Staying in contact with customers is vital to brand success. If yours is an everyday product that’s consumed regularly, the brand-to-customer relationship is often straightforward: see the product, buy the product. But let’s say you offer a product or service that customers only purchase once or twice a year. Is it possible to maintain a CRM strategy that boosts non-purchase engagement?

The short answer is, “yes.” Brands that experience longer-than-average gaps between purchases, like those in the automotive, travel and financial services verticals, must strategize ways to make their products relevant beyond the initial purchase. The challenge lies in collecting and digesting data from non-purchase touch points to create simple views of engagement. How do you do it?

Start with what you know, then dig deeper: How do you digest and understand the data from non-purchase touch points and create a simple view of customer engagement? The first step is to assess the data sources you’re likely to have relatively easy access to, like loyalty points “earn and burn” data, promotional engagement and category breadth. From there, dig into semi-structured data from email, web and app interactions.

The relationships between your touch points, along with the paths that top customers take, will uncover powerful insights you can leverage to inspire more of your base. If you’re designing a new loyalty program or planning a re-launch, you need to understand the behavior of your most engaged customers and create tactics to funnel more people into this group. If you’re a financial services company, how will you encourage more of your customer base to explore and manage their retirement savings?

Get smart about digital user experience: Many online customers love to self-serve, and those who do (coupled with live chat support) can have a better, faster experience than those who make several calls to a support center. And it’s much more cost effective. For instance, Ikea nudges customers to order replacement parts via a web form and de-emphasizes the option to phone. The form collects information that would be difficult or slow to capture over the phone or in-store at the customer service desk.

Inspire loyalty through timely content: The point of sale can be an inappropriate time to push your loyalty program to a customer. Instead, encourage simple opt-ins: Consider digital receipts that entice customers with access to product manuals, warrantees and reviews. Upon opt-in, show customers how they can benefit from a lasting relationship with content that offers tangible value at the right point in time. Opt-in provides the consent required to contact customers when a product should be updated or serviced, as well as socialize promotions. Opt-in customers are more likely to open your emails, visit your website or install your app.

Encourage participation: While they might seem antiquated, contests and sweepstakes produce great data by engaging numerous customers outside of a purchase interaction — and at an attractive overall cost. For instance, telecom companies sometimes struggle to break the commodity barrier; those who create customer experiences through exciting offers, such as T-Mobile Tuesdays, often generate a loyal following.

Show and tell via digital: Digital is the best medium to increase engagement and simultaneously gather data on customer behavior. For instance, augmented reality can create environments where customers try products outside of brick and mortar locations. Modiface lets women experiment with makeup combinations from the comfort of home. The data collected can be used to create new product combinations for similar users based on skin tone, and hair and eye color.

Data generation goes far beyond personal care products. Jaguar now lets you design your dream car with its Perfect Drive tool, Walt Disney World helps you plan the perfect vacation and IKEA’s Online Kitchen Planner lets you design your ultimate kitchen. All are great examples of how brands with low purchase frequency can nurture a customer relationship and collect the data needed to identify customers with aspirations to buy in the future.

Create actionable engagement data: Creating a framework that incorporates a weighted mix of the different flavors of engagement allows for an executive-level view of the overall customer relationship. Customer service analytics can help you identify the early warning signals caused by any number of customer engagement inefficiencies. From time spent within a digital experience to abandoned credit applications to email unsubscribes, you need to analyze how individual customers engage across all channels and touch points to improve the thinking of your marketing team, and analytics and data science processes.


Dr. Mark Howland
Vice President

Mark leads marketing analytics engagements as a Vice President at Antuit in Europe.