Jeff Clark discusses the ‘engagement marketing’ approach, providing insights about how to leverage this strategy to grow and build loyalty and conversions.
Much has been written about the proliferation of marketing channels and the surge of social media in today’s digital landscape — a landscape in which ‘brand’ is losing definition and online businesses are feeling understandably anxious. While in recent history, brands were defined and built by marketers, these days they are built via the countless conversations taking place – primarily online – between current and potential customers.
In this new world, many online businesses are realising that buyers are driving their brand, but aren’t sure how to work outside of traditional marketing methods to build brand value, increase customer loyalty and drive revenue. The good news is that there is a kind of marketing that will do just this. It’s called engagement marketing, and with a few strategies in place online businesses are poised to make the most of it.
Engagement marketing is an approach that, in contrast to traditional brand and direct marketing strategies, allows a brand’s customers to shape the company’s marketing. Engagement marketing begins when someone signs up for an email program, reads a product review, or simply requests more information. From that point, engagement marketing is about providing that person with more opportunities to participate in dialogues, interact with your brand, become a lifelong customer and influence others to become customers as well.
Here are five simple, easy-to-implement ways to get you started with your new marketing approach:
- Set up a preference page to give customers the opportunity to pick and choose what messaging they will receive and in what channels, whether it’s email, mobile or RSS feed.
- Share messages into social networks and also track viral activity so you can identify your most ardent influencers.
- Send messages at times that are individually personalised for each recipient based on previous email-opening behaviour.
- Set up personalised, campaign-specific micro-sites that re-market to your online visitors based on behaviour factors, like how often they visited and what links they clicked on.
- Finally, start looking at analytics with new eyes. When many online businesses think of analytics, they immediately think about how visitors interact with their site. However, a bigger opportunity exists to analyse data across channels and interactions such as email, social networks, store purchases and online commerce. Armed with this data, you’ll be able to initiate deeply personalised conversations with customers through the channels they prefer.
Once you’ve put these steps into place, there are basically three levels of engagement to look forward to, and all of them should be monitored so that you can gauge how well your marketing program is working to engage your customers.
This person has expressed an interest in your brand and in receiving communications from you. He or she spends time on your site, has opted-in to your marketing program and opens all or most of the emails you send. They also click through to the links you send them.
Engaged to Buy
This person is ready to purchase and has indicated that by conducting product-specific searches, reading user reviews, returning to email landing pages or micro-sites, placing items in an online shopping cart, or contacting customer service. Then, this person buys and becomes a repeat customer, one who keeps opening up your emails and reads the personalised transaction messages you send.
Engaged to Influence
Finally, there’s the person who spreads the word. This person could be a loyal customer or a fan of your brand and will click every link in every email you send them, forward and share your messages with friends, and write about you on blogs, community forums and in product reviews. As an engagement marketer, you must learn who these people are and cultivate them. They are brand gold to online businesses.
In fact, all online consumers are potential brand ambassadors for your business – you just have to understand that building your brand these days is about sharing your brand. Help shape the conversation about your brand through engagement marketing and you will strengthen your business by fostering customer loyalty in ways you’ve never been able to before.