young people using mobile devices

Do you really know your customers? Source: Shuttertock

What defines your customers?

DO you really know who your customers are? Chances are your definition is very different depending on what kind of products and services you are providing.

Identifying your customers is important, because it drives your customer engagement efforts. If you failed to identify and target the right audience, all your marketing efforts will be going down the drain.

During a panel discussion at the Wild Digital conference on Wednesday, panelists shared their own customer engagement journey, and how it affects their own strategy.

The panel was attended by Lloyd Lee, Asia Pacific Head of Regional Sales in the OTT (over-the-top) division, TIME; Nicole Tan, Country Director of Malaysia for Facebook; Patrick Steinbrenner, Managing Director in the Asia Pacific for Insider; and Sriram Vaidhya, Head of Trips for Southeast Asia and India, Airbnb.

Take Airbnb for example. “There’s a common misconception, people think our customers are the people booking through our website,” said Sriram. “Actually, our audience includes the hosts as well. Both hosts and guests are part of the community, so we need to use different channels to engage with them.”

For Airbnb, they’ve found much success in using Instagram as a platform for engagement with guests. Besides online interaction, Airbnb ensures that the needs of hosts are taken care off by constantly checking in with them on matters regarding the property.

Facebook approaches its customers in a similar manner as well, partnering with businesses large and small. According to Tan, Facebook has 324 million active users across Southeast Asia, 22 million in Malaysia alone.

“Most users are on our platform to discover new things and meet friends. That’s why advertisers will have a better result if they consider posting the content as a conversation. It is important to engage with audiences as a community, and ensure the message they send out is relevant,” Tan advised.

Tan further emphasized that a mobile-first strategy is important for engaging audiences in Southeast Asia. The proliferation of mobile is high across the region. Users on mobile have short attention spans, therefore the storytelling and messaging of a mobile content have to be short and engaging.

“According to our metrics, short films tend to do better in the metrics in gaining the attention of audiences. People get captured visually,” she added. “Customer journey is going where the customers are.”

Since the advent of smartphones more than 10 years ago, smartphone adoption has increased rapidly. Ideally, having a mobile strategy should’ve been an integral part of businesses. However, it doesn’t seem to be the case.

As Lee from Time said, “It’s 2018. People would have gone past the realization of mobile first by now, but in Asia, we are still not seeing that. It’s important to be where the customer is, whether it’s Instagram, WeChat, or LINE. You need to adopt different solutions to engage better with different audiences.”

As the customer evolves, they will begin to look at using different mobile devices or social platforms to interact with the company. Steinbrenner from Insider suggested that businesses constantly evaluate the needs of different customers.

“Throughout the customer lifecycle, the demands of a customer would change,” he explained. “What a first-time user would want from a company is very different from a long time loyal customer. It’s important that brands don’t treat them all the same; instead, they need to cater to customers at different stages of the lifecycle.”

Identifying your customers and user habits is important in having a continuous engagement with your customers. Different strategies are needed for engaging different segments of customers, whether they are business partners or end-users.

Ultimately, there is not one size fit all model for customer engagement; businesses should identify the different types of customers they have, to ensure that they not only gain customers, but keep them as well.