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Optimizing Customer Engagement
By: Danny Flamberg
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Engagement planning is a hot topic. Every marketer dreams about connecting and communicating with likely customers during the buying process and throughout the product life cycle. The problem is that everyone uses the same words but often mean different things.

Allow me to suggest four steps to yield effective engagement planning where the goal is to anticipate and super-serve the needs and interests of future best customers.

STORY.

Everything turns on the story you want to tell and how you parse and sequence it. It’s important to be clear about the telling and the selling points you want to make. Expect a conversation rather than one-way push communication and anticipate a series of questions and answers and/or a sequence of back-and-forth conversations. 

Imagine the needs of different customers. Create content in several formats geared to what customers need and where customers might choose to interact with your brand. Focus on the tone and manner best suited to your target audience. Then, think like a chef at a smorgasbord --- lay out many tantalizing options which your best prospects can choose what to take, when to take it and where to find it.

CONTEXT.

Your story will be understood, processed and assessed against existing knowledge or perceptions and compared to the stories floated by your competitors. Its critical to understand prevailing ideas and attitudes in your category and whether your story reinforces them or introduces something new or different. Finding and exploiting a point of differentiation is vital for gaining attention and prompting customer interaction. Me too products die quickly in this dynamic environment. 

CHANNELS. 

Understanding where and when your customers seek and interact with information can make or break an engagement plan. Use data and analytics to understand prospect segments and their behavior. Try to figure out a couple of likely customer journeys that chart how your customers might find, research and interact with your brand. Keep in mind that people are on the move through time and space and that virtually everyone is using a mobile device. 

Consider that video, infographics and images have the strongest immediate impact and anticipate how prospects might search for your brand and/or ask follow-up questions about availability, composition, price or delivery. Ask yourself, does any prospective segment rely heavily on any channel or combination of channels? Similarly, is any channel or set of influencers particularly well suited or positioned to convey your story?

MEASUREMENT.

Measuring engagement is tricky. Some brands count the number and frequency of interactions and reward big numbers. Other brands see engagement as a pathway to conversions and sales and try to attribute sales to singular or a series of interactions across channels. 

There are two ways to measure engagement. Counting interactions and validating sequences establishes the efficiency of marketing choices. The number of downloads, shares, page views and the time spent on site or in a dynamic banner speak to the quality of content and channel decisions. 

In contrast, the number of sales or conversions establishes the cost effectiveness of an engagement plan or campaign. Savvy marketers try to establish both and connect engagement metrics to macro business objectives.

Engagement planning requires a bit of prescience, a deep understanding of your market and target customers, a feel for likely customer journeys and a sensibility to test-and-learn your way to success. By paying attention to these four planning elements you can quickly up your game.
 

   

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About the Author
Danny Flamberg, EVP Managing Director of Digital Strategy and CRM at Publicis based in New York, has been building brands and building businesses for more than 30 years.Prior to joining Publicis, he led a successful global consulting group called Booster Rocket, as Managing Partner. Before becoming a consultant, he was Vice President of Global Marketing at SAP, SVP and Managing Director at Digitas in New York and Europe and President of Relationship Marketing at Amiratti Puris Lintas and Lowe Worldwide.
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