Engagement Means Different Things To Different People

Internet marketers have been promoting the use of blogs and podcasts for small businesses for some time now. Discussing your passions and values in an open, transparent manner is an excellent way of building trust and confidence with your audience, and developing the sales process.

Now large scale corporations and multinational advertising agencies want to harness some of the ‘engagement’ magic. Their old methods are no longer working. They have started to realise that consumer mindsets have changed.

The problem multinationals face is that their rules of engagement are going to be far more complex than those for the small business blogger. Their multi-format marketing machine means their measurement of success, over their plethora of channels, is going to require some thought.

Jassim Ali, the Middle Eastern development manager of digital marketers OMD Digital, in an article asks ‘what is engagement?’ His answer is that understanding what it means depends on who you speak to.

Advertising agencies are concerned with consumers absorbing their ‘message’. For them engagement is how they can deliver that message in a way that is acceptable to the consumer and not simply blocked out. They still want their ad to capture the audience’s attention and engross them in the brand.

Advertisers place value on leveraging time spent interacting with video clips and entering competitions. But for them engagement is more of a short-term, immediate tactic for penetrating a consumer’s anti-ad shield.

For other practitioners, such as bloggers and podcasters, engagement is the long-term strategy of building trust through transparency and conversation.

Jassim touches on the problem of metrics and that advertisers won’t be able to truly understand what engagement is until they know how to gauge it. After all, you can’t monetize what you can’t measure. Advertisers have to justify the millions they spend every day. Whilst the blogger or podcaster is playing a patient, long game over months and years.

Multi media advertising agencies are going to have to work out the different metrics for each of their mediums in order to understand the unique and special value they all add to the mix.

In a previous post I discussed a similar attitude followed by Proctor and Gamble. Their approach is to regard the different mediums as ‘touch points’ driven by the philosophy of moulding the mindset of the consumer, and developing trust.

The new approach to multi-channel marketing is highlighted by the research of Kate Maddox from BtoB Magazine. After interviewing marketers, ad agencies, media companies and industry analysts she has compiled a list of the biggest marketing trends for 2007.

She highlighted engagement as becoming more widely adopted as brands get to grips with the new interactive technology at their disposal. You should expect to see ‘viral’ video clips sprouting on social networks and websites as advertisers start turning the internet into their new TV.

Generating new sales leads with free trials, webinars, white papers, blogs and podcasts will also be a major growth area. These tools all trade in the economy of trust and transparency. Exactly what engagement marketing should be all about.

Email is still alive and kicking with a response rate of 2.45%. Direct mail, however, continues to diminish, in mirroring the plight of old mediums, with a conversion rate of only 1.27%.

In summarising, Kate identified 2007 as the year that Web 2.0 becomes embraced by marketers and advertisers. It looks set to be an exciting time indeed as mindsets and attitudes start to adjust to the engagement philosophy.

3 Comments. Leave new

[…] In the final analysis, I believe 2007 is going to be the year where we will see more and more marketers writing far more effective copy. They will tell better stories, edit their copy far more effectively, project a higher quality and believable sales presentation, and embrace the power of engagement and “samplification” on the Internet. […]

You are right … metrics are a huge challenge. And whoever figures out a way of measuring the “engagement” will be the big winner. Actually, once we are able to quantify the benefits of social media, there will be a huge shift away from traditional ad spend. So while there willl be some big winners, there will be some even bigger losers.

There are certainly enough people searching for the ‘Holy Grail’ of engagement metrics at the moment. I think it will l just take time for figures to appear which show how increased time spent interacting with a brand has led to increased sales, or changed people’s mindsets in how they respond to brands. The theory behind engagement is sound, we just need the hard cold figures to support it.

In terms of small businesses, the benefits of engaging through podcasting and blogging are becoming too great to ignore. Its just finding the time or money to support it which is still a problem for many. But the early adopters have the opportunity to corner their market as a knowledge provider and leader if their prepared to be brave and take the leap into the adopting the new engagement philosophy.

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