Engagement – Noun: The action of engaging or the state of being engaged.
While engagement is a popular buzzword today, it is often misunderstood in commerce as an event rather than a state of being. This traditional way of thinking about engagement is driven by lack of insight about what’s happening across a company’s consumer base regardless of time, channel, or segment. Previously the only way an organization could define engagement was though transactions.
That’s not the case anymore.
With new technologies like consumer-management platforms, options are unlimited for marketers who want to understand, predict, and monitor engagement levels – not just transactions – and marry those disparate data points together to create a real-time picture of the way various types of customer engagement affect the brand.
Four types of customer engagement
Without context, “engagement” is just noise. Contextual engagement is possible through technology that helps marketers understand what an individual consumer’s behaviors, both historically and in real time, say about them. Marketers can use this understanding to help them accomplish their goals in context to the brand, the time of day, their location, their history and other aspects of their profile. The result: a more successful individual experience. For instance, brands and retailers can send coupons to consumers based on previous purchases or push an in-store notification to them with a special offer based on their purchase history.
Engagement of Convenience
Amazon’s recently launched Dash Button is the perfect example of this type of engagement. Consumers can attach this button wherever they store or use particular household products. When they are running low, they simply press it and – like magic – Amazon delivers the items they need to their door. Eliminating the need for consumers to leave their homes makes their lives more convenient by enabling them to simply say yes (to a new order of a particular product) and move on. Consumers will engage because it is easy. Any type of interaction that increases convenience also allows the brand or retailer’s systems to gain a better understanding of each consumer’s individual needs, buying cycles, triggers and price points, which can in turn be used in order to maximize value of that transaction (emotionally, financially, contextually) to reinforce the desire to buy.
Emotions are often overlooked as the key driver behind engagement and loyalty. Humans are emotional creatures, so delivering contextual relevance and convenience to consumers goes a long way in reinforcing the emotional value they unconsciously invest a brand. With the exception of aspirational brands, 99 percent of brand buying decisions consumers make stem from some other unconscious emotional space.
Historically, these emotional bonds were exclusively tied to marketing (colors, images, messaging) or personal memories and experiences. The more personal aspects of this type of engagement weren’t accessible to marketers because there was no way of understanding or acting on any insight—if you had that data. Consumer-management technology allows for this understanding on a 1:1 basis at scale because a good system tracks millions of data points that together paint a very specific picture of an individual’s own ideal environment for making decisions on what to buy, when and how often.
Social engagement is the litmus test of success. If all of the above are aligned with an individual, the real-time output is social advocacy, or the Mecca for most brands. I have more influence over the buying decisions of my network than any marketer—or what is now known as influencer marketing. If I have a good experience with a brand, it’s so easy for me to share it via my social channels, which in turn influences others to seek out the experience.
It’s clear that engagement has little to do with the actual transaction and more to do with interactions before and after an actual purchase. For brands, understanding the different types of customer engagement and having the technology in place to make sense of the onslaught of data points to create a more 1:1 engagement experience is critical to creating and nurturing those crucial customer relationships.