Posts Tagged ‘client engagement’


A few months ago, I got the worst speeding ticket ever.  I’m still too embarrassed to say how fast I was driving, the number of demerit points I got and the fine I had to pay.  I can’t tell anyone, not even myself, exactly how it all happened.

What I can safely say is that I have learned important lessons in mindfulness and marketing.  Meditation,   regular mental check-ins and driving no faster than the speed limit are now the marks of mindfulness in my daily life.

Interestingly, I have found some valuable take aways that are applicable to my professional work as a marketer.

#1:  Know what your readers already know.  Reframe the way they think about what they know.

I was driving on a highway and a service road I know very well.  Until that day, I had never seen a speed trap and never assumed that there could be.  Familiarity and boredom led my mind to think of other things – the presentation I had to deliver in 40 minutes, although I was only 15 minutes away from my destination.

I recently read that the average attention span is now only 8 seconds.  People get bored with what they already know.  But reframing the way they think about what they already know changes the way they think about their problem.  And reframing the way people think makes them willing to consider alternative solutions.

As an example, Martin Grosskopf challenges investors to think differently about divesting fossil fuel assets from their portfolios.  In a recent article, he recommends that instead of being too concerned about where a company falls within a particular Global Industry Classification Standard sector, institutional investors should focus on whether the company provides products or services that have a positive environmental or social impact and offers a financial return on investment.

  • Content marketing that challenges conventional thinking and presents realistic solutions, will likely prolong readers’ attention, build engagement and create purchase consideration.

#2: Details can become distractions.  Be clear about what you want readers to know and to take away.

When I was preparing the cheque to pay the fine, I noticed that the police officer had entered the wrong date in one of the many spaces on the ticket.  Although I was tempted, I could have contested the validity of the ticket, but I chose not to.  Why?  Win or lose, either way, the key lesson of mindfulness would have been lost in an arduous legal process requiring significant investment of time, effort and money.

If you have been able to extend your readers’ attention span beyond 8 seconds, do avoid the temptation to overload the reader with too much information.  Showcasing expertise and knowledge does reinforce credibility, but it can also alienate potential clients.  The key take aways can be lost in the mother lode of information and details.

  • Clearly understand potential clients’ pain points and offer solutions:
    • As a rule of thumb – offer no more than 3 to 5 valuable take aways.
    • There are exceptions – for example, if you are describing a series of steps that leads to a desired outcome, a longer list of take aways may work very well. As an example, check out Neil Patel’s post 17 Hacks for Writing Killer Articles in Half the Time

#3:  Interruptions are meaningless unless there is value or consequence. Agree on what engagement looks like.

On reflection, I had three opportunities to slow down before I was stopped.  I overtook three cars whose drivers were respecting the speed limit.  They, in my view, were interrupting the rhythm of my driving on a familiar route on which I gave no thought to the possible consequence of speeding or the value of going with the traffic flow.

Today’s marketing technology tools allow us to identify and contact anyone who shows an interest in our digitally delivered content.  Under pressure to prove ROI, marketers devise tactics that are intended to create and build engagement.

Tactics ranging from retargeting site visitors to capturing contact information in return for a downloaded white paper or eBook.  What usually follows may be regarded as interruption – calling with a sales pitch, a series of e-mails and follow-up calls every four to six weeks.  From my own experience, this approach is fairly commonplace particularly among IT vendors and it can be a real turn-off.  The download of an eBook, the posting of a favourable comment or an interaction of any kind, should not be interpreted as readiness to purchase.

Kudos to Lunametrics for offering readers a downloadable one-sheeter Comparing Google Analytics Premium and Google Analytics. Although an e-mail address is required, downloaders are asked to indicate if they want to be contacted within the next business day to discuss Google Analytics Premium.

There is a big difference between interruption and engagement.  Interruption is about getting into people’s faces.  Engagement is all about getting into people’s hearts, showing that you care and want to help.

  • Engagement is a sustained series of valuable interactions in which the needs of the potential client are carefully understood and addressed, eventually leading to a business relationship.

Three rules of engagement

Like driving, content marketing requires a clear line of sight that leads to a destination.  Along the way, there are rules of engagement.

  1. To avoid boredom, challenge your readers to think differently.
  2. Be clear on what you want your readers to know and to take away.
  3. To add real value, agree on how you will engage with potential clients.

See the BIG picture.  Focus on what’s important.




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Social networking media, chat, messaging and communication concept: group of glossy colorful speech bubbles isolated on white background

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.

Tracking engagement

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.

Measuring 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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Advocacy

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.




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Engaging clients and prospects through sponsorships and social media

It is that time of the year again.  It’s summer in Canada and the noisy parade of festivals and concerts fills our cities from June to September.  Montreal, of course, leads the list.  Corporate Canada competes for high profile visibility through key sponsorships of these events.  Event organizers have been on the prowl for big corporate dollars since the end of summer last year.  Now, they are working hard to secure last minute deals offering potential sponsors who are late in the game, promises of heightened visibility and popularity for their brands.  Every inch of banner space comes at a cost.

Marketers, especially brand managers, argue with CFOs and other executives in non-marketing positions that there is virtue and value in spending top dollars to be a major sponsor of these high-profile events.  After all, this is a way of building brand awareness among prospects, engaging existing clients and getting them to do more business and add to the bottom line.  In the minds of those closest to the financial planning process, there is no tangible proof that investing in sponsorships provides a healthy ROI.

Conventional marketing wisdom tells us that sponsorships and mass advertising of events patronized by target client segments, tends to build brand awareness and pre-disposes potential clients to give positive consideration to purchase products with the brand name.  Now with the emergence and influence of social media, “Like us on Facebook” and “Follow us on Twitter” are commonplace on advertisements.  But have these tactics supported business development?   Debates rage on about how to calculate the ROI of investing in advertising.  In my opinion, marketers and their corporate colleagues need to go beyond tactics and see the BIG picture.

The BIG picture

Access to information in various formats and through diverse channels offers the potential to influence and create engagement and new business opportunities.  But consumers want more than information, and marketers and salespeople need to do more than just engage audiences.  The “more” is all about building relationships based on authenticity and trust.  Information and transparent communication from easily accessed sources builds trust and demonstrates authenticity, which sets the stage for sales and on-going business development.  This, in my view is the BIG picture.

(And by the way, consumers have the means to quickly verify whether companies are being authentic and are worthy of consumers’ trust.  We’re all aware of the social media disasters of McDonalds, Chrysler and Qantas.)

Information can be disseminated in a nanosecond through cyberspace.  Bi-directional communication, between consumers and suppliers is possible through social media.  ‘De-virtualizing’ social media contacts and interactions can be achieved through sponsorships and experiential marketing.  The challenge that companies face, is how to bridge the gaps between information, communication and relationships so that engagement and trust are established and which ultimately result in new business from prospects and a larger share of wallet from clients.  Consider the following important points that your company can focus on:

Build your social media community first.  Identify social media platforms where your existing and potential clients interact.  Participate in and contribute to social media forums on topics related to your business or to your community involvement, which are of interest to your target clientele.  Become an influencer.  Be seen as a major player in your field.  In this way your company and brand gain credibility and authenticity, and more people who will like you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter and more importantly, recommend you to their networks.

Partner with organizations you sponsor, not just the events sponsored by organizations.  The key to success is selecting organizations whose clientele, public reach and influence are similar to your target clientele.  By establishing continuous visibility and alignment with the organizations whose events you sponsor, the frequency and depth of contact with potential clients creates trust in your brand and sets the stage for business development.

Be interactive, not only visible at sponsored events.  Whether you’re handing out promotional items that are thrown away or hardly ever used, investing in a beautifully crafted banner with your company’s logo or drowning your logo in a sea of other logos from co-sponsors, your company may well be wasting financial and human resources.  Don’t get me wrong, all of these tactics have their place and can be quite effective when coupled with opportunities to interact with your target audiences at sponsored events.  Invest in sponsorships that allow your company to showcase its products and expertise in a way that makes your brand visible and credible and offers the opportunity to be in direct contact with your target audience.  Is there a hospitality suite to which you can invite existing and potential clients, distributors, suppliers and influencers?  If so, take advantage of this opportunity to build relationships. Make sure also, that you have the buy-in and on-site involvement of your business development people if the sponsorship will support sales and new business.

Always have a way to continue your conversation and interaction.  Harvesting contact information from people attending promotional events, participating in contests, making inquiries etc., is a good way of creating engagement and interest and increases the chances of new business from prospects and more business from existing clients.  Identifying the profiles of your contacts, segmenting and interacting with them in an appropriate communication style and with content relevant to their needs are essential to success.

A final word

Securing on-going budgetary support and commitment from the CFO and other non-marketing executives for sponsorships and social media programmes requires marketers to identify and optimize opportunities for business development.  The effective tracking of prospecting and business development opportunities from these programmes must be a component of all sponsorship and social media activities that may well provide some encouraging, if not impressive ROI results.


See the BIG picture. Focus on what’s important.

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