Customer engagement –  why is it like going from first date to getting married?

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You wouldn’t ask someone you’ve just met to marry you

The exception to the rule here would be if you were on some sort of anxiety-inducing ‘married at first sight’ type reality TV show. But, back here in the real world, we all want to get to know someone first. We need to find out if we enjoy spending time with them and if we trust them before we decide if they’re the right person.

It’s a very similar process when we decide to buy something whether it be a product or service. This is exactly the reason why we respond badly to the hard sell and also why it feels so painful.

A good few things have to happen before we get to the point of purchase. The process is very much like going from meeting up for the first time to saying your wedding vows.

Customer engagement step one – the dating game

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Going from first date to coupling up is a mission in itself. Step one of customer engagement goes from that all important initial meet up all the way through to when you decide you’re happy enough doing nothing but watching TV together:

  • Initial purchase – this is a lot like going on a first date. From looking at their online profile, you’ve decided you like this person enough to give it a go, but you don’t actually know that much about them. You’re considering what it is they have to offer.
  • Next purchase – the first date went well and you had a good time. You’ve learnt enough and/or are sufficiently intrigued to want to meet up again and see if this could go anywhere. At this point, you’re thinking about if your expectations are being met.
  • Repeat purchases and cross selling – you’re starting to get excited about the situation. You’ve met up a fair few times now and you decide to get together. Date nights (aka repeat purchases) are going well and as you’re spending more and more time together nights in watching Netflix are on the agenda too (aka cross selling of different products/services).

At this point, you have a solid customer. They like what you’re doing and are coming back for more, but their head could be easily turned if something better came along!

Customer engagement step two – getting engaged

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You’ve got to the stage where you’ve both said the four-letter word. ‘Like’ has turned into ‘love’. You decide that this is indeed the person for you and you’re engaged to be married. In terms of customer engagement, it’s the point you get to when you no longer want to consider other things. Instead you go straight to the product or service you want.

It could be something big such as a brand of car, or something smaller like fast moving consumer goods such as a certain type beer or ice cream. This is the point in the customer engagement journey where loyalty is developed. It has three key ingredients:

  • Love – without love you’ve got nothing. For customers to be truly loyal, they need to be big fans of what you’re doing and want more of it. These are the customers who will be interested in new product launches, extra services and events.
  • Trust – this goes hand-in-hand with love. Loyal customers need to trust that you’ll deliver and if on the very odd occasion something goes wrong (because unfortunately nothing in life is perfect) that you’ll go out of your way to fix it.
  • Authenticity – it’s all about keeping it real. If someone isn’t being themselves, we very quickly realise that they’re not genuine. The same goes for brands. They need to stand for something and live by their values.

When you’ve got these three things in the mix, your loyal customers are getting increasingly bought into what you’re doing and are headed towards recommending you to family and friends.

Customer engagement step three – the wedding

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The wedding itself is like making recommendations to family and friends. It’s the height of customer engagement. You’re standing up in front of a whole bunch of people you know well and saying that you love and trust this person. (To be fair, some of the people might be distant relatives you don’t like that much or even know that well, but we want to focus on the marketing tips, rather than family politics, so hopefully you get the gist).

After the hubbub of the big day dies down, it could very well be that you hear of others getting engaged. For a few years, it could very well seem like life is a stream of endless weddings. Essentially, this is how customer engagement and recommendation works too:

  • Recommendation – the people who love what you’re doing and are loyal end up shouting about you to their family and friends. Human nature means that we want to be helpful and let others know about things we think are great.
  • New prospective customers – this is when your customer engagement efforts are working really well. Your loyal and highly engaged customers have helped you with the building awareness stage.
  • Further business growth  – as you get more loyal customers they also recommend you and so the cycle continues.

As you can see, the beauty of having highly engaged customers is that they help you with acquiring new customers too.

When you get to this stage, you can focus your marketing efforts on taking your new prospective customers on the customer journey from awareness to consideration and then through to purchase. Put simply, you don’t need to build brand awareness with these guys. (But, that’s not to say you shouldn’t still be building brand awareness with your target audience as you don’t want to solely rely on recommendation).

Intrigued? We’ve got a Marketing Nugget on why the customer journey to making a purchase is like climbing a mountain.

And of course – the most important thing is to keep your customers happy. You don’t want a divorce on your hands!

Loving this Marketing Nugget?

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A quick recap

We’ve boiled down this Marketing Nugget on customer engagement to just three sentences so that they’re easy to digest:

  1. Purchasing = the dating game
    This is going from first date to repeat purchases. You have a solid customer who likes what you’re doing, but their head could be turned.
  2. Loyalty = getting engaged
    Here ‘like’ has turned into ‘love’ and you’re engaged. You no longer want to consider other things and go straight to the product or service you want.
  3. Recommendation = the wedding
    The wedding itself is like making recommendations to family and friends, and some of them then become new prospective customers.

Fancy a chat?

If you’re thinking about how you can engage with your customers better and want some help, please just give us a shout. We can have a chat over a coffee underneath the space rocket in our office.

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– thanks for reading. We’d love to know what you think – what’s good, what we could improve and your ideas for future Marketing Nuggets?


If the answer is yes, please just give Sarah a shout – we’d be happy to have a chat over a coffee (or even a beer). We’re super friendly and straight talking – there’s no marketing mumbo jumbo here!

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