What is Engagement Marketing?
Engagement marketing is the use of strategic, resourceful content to engage people, and create meaningful interactions over time.
In a society where people see about 3000 messages every day, consumers are learning to tune them out. Of the 3000, a person will remember — by the end of the day — an average of four. People don’t like marketing, and they ignore paid advertisements, so what’s a marketer to do?
Every modern marketer needs to cut through a lot of noise, and connect with prospects and clients in a meaningful way. This is not just a new marketing strategy, it's a new way of thinking about how your brand communicates with your audience:
- As individuals
- Based on what they do
- Continuously over time
- Directed towards an outcome
- Everywhere they are
Several marketing tools and strategies — like email marketing, content marketing, social media marketing, and marketing automation — inform a good engagement, or inbound, marketing plan. When well-strategized and well-executed, this marketing philosophy is increasingly becoming the only effective way to communicate with buyers and consumers in the digital age.
What It is NOT
Sometimes the best way to understand something is to understand what it is not.
This is not interruption marketing. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. Interruption marketing is anything that pops up or otherwise interferes with your day, or your forward progress. It pushes sales pitches out instead of drawing buyers in, and it tries to trick decision makers into giving their attention to a message instead of trying to earn attention. It’s gimmicky and loud, where modern marketing is reliable and chill.
It is not an instant revenue-builder. It is measurable, and you can set up metrics that will demonstrate important numbers like ROI, but it’s not a marketing lotto ticket. You’re building an audience, nurturing relationships, and establishing expertise. These things take time.
Neither are we talking about a niche marketing strategy. Is it not by the marketers, for the marketers. It is not an SMB strategy. It spans industries and expertise, because everyone’s buyers and customers are tired of being spammed. One-third of Fortune 100 companies have blogs on their websites, and Coca-Cola’s “Content 2020” initiative is one huge example of a global company that is making the shift.
Why Should Your Company’s Marketing Mindset Change?
The internet has changed the way people do business, which has revolutionized the traditional sales funnel and buying cycle models. Today, 2/3 to 90% of the buyer’s journey is self-guided - far away from your sales team.
Your brand needs to be able to reach people who are educating themselves deep into the sales funnel (if not all the way through it), who are looking for exactly the kind of information your brand is uniquely positioned to provide, and who are tired of being spammed.
Consumers spend an average of 79 days gathering information before making a major purchase. During those two to three months, they are also developing relationships with the brands and influencers that are consistently providing the information and assistance they need.
Top Questions Marketers Ask
How quickly will I see results with engagement marketing?
It’s impossible to say. You will see results, and they will be measurable and reportable, but how quickly you start to measure an ROI depends on a host of factors: the size of your company, the size of your existing audience, the scope of your industry/niche, the current condition of your website, the strength of your social networks, the present state of your email marketing efforts, and more. Remember, this is a long-game strategy.
How does engagement marketing relate to SEO? Is it the same thing?
An effective SEO strategy is fueled by inbound marketing. SEO is about getting the attention of search engines so that your site ranks well in results, and search engines are looking for website that provide a good user experience. Resourceful, actionable, helpful websites are the ones that users linger on, click through, link up with, and return to, so modern digital marketing means good SEO.
Is engagement marketing the same as social media marketing?
Social media can be a strong component of this marketing philosophy, since your audience is already engaged with social sites like Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. A robust marketing strategy will include a plan for the social media channels that best represent your brand’s target personas.
When Engagement Marketing Doesn’t Work
Some marketers and execs are skeptical of engagement marketing, and some have seen occasions wherein it seems like this marketing strategy just isn’t a good fit for their business or industry.
It won’t work because my prospects aren’t looking for information about our product/service.
If your business sells a novelty product, a supplementary service, etc., your target market may not be scouring the internet looking for you. They’re not going to search for answers to questions that they don’t have, after all. Brands in these sorts of industries feel they have to at least start with interruption marketing strategies to get the buyer’s attention, and generate an interest or hunger for their product.
That forfeiture to interruption marketing, however, assumes that decision makers and consumers are paying attention to PPC ads, but the statistics about the declining effectiveness of traditional marketing don’t change depending on your industry. It may be true that your ideal prospects don’t know they need you yet, so they’re not searching for you, but they are searching for something.
You can use engagement marketing strategies to generate attention and earn trust by answering the questions that they do have, and helping them through the decisions they are making. Many real estate professionals, for example, engage prospects by sharing resources and content based on their geographic area. Insurance professionals engage potential customers by sharing other ways to save money and protect their most valuable assets.
There is still some value to PPC ads and similar marketing strategies, but beyond hopefully grabbing a user’s initial attention, content marketing is better suited for building relationships and earning trust.
Engagement marketing won’t work because our product is boring.
If your company produces energy drinks and hosts extreme sporting events, it’s easy to engage your audience, but if your company sells office supplies or accounting software, engagement can seem more elusive. Here, marketers concede that they can’t write a blog, entertain social media, or stir up exciting conversations online about automatic deposits or copy paper, so inbound marketing won’t work.
It’s true that not every outlet will work for every brand, but if your customers and prospects are online (and they are), you can find them.
If they are frustrated with their current accounting software, then they don’t need you to be entertaining on Facebook, but your blog can answer their questions and alleviate their concerns about making a switch. If they’re office admins who are bored between phone calls, then they will appreciate your corny office jokes about office life and supplies that vanish from the copy room on social.
Demonstrate your passion for your product, service, and/or target audience through whatever channels fit best, and you will discover creative ways to be interesting. If a hotel chain and a scissors manufacturer can host engaging blogs, so can you.
New Marketing for the New Marketplace
The marketplace is changing as buyers take over more and more of their journeys, and the sales funnel continues to transform into a marketing funnel. Under a prevailing mistrust of traditional advertising, engagement marketing helps brands find a new way to engage decision makers, establish a respectable reputation, and earn the market’s trust.