As a marketer, I love the word “engagement.”
Just as in marriage, engagement in marketing involves deep, sincere interest and commitment.
Deep, sincere interest and commitment lead the potential or current customer to commit to making a purchase and better yet, being a brand advocate.
According to The Economist Intelligence Unit survey of 478 CMOs and senior marketing executives worldwide, engagement is increasingly perceived as key to the loyalty and advocacy stages of the customer life cycle. An engaged customer is one who sticks around.
Getting the customer to stick around has been viewed traditionally as the job of Sales and Customer Service. The metrics are easy to identify – new sales, client retention, client satisfaction, repeat business etc.
Until recently, Marketing was generally not considered as a key player in client acquisition and retention. There was no transactional dimension to engagement in marketing plans. But this is changing.
The sun is setting on the days of multi-million dollar advertising budgets which aim to achieve single digit increases in brand awareness each year. Back then, key metrics were based on subjective responses – such as ad recall and aided and unaided awareness – which were measured by polling sample target audiences after the campaign ended. I know. I’ve been there and done that.
Then things got a bit better for marketers with the advent of digital advertising and social media, which make it possible to gather data on interactions and on-line experience. To measure marketing success, marketers counted the number of ‘likes,’ ‘downloads’ and ‘hits,’ until we found out what ‘hits’ actually means: ‘how idiots track success.’
At a Canadian Marketing Association Conference a few years ago, I remember Google’s Digital Marketing Evangelist, Avinash Kaushik making some bold statements about tracking and analytics for websites. He challenged marketers to go beyond measuring ‘hits’ to assessing the behaviour of visitors, once they hit our websites. As Kaushik has pointed out on many occasions, repeat visitors, loyalty, ‘recency’ and frequency of visits, should be used to measure outcomes. It’s the behaviour of visitors on websites and social media accounts that tells us about their level of interest and willingness to purchase, which are the best indicators of engagement.
Engagement metrics that track interactions throughout the marketing and business development funnel will, in my view, become more commonplace, as will correlations between interactions and sales. For businesses whose leads and sales are not generated on-line, engagement metrics can and will also be used to determine the ROI on the marketing budget.
Consider using the following metrics to gather meaningful information on engagement:
- Correlation between awareness and consideration
The ratio of visitor engagements to social media impressions and/or visits to web sites, indicates how effective the marketing activity has been in creating awareness and the consideration to purchase.
Engagements include the number of clicks on social media posts and click throughs to other web pages, retweets, shares, favourites and direct inquiries.
The ratio will confirm if the media, channel, timing and frequency of the marketing communication are appropriate for the targeted audience.
- Purchases and revenue potential
Can the number of purchases be correlated to the engagement results from the marketing campaigns or activities?
Admittedly, this is more difficult to accurately measure, as a deeper analysis is required to determine if persons who engage with the brand are purchasers. It may well be worth the effort, particularly for marketing programs with an immediate call to action in the form of on-line sales.
For businesses where leads and sales are not generated on-line, ways of measuring engagement against revenue potential should focus on correlations between interactions and the cost of investment. For example, a good engagement metric to determine revenue potential resulting from leads generated at sponsored events such as trade shows, could be the cost of sales appointments. The cost of sales appointments is calculated by dividing the cost of sponsoring the event by the number of sales appointments resulting from in-person interactions. Then a correlation should be made with the revenue potential from the sales appointments and prospecting activities that follow. The result should help determine if continued investment in the sponsored event is justified.
Customers, who are brand advocates, are loyal, repeat buyers, influence others to purchase and are considered a trusted source by their peers.
Advocacy is a very important qualitative and quantitative metric. Qualitative, because it involves observing what customers are saying about the product and the brand in on-line posts, discussions and various social media. The number of shares, followers and discussions initiated provides quantitative data on brand advocacy.
See the BIG picture… Focus on what’s important
At their best, engagement metrics help businesses see the BIG picture, in which Marketing contributes to overall revenue generation, growth and proven ROI on marketing dollars. Armed with the results of the engagement metrics, marketers can focus on what’s important: the analysis of what works and what doesn’t, and then taking action to continually evolve and improve marketing strategies and plans that support business development.