Consumers are making companies work harder than ever to keep their business. With access to the borderless world of e-commerce at their fingertips, empowered customers are no longer willing to accept unsatisfactory services or below-par products.

There are no second chances. Consumers simply move their money elsewhere, flitting from one business to another.

Those customers are proving a challenge to marketers. They know that they can attract customers with the myriad physical and digital marketing tools and techniques they have at hand. But retaining those customers, developing the relationship, understanding lifetime value, and driving customer engagement is even more of a challenge.

Increasing Your Customer Engagement

Customer engagement is more than a nice-to-have measurable objective. A recent report finds that it's a top priority for 81% of marketers. It has become a crucial metric in its own right, more meaningful than customer satisfaction survey responses or retention figures.

Moreover, customer engagement has become a critical temperature check for a business's current and future performance, as it identifies to what extent customers are willing and ready to invest time in a company.

Research by Gartner has found that "engaged customers are usually better advocates of the brand and are more loyal and more profitable."

In regards to customer engagement, Gartner recommends that businesses:

  • Increase active customer engagement through social, mobile, and traditional channel alignment
  • Build emotional customer engagement through transparency and trust
  • Target rational customer engagement through greater customer participation and knowledge availability
  • Gain ethical customer engagement through demonstrated commitment to fairness with employees, partners, customers, and community

Consumers like to engage and identify with a brand. Perhaps the brand is aspirational, has values consumers share, or makes them feel they are part of something exclusive. More and more businesses are creating marketing campaigns that elicit an emotional response, so the customer feels a connection with the brand.

Where Videos Come Into Play

Banks and insurance providers aren't the most emotive of businesses, but institutes like Bank of America and Nationwide both have created moving commercials that can be shared across social media. The ads are painstakingly designed to elicit a powerful, emotional response within a very short space of time.

Moreover, this love of the moving picture and its ability to create a connection with customers has driven marketers to refresh their engagement strategies.

Video is an increasingly effective method of creating a distinctive voice and personality for a brand—unsurprisingly, given that 100 million Internet users watch online video each day.

Until recently, video has been a one-way medium, but that has changed. Today, we view video on interactive swipe screens, and myriad media companies include interactive "red button" viewer services to their TV programs and social media interaction, like Twitter hashtags.

Consumers have come to expect a degree of participation. And smart marketers are responding.

Video + Personalization +  Real-Time Delivery

Thanks to the ability to capture and use customer data and predictive analytics with precision and accuracy, marketers are now combining video with two other customer marketing super-powers: personalization and real-time delivery.

The result: a triple of customer engagement, in the form of interactive, personalized video.

Interactive personalized video is taking the customer engagement world by storm, with figures revealing it has improved engagement by up to 100%. Users have reported an increased understanding of a business's services by up to 74%.

Engagement times with customers average five minutes in length, and in some case, customers have viewed the video for 40 minutes or longer.

With the ability to draw on individual consumer insights, interactive personalized video can present tailored information for new customer on-boarding or billing inquiries, as well as delivering up-sell and cross-sell opportunities specific to the customer.

Fulfilling High Expectations

I've witnessed the way consumers and brands engage with one another change drastically.

In my early years, my interaction with a brand came when I received printed literature, like catalogs and brochures, or spoke with the brand in-store or via phone. Now, I interact with brands on every level—in-store, online, in print, through my mobile device.

Of those brands, a small percentage represent the same brands from previous decades, largely due to the fact that most brands didn't evolve with technology.

Video is not a technology to be dismissed. It will be the communication channel of the future, and companies that embrace it now will still be known in decades to come.

* * *

Remember that consumers have high expectations for customer communications. Likewise, businesses have high expectations when they invest in customer engagement programs. Now, those expectations are being exceeded at all levels.

Interactive personalized video has stamped an expiration date on one-size-fits-all marketing and has created immersive, tailored, real-time communications that drive results and the future of customer engagement.

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Interactive Personalized Video Has Killed One-Size-Fits-All Marketing

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image of David Schwartz

David Schwartz is vice-president of Sales for Digital Commerce Solutions, Pitney Bowes' personalized interactive video solutions.

LinkedIn: David Schwartz