By adaptive - December 11th, 2013

Corporations that can understand and define engagement within today’s marketing environment will become destination brands in 2014

Engagement has become a watchword since the first social media networks appeared. Since then, corporations have been attempting to quantify what engagement means for their businesses, and how it can be leveraged for commercial benefit.

How customer engagement can be nurtured and then expanded to deliver real world and lasting brand advocacy is now the focus of all marketers. In their report, Oracle Eloqua define what it calls the Customer Success Equation, which consists of four main components:

  • Content Mission: First establish your parameters for engagement. Why are you engaging with a particular audience and how does it benefit your company’s bottom line?
  • Centerpiece Idea: Develop positioning that serves as a springboard to your content marketing and social media.
  • Integrated Marketing: Literally approach the audience from all sides. Present a united front across all points of engagement and give your content consumers a “right to choose” with multiple forms of gated and ungated information.
  • Listening: We should talk a little less, and listen more. To keep your finger on the pulse of what’s working, you need your ear to the ground! We pay close attention to our customer feedback through traditional channels, such as social media and our blog forum, but we also field ideas in our Topliners community before we pull the trigger and launch generally. Your current customer base is perhaps the most important audience to refine your marketing.

Customer Success Equation

One of the core reasons that some brands become highly engaged with their customer bases and others do not is simply because of trust in many cases. As one of the fundamental aspects of engagement is trust, brands that have spent resources developing themselves as trusted advisors are now reaping the rewards.

Joe Pulizzi, CEO, Content Marketing Institute said: “When we started, we didn’t have the audience to get our content distributed to the right people. So developed what we call an “influencer hit list” and promoted relevant content from these influencers to the audience we had. Over time, these influencers started to notice, and we formed relationships with dozens of them. Then they started to share our content. Now, we have over 60,000 subscribers and see over 100,000 unique visitors a month engage in our content. It all started by giving first. Most brands want to promote their own content. If you want social to work for you, about 60% of your posts should be about other people’s content (OPC).”

Shifting the content that your brand creates and then distributes away from simply showcasing new products or services is clearly a key component of social media engagement. Ask yourself what was the subject of your corporation’s last whitepaper? Did its content really engage with the intended reader? How could this content offer value to the audience your business wants to reach?

The Enagement Continuum

Marketing technology helps us interact even more intelligently. Buyer persona expert, Tony Zambito, offers these tips on how to let your personas drive even smarter marketing:

  • Align with buying: Turn your interaction from a cold encounter to a warm encounter by relating to the buying dynamics of your buyers and customers. Buying dynamics, in essence, relate to understanding how buying takes place. What are their buying cycles and what is their critical buying path-to-purchase? If you are out of synch here, so will be your interactions.
  • Digital behaviour: Marketing automation helps us to capture interaction. Buyer personas help us to be smarter at interpreting the digital behaviour of our buyers and customers. When researching buyer personas, one element we look for is digital behaviour and body language. We can gain clues on the what, how, and when of digital behaviour and interaction.
  • Language and terminology: When buyers and customers interact, they want to know if you relate. As you know, it is hard to relate to someone if you do not know or speak his or her language. This is a place where buyer personas can be extremely helpful. They help us to speak to buyers and customers in their language.
  • Topics: When it comes to content development, randomness can be a real downside. Are you forcing buyers to sort through random topics to find something relevant to them? Are you trying to be all things to all people? Gaining insight through the research and creation of buyer personas makes you smarter about topic themes and topic generation. So, when buyers interact with you, it is about what they care about.
  • Campaign: Campaign creation can go from hit or miss to a purposeful effort. Providing the right content, to the right buyer, and at the right time. Campaign smarts avoids wasted effort and wasted dollars.

Testing your corporation’s own levels of engagement across the social media networks it has a presence on can be difficult to quantify. Oracle Eloqua have created a tool – the Interactive Content Grid that your business can use to define its own content grid and instantly see where improvements can be made.

Engagement is at the core of all marketing activity, as it has always been. However, social media has given unprecedented value to these interactions. Research from LivePerson concluded:

“Despite living in a digital world where information or purchases are just a click away, what remains clear is there is no substitute for the human touch. Our digital experiences not only allow us to exchange information, make purchases or complete a transaction, but they also provide brands with the opportunity to connect and engage consumers in a meaningful way, thereby building trust and loyalty.

“Today’s consumers rely on digital channels to help them complete important daily tasks, such as paying bills, shopping and even work-related tasks, and they need to understand that the brands they engage with are with them every step of the way. Some 84% of online users say brand trust is a primary result of a positive online experience.

“It is therefore, critical that today’s digital experiences not only meet but exceed consumer expectations because if they don’t, consumers will simply abandon the brand and move on with a competitor. Engagement expectations are also growing, as two-thirds (66%) of online shoppers in our research states that they would like more choice in how they can contact brands online. When this study was conducted in 2012, this figure was just 59%. Offering multiple channels of contact influences consumer spend: 63% prefer to buy products and services from a company that offers multiple ways to connect with them.”

2014 will be the year when m-commerce eclipses e-commerce for the first time. Engagement through mobile devices will be key to how brands will differentiate themselves in their marketplaces, but more importantly, how they cultivate the customers who will ultimately become their most trusted brand advocates. These relationships start with developing a trusted advisor relationship. How trusted is your brand?

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