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Customer Activation - getting a response in 5 steps

As retail marketers, it is oftentimes tempting to expect customer activation to occur as a result of all your hard work to launch and market your brand. It's a bit like that quote from Field of Dreams: "If you build it he will come".  Existing and potential customers will magically turn active and approach you for their needs. However in an increasingly competitive retail market such good things are less likely to happen unless you take the responsibility of engaging your customers more effectively. To keep doing the same things and waiting for different results is pretty futile. A recent study by McKinsey & Company highlights how CMOs are increasingly prioritising the development of engaging and sustainable customer relationships. So proactivity in this area is vital.  

The key to customer activation - Do not wait for things to happen

Customer Activation can be defined as the process of encouraging or motivating customers to proceed to their next lifecycle stage at a faster pace than they would, naturally.

In practical terms, this could imply someone being signed up as a new customer, the reactivation of a dormant customer, or getting one-time customers to become repeat customers. The fascinating thing about customer activation is that it accommodates the possibility of improvement in every customer, regardless of where they currently are in their lifecycle.


Get noticed

The key to escaping from the vicious circle of perpetual waiting is to do something to raise people’s eyebrows and get them to notice you. Customer activation begins at that very moment when your customers see something exciting and divert their sustained attention to that something.

When you’ve captured your customer’s attention, the next critical step is to induce them to take a purchasing decision before they would have done it on their own. Even as they contemplate over a possible decision, the challenge now becomes to ‘activate’ that process by reinforcing those favourable thoughts and injecting a sense of urgency that impels them to act. Timely nudges are often required here because it doesn’t take people long to change their mind.


How do you drive customer activation?

The logical question that arises in our mind is: How do we get customers to respond before they would ordinarily do it on their own?

As always, it helps to break down solutions into simple and actionable steps. To begin with, you would do well do:

  1. Collect pertinent data about customers that allows for the generation of meaningful insight about them, which includes their behaviours and personas.
  2. Generate insight which empowers you to develop a better understanding of your customers and more importantly, they customer lifecycle that they’re currently at.
  3. Ascertain the right blend of customer insight and marketing tools that induces them to expedite their decisions.
  4. Utilize this information database to develop a timely call to action plan that minimises delay. Here, the concept of relevancy assumes panoramic significance because if the efforts are misguides or irrelevant, all actuation strategies can fall flat.
  5. Measure the customers’ response and subsequently refine them. Even the most sophisticated predictive marketing engines do not get it all right, hence its importance to keep testing the results and adjusting the strategies accordingly.


According to a Janrain study 58% of respondents said that after they were at the receiving end of mis-targeted marketing efforts either the whole time or frequently. This lack of relevancy kills customer activation. Any customer engagement initiative needs to be guided by relevancy, so act on the points above and see your customer engagement grow!