The digital era has meant massive changes for how we do marketing and how we talk about it. “Engagement marketing” is one of the big themes that is influencing change and it makes sense: although some of the practices are new and led by digital, the thinking has a solid foundation in more traditional marketing theory.
What is engagement marketing?
Marketo, who love these themes, and are big enough to back them with real research, suggest this definition:
“Engagement marketing means connecting with people:
• As individuals
• Based on what they do
• Continuously over time
• Directed towards an outcome
• Everywhere they are”
And immediately you can see how digital tools and channels make this all so much more possible. Wherever I go, my smart phone goes with me, and my customers are the same: so the reality is that I really can connect with them “everywhere they are” and pretty much all the time too!
How well do you know your customers?
This is not a new question. In fact, it’s a question that’s in with the bricks! Marketers have always been big on understanding the audience, listening to what customers have to say and trying to respond. But what has changed are the tools and channels for understanding the audience: web, social and email marketing all provide access to detailed metrics which make it possible to understand customers, their likes, dislikes, spending power, how they make decisions and, well, just about everything about them.
One at a time
We all respond best when we feel a message is just for us. That’s one of the key principles of engagement marketing. Take email marketing as an example. I can send all of my customers an email about a new product and a proportion of them will respond. Or I can use an automated marketing tool to follow up with a particular client, perhaps when they have put an item in the online basket, but not continued through to purchase. Suddenly I am treating my client as an individual and they seem to like it.
In it for the long term
It has always been much better to keep your existing customers happy rather than always looking for new ones. So, nurturing your customer over time makes sense. Understanding the patterns through the year and even through their lifetime is all possible. Engagement marketing is about building this long-term relationship so that we engage not just once, but again and again.
Who’s in the driving seat?
Digital, it is often claimed, is a self-service environment. It’s the customer who makes the decisions. They decide what, when and how often. They are in control of the customer journey, doing the research before getting to the buying decision. However, this is only part of the story. We can still engage with the customer and influence their decisions and ultimately their actions.
“I just want to be understood”
The customer wants marketing that is relevant to them. They want information that makes sense and answers their questions. They want it at a particular moment. Engagement marketing is about delivering all of that using smart systems and processes.
Storytelling is still in the mix
Storytelling is another mainstay of the marketer. Whether it’s a case study, a people-focused news item or a celebrity product story, people respond to stories. And engagement marketing embraces this hunger for a good story. If we want to develop a relationship we need to have something meaningful to say.
Using the tools, choosing the channels
Some of this might sound too grand to be useful to you. Big organisations with vast marketing budgets can afford automated marketing tools and dedicated experts in all the relevant fields. But SMEs need to embrace the same thinking and find ways of benefiting from the engagement marketing themes.
Call me to discuss how you can really engage with your customers with a purpose, rather than just talking to them.