Coming over a little needy? It’s time your marketing stopped overwhelming the audience on every channel and touchpoint with stories about you, your product and brand, and instead focused on them and their needs.
What is engagement? Many brands have one simple answer: more, more, more. More ads, more offers, more emails, more re-targeting and following me everywhere I go online, more of everything but real conversation. For those brands, engagement is not about the customer or building relationships. It’s about checking off the right boxes, having one-sided conversations, and never missing an opportunity to remind the consumer that the brand exists. It’s really all about me, me, me for brands, and not at all about the customer.
Overwhelming a person shouldn’t count as engagement in any walk of life. It’s like going on a date with someone or having a meal with a new colleague who insists on talking about nothing but themselves. Sure, you might learn something about them, but what’s the point if they don’t care to learn anything about you? Engagement is a two-way street, which can’t be walked unless both sides are invested in the process and interested in the motivations of the person (or brand) sitting across from them.
When was the last time you were truly engaged by a great sales pitch? No matter how charismatic the person who’s making the pitch, how well the pitch has been constructed, or how interested you may be in what’s being offered, you know deep down that the goal of the pitch is to get something from you. That’s no different from a brand that does nothing but send a blitz of ads and emails that are disguised as engagement.
Using celebrities as “influencers” is also an over-used pitch ploy that people immediately see through. Using a celebrity to place products in a tweet is not exactly going to move the needle. The consumer is more likely to listen to a brand that recognizes their unique needs, and even more likely to listen to someone who influences them personally. Even if you’re not engaging directly with a brand, there’s a good chance you may be currently engaged with someone you trust who has experience with that brand.
Everyone influences someone, and brands that build goodwill through authentic engagement are much better positioned to make a positive impact on the micro-influencers who ultimately help each of us make purchasing decisions. One satisfied customer with a sizable personal network can do so much more to influence the people who matter to a brand than any celebrity endorser.
Make the Path to Purchase (and Beyond) Easy
It’s not just about building the right kind of influence. Effective engagement also depends on simplicity and making it easier for consumers to accomplish their goals. A brand that makes use of multiple social channels, makes it easy to reach out, and offers non-cut-and-paste responses to questions/conversations/concerns is already way ahead of the curve on engagement compared to many brands.
Just as importantly, make it easy for people to shop, find what they want, and learn more about what you have to offer. Frictionless fulfilment is the future of retail. If you make it simple for the consumer to get what they need, when they need it, then they are much more likely to come back to you in the future when they have a similar need. It’s not rocket science, but many brands are still stuck in the stone age when it comes to engaging with their audience.
The most important thing to remember is to keep the focus on the consumer, rather than the brand. We’re all bombarded with ads every minute that we spend online, and skilled at quickly tuning out the marketing that puts all the focus on what the consumer can do for the brand. Putting the focus on what you can do for the consumer and how your product/service can help them solve their challenges will always be the better path to engagement.