Engagement is not an event, it's a commitment - a nurturing process across channels. It's time that marketers become "engagement engineers" in order to capture higher share.
Engagement may be the most overused word in digital marketing. Contested, perhaps, only by "relevance." Engagement is now recommended, and even required, for every contact with a customer. In fact, I believe that customer engagement is the new form of direct marketing, replacing the old paradigm of lists and broadcast messaging with personalized interactions at the individual level.
Increasingly, consumers and business professionals demand offers, outreach, and an overall experience tailored to their particular preferences. They know we have data on them; they know they leave a digital trail of their interests and activities across the Internet. They expect us to use that data responsibly. They expect us to recognize them, to know what products and services they already use. And they expect that their loyalty and celebration of our brand will translate to special treatment. Marketing automation and advanced customer relationship management (CRM) technologies make all this possible and programmatic now - in real time.
How can we adopt this new paradigm and make it more than just a word? We do it by embracing a customer-centric approach to People, Process, and Technology. That means we have:
I implore all marketers to do something radical about engagement. What if we set a goal for ourselves that every email message or every social interaction has the potential to literally change someone's life?
Really?! Life-changing digital marketing?! That feels a little Zen, don't you think? Will the happiness we generate with our customers and other audiences lead to world peace and a cure for cancer?
Yet, I think we are onto something here. Think about the opportunities of using our digital marketing efforts to build what marketers have known for years as "brand advocacy." Embrace the simple concept that engaged consumers will participate in a brand community, be loyal, and become advocates - not just for our brands, but for all that is right and good in the world. Using a CRM-driven approach with a solid and responsive platform for data management, this brand advocacy can empower engaged customers who, together with others and the marketers themselves, have a sustainable impact on business performance.
As powerful as that concept is, the truth is still that most digital marketing is well intentioned, but not engaging. Look at your own inboxes (in email, Twitter, Facebook, apps, and blogs). Look also at the number of people who haven't opened, clicked, experienced, or liked anything from you in a long time. Too much of what we marketers publish is irrelevant, ill-timed, and poorly formatted.
How can we break out of the pile? Engage.
While this creates a totally new and somewhat fluid marketing environment, personally, I'm very excited by it. Engagement is not an event, it's a commitment - a nurturing process across channels. When we start to think about how to create a continuum of experience for our customers, that guides us toward better decisions on segmentation, frequency, and cadence. It's time that marketers become "engagement engineers" in order to capture higher share. What are you doing to use engagement as a strategic business driver?
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Stephanie Miller is a relentless customer advocate and a champion for marketers creating memorable online experiences. A digital marketing expert, she helps responsible data-driven marketers connect with the people, resources, and ideas they need to optimize response and revenue. She speaks and writes regularly and leads many industry initiatives as VP, Member Relations and Chief Listening Officer at the Direct Marketing Association (www.the-dma.org). Feedback and column ideas most welcome, to smiller AT the-dma DOT org or @stephanieSAM.
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