Engagement is a strategy, not a metric

with this ring

Interesting take on engagement by Gene Liebel at Adweek (So You’re Engaged — Now What?)

I’m positive many marketers indeed look to ‘engagement’ as the new metric:

MarketingGuy 1988:  “We need reach!”
MarketingGuy 2008:  “We need engagement!”

Yes, marketers need to engage their customers/prospects, but engagement isn’t a metric, or even a goal — engagement is a route to the goal.

Whether the objective is awareness, consideration, interaction, transaction, bonding, advocacy, or any other label on a stage in the Customer Journey, engagement is the chief means to achieving that goal. And that, by definition, is a strategy.

What then is engagement? My definition is the customer-centric need being fulfilled not necessarily by the purchasing of your brand, but rather by your actions as a brand: information, education, entertainment, inspiration = problem solving. Think about being “engaged,” such as by a professional speaker. S/he likely delivers on all of the above.

Yes, time-spent, page views, clicks are all metrics that can help define ‘engagement,’ but they are by far not the only ones. ‘Engaged’ prospects/customers also visit more frequently, are more apt to cross-purchase/up-purchase, and ultimately become the strongest advocates for your brand. They sign up for e-newsletters and RSS feeds, they download whitepapers and attend webinars, they refer friends and forward pages, and they talk you up in social media settings.

Engagement means different things depending on the objective of the marketing stage.  ‘Engagement’ in the reach phases is still very wide-net-casting, with the greater in-depth engagement occurring in later stages of the Customer Journey.   Hence, metrics used to measure the objectives achieved via Engagement differ as well.

Oftentimes, the bulk of engagement resources (e.g. Content Marketing) demand back-load weighting/allocation, as customers likely deserve greater attention than suspects, and advocates more so than customers.

Different stages of customers?  Mixed allocations of resources based on customer groupings?  Migration of customers from one stage to another?  Different metrics in place to measure different stage objectives?  Smells an awful lot like CRM.

As it should.  Engagement is a close relative of CRM. And like CRM, the end goals of engagement are sales and maximizing LTV. Engagement isn’t the end goal, or even a metric…it’s a strategy.

MarketingGuy 2009:  “We need sales and LTV:  let’s focus on engagement.”
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2 responses to “Engagement is a strategy, not a metric

  1. I completely agree with the point that engagement is a strategy. At my last gig, our 1st of 4 strategies was “Build Engagement.” I learned several important things from thsi experience. First, it was critically important to have people understand that building engagement was focused on engaging prospects and customers on how and why our product was different and better than competition. Engagement had to be built around the core value proposition. We didn’t engage just to be engaging. Second, people needed guidance and direction around how to engage. What does engagement really mean ? How do you do it most effectively ? So, engagement is great but key for success is educating the organization to really understand what it means and how you do it.
    Randall Beard
    http://randallbeard.wordpress.com/

    • Randall: thanks for the comment. I concur completely — engagement must be built around a core value proposition — and I’d go as far to say that the value proposition must be built upon “relational qualities”: those things that the customer values and that the Brand represents. Engagement doesn’t need to be about product attributes, but rather delivering content that represents the ‘higher order values’ of the customer…and those that can be uniquely delivered by the Brand. Engagement occurs when the idea of ‘core value proposition’ is delivered upon through the eyes of each participant: not just what the Brand thinks the CVP should be, but what the Customer believes it should be as well.

      As far as how to ‘do’ engagement effectively (warning: shameless plug coming), my consultancy, Nutlug Content Marketing, has developed a proprietary strategic framework called C.A.R.E. ™: Customer Acquistion and Retention through Engagement. It creates a ‘gameplan for engagement,’ leveraging content marketing and social media to migrate a customer through the various stages of a Customer Journey. It’s proven to be very beneficial to companies struggling to get their arms around this ‘engagement thing’: what to say, to whom to say it, when, how often, how to say it, through what channels, using what measurement, to what effect. Happy to share some thoughts on it with you if you like.

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