Creating a brand that’s trusted is the ultimate goal. That trust directly translates into loyal customers and revenue. Apart from a great product, reaching that goal requires a certain level of brand awareness and customer engagement complemented with the right messaging strategy. In this article, we are going to explore innovative ways to engage customers and raise your brand’s awareness relevant to the 2021 marketing landscape. Hint: it’s a mixture of being human and witty on social media and using data from various customer touchpoints. Relevant and Contextual Engagement Turns into Loyalty The more the engagement, the more the loyalty. That might have been true in 2019, but when the pandemic disrupted almost every industry in 2020, it also changed customers’ behavior, habits, and needs. Customers expect brands to be considerate, more human, personalized while being informative and factual. Information overloading and misinformation are the phenomenons that accompanied the rise of blogging and content creation. Misinformation in the middle of a pandemic can turn fatal, literally. So, customers turned to brands they trust for the right information and the support to get through this pandemic. The brands that engaged their customers in a relevant, contextual manner are now winning the game and 2021 is their year. But it’s not too late for your brand, you can start today with the below-mentioned strategies. 1) Explore and integrate new communication channels in your marketing With people still stuck in their homes for the most part of their days and the looming possibility of 2nd and 3rd waves of the virus, they are spending more and more time online. And not just on traditional social platforms, they are exploring, looking to add more value to their days through apps, platforms, newsletters, forums, and more. Human contact is also something they are missing and craving now more than ever. They’ll take every chance they get to socialize in an organized and social-distanced manner. This gives brands the opportunities to engage with their customers both online and offline. Maybe start a limited series newsletter, video chats, YouTube channel revolving around all the good things happening around the world because people definitely need that. John Krasinksi famed from The Office started a YouTube web series called SomeGoodNews, which now has ~2.5 million subscribers. Organize curated events personalized to the taste of your audience from a particular city, region, or area. You can also tie-up with various brands to organize such events. Be creative, contemporary, and most importantly, human with your communication and engagement. 2) Embrace the basics of social media While this might seem like a contrasting point to the first one, it’s not. Exploring is good but while you do that, make sure you are still active and maintaining your sassiness on the main social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. People are exploring new platforms because they have extra time on their hands. They are not replacing their daily doses of Twitter, Instagram. The key to winning at social media is to: Be sassy and witty and have a personality like Wendy’s. On the National Roast Day, Wendy’s took to Twitter and started roasting whoever replied to their roasting tweet, and it was all everyone talked about that day. This guy went a step ahead and changed his Twitter name based on Wendy’s roast tweet. That’s the epitome of great customer engagement. And one with the brands. But make sure you are not crossing the line between sassiness and offensiveness. Make your customers feel heard and seen. Whenever you get a tag, don’t ignore it, rather address the issue and leave a personalized response. Starbucks is a brand that’s known for its positive, empowering customer interactions. 3) Be present – if possible everywhere Brand awareness walks hand-in-hand with customer engagement. For customers to engage with your brand, you need customers in the first place. From using SEO to better your brand’s ranking to listing your brand on business review websites, try to be present everywhere possible. The more your customers see your brand’s name, the more they’ll want to learn and engage with it. 4) Know thy customers The key to great engagement is knowing the true essence of your customers – what they believe in, their values, and what they identify with. Knowing them before they reach out to you gives you an edge and enables you to personalize the interactions where they don’t have to repeat themselves. According to a Microsoft Survey, people find the interactions to be more fruitful when they don’t have to repeat themselves. Here are a few ways you can know your customers better: Take to social media and ask what you want to know. Don’t make assumptions, they are usually wrong and might have stemmed from personal bias. Conduct surveys, hold events, get customer reviews — these activities not only help you understand your customers better but also make for great opportunities to engage with your customers. 5) Use the data from analytics to craft a better experience Analytics will tell you your customer’s location, their search queries, their journey on your website, the buttons they clicked, etc. Utilize this data to understand your customers’ behavior and see if you can improve their journey, your inbound funnel, your targeted keywords, etc. Run A/B testings for homepages, landing pages, and main product pages to understand what clicks with your audience and drives better engagement. Like PrismGlobal ran a test where they showed their CEO’s message video to one group (the control group) and a CTA saying learn more to the other group (the challenger group). Their challenger group saw a 60% decline in traffic while a whopping ~550% increase in engagement rates. Such insights helped them create new mock-ups and wireframes for website re-designing. Similarly, you can collect data from all the customer interactions, run hypothesis testings, and use the insights to provide a better experience, services, and more. Pro Tip: Dig through your customer support chats, emails, and live chat data to know the most frequently asked questions. That’s a gold mine for keyword and content ideas. For improving customer engagement and brand awareness, your brand needs to adopt a customer-centric business model where selling comes second to customer engagement and interactions. Your strategies need to revolve around enriching interactions with value and building long-term relationships with your target audience. For that, your team needs the right tools, software, and equipment, only then you can deliver personalized, relevant, and contextual customer experiences.