There’s no getting around it. The web is critical to the success of any organization today.  

Over the last several years, we've watched as the online channel has become a primary one for conducting business and even managing our own lives. As the web continues to grow in prominence, the amount of information available online is exploding in a variety of digital formats; new online channels have emerged such as social and mobile; and new ways of social interaction have become part of our everyday lives.

As the online channel has evolved, the customer journey has become more complex, and we've seen customers exert increasing power and influence over their relationships with brands. Just think about the experience of buying a new car and how it has forever changed because of the web.

Ten or fifteen years ago, if you were in the market for a new car you had to rely on auto dealers for information and they held the upper hand when it came time to negotiate and cut a deal. Today, consumers turn to the web first to learn about makes and models, to get accurate and up-to-date pricing information, and to read reviews and get recommendations from their peers regarding the best brands and dealers with whom to work.

Today, it is the customer who has greater control of the purchase process and brand relationship.

While this customer experience revolution has been great for consumers, it poses many challenges for businesses when it comes to creating an online customer experience that drives sales and loyalty. In order to successfully use the online channel that does this, organizations must focus on engaging customers.

The benefits of investing in engagement are many. Engaged customers are more likely to purchase your products and services and they are more likely to remain loyal to your brand. Engaged customers are also more likely to serve as advocates for your brand by recommending your products and services to others. So how do brands drive engagement using the online channel?

Know Your Customer

First, realize that it’s no longer acceptable to deliver a one-size-fits-all online customer experience. Instead, you must demonstrate that you know your customers by providing them with a relevant and personalized online experience that takes their preferences, behavior and past history with your brand into account.

A more engaging online experience can be achieved by employing segmentation and targeting to deliver more relevant content and offers to your customers. This approach not only helps drive engagement, but has also been proven to boost the effectiveness of online marketing initiatives in the form of higher conversion rates and greater sales.