This is Part 1 of a 2-part blog series to kickstart a new way of thinking about your business exposure.

We’ve all seen the age-old depictions of business marketing as we know it; the 4 P’s? An upside-down funnel? ..and endless clip-art megaphones to illustrate how it’s done. Traditional marketing methods have often been based upon a notion of being found above the crowd; that if we shout about our brands enough, then customers will surely come calling?

The last decade has seen a huge transformation in consumer behaviour and Social Media has changed the way brands are able to communicate with their customers. Today’s tech-savvy buyer wants to be involved in two-way conversation and truly be engaged by your business. Customer engagement is a process which aids in the creation of deep connections with customers that drive purchase decisions, interaction, and participation over time. The incentive?  To provide feelings of confidence, integrity, pride and passion within your brand.

Its suggested that engagement is the way of obtaining an individual’s emotional, psychological and physical investment into your business. Using levels of interaction, you can ultimately build relationships and personal bonds which generate a strong sense of customer loyalty. At a meta-level, consumer engagement is a form of social and interactive behaviour characterised as a transient state over time. This proposed level of engagement is based upon an individual’s basic cognitive, emotional and physical presence within the interaction. An individual’s absorption of brand information (leading to knowledge and interest in product benefits), their emotional presence (referring to their subconscious brand-dedication), and their physical presence; (referring to the level of an individual’s interaction with the brand) are all tell-tale signs of a potential brand advocate.

Creating an emotional connection with your customers is a key factor to gaining their commitment and trust – after all, loyal customers are the foundation of any successful business. You can use a four-step strategy of enhancing emotion to successfully engage your customers and achieve levels of social influence.

  • Build ‘Confidence’ to ensure customers’ have a rational trust in your company’s services, products and ethic.
  • Create a level ‘integrity’ for your brand; that is, a personal belief in your company’s mission and message.
  • Generate a level of ‘pride’ in being associated with your brand by portraying an outward appreciation of the relationship held with your company.
  • Share your brands ‘passion’ and that of others who support it, the subsequent consumer behaviour of this leads to your business ideal; investment and advocacy.

Marketing giant Forrester has come up with a unique way to ensure engagement, just like traditional marketing techniques, becomes a measurable level of consumer activity. Using the following criteria, your business can determine the likelihood of your new marketing strategy to be creating advocates for your business.

  • ‘Involvement’ – track your consumer’s presence at brand touch-points (such as web visits) to determine the volume of interest in your business.
  • ‘Interaction’ – account for the quantitative contribution made to these brand touch points, such as customer reviews and online comments.
  • ‘Intimacy’ – Measure the level of qualitative sentiment expressed by consumers in relation to your brand (i.e. note varying opinions expressed in comments and reviews).
  • ‘Influence’ – monitor the level of clear customer satisfaction and brand affinity noted from online feedback and word-of-mouth advocacy.

Written by Hannah May, BA Hons – Social Marketing Exec

Credit to external references: (Haven, 2008) (McEwan, 2004) (Sedley, 2010) (Brodie et al, 2011) (Forrester, 2014)