Some business owners are content with advancing to a point where they have set up the majority of their forward-facing media for their business with the hopes that it will turn visitors into customers overnight. It’s a great strategy if you enjoy slow returns and middling success, much like many other hands-off approaches to visitor conversion. Realistically, you have to step outside of the realm of passive advertising and make moves that foster engagement rather than passive gawking.

Walking the Line of Engagement

If your first instinct upon seeing words like “passive” made you think of rushing out to shake hands with everyone you’ve ever done business with while offering fistfuls of pamphlets, take a deep breath. There’s a balance to strike between engagement and over-enthusiasm that can turn a visitor away just as quickly as they approached your business, and finding that balance is going to take some trial and error.

For starters, the tried and true method of smiling and shaking hands isn’t the end-all, be-all technique that it once was. Businesses are slowly turning towards retention analytics and data to develop intelligent plans that will help guide a potential customer through your products or services in a way that gives them an incentive to come back. Retention might sound like a lofty goal before you’ve hooked them in the first place, but approaching a sales pitch or advertising reel without a thorough plan for all stages of a customer’s experience is to court failure.

Approaching a new consumer relationship with the intent of guiding them through what you have to offer in accordance with their needs isn’t the newest concept in marketing, yet it remains a difficult hurdle to overcome for businesses both new and old. Developing an effective engagement funnel through services like Convincely helps business owners and marketers alike find a path that works for their brand without leaving them to fend for themselves as they build a plan for effective engagement.

Going in on your own can lead to serious public relation nightmares if the balance between honesty and business acumen isn’t struck. Engaging in advertisement astroturfing is a common pitfall that almost immediately turns visitors into angry protestors even if they’ve never heard of your business before and burying a stigma of that magnitude is a costly and painful undertaking.

Engagement Doesn’t Happen in a Bubble

Conversely, you shouldn’t feel as if a consumer’s feedback is something to be feared. Occasionally, marketers will fall into a cycle of only speaking with other marketers and members of their teams in a roundabout process that only serves to enforce efforts that have worked in the past; not necessarily what might be working better in a new implementation. You should never be afraid to talk to your customers and solicit their thoughts.

Yet this is another situation where going all-in on a single method will doom you to riding waves of popularity based on public opinion. Sales data and analytics are a strong foundation upon which you can then build customer feedback for the sake of finding a more complete picture of why your service enticed them to begin with. Data is more a case of knowing what happened rather than why it happened, which is where the human element comes in.

Taking feedback and sending out surveys is an underutilized route that many businesses seem hesitant to engage in. Feedback might be negative, and rationalizing bad feedback instead of seeking to address its causes makes for poor business sense, yet it remains a killer of sales to this day. Don’t discard your negative feedback without looking at it from a variety of angles. Even if it seems unreasonable, can you find a route through which you might find the same grievances if you were a customer? Are there insightful truths to baseless comments? Do you have practices that actually do need revisiting?

For those with an eye towards the future, there is an ever-growing interest in utilizing chatbots for the sake of handling routine customer interactions, but the possibility of future conversational AI being able to take in consumer feedback and sorting through its merits is a very real one. Machine learning is built on a foundation of data analytics and patterns in grievances could be detected and forwarded to the appropriate departments without first reaching human ears or eyes.

Engagement requires engaging with your customers. Sometimes, it’s as simple as taking negative feedback with a smile while other cases require focused marketing paths with months of tweaking and refinement to reach acceptable results. Don’t be afraid to seek out what makes your business successful through both data and word of mouth, but remember that your success may be built on more than points of data on a line.Opinions expressed here are the opinions of the author. Influencive does not endrose or review brands mentioned.