Brands that message customers across multiple channels saw a 58 percent increase in 30-day retention, customers were 73 percent more likely to make a purchase and four times more likely to increase their lifetime value.

That’s according to Braze’s first annual Global Customer Engagement Review, which shows how marketers can improve their strategies, with case studies from leading brands like Headspace, the NBA, Grubhub and Goat.

In developing a Customer Engagement Index, Braze discovered what sets companies with mature engagement practices—which Braze refers to as ‘Ace’ companies—apart from the rest: they’ve mastered a culture of experimentation across a wide variety of channels.

Excellent customer experience is a requisite for building brand loyalty and improving retention. More importantly, Braze found there’s a direct correlation between the level of engagement a brand provides and business growth. Over half (56 percent) of brands who earned the highest ranking in Braze’s index surpassed their revenue goals. In addition, the brands that rated their practices as “excellent” were more likely than those who rated it as “poor” to reach their revenue goals.

A best-in-class customer engagement approach will leverage both in-product messaging channels such as in-app, in-browser and in-app inboxes or feeds, as well as out-of-product messages including email, push and SMS. Brands with a cross-channel approach experience more buyers, more purchases per user, greater retention and a higher customer lifetime value, according to Braze.

To reach Ace status, brands must harness both technology and teamwork. Braze notes that the companies excelling are more likely to trigger campaigns with real-time data via APIs, to use over three channels and to continuously export data to deliver deeply personalized experiences.

During the throes of the pandemic, the NBA aimed to increase subscriptions to its live game subscription service League Pass. To do so, it created in-app messages with custom HTML that updated daily with upcoming games. It also deployed personalized push notifications with each recipient’s favorite teams and interactive content that allowed fans to sync their calendars to the events. As a result, the start of the season saw a 9.5x increase in daily active users, 25x lift in sessions and a 17x increase in new users.

The NBA’s tactic is an example of how media and entertainment brands can stand out in a crowd, an issue that 40 percent of respondents cited as their top challenge.

For Grubhub, first-party data was critical for creating personalized year-in-review emails and features for each diner. Customized across 32 different attributes, the initiative led to a 100 percent increase in social media mentions year-over-year, and an 18 percent lift in word-of-mouth referrals to the app.

Seventy-four percent of companies are worried that their customer engagement metrics don’t translate into tangible business outcomes. Braze says the source of this concern could be due to their lack of a single, company-wide definition of success for customer engagement across all teams involved—which just 26 percent of marketers say they have.

Marketers plan to ramp up their customer engagement tools, with 60 percent reporting that their budget will increase over the next 12 months.

These findings are based on a Wakefield Research survey conducted between December 15 to December 23, 2020 among 1,300 marketing executives from B2C companies with annual revenue of over $10 million across 10 global markets, including the US, the UK, Australia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. Braze’s customer data, aggregated from over 5 million global users, was also utilized for the report.