More engagement is on the lips and on the wish list of every marketer. The common understanding is that “engagement” is an aggregate measure of a variety of interactions, which include clicks, likes, comments, shares, downloads, sign-ups, retweets and re-posts. Engagement is a proxy for conversion in environments where goods and services aren’t directly sold.
All media experiences are not equal and have different outcomes. Engagement is a concept that can be used either to compare or to obscure these differences. But the universal desire for more engagement is real and highly competitive.
To the old school crowd, engagement is measured by counting the number of people who show up at a site or on a social media property and take the marketer’s desired or most valuable action. These engaged visitors sign up for a newsletter, download something, play a game, use a calculator, enroll in a webinar or like, share or comment.
Part of the debate centers on levels of engagement and the value of continued or sequential interactions. In theory, any interaction signals either interest or intent. An individual interaction is a first step in the customer journey and a first indicator of likely brand awareness, lead generation or loyalty and advocacy.
Subsequent interactions build or deepen the relationship heading toward a positive resolution – an idea, a candidate, a product, a service or membership in a community is sold-in. This rationale underscores investment in content marketing where the conventional wisdom is that the more engagement you get by skillfully deploying robust content, the more likely the conversion. Its logical, but awfully hard to prove definitively.
Add to this thinking about sequences, the notion that there is a hierarchy of interactive values. That specific types of content delivered at identifiable inflection points in the customer relationship have different marketing values and produce different outcomes. Clicking “like” is an almost automatic and mostly meaningless interaction. Whereas a robust conversation among site or page visitors is more emotionally involving and ultimately more persuasive.
Watching or uploading a video, using a calculator, clicking around an infographic, interacting with a bot or voice assistant, answering a poll or taking a quiz fall somewhere in the middle. Each has its own interactive and emotionally resonant value. Ideally, the savvy data-driven marketer orchestrates the use of these content elements to engage, educate and convert site or page users.
Consider two promising engagement tools
Chatbots. Every brand has frequently asked questions (FAQs), common recurring complaints and a variety of customer service needs. A segment of site or page traffic zeroes in on this content. Deploying a bot enables a faster interaction, which in theory, makes for happier customers who might further engage, convert or promote your brand. Most marketers still struggle to serve the right content to anonymous users.
A bot prompts immediate self-selection, self-service and self-gratification. More than half of Americans have interacted with a bot, so acceptance is a given. Bots can be constructed in a variety of ways using an evolving array of technologies that can be targeted to a desired audience or segment. Bots offer marketers 24/7 coverage, efficiency, quality assurance and options for easy updating.
Quizzes, Polls & Surveys. Everyone has an opinion and a considerable majority of people like to share theirs. Quizzes, polls and surveys press an emotional and intellectual trigger for a large segment of the population eager to validate their knowledge or compare themselves to peers or compete with others. These content genres are well known to prompt immediate interaction which can be shareable and go viral.
Here too, there is an array of relevant technologies available. Ideally marketers need a platform that can incorporate an array of content genres, is easy to use, update or change, and simple to integrate into a marketing stack.
The on-going engagement debate won’t be easily resolved, But, in the interim, marketers can deploy content to improve the number, frequency, and quality of interactions that influence business outcomes.
Danny Flamberg is VP Strategy – HCP at LiveWorld, who has supported leading and insurgent pharmaceutical and life science brands including Pfizer, Merck, AstraZeneca, AbbVie, GSK, Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, Genentech, Unilever and Sanofi. The author of Dancing Through the Digital Revolution, he earned a Ph.D. in econometrics at Columbia University.