Last updated: The only KPIs that matter: Customer engagement and satisfaction

The only KPIs that matter: Customer engagement and satisfaction


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Most businesses will have a range of digital-focused KPIs that they use to measure their success. These may be the number of users hitting their website, the conversion rate, the basket size, or the returns rate.

All of these measurements are important, and certainly should not be ignored. However, on their own, they do not show the whole picture, and they certainly do not allow a brand to measure how happy its customers are.

These figures will always go up and down, depending on market conditions, sales activity, or even the weather.

Customer engagement and satisfaction should be the only KPIs you really care about

The two KPIs that every digital business should care about more than anything else are the engagement and satisfaction of their customers. If you get those right, everything else will follow.

If a brand is engaged with their customers and those customers are satisfied with that engagement, they are going to visit more, buy more, share and advocate more, and return less.

But how do you measure engagement and satisfaction? Although both are quite nebulous terms, and not as quantitative as something like conversion rate, there are ways a brand can measure them.

Social engagement

It is very important not to mix up the number of followers a brand has on a social platform with actual engagement. A brand may have millions of followers (generally defined as their social reach), but if those followers are not engaged, they are of very little value.

100 followers who regularly engage with a brand are worth much more than 10,000 who do not.

The four social platforms that most UK and US brands focus on are Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Tools such as Hootsuite and Sprinklr not only allow brands to manage their social communications, but also allow them to measure their followers’ social engagement. This will be a mix of likes, shares, reactions, retweets, replies (and whatever the platforms dream up next) to posts, images, links, and videos that are posted in the platforms.

Some simple analysis of how engaged the followers of different brands within the fashion industry are point out some significant differences. If we look at how socially engaged ASOS, Missguided, French Connection, and Topshop are with their followers, we can easily see that ASOS and Missguided have followers that are significantly more socially engaged with the brands.

In November 2017, a key month for fashion retailers, ASOS, Missguided, French Connection, and Topshop posted a varying number of videos on Facebook. The table below illustrates how engaged the followers of each brand was with those videos.

Brand Followers Number of videos Total views Total likes
Asos 5.6m 17 1.23m 4.8k
Missguided 1.2m 31 1.5m 28.2k
Topshop 4.2m 11 148k 1.4k
French Connection 718k 3 5.7k 79

The clear leader in this data is Missguided. Despite having a lot less followers than both Asos and Topshop, they have had, by far, the most engagement with their Facebook followers through the videos that they posted during November. Asos posted almost half the number of videos than Missguided, but got only marginally less views. However, this was based on having almost five times as many followers.

Topshop and French Connection are clearly lagging in this data. The numbers of views and likes on the videos that they posted suggests that they did not engage their customers as well as the other two companies. Of course, Missguided and Asos are posting more content, and may also be paying to promote it, but the data still shows the significant differences in social engagement.

Paul Giafferi from Hootsuite recently carried out research to compare the social engagement that French Connection, Asos, Missguided, and Ted Baker has with their customers in the UK. The research again showed that Missguided is the clear leader with significantly higher levels of engagement across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, with Asos heading up the rest of the field with a clear gap ahead of the other brands.

For example, he found that Missguided had an average of 674 comments per post on Facebook, versus just 1 for French Connection. A similar pattern was also seen on Twitter (28 versus 1 average retweet per tweet) and Instagram (21,411 versus 635 average likes per post). The research clearly indicates that, while Missguided has a smaller number of followers than some of its competitors, the brand is engaging with them better.

Social sentiment

While we can easily measure a brand’s engagement with their customers, it is important to also compare it with those customers’ sentiment.

A brand may have a great deal of engagement with their customers, but if too much of it is negative, this is clearly not a good thing. Measuring sentiment is a little harder to get right, as much of it is about the language used, and can be quite subtle.

Tools such as Hootsuite and Sprinklr can also provide data on social sentiment by listening and analysing the natural language used within posts about a brand across all social media platforms. A brand may get 10,000 mentions on Twitter in a week, but if those are mainly negative, it is the wrong kind of engagement.

Customers are always going to vent on social media so every brand, no matter how good, can expect a certain amount of negative sentiment on social media. Sentiment is generally categorised as positive, neutral, or negative. As a rule of thumb, anything under 10% negative or over 30% positive is pretty good going for a brand.

Social advocacy

Social advocacy is one of the most powerful types of social engagement. When a follower comments positively on, or shares a brand’s post, this illustrates to their followers and friends that they advocate the brand or at least the brand’s message.

Hootsuite’s Fashion Industry Benchmark again highlighted that Missguided and then Asos are both ahead of their competition when it comes to social advocacy, with significantly more comments and shares on posts across their social media channels.

Email engagement

Measuring how many subscribers engage with emails that are sent to them is important for a brand, and can feed into the overall measurement of customer engagement. The recent deluge of GDPR-related emails that have been sent to subscribers will have undoubtedly resulted in a reduction in most brands’ subscriber lists, but should not necessarily have resulted in a reduction in engagement through this channel.

In fact, if the GDPR content message was communicated well, it should have resulted in an increase in engagement as it was a good chance for brands to re-engage with their customers.

Service reviews

Service reviews are a very good way to gauge customer satisfaction. Companies such as Trustpilot and Feefo are generalists that cover all industries and allow customers to rate the quality of service that the have received from a brand, whereas other companies such as Tripadvisor and Trusted Traders focus on specific industries, but all of them can be used to measure and promote customer satisfaction.

Because, when left alone, unhappy customers are more likely to post reviews than happy customers, it is important for a brand to encourage happy customers to post reviews to ensure that the results are not skewed. This is often done through follow up emails asking customers to post a review.

Returning customers

Measuring how many returning customers you have is an obvious way to gauge their satisfaction. Selling to an existing customer is always easier than acquiring a new one so good rate of returning customers vs new ones is always desired.

Analytics tools such as Google Analytics should be able to identify returning customers to give a brand and clear indication of how many customers are new and how many return.

Ask them

This may sound obvious, but one of the best ways to measure your customers’ satisfaction is to actually ask them how they feel about the brand.

This doesn’t have to mean a long and arduous survey, it can be something as simple as a single text message sent after their purchase asking them how likely they are to recommend the brand to friends and family. If they send a negative response, this should be followed up to find out why.

Learning why customers are dissatisfied is vitally important to ensure that a brand can change and improve. Interactions with customer service agents should also be followed with a question about how satisfied they are with the service the brand provided.

It is important not to hound customers, but this can be a good and quick way to gauge engagement and every touch point counts.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Net promoter score is a tool that can be used to gauge a brand’s overall customer satisfaction and loyalty. It is used by many large companies and is generally based on the responses to a single question: How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?. 

The responder will score this between 0 and 10; with 0 being not at all and 10 being very likely. The final score is then calculated by subtracting the total percentage of detractors (those responding with a score of 6 or less) from the total percentage of promoters (those responding with a score of 9 or more). Those responding with a score of 7 or 8 are termed passive.

As well as giving a brand an overall score of customer satisfaction, NPS can also help identify those customers that are not satisfied which will allow a brand to try to convert a detractor into a promoter.


Most retailers will operate across multiple channels whether it is online only (selling on Amazon, eBay, Web, Mobile etc) or also in stores. As most of these retailers could be described as multi-channel rather than omni-channel, they may not have visibility of how customers engage with them across all of these various touch points.

It is important to have visibility of a customer’s engagement across all channels and touch points, not just the obvious social and digital ones. This will help them measure their customers’ satisfaction across all of the channels that they operate in.

Many multi-channel businesses act in silos and very few have a unified single view of their customers. Good social and digital engagement may be damaged by poor physical engagement. A good online experience can be negated by a poor offline experience for a brand.

For example, a customer may purchase online, but want to return in-store and not all brands allow this. A brand that does not allow customers to move seamlessly across these channels throughout their journeys will leave those customers with a poor overall experience, no matter how good the initial experience was.

Customer engagement KPIs: In summary

Although customer engagement and satisfaction are not as easy to measure as something quantitative like a conversion rate, there are a still a number of facets that can be measured to make up an overall picture of customer engagement and satisfaction.

Any brand that fails to effectively engage with customers is ultimately doomed to fail, so having a clear view of this is vital for any brand.

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