The engagement economy

Adinah Brown

Leverate’s Adinah Brown goes into statistical detail about customer engagement in the retail FX industry including a comprehensive analysis from Ray Coppinger, Head of Marketing at Marketo and Jay Shutter CEO of independent research firm, Illuminas Austin

Engaging customers via technology

Our contemporary economy is characterized perhaps more so than anything else by its connectivity. Everyone and everything is connected in an environment where an exchange can take place within seconds.

However, the by-product of this is that consumer expectations have risen dramatically in the growing expectation that companies can fulfill them.
Where does this high-demand consumer environment leave marketers?

Answering this question is Ray Coppinger Head of Marketing at Marketo and Jay Shutter CEO of independent research firm, Illuminas Austin, who together compiled a body of research that indicated best practice methods of how marketers need to engage their consumers.

Expectations are higher than ever

In the study they conducted, there were over 1,200 marketers of whom half were B2B and half B2C and 1,000 consumers of whom again half were B2B and the other half, B2C. The research found that while consumer expectations had grown over all, business buyers had even greater expectations than consumer buyers.

In fact 73% of B2B consumers think brands must have a deep understanding of their business function and objectives in order to engage successfully with them. 65% of B2B consumers felt that brands could do a better job aligning their engagement activities with their preferences, while 66% of B2B consumers expect all of their interactions with a brand to be personalized.

Furthermore, across the B2B and B2C worlds, most buyers don’t believe marketing and sales staff are sufficiently trying to understand their needs. Disconcertingly, only 33% of consumers believe that brands are effectively meeting expectations and delivering value, which is a far cry from the 83% of marketers who say their engagements efforts are effective

Just shut-up and listen

The key take away message of Coppinger and Shutter is that marketers are more able to meet the needs of their consumers by simply choosing to listen to what customers are telling them. Their identified techniques were simple and straightforward;

1. Be brave enough to be quiet and say nothing.
2. Process what you are hearing.
3. Be trustworthy.
4. Be empathetic.

Where is the market place?

The number of places where a brand is engaging with the customers is undoubtedly growing, but therein sets the challenge of utilizing these touchpoints effectively.

From the company website, to email, social media, customer service, sales, the mobile app and physical location, for Coppinger and Shutter, integration is key to ensuring that your message gets across. Yet as clear as this all sounds only 8% of brands have all their touchpoints integrated, though 91% of marketers consider their touchpoints integrated.

The necessity for data to flow seamlessly across all channels, is that the customer is able to maintain the expectation that they are instantly recognized by the brand at every touchpoint.

Techniques such as tailoring engagements to satisfaction, surveying customers about their preferences, sharing feedback from customer surveys and demonstrating a transparent commitment, cumulatively work together to provide a consistent customer experience of being appreciated and valued.

But despite the integration that enables you to listen to your clients across channels, it’s another challenge again to turn the information that you’ve collected into actionable insights.

Coppinger and Shutter recommend that in order to learn, marketers must be able to firstly, get a single view of a customer by being able to break down their data silos, secondly, continually challenge themselves and question whether they are even asking the right questions and thirdly try to identify the right metrics to track against, for no other reason than, “you can’t manage if you don’t measure”.

Engagement requires and creates data and insights

Therefore with the ability to collect enormous amounts of data, what we need to be asking ourselves, is do we need all of this data, and what is the data that we need? Their studies continued to find that while everyone is collecting and looking at data and another 72% are using personalized messaging based on that data, the achievement rate of making clients feeling heard and engaged is still low.

34% of consumers say they are sent too much irrelevant content, 29% say that extended engagement didn’t have anything else of value to offer, 31% felt they were dissuaded from engaging more with a brand because they were no longer interested in their services, while another 25% didn’t want any further engagement because not enough effort was made to resolve past issues.

Engage by turning insights into action

In order to meaningfully engage with your customers necessitates having the right tools that are dynamic and able to gather the right insights, but it also necessitates having an empowered staff that are able to utilize those insights and action them.

The ability to follow through on insights is another hurdle that many marketing teams face, while marketers tend to be of the opinion, that the customer experience is critical, the executive team is often not aligned with this focus.

Their studies found that the team most aligned with the customer experience was not surprisingly customer service and sales, at 75% and 70% respectively, marketing was aligned at 67%, while executive leadership had an engagement strategy that was least aligned at 59%.

The trickledown effect of this is that 41% of marketers don’t feel their customer engagement strategy is aligned with their executive leadership. This brings into question how successful you can be at engaging customers when you don’t have the backing of your top line management?

As marketers it therefore becomes critical to gain executive support in aligning the company goals with meeting the interests of consumers. Marketers can do this by advising executives on the power of engagement and by communicating to them your engagement initiatives through growth indicators, e.g. the expected ROI of how personalized messaging will improve retention rates.

Think value over volume

Don’t be afraid to think about the value of what you are offering, and the quality of your interactions with customers, rather than vanity metrics and more superficial standards of interaction. Of course that comes down to listening, learning and meaningful engagement.

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