People today have a commitment problem.
You send them roses; if you are lucky you get a “thank you” or an acknowledgment of sorts. When you send them special deals via your email campaign, you get… no response.
It’s enough to drive the most data-driven marketer feeling desperate by all this rejection. Despite the amount of technology we have at our disposal, sometimes your customers and leads just don’t respond well or stay around to find the real value you offer.
We have marketing automation, personalization, social media marketing, and – so many other tools and forms of communication it can make us dizzy. However, sometimes this just isn’t enough to turn clicks into customers, and too much can be a bad thing.
The good news? While it’s not all sunshine and roses when it comes to digital marketing, there are some easy ways to win an engagement.
Today, we can generate so many numbers, metrics, data, and information that we often forget that we’re dealing with people at the end of the day.
As marketers, we have to tell a story before we can sell one, and the best way to tell a story is not through marketing – it’s through engagement. Some of us have even gone so far down the rabbit hole of numbers, demographics, and metrics that we’ve forgotten the fundamentals of engagement. Let this blog post serve as a basic reminder for engagement – a call back to a simpler time, a way to get your customers to say YES to your engagement.
Engagement Pillar 1 – Data and Understanding
Seek first to understand, then to be understood – Stephen Covey
The first step to true engagement is understanding, and I’m not just talking about finding out why your customers behave the way they do, or why Black Friday sales work, or why online sales tend to pick up on late Wednesday mornings. That’s information, and I’m talking about something much more useful than just information – I’m talking about insight.
Insight is essential information informed by data.
In order to gain true insight, you have to marry the information you’ve received to the effects that cause, promote, and encourage it. In other words, by understanding the experience you offer to your customers, you’ll understand their behavior.
- Start by examining a customer behaviour that you want to either encourage or change.
- Examine how the experience your company offers affect the behaviour. Common areas to examine are workflows, the customer journey, and general user experiences like dealing with support, sales or your product itself.
- Prove the link through demonstrable data and case studies.
Ultimately, insight is created by generating data that means something. The more data you gather, the more connections you can make, the more engagement you will ultimately encourage.
Now that you have proven the link between your customer experience and the effect it has on your consumers, you can now modify or influence the customer behavior through your own actions – you have successfully understood your audience through data.
However, understanding is just the beginning of the engagement journey.
Engagement Pillar 2 – Process and Refinement
Fall in love with the process and results will come – Eric Thomas
Refining and aligning your process is the next step to truly embracing the fundamentals of customer engagement. If you manage to get all of your business processes right to reinforce your understanding of your audience, you’ll not only promote consistent success, you’ll automate it.
Refining and aligning your business process involves taking a deep and honest look at how you conduct your business from the point of introduction to the customer all the way to after-sales support. It also includes processes that are not specifically customer-centric, such as product development and community outreach.
Any of the processes that do not fully support your understanding of the behavior you want to encourage should be realigned, and any that encourage behavior that you want to change should be completely replaced.
For example, let’s say you’ve successfully made a link between your loyalty program and an increase in your bottom line. If you would like to focus your efforts on increasing your revenue, it makes sense to realign your processes to support your loyalty program. This could mean ensuring that your marketing communications encourage your customers and leads to sign up wherever possible, that your customer service agents offer the sign-up process as a part of their daily interactions, and that certain products that you offer include additional benefits for those who do sign up.
Once you have underlined and begun the processes that will support your understanding, you’re starting to engage your audiences. The last remaining step is to identify how to keep the conversation going, as engaging is a once-off event set off by the correct processes, but engagement is an ongoing action.
In order to help the conversation continue, you have to listen – and in marketing, you have to listen to thousands of voices at once.
Engagement Pillar 3 – Technology and Optimisation
You can’t improve what you can’t measure – Darren Hardy
One of life’s most beautiful and simultaneously most depressing facts is that nothing will stay the same forever. The same is true for your marketing and engagement tactics.
Over time and sometimes due to factors outside of your control, your processes will slowly become less effective. If you don’t address these changes, your processes may even start to work against you, encouraging consumer behaviors that you would rather not.
As I mentioned earlier, we have access to a bewildering amount of technology to make our lives easier. Don’t make your life harder by ignoring it. The key to all this is finding the right tools for the right job.
Technology acts as an enabler to support each step of engagement. For generating data and creating insight, we have web reports and analytics. For examining and refining our processes, we have marketing automation. Of course, we also have a multitude of measuring and evaluation tools at our disposal to optimize our engagement efforts.
Since we have the technology, we do not have any excuses when it comes to perfecting our engagement approach.
This is why it is important to constantly monitor, measure, and optimize your understanding and processes as time goes on. However, as mentioned before, we have access to such an overwhelmingly large pool of metrics and results that it’s easy to get lost in the numbers. We have to intelligently select each metric based on qualitative and measurable results based on your original understanding for the best results.
Before you select which metrics to measure, ask yourself the following based on the metric in question:
- Is this qualitative?
- Is this relevant to our objectives and understanding, or will it challenge our understanding?
- Can this help us make better decisions?
- How will this change our current actions and processes?
- How will this relate to our customers and the customers we want to attract?
Once you have selected some relevant metrics, it’s time for optimization.
There are countless aspects to optimize your engagement strategy and the individual components that make it up. However, each of these optimizations should fall under your original understanding, or a new understanding discovered by measuring your metrics.
Here are some common targets for optimization that you can consider:
- Type of content
- Style of communication
- Frequency of marketing
- Mediums of marketing
Monitoring, measures and optimizing is an ongoing process that requires attention to detail, an analytical mind, and a listening ear. It can also challenge your original understanding of your market and force you to change the way you engage with your audience, but it is worth it in the long run if you seek consistent success.
Both measuring and optimization are enhanced and supported by the technology available to us today. The feats, insights, and actions we are capable of today were the work of marketing science fiction of just a few years ago. Using technology to our advantage in a supporting role throughout the engagement process is the key to keeping your customer coming back for more.
The Full Picture
These 3 pillars of engagement management should help you on your journey to truly connect with your audience. Of course, to fully understand the best way to engage takes time, attention, and a lot more writing space than this article will allow.
Until next time, question your understanding, be mindful of your processes, and always strive for the best result.