What Next In Engagement?

Going direct to consumers was once considered to be a no no. Today it’s whether you engage your target audience that really matters. The most highly personalised marketing effort is still a waste of money if it fails to engage, light a spark, provide a utility, or trigger an emotion.

The Dawn of Engagenomics

Engagement – a term used for quite some time in both love and war, but increasingly in marketing. Yet, whether in love or war, engagement is a means to an end, not an end in itself. That means drawing people in and moving them along a path towards loyalty and advocacy. We like to refer to it as “turning audiences into fans”. Though brands have been doing for a long time now the only difference is… we have better tools.

– We have more opportunities for engagement than ever, but engagement is a means to an end, not an end in itself

– We must link points of engagement along every stage of people’s journeys with a brand and quantify the commercial value of an engaged audience

– It’s time to redefine ‘lifetime value’.

Mike Cullis is the managing partner at Elvis

Brands have always been evolving their options, from TV ads to CRM and loyalty programmes, events and, more recently, a host of digital techniques. But the difference today is that consumers who have always been active; now have the ability to voice their opinions very quickly and get involved in campaigns through digital innovation and social tools. Brand custodians can see demonstrable engagement levels – something both rewarding and challenging in equal measure.

So, while today’s marketing director has access to an incredible array of tools, he or she is faced with new challenges associated with this proliferation and fragmentation of media.

How to measure engagement

Frequency of interaction is one obvious variable, but you should also measure depth of interaction. Someone who has opened an e-mail, clicked through and redeemed a voucher is more engaged than someone who just opened the e-mail.

Define a scale of “depth” and give each potential interaction a weighting. As soon as I revisit your website, the chances of converting me to a sale leap massively.

Get hold of the information

You need to access and collate data across all consumer touchpoints, from call centre through to social media, as well as collect measurable signals of engagement which you can attribute both to the individual and across the board.

For instance, an increase in Facebook “likes” of a product on your site would indicate an uplift in engagement, but who is doing the liking and does this improve propensity to purchase? What do you want them to do next?

Turn it into insight you can understand

Think about making your insight reports easy to understand. By all means back them up with lots of reassuring detail, but ultimately you need to be able to make sense of the data if you’re going to do anything with it. Make sure that you can use it to find me and understand what I need.

Use the insight to sell to me

You have a pretty good idea of my interests and where I am in the decision cycle, so use this to send me the right message that persuades me that yours is the brand I want.

Each person will take a different route to purchase and use different channels – as in a massive game of snakes and ladders. The challenge is to bring all this information together to fast-track consumers to purchase.

There are so many opportunities for me to engage with a brand – in choosing my TV, I spend time on manufacturer, third-party and comparison websites, I talk to friends and colleagues via social networks and read product reviews. I stand in retail outlets, connect via mobile to useful apps, and generally consume other broadcast media. All the time, I’m forming impressions and making decisions.

In the database world, we are entering a period of transition: traditional relationship marketing databases need to become repositories for gathering all customer touchpoints and summarising this information into a meaningful format. This will give businesses access to: hard facts about engagement levels; an understanding of how customers engage with the brand; and opportunities to take advantage of all available windows to the brand.

But it doesn’t stop at reporting. We can then refer back to the repository to find out who our engaged customers are. Are they within our target groups or segments? If not, what do we need to change about our media mix, our creative and our communication strategy to engage the right people?

It’s a bit like Total Football, pioneered by the Dutch national football team. Success depends largely on the adaptability of each footballer, in particular the ability to quickly switch positions depending on the situation.

Generating brand engagement relies on having enough information to be able to react quickly, effectively marshalling all resources and playing together as a team. But enough about football, I’ve got a TV to buy ..

– Make sure you know what engagement means to you

– Work out how to measure engagement and how you can get hold of this data when you need it

– Put it into a format that your organisation can understand

– Use this insight in your game plan and watch what happens.

Ol Janus is the managing director of EHS 4D Discovery