5 Must-Read Books for Every Real-Time Customer Engagement Pro

Learn how to use data analysis, modern technology and social media to deliver real-time customer service with a modern twist. Here's our list (with links)

Evan F.P.
January 09 2019

In an ultra-connected world where every computer, phone, camera, speaker, and even appliance comes with built-in Wi-Fi, it can be hard to keep up with the best ways to reach customers. Skilled marketers are finding some balance using AI and automated responses to help keep messages personalized and targeted, but it’s still challenging to stay on top of real-time engagement when the rules are always changing.

The five books on this list can be helpful tools for customer engagement professionals, particularly those focused on providing in-the-moment service. Each was published recently enough to still be relevant, with the writers coming from a variety of backgrounds that encompass many facets of sales and technology. From social media and data analysis to decision trees and artificial intelligence, readers have found these resources invaluable.

The New Rules of Sales and Service: How to Use Agile Selling, Real-Time Customer Engagement, Big Data, Content, and Storytelling to Grow Your Business
by David Meerman Scott

Originally published in 2014, this guide was updated in 2016 and the revised edition carries mostly five-star reviews on Amazon. Author David Meerman Scott is “an internationally acclaimed sales and marketing strategist,” who, according to Forbes, “saw and understood the social media phenomenon as it began.”

The New Rules of Sales and Service leverages Scott’s expertise to help customer engagement professionals navigate the ever-changing, always-on world of online marketing. This includes social media, informative web content, efficient customer relations, and “providing agile, real-time sales and service 24/7 without letting it rule your life.” In the words of one reviewer, “If you are interested in learning how to get the sales and marketing departments of your company on the same page in this age of digital marketing, this book is a must… A wealth of information.”

Data Driven: Harnessing Data and AI to Reinvent Customer Engagement
by Tom Chavez, Chris O’Hara, and Vivek Vaidya

Just released in October 2018, Data Driven was penned by a trio of qualified authors and focuses on using artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and – yup – a wealth of data to deliver a targeted, personalized customer experience. Both Chavez and Vaidya describe themselves as “serial tech entrepreneurs” with a combined 45 years of experience developing new technology, while O’Hara is a respected authority on data and media management, mobile advertising, and other aspects of marketing.

According to one of its many glowing reviews, “Tom, Vivek, and Chris are the consummate guides on this data-driven journey,” with the book described as “required reading for marketing and business professionals,” full of real-world examples on how to leverage data and use technology to further one’s business. As the world of digital marketing quickly evolves, having a guide as contemporary as Data Driven is a useful tool for any marketing pro.

They Ask You Answer: A Revolutionary Approach to Inbound Sales, Content Marketing, and Today’s Digital Consumer
by Marcus Sheridan

There’s no getting around it: to leverage real-time customer interactions, good marketers must first understand how to communicate in a way that’s meaningful and timely. They Ask You Answer, published in early 2017, is all about a customer-focused approach to selling. It eschews outdated advice like stuffing articles full of keywords and links, instead focusing on practical guidelines and advice from an author with a proven track record.

Marcus Sheridan is well known in the marketing world for having saved a struggling pool company from the 2008 recession using a then-revolutionary idea: interacting directly with customers using the company’s website and blog. Since then, this “web marketing guru” has become an international consultant and invaluable resource to “hundreds of businesses and brands.” Whether you’re working solo or with a team, They Ask You Answer is a great resource for learning how to build relationships with customers and deliver top notch, real-time results.

The Shape of Engagement: The Art of Building Enduring Connections with Your Customers, Employees and Communities
by Scott Gould

“Engagement” is certainly a trendy buzzword in the marketing industry, but what exactly is it? Scott Gould spent 18 years working on engagement and nearly a decade distilling everything he’d learned into an easily understandable formula. The Shape of Engagement is the result of that experience, with one reader calling it “a journey to meaningful and rewarding relationships, experiences, connections… about understanding the steps and the strategy to an effective long-term engagement.”

The Shape of Engagement helps marketers go beyond simply chasing clicks and trying to force consumers to interact with their brands. Instead, it explains different models of engagement and what motivates people to engage. A solid engagement strategy is an early step for any marketing professional dealing with real-time interactions, and Gould’s expertise ensures that none of the essentials are overlooked.

Decision Trees and Random Forests: A Visual Introduction For Beginners
by Chris Smith and Mark Koning

In our always-on, connected-everything society, it’s safe to assume that many of your customers’ interfaces with your company will take place via automated responses that are driven by AI and follow specific algorithms. This short resource, which is free in digital form, breaks down decision tree and random forest algorithms in a visual way, giving newbies an easy-to-digest understanding of an intimidating concept.

Decision Trees and Random Forests has dozens of positive reviews on Amazon, with one reader stating that “everything is presented in a clear and simple fashion… minimizing the need to juggle a lot of numbers and instead working chiefly with concepts.” Since algorithms are one of the core building blocks of all customer interactions, developing an understanding of the mechanical forces behind decision trees is a smart way for marketers to gain more insight on customer engagement.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing, but the proven strategies from these books are a great resource for increasing marketing impact in a meaningful way. The authors’ combined experience spans multiple decades, industries, and methods, giving skilled professionals a well-rounded education in effective real-time interaction.

Evan F.P.

Evan is a writer, educator and tech marketer. As content director at Fluid PR Group, he helps businesses tell their stories to the world. He lives in Toronto with his wife, their son and an occasionally well-behaved Australian Shepherd named Islay. Follow Evan on Twitter

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