What Is Engagement Marketing?

January 28, 2015 Sam Brennand

Engagement Marketing

Christmas is always a special day, but this one was particularly special for me. It was the day I got engaged to the love of my life.

I’ll spare you the details, but the proposal took some serious planning. My now fiance and I have been dating for a shade over 7 years, and I wanted to incorporate as many elements of that shared history into the proposal as I could.

So layered on top of an engagement ring that was strategically placed at the bottom of a Christmas stocking were 7 mementos from our relationship, each of which in part helped to sum up where we've been as a couple. Right before the ring, one last memento highlighted where I hope we're going in the years ahead. A full-scale assault on emotion. Tears inevitably followed (and a "yes," of course). 

But what does all of this personal information have to do with Engagement Marketing?

Well, building a lasting relationship is a helluva lot of work. It takes time, effort, and a focus on the future to identify your shared goals and values, and to build the trustcommunication, and authentic emotional connection (i.e. love) it takes to really make it work. 

You’ll notice that a lot of the keywords I’ve used to describe a romantic relationship also readily apply in the realm of marketing. 

To stay relevant in today's market, each word highlighted above needs to be a word that you can use to describe your marketing activities. Each is also a core part of modern Engagement Marketing.

What is Engagement Marketing? 

If you’re a regular follower of popular marketing blogs, by now you’ll be no stranger to the term “Engagement Marketing”. As this graph from Google Trends shows, the term has absolutely exploded in popularity since mid-2007.

Google trend

Perhaps the best way to frame Engagement Marketing is with a short definition from the gurus over at  Marketo. In a post last year, Marketo rightly noted that "Marketing is shifting. It is shifting from talking at people, and focusing on transactions, to engaging with people – building meaningful, life-long, and personalized relationships."

It's the reason your local Starbucks Barista writes your name on your cup even if you're the only person in the line. It's the reason that you get personalized purchase recommendations from Amazon after you order something online. 

Many of the world’s most prominent marketing thought leaders, including Seth Godin, Jay Baer, Gary Vaynerchuk have been preaching similar versions of the concept for a while now. Whether you call it Permission Marketing, Relationship Marketing, or Youtility Marketing, we're all ultimately talking about two sides of the same coin. 

To keep things concise, here are a few of the key overarching principles of Engagement Marketing to keep in mind:  

  • A relentless focus on building trust
  • Embracing strong two-way communication
  • An exchange of value 
  • A relationship focus
  • A long-term view (since buyers are as much as 90% of the way through the buying process before they ever reach out)

Why Engagement Marketing Matters

Like any marketing trend, Engagement Marketing has its skeptics - particularly among those in charge of the purse strings.

But over the last several years, data has started to emerge that proves just how valuable an engaged customer can be.  

Influitive, an amazing customer engagement platform, has found that "companies that have improved engagement increase cross-sell by 22%, drive up-sell revenue from 13% to 51%, and also increase order sizes from 5% to 85%."

Research from the Rockefeller Corporation has found that "68% of customers leave a business because they think you don’t care about them."

Furthermore, research from Vision Critical has found that  86% of buyers are happy and willing to pay more for a better customer experience, and that by the year 2020 the customer experience will be more important in the sales process than either price or product. 

Reason enough? 

To see the power of Engagement Marketing in action, one needs to look no further than Nike. You might not expect that a company like Nike, with a marketing budget (and a propensity for traditional advertising), could create great personalized experiences, but you'd be surprised. 

This blog post from Christopher Van Bael on Lincelot.com details a great example of how Nike uses a number of tools and platforms to create engaging experiences. If you have 5 minutes, it's worth a read. 

How to Create Engaging Marketing Experiences With Your Content 

While content is just one piece of the Engagement Marketing puzzle, it’s an important one and obviously one that we're very focused on here at Uberflip. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating your content experiences.

Focus on Context

Plain and simple, contextual content experiences convert and engage better. Context is one of the most important elements of Engagement Marketing because it demands that marketers ensure the experiences they create are gradual, personalized, and authentic.

This means structuring your content experiences so your customers and prospects find exactly what they're looking for with ease, using search to tailor results, providing recommended content based on consumption habits and showing relevant calls-to-action (CTAs) that are appropriately placed.  

Focus on the “Something More”

 Because Engagement Marketing is an ideology that emphasizes the importance of long-term relationships based on shared goals and values, making those goals and values front and center in your content is never a bad idea. 

Try to ensure that your content is rooted in the shared goals and values that define your relationship with your customers and prospects. Think Red Bull and Red Bull Stratos.

Focus on Facilitation 

Truly engaging content experiences not only invite customers and prospects to participate, but also help facilitate communication and collaboration between users who share the same challenges, goals, and values. 

Ensuring that your content experiences include appropriate social sharing tools as well as commenting or other communication tools will encourage your customers and prospects to talk to each other, share tips and best practices, and build a community. As a brand, you can only benefit from this type of interactivity. 

Focus on Eliminating Boundaries 

A great content experience should be platform agnostic. You really shouldn't care how your users get to your content. All that should matter to you is that they arrive at an amazing and engaging experience.  

In a mobile world, this means creating a great mobile content experience that doesn't sacrifice lead generation or context.

Engagement Marketing Is Here To Stay

As you saw in the Google Trends graph above, "Engagement Marketing" is increasingly working its way into every marketers lexicon. And rightly so.

In the years ahead, building long-term relationships based on trust, two-way communication, and mutual exchanges of value with customers must be the primary focus of all your marketing efforts. 

Like a marriage, Engagement Marketing "is a long term connection that must be enhanced over time."

Approaching your customers like they're the most important people in the world at every interaction is the best way to stay forever in their hearts.

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About the Author

Sam Brennand

As Uberflip's VP of Strategic Partnerships, Sam is focused on helping customers amplify their content marketing to tell better stories and generate more leads.

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