaks to the nurture strategy can improve the customer experience and increase customer engagement and conversions. We worked with a SaaS company to revamp their nurture strategy to do just this. Originally, their customer onboarding experience had an ambiguous timeline and the high value actions weren’t made clear. We recommended changes that pivoted to an action-based nurture that reduced friction and personalized touch points. By identifying three critical stages in the trial onboarding period, we divided actions between what we called work, play and commit. We then frontloaded the sign up friction in the work stage. That allowed us to reduce the TTV and move customers through the play stage and toward commitment.

Also read: Uncovering the Root Cause of Low Conversion Rates to Unlock Continual Growth

 

If you’re trying to improve your customer nurture journey, there are some key best practices to incorporate. Here’s what to know.

Best Practices

Statistics show that 74% of companies are prioritizing improving conversion rates over the next 12 months, indicating this is a more important business need than driving traffic to their websites or even increasing customer lifetime value.

 

Here’s what to keep in mind if you are looking to revamp your nurture strategy to optimize your conversions and increase customer engagement:

 

  • Personalize: No one wants to feel like they’re receiving a cookie-cutter message from you so take the time to personalize your messaging based on customer actions. This goes beyond simply addressing them by name and takes into consideration where they might be in the journey.
  • Segment your lists: You can’t personalize if you aren’t segmenting, so be sure to divide your list by specific data points. There are many ways you can do this beyond the basic demographics of age and gender. You can create segments such as location, transaction history, web browsing history, and even device type.
  • Get creative and specific. Create multiple touch points: You should think of your nurture as greater than just one email. Consider all the channels you can use to nurture your customers — email, text message, retargeting ads. Make your communication ecosystem work together to create a world that pulls your customer in.
  • Include a call-to-action: In all your messages there should be a clear call-to-action that helps your customers understand their next steps. Keep it short and compelling.
  • Split test: Develop the practice of being data-lead by A/B testing all of your messaging. It’s hard to be entirely sure which subject line, call-to-action or topics will resonate with your audience, so let the data lead the way.

No one wants to feel like they’re receiving a cookie-cutter message from you so take the time to personalize your messaging based on customer actions.

Common Mistakes

We’ve noticed some commonalities among nurtures that aren’t doing a great job proving value. Here’s what to watch for:

 

  • Lack of data and research: When beginning the process of overhauling your nurture, it’s important to use both quantitative and qualitative research methods to diagnose what is missing and where your opportunities to optimize are. Your goal should be to help your customer get the value they are seeking faster by sending the right message at the right time. In order to solve this challenge, you need to research.
  • Not optimizing your call-to-action: One major mistake companies make with their nurtures is not including a sales pitch at all. Don’t do this. Not only should you specifically include a sales pitch as part of your nurture, but each touchpoint should have some type of CTA. All CTAs should be optimized. It’s smart to test different CTAs to determine which ones perform better in different situations. Remember to keep your CTAs direct and make sure each CTA is pointing to the most relevant link or next step.
  • Not knowing when to bring sales in and when to let your nurture work for you: Statistics from the Harvard Business Review show companies that get in touch within an hour of receiving a lead are seven times more likely to convert. Automating elements of your nurture can help craft this experience without the added pressure on your sales team. Additionally, customers or leads may not be ready to talk to someone right away, depending on their stage of the journey. Nurture allows you to build that relationship with the customer while slowly qualifying them before bringing in additional resources like sales.
  • Not constantly iterating: Remember that strong nurtures are an iterative process, and they change as customer preferences evolve. Constantly test and update your nurtures to ensure they are performing at their highest potential.

5 Types of Common Nurture Strategies That Improve Time to Value

Reducing time to value is the name of the game when it comes to increasing conversions. Here are five strategies we’ve seen companies use that can help you attain this goal.

Onboarding Signup

The “onboarding signup” is a nurture that encourages users to complete the signup process. This helps them get the work out of the way so they can start to enjoy the value of your product or service.

 

Purpose: Use the onboarding signup to gather data that can segment users in a sales class, or that can help you obtain other information to create segments specific to your business.

 

Strategy: Integrate your onboarding signup into the verification process with form fields that users have to complete. Fight the temptation to ask too many questions at this stage. Stick to the most relevant information that will help you properly nurture customers through their trial.

 

Success metric: If a user completes the signup process and advances to onboarding.

Trial Engagement

How engaged your users are with your platform during the trial period can significantly influence their time to value and your ultimate conversion rate. Creating a nurture throughout the trial that is optimized based on user actions can help improve their experience.

 

Purpose: Encourage users to explore features that are most likely to help them achieve their goals while also proving the importance of upgrading.

 

Strategy: Create engagement with your application by highlighting features and connecting case studies to the personalized use cases of your customers. Work toward scheduling a call with the sales team so you can create an even more personalized sales pitch.

 

Success metric: If users have used at least one of the features available in the trial.

Make your communication ecosystem work together to create a world that pulls your customer in.

Product-Focused Campaign

Educate potential customers on everything your product can help them achieve with a product-focused nurture that highlights your most important features.

 

Purpose: Become a trusted thought leader for your prospects as they advance through the sales cycle.

 

Strategy: Highlight features that solve pain points using case studies, white papers, and internal data.

 

Success metric: You’ll want to determine if customers are using the specific features you’re highlighting for them in your nurture. This can tell you if the features you’re explaining are resonating with them or if you need to find more relevant features for their goals.

Competitive Campaign

A competitive campaign is more aggressive than other nurtures on this list. For this type of a nurture you’ll get specific about what differentiates your product, and what users have to lose if they choose one of your competitors.

 

Purpose: If you have a main competitor that customers are constantly weighing against you, a competitive campaign can work to overcome their objections by educating them about how you are better positioned to help them achieve success.

 

Strategy: Use specific information gathered during sales calls to address main objections without coming across as negative. Any press you’ve obtained or industry intelligence that proves your worth can be helpful here.

 

Success metric: Count actions such as signing up for your trial or upgrades to determine the success of this campaign.

Promotional Nurturing

Promotional nurturing can help move prospects across the finish line with a limited time, exclusive offer that encourages them to act now.

 

Purpose: Promotional nurturing helps you close a sale when you are in the purchase stage of the cycle.

 

Strategy: If you’re working with a big account that could significantly impact your business, offer special pricing or access to upgraded features based on what you know their needs are. For smaller accounts, adding a discount to your email nurture toward the end of the trial stage can inspire users to upgrade.

 

Success metric: For account-based selling, assess how many times you are able to close the sale. For product qualified leads, review how often your discount code has been used.

 

Also read: Optimizing paid media strategies to continually increase leads year over year

Your goal should be to help your customer get the value they are seeking faster by sending the right message at the right time.

How to Assess & Redesign Your Nurture Strategy

Improving your nurture strategy starts with assessing user behavior to identify where you can aid with value realization. This might include collating more data on your users so you can do a better job segmenting your nurtures. It could also include competitive research that helps you identify other journeys your users might be experiencing as they compare your service.

 

Use this research to map your entire customer conversion experience to identify opportunities to increase customer engagement. Then, identify gaps in content and specific trigger points that could reduce the time to value. If you find quick wins, implement these immediately while preparing your campaign overhaul.

The Bottom Line

There are so many ways you can nurture your relationship with your customers to increase engagement, prove your value and turn trial users into paying clients. The key to it all is constantly iterating by using data to understand what your customers are experiencing at each step in the journey. Customizing your messaging to respond to their actions and experiences will help you personalize each nurture touch point, increase customer engagement and prove the value of your product or service.

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Customer Engagement Uncategorized

9 Metrics That Help Measure Customer Engagement

Gaining new customers is only half the battle when it comes to sustaining a healthy business — keeping customers engaged and loyal to your company long-term is just as important. Sometimes, that’s easier said than done, especially considering the changing nature of customer preferences.

 

Most companies are challenged with constantly iterating their customer engagement strategies. Oftentimes larger enterprise companies bear more of that brunt in order to maintain market share as more agile upstarts join the scene.

 

Also read: Data Driven Insights Into the Evolving Customer Experience 

 

Case and point: A large entertainment and communications firm – despite having experience that predates the internet – came to us with plummeting retention rates. Identifying the cause of their customer churn was essential to strategizing and implementing an improved experience for the future. By conducting research to understand the end-to-end customer journey, we were able to uncover and map out internal and external stakeholder perspectives at each stage. Using that information, we identified which stages in the journey had the greatest impact on customer loyalty. Then we were able to create a prioritized list of suggested improvements to enhance the customer experience and drive a greater bond between the business and their audience.

 

It’s this kind of work that can make the world of difference when it comes to increasing customer engagement.

 

Reducing friction and inspiring trust are the cornerstones of customer engagement today. A recent Salesforce study found that 95% of consumers said trust makes them more likely to remain loyal while 80% said the customer experience is just as important as the product or service.

 

Reviewing the journeys your customers take helps to identify ways to increase convenience and drive engagement, which is essential for success. Here are some top methods to measure customer engagement.

Reducing friction and inspiring trust are the cornerstones of customer engagement today.

Top Customer Engagement Metrics

There are a variety of metrics you can use to create a full picture of your customer experience and increase customer engagement. Here are some of the most frequently used methods::

1. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

NPS is the leading metric for measuring customer satisfaction and loyalty. This is accomplished by asking customers one, simple question to rate the likelihood that they would recommend a company, product or service to a friend or colleague. The rating is on a scale of 0 -10, with zero being “not at all likely” and 10 being “extremely likely.”

 

How to calculate: Respondents are divided into three groups based on their score.

 

  • Promoters: (rated 9-10) are loyal customers who will also refer others to your company.
  • Passives: (rated 7-8) are satisfied, but not enthusiastic.
  • Detractors: (rated 0-6) are unhappy customers and could potentially damage your brand by spreading negative reviews.

To calculate your NPS score, subtract the percent of Detractors from the percent of Promoters. Here’s what the formula looks like: % Promoters – % Detractors = NPS. Your NPS can range anywhere from -100 to 100 depending on your ratio of promoters to detractors.

% Promoters - % Detractors = NPS

How it infers customer engagement: Your NPS score is a good measure of your customers’ overall perception of your brand. Customers who fit the Detractor category are unhappy, these are the customers most likely to speak poorly about your brand to others or leave negative reviews. Customers who fit the profile of Passives are not excited about your business and are unlikely to be loyal if a competitor comes along with a sweeter offer. Customers who are considered Promoters are not only loyal, but will act as ambassadors for your company. It’s best to compare your NPS to others in your industry and also to your past scores to monitor any changes in your customers’ perceptions.

 

Also read: The What, Why, & How Of Customer Behavior Analysis

 

Best for: This classic customer engagement tool is best for gaining a high-level understanding of customer experience and how loyal your customers are.

2. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

CSAT is short for Customer Satisfaction Score. It is a popular metric to gauge customer satisfaction levels for a specific product/service or action you took rather than an ongoing customer relationship.. A CSAT score is expressed as a percentage (100% to 0%). Using the results from a customer surveys that ask respondents to “Rate their overall satisfaction with the goods/services they received. Respondents use the following 1-5 scale:

 

1 = Very Dissatisfied (or Very Bad)

2 = Somewhat dissatisfied (Poor)

3 = Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied (Neutral)

4 = Somewhat satisfied (Good)

5 = Very Satisfied (Excellent)

 

How to calculate: To understand your CSAT, you’ll want to divide the number of satisfied customers (represented by those who responded with a 4 or 5 ) by the total number of customers.

 

Use this formula to calculate: Number of satisfied customers (4 and 5) / Number of survey responses) x 100 = % of satisfied customers

Number of satisfied customers (4 and 5) / Number of survey responses) x 100 = % of satisfied customers

How it infers customer engagement: Your CSAT score is helpful to measure customer satisfaction after an experience or touchpoint with your business. It’s not typically used to represent customer engagement over time, since it’s a snapshot of how each individual customer was feeling during the exact circumstances of the survey.

 

Best for: CSATs are typically easier to collect than other data points because you’re not asking a lot of your customers. CSATs are also easily understood across many channels of your organization. This makes them ideal for creating company-wide benchmarks that you can update consistently.

3. Customer Lifetime Value

Your customer lifetime value indicates how much your company can expect to earn across an entire relationship with a customer from start to finish. Segmenting your customers by lifetime value can help your company get strategic about the most important groups to engage for long term revenue growth.

 

How to calculate: Before you can calculate the customer lifetime value, you need to know the average customer value. You do this by determining the average purchase value and then multiplying that by the average number of purchases. That first formula looks like this: Average Purchase X Average Number of Purchase = Customer Value.

Average Purchase X Average Number of Purchase = Customer Value

Then, put that number into the following formula: Customer Lifetime Value = Customer Value X Average Customer Lifespan.

Customer Value X Average Customer Lifespan = Lifetime Value

How it infers customer engagement: It goes without saying that the happier your customers are with your product or service, the more likely they are to continue purchasing renewals or upgrades. Focusing on improving your customer lifetime value typically means you’ll surround customers with support and incentives, which can also lead to higher customer engagement scores. Best for: Compare your customer lifetime value to the cost of acquiring new customers so you can understand if your value realization is strong enough to offset the marketing or sales costs associated with generating demand.

4. User Activity

User activity measures how many unique customers are interacting with your product or service in a specific time frame — typically daily or monthly. This is an ideal customer engagement metric for SaaS companies or apps.

 

How to calculate: Calculating daily user activity hinges on accurately defining what you’ll consider a user and an activity. To get a strong sense of how users are interacting on your platform, you might want to count actions such as pulling reports or collaborating with team members instead of merely sign ons or app opens.

 

How it infers customer engagement: By measuring activities that would only happen if the user was engaged — like creating reports, for example — you can begin to understand how often your users are incorporating your features into their lives. If you notice some features are under-utilized, this could be a warning sign that your customers aren’t fully engaging with the potential of your offerings.

 

Best for: This metric is best for understanding what features of your product are most engaging for customers, so you can continue to iterate on these and improve your value realization opportunities.

 

Also read: How to Holistically Map the Customer Experience

5. Visit Frequency

Measuring the visit frequency shows you how often the same customer returns to your site or store location. This helps you to understand how familiar your customers are with your brand and the extent to which they are actively seeking your company.

 

How to calculate: Using Google Analytics, you can pull a count-of-session report to understand visit frequency to your website. Measuring visit frequency for brick-and-mortar locations has historically been more difficult, but new technology, such as Ripple Metrics, can actually measure return frequency in addition to other actions your customers take in store.

 

How it infers customer engagement: If you have many of the same customers returning over time, this shows a higher level of engagement. However, if you have customers visiting your site or location once and not returning, this shows you have more work to do in order to foster customer loyalty.

 

Best for: Visit frequency can be seasonal. For example, if you work at an oil change garage, you might only expect customers to return once every six months. That’s why measuring visit frequency is a good metric for companies that understand what the patterns of a happy customer look like. Gain clarity on the big picture of your customer journey so your visit frequency inferences will be valuable.

 

6. Screentime

Measuring how long a customer spends on your site can tell you how valuable your content is and the extent to which you are helping to make the lives of your customers easier. If your customers spend a long time reading an article or watching a video, congratulations, that means you gave them something to stick around for.

 

How to calculate: Using your website analysis tools, you can pull a report to specify the total time on site or get specific to understand how long customers are spending on each page.

 

How it infers customer engagement: If you notice customers are routinely spending a few seconds on each page, that could be a sign that your website content is not engaging. Typically the first action users take when they realize a webpage doesn’t have the information they need is to close it and move on to the next one. This metric can help you determine what content is hitting home with your customers and what needs more work.

 

Best for: This metric is essential if you rely on content marketing to drive sales or improve the customer experience.

Understanding your customer engagement isn’t always a matter of gathering the most information, but of understanding which metrics to focus on.

7. Pages per Session

Pages per session shows you the average number of pages a visitor to your website reads before they leave your website. Similar to screentime, this metric can show you the extent to which visitors are enjoying your website and gaining value from it.

 

How to calculate: You can determine the pages per session by dividing the total page views by the total amount of sessions for any given time period. If you use Google Analytics, this number should automatically be pulled for you through the program’s standard reporting in the acquisition overview section. To get more detailed, remember to segment by source. You might find that visitors coming from one channel are more heavily engaged, which could influence how you spend advertising dollars.

 

How it infers customer engagement: If you have a high number of pages per session it’s likely visitors to your site are finding a lot of useful information and that you are providing a quality user experience. If you find this metric drops over time, it could signal that you need to revisit your content or maintain your website.

 

Best for: Use this metric to understand how well your website is performing when it comes to serving your customers.

 

8. Churn Rate

Your churn rate measures the number of customers who are concluding their relationship with your business over a set period of time. For example, if you are a service with subscribers your monthly churn rate would show the percentage of users who have cancelled their subscription each month.

 

How to calculate: Calculating your churn rate is simple, just divide the number of customers who have stopped doing business with you by the total number of customers. For example, if you have 20,000 subscribers and 1,000 cancelled last month, you would have a churn rate of 5% for the month.

 

How it infers customer engagement: If you have a high churn rate you can infer that somewhere along the line your customers are becoming disappointed. You’ll need to do some work to understand where in the journey they are seeing less value so you can improve these pain points and extend the customer lifespan.

 

Best for: This is a good metric for softwares or subscription services that rely on monthly recurring revenue.

9. Social Media Engagement

Your social media engagement can show you how interested your customers are in hearing from you and sharing about the work you do. A high social media engagement rate doesn’t always equate to increased sales, but it can definitely help guide your team to know if you’re on the right track in developing rapport, loyalty and strong word-of-mouth.

 

How to calculate: To get a high-level view of your social media engagement, measure your average engagement rate by adding the total number of engagements on a given post (this includes likes, comments and shares) by your total number of followers.

 

How it infers customer engagement: If your social media engagement numbers are low, this could be a sign that you need to do more work providing daily value to your current customers to turn them into brand evangelists. Not all companies rely on social media though, so if your social engagement numbers are low but you have another channel that does well, such as a newsletter, you might want to weigh both sets of metrics against each other before taking action.

 

Best for: Social media engagement can help companies understand how well they are doing when it comes to creating brand awareness and enthusiasm.

Bottom Line

Understanding your customer engagement isn’t always a matter of gathering the most information, but of understanding which metrics to focus on. Every brand should choose a handful of metrics that matter most to their business operations. Depending on your goals, there are only a few metrics that should be tracked regularly to gauge engagement, loyalty, value realization and growth. For the client we mentioned at the start of this article, we were trying to solve for high customer churn. We decided to narrow available data down so we were only focusing on mapping customer satisfaction. We felt this metric could most accurately predict churn. By understanding where in the journey customers were least satisfied, we were able to identify where drop off occurred.

Curious how the evolving customer experience is changing customer sentiment? Check out our recent research report, or contact us today.

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Customer Engagement Innovators Series Interviews Value Realization

Innovators Q&A: How Blink Fitness Embraced Digital Transformation During the Pandemic

Can you think of a global event that shook the fitness industry as much as COVID-19 did? With no option to continue business as usual, fitness gyms across the world were forced to contend with digital transformations– and fast – by developing apps, delivering content, and finding new, creative ways to provide value to members that were indefinitely stuck at home. And while some succeeded, for many, the weight of the pandemic was too great, and they were forced to shut their doors.

 

In fact, the IHRSA estimates that the US gym and health club industry lost $20.4 billion in 2020. By May 2020, about 500,000 people in the gym industry had been laid off; and by July 2020, 60% of Americans reportedly planned to cancel gym memberships.

 

On the flip side, brands who invested in and focused on delivering digital-first experiences saw a boom of success. With 74% of Americans reportedly using at least one fitness app during the pandemic, home fitness app downloads saw a 46% increase between quarter one and quarter two of 2020, while companies like Peloton, Beachbody, and Tonal (as well as businesses that produce at-home fitness equipment) reported massive revenue growth.

 

Alas, it was fitness gyms that had formerly relied on in-person experiences and only dabbled or recently entered the digital space that were given an ultimatum: Hurry up and create new experiences that put members’ needs at the core or throw in the towel. One gym that experienced this first-hand is Blink Fitness. With 100+ franchised gyms in 10 different states, Blink Fitness strives to change the narrative – and emotional landscape – often associated with gyms.

“Blink is a motivating space with a staff of mood-lifters. We take pride in challenging fitness industry norms and celebrating every unique body,” their website reads. “It’s what’s on the inside that counts… Blink offers a sparkling clean, spacious design with bright colors, scientifically proven to enhance your workout and elevate your mood.”

 

Sounds cool, right? Well, definitely. Except when you can’t actually access the space.

 

So, as the global pandemic reared its ugly head, Michelle Horowitz – Blink Fitness’s Senior Vice President and Head of Marketing and Communications – was tasked with ensuring that the uplifting, body-positive brand could transcend and traverse new digital demands.

 

To learn how Blink Fitness tackled the challenge, our own Partner Robert Wallace sat down with Michelle for our Innovators Q&A Series to discuss the evolving consumer journey, member-first mentality, data-backed strategy, and the future of the fitness industry.

Q&A with Blink Fitness’s Senior Vice President & Head of Marketing & Communications Michelle Horowitz

Robert Wallace: Hello everyone. My name is Robert Wallace. I’m a partner at we’re a customer experience design company, and I am pleased to an honor to be the host of our fourth installment of the new interview series that we’re putting on called the innovators. I’m really happy to have a conversation today with Michelle Horowitz, which she was named one of Brand Innovators Top 100 Women in Brand Marketing, and she’s a visionary in e-commerce marketing and leader experience in a variety of industries – B2C and B2B. She’s built high performing teams that and [has been] really customer obsessed throughout her whole career in marketing communications. And now she is the Senior Vice President and Head of Marketing and Communication at Blink Fitness, which is a premium and affordable fitness brand that challenges conventional fitness stereotypes. [Michelle is] responsible for leading the brand and digital evolution of the company through innovation and movement.

 

[Michelle], obviously that is a timely industry that you’re in and we’ve all gone through a tough year, and an interesting year. So, first of all, welcome, and thank you so much for taking the time. I just went through [your] standard bio, but I’d love to hear in your words a little bit more about your professional journey. You’ve been through sales and marketing… I’d love to just hear really briefly about your career and your journey and how you landed where you are.

 

Michelle Horowitz: Yeah, for sure. Thanks. Thank you, Robert. I’m super excited to be here and it’s an honor to have this conversation with you. So, thank you for having me. I took a circuitous route to be where I am today and where I am today is completely passionate about the health and wellness industry and obviously the impact that fitness can make. It’s never been more apparent than right now about how important it is for us to stay well. And certainly, you know, it’s not just the physical impact of what we’ve been going through [but] also the mental impact. So, to be with a brand that [lives that] ethos is super exciting.

 

Previous to this, I spent some time in fashion and then retail-specialty area, particularly in lifestyle. So, I’m super proud of the work that I’ve done during that time. And it really was all about customer centricity as we built and developed the Loft brand and expanded beyond the US borders into Mexico and Canada. And then I was part of the team that created the Lou & Grey brand, which was really the first foray from a specialty retail perspective that moved into lifestyle. So, it was a big, bold step that the brand took prior to being acquired, and was part of the growth from a D2C brand into 12 stores. So, that’s been the majority of my CMO experience – in the fashion space – but always with an eye to customer centricity and the impact that a brand can have on its consumer base.

Similar to how people feel about the e-commerce experience, they want [fitness] to be there when they want it to be there.

RW: How would you say you’ve segued that customer and member-first mentality, so to speak, in your new role at Blink?

 

MH: Yeah, it’s interesting. I recently took responsibility of the customer service center, as well. So, I think it really speaks to a marketer’s responsibility of the customer journey and thinking about it from the moment of acquisition through to retention and then, obviously, loyalty. So, to put the consumer at the center of it all, from identifying the issues that come through customer service and then being able to be really thoughtful about how we treat our customers and how we have that sort of member-first mentality. But I would say that, stepping back – as we hopefully are through that gateway of the end of the pandemic – that we really pivoted quite quickly at the beginning of the experience, which is more than a year ago, where we had to close down the business and had to really think about how important it was for not only our employees, but also our consumer base to keep them actively engaged and to put their health and wellness first.

 

So, we were very fortunate that we actually have an app – a fantastic app – that was created in 2019, that has three functional areas. One is obviously about the capability to have access to classes, where we partner with a lot of brands, but also create our own content. And then we have nutrition and rejuvenation. So, to be able to sort of engage fully behind that and share it with the community and really open it up – because at the time, it was one membership that had access – we opened it up to everybody. And then, as an engagement vehicle, we actually worked very closely with our personal trainers to create our own content. We began to host live stream content every day that really allowed people to [make] their health and wellness [a priority] as we transitioned to working at home.

 

That was another example of how we did it. And now, as we come out of this pandemic, or we’re traveling through hopefully the tail end of it… As we reopened the gyms, we actually, again, used [and are using] the app as a vehicle to help people feel more comfortable coming back to the gym. And, obviously, health and wellness was the priority for our employees, our communities, and the members that we serve by following all of the CDC guidelines, as well as local guidelines. But, in addition to that, we wanted to use the as a vehicle to help make it easier for everybody. We had that frictionless entrance where they didn’t have to touch or engage with anything. They could use their app. But, in advance of even doing that, they could still reserve their space in the gym, [and] look at capacity.

 

And if they’re not ready to come back to the gym, which some people are not yet ready… They can actually currently take personal training classes through the app. So, we’re constantly trying to think about the consumer experience. And, I think, a natural evolution of this is: “How are we going to continue to marry the digital world with the in-gym experience?” Which I think, until we find stasis, is definitely an “and,” I would imagine that people sort of live in both of those worlds.

RW: It’s interesting because it sounds to me that it boils down to – or what has happened – is it’s almost what does Blink Fitness really stand for? Meaning what businesses is it really in? And the delivery mechanism has changed. So, it has forced you to think about, “Oh, we’re about accessibility and democratization of really high-end health and wellness and fitness. And that used to be delivered through the gym, and now, when the phone goes away – at least partially goes away or has fundamentally changed – how else are we going to fulfill our brand promise while they can’t get to that particular delivery vehicle?” And it’s really interesting how you’ve thought about that and broadened your perspective. The only way you can do that is by putting [the] customer first.

 

MH: I think, even as people sort of flex and figure out what it all looks like, the nice thing about it is, if you [are] coming into the gym and [are] enjoying – whether it’s the weights or the elliptical or whatever the machines are that you choose, or even the stretch area – you might not have time, or you might be doing it in-between appointments or whatever. [But] you can always go home and continue that journey, whether it’s doing a yoga class or a meditation class or more stretching from home. So, I think, similar to how people feel about the e-commerce experience, they want it to be there when they want it to be there. And the app is definitely a vehicle that gives our members what they’re looking for.

 

RW: That’s fascinating, too. The idea of a 360-degree brand is one that that has come up. It came up in my footwear experience, and you probably saw too, where– and I’m dating myself here – but there was a time when you started selling online or selling catalogue or whatever channel is new, there was this fear that you would be cannibalizing your existing channel. And that never happened because it really just made it a 360-degree brand. I can buy whatever it is I want to buy whenever and however I want. I can do it on my phone. I can do it online. I can order through the catalog, if you still want to do that, or I can go into the store. So, it’s fascinating that fitness is going through that same thing.

 

MH: Yeah. And interesting, too. I remember from my retail days, it’s like that haptic social community feeling that you get when you’re walking through a retail store or you might have the urge or that window of time that you’re able to do it at home through the digital experience. I think there [are] some similarities there, for sure.

When you look at the true customer journey, that's not a marketing thing. That's not a product thing. That's not an operations thing... It's everything. The customer – or the member, in your case – doesn't much care what departments or silos exist.

RW: There’s an emotional connection that you touch on, in some cases from actually shopping, but certainly I think a lot of gyms – you have an emotional connection. How do you cultivate that? First of all, how do you think about cultivating connections with your members, but [also], how have you thought about how that has changed online or how you had to evolve that?

 

MH: Yeah, that’s an interesting question. It’s a very community-focused brand, right? When we come into the community, we are committed to the community and the local members. And we think a lot about local. When we first come in [to set] up the gym, we partner with a lot of nonprofits. We work very closely with local government to really engage and let them know that we’re here and we want them to come in and be part of that community. We have – what we call the people that work in the gym – we call them “Mood Lifters,” and they really set the tone and the feeling for coming into the gym.

 

We want people to come in and feel like they’re part of something… The music sets the tone and the friendliness of the Mood Lifters and the personal trainers really create that local community touch point. And often people obviously establish relationships, whether it’s with their trainers, their Mood Lifters, or their local managers. So that really, in and of itself, was really the ethos of the brand that was built. And when we went through COVID and started to create those live streams, we really began to allow the personal trainers – when they taught the daily classes – [to let] their personalities, their excitement for their brand, and for health and wellness, really shine through. And we actually included the capability for people to ask questions and engage, whether it was during the workout or after the workout, so we could really create that continuity.

 

Obviously, in the digital world, it becomes a little bit more difficult, but in the same way that we want to help people curate or navigate their fitness IQ, we see that as a lot of potential in the digital world to sort of [help] continue people on their journeys in the digital world. So, I think part of it is the content that we provide on the app by curating from the nutritional, from the rejuvenation, and then from the classes. And the partners that we’ve chosen, whether it’s Daily Burn or SworkIt or Aaptiv, it’s been very thought through. Of course, there’s tons of opportunity to continue to personalize that experience and really think of that journey. But we look at one as being an extension of the other.

 

RW: Yeah, fascinating. When I think about personalization, I invariably get to the data issue or the data situation. How are you thinking about data? The collection of data? We may soon be in a cookieless world… How does Blink think about this? How do you think about it?… Tell us a little bit more about the personalized experience that you touched on.

MH: Yeah, I think that’s a great question. And, you know, obviously from a brand perspective, it’s a member-first mentality, right? So, you know, and it’s a value exchange, by understanding more particularly, [it] becomes a lot easier obviously in the digital world – through the app – to understand what content appeals to people, where their interests lie, and we can begin to really curate that.

 

So, for us, it’s all about making the experience [and] constantly evolving the experience to make it better: Being really thoughtful in the data-sense from a marketing perspective – obviously, in addition to focusing on the member experience – we have to be very attuned to the applicable laws, legislations, and I think an ever-changing landscape.

 

Also read: How Johnson & Johnson Is Pairing Data With Creativity to Connect With Customers Like Never Before

 

At the beginning of the week, I was listening to Kara Swisher’s podcast “Sway” from the New York Times and she was interviewing Tim Cook. Tim believes that privacy is at the forefront of what things are going to be about. And certainly, from Apple’s perspective, you know, they’re introducing the ATT – the ability for people to choose their privacy settings. So, I think it’s still an interesting time. There are many different things happening at many different levels, from the policy perspective – around section 230 – and, you know, there are some… Amy Klobuchar is very involved with making refinements [to] – I think she’s calling it the Safe Tech Act. You have Virginia announcing that they’re going to be doing very similar [things] to what California did with the CCPA. That they’ve now adopted their version of that. And, I think, from what I heard, there’s another eight states following suit.

 

So, a brand has a responsibility to align with and be aware of that. And then, in addition to that, you also have the platforms, right? Like, Facebook has a lot of responses to Apple and there’s a lot of activity. I look – from a marketing perspective – the importance of staying on top of it and putting member privacy at the forefront is what we are looking at. And staying in tune, too. But there’s, there’s so much going on from a marketing perspective, we work very much in line with our legal department and technology [teams] to make [sure] everything aligns. So, needless to say, I guess there’s a lot going on, Robert.

RW: The ground is shifting, too. I mean, what you just spoke about is going to be different maybe even by Monday. Every day you see that there’s new legislation, or just new technology, and how companies – all of them – are reacting to it. To me, the brands that at least make it, first and foremost, “Hey, we’re paying attention. And we’re doing our best to put you – the member – first.” That starts to build enough of a trust factor that, “Hey, we may not keep up with every single thing, but we’re trying and your first, so you – the member – are first,” I think that’s critically important for most brands to think about, because it’s not necessarily possible to keep pace with everything.

 

MH: Yeah. But I think it’s our responsibility to, as brands, to do that. But I think it also speaks to, you know, the agility and the cross-functional partnership that takes place now, certainly through this time… We’re in it together and navigating through it.

 

RW: So, for sure. When you look at the true customer journey, that’s not a marketing thing. That’s not a product thing. That’s not an operations thing. It’s all of those things – [including] service. It’s everything. The customer – or the member in your case – doesn’t much care what departments or silos exist.

 

MH: One hundred percent. I love that you say that. I mean, we work so closely together – the Head of Operations – we all work so closely together to create this member-first experience and we’re, like you said, it’s an evolution. Simon Sinek talks about “The Infinite Game“. It’s this constant [goal of] doing it better and putting the member first.

 

Also read How to Holistically Map Your Customer Experiences

 

RW: I think organizations are being forced, especially during COVID – because [the] customer became front and center, whether you thought about it or not – and it forced a lot of companies to think about, “How are our departments interacting with one another? And how are those interactions even touching the customer? How do we need to maybe be more agile?”

Our North Star really is thinking about the member first and that member experience.

MH: Yes, I love that you said that. I was just going to say, I think these keywords came out of the pandemic, right? Like, the acceleration of behavior or technology, resiliency, agility. And, obviously, from a leadership perspective, empathy is at the, at the cornerstone, which I think has only made us better and stronger as individuals and teams. So, I agree with you. I think those are some of the keywords that are definitely coming out of this moment in time.

 

RW: Ultimately, that’s a good thing. So, there’s some silver linings. I think it’s all good. So, we’re almost at time, but if you cast your vision forward a little bit, what do you see in terms of the fitness industry, or technology, or any trends, or any combination of the three? What do you see out there in the market? Where do you see things going?

 

MH: Yeah, I think – just touching back on what we started talking about – I really do believe it’s this constant continuation of the member experience. And what does it mean to offer that member experience? From a technology point of view, from a people point of view. Bringing that all together and continuing to deliver that. And, I think, it’s about understanding this moment of stasis: When, you know, the technology and the digital world and the four walls live together. What does that look like? So, I feel like we’re on a journey that was accelerated by COVID, for sure. I don’t think we’re the only industry. Obviously, there’s many that we can point to that have been [impacted by] this acceleration. But, again, a lot of the behaviors that you’re talking about, and that we’ve touched on – the agility, the resiliency, the cross-functional partnership – will be key in this experience. But I think our North Star really is thinking about the member first and that member experience.

 

Also read: Trends Driving CX Design In the Hospitality Industry: Q&A with Marriott International’s Christine Kettmer

 

RW: Yeah. Awesome. Well, I I’ve been fortunate enough to have a few conversations with you. Each one is awesome, and each one, the time sneaks up on us. We could keep on going for a while. But I do want to thank you, again, for taking the time. This has been wonderful. I know our audience is going to appreciate it and learn a lot from it. Is there a URL for Blink Fitness that [people] should check out?

MH: [Yeah], it’s just BlinkFitness.com. Right now, we actually are allowing people to download the app for 60 days trials, no matter where they live. So, I welcome anybody that would be interested. Just go to our website and download the app, or to the app store and download it that way.

 

RH: Excellent. Everyone go do that, go download [the app].

 

MH: Stay healthy, stay well, right?

 

RH: Yeah. Everyone: Stay fit and stay well. That’s exactly right. This will help you do that. So, I’ll do that when I hang up here. But thanks again. It’s really been a lot of fun.

 

MH: I look forward to continuing the conversation. Thank you so much.

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