Australia’s retail community is vibrant and dynamic, but the industry is highly competitive. Standing out is no easy feat and retailers find themselves vying for the attention of customers, especially as e-commerce continues to take a larger slice of total retail sales. However, those who can develop and deploy effective brand engagement strategies can drive competitive advantages.

A common misconception is that a brand engagement strategy is about creating a recognisable logo, tagline and design. In reality, a successful strategy goes beyond that. It creates a personality that resonates with audiences, forming a strong connection and building customer loyalty. This connection will help retailers continuously engage with their target audience and build customer loyalty over time.

Brand engagement can bridge the gap between retailers and its customers, changing how people perceive it. It is not just about reaching more customers, though – the common objectives should include providing more value in the customer journey, personalisation, and increasing brand engagement.  

Engage with your audience more to provide more value

In a saturated industry, retailers are competing to meet and exceed high customer expectations. The proliferation of eCommerce has brought about another major consideration for retailers. Businesses are no longer competing with competitors purely on price and product; the competition is now based on the quality of  interactions and experiences businesses have with their customers.

Along with excelling in product and service quality, retailers need to ensure that every customer interaction or experience sets new standards. Australians are sophisticated and discerning, with a keen eye for quality and value. Most often, they accept the cost of the product as long as it offers value to what they pay. Adding more value to the customer journey will be beneficial to the success of the business.

Personalise your offerings

More than ever, Australians are aware of the mass marketing strategies brands employ. However, they want to be treated as individuals. Retailers are expected to make an effort to cultivate a personal relationship with their customers instead of attracting them with generic, one-size-fits-all campaigns. Implementing a modern customer relationship management (CRM) technology – such as Zoho CRM – can help retailers not only enhance customer journeys through personalised messages and uninterrupted communication, but also make the process more efficient through automation.

Retailers focusing on personalisation through messaging and offers are seeing an increase in their reach and revenue, however, should first segment customers based on their habits and spend. These start with receiving user feedback. By hearing use cases and feedback straight from customers, they are able to use this to improve their products and branding, as well as use it for marketing campaigns and personalisations. Retailers must allow customers to speak for them, making it easier to connect with others who are interested in their product.

Increase brand engagement through user-generated content

Due to the power of social media in a digitally empowered world, there is more information present online today than ever before. Customers do not want to hear information just from the brand, they want candid insights of the brand and its products, from real people in the real world. It creates a sense of authenticity, relatability and community.

User-generated content (UGC) is therefore vital for retailers as it increases brand credibility and visibility. UGC allows customers to participate and have a say in a brand’s growth, without the formality of a sponsored content. For retailers, it serves as excellent social proof when customers create their own content – through images, videos, testimonials and reviews. Use it also to tell them about your corporate missions, goals and ESG to build a deeper connection that is more than merely transactional.

A brand engagement strategy is a long-term plan, so the thinking that goes behind it should do the same. People show affinity towards certain brands because they can associate themselves with, and helps build loyalty towards that brand so they are more likely to become customers for life. This connection will help retailers retain customers and reduce churn, which will directly and positively impact business revenue.

Vijay Sundaram is chief strategy officer at Zoho.