Digital Podcast joined Forrester for its 2008 Marketing Forum, which focused heavily on the challenge of customer engagement in a digital media world. Weâ€™ll be writing about the conference over the next two weeks. Our first series of articles, like the conference, is focused on the topic of engagement. This article covers the first two presentations of the conference.
Harley introduces the conferenceâ€™s theme by emphasizing that the imperative for marketing success going forward is customer engagement, and previews three case studies on the subject.
Traditional channels are shrinking â€“ the 30 second spot is declining in reach and importance â€“ yet the new channels, like YouTube, hold risk for marketers. The challenge and opportunity is to engage with customers and in return theyâ€™ll engage with your brand.
Harley shared three quick case studies of engagement:
Jordanâ€™s Furniture: Is it a furniture store or an amusement park? Complete with a trapeze school, water display, cafÃ©, IMAX theatre, and the backing of Berkshire Hathaway, Jordanâ€™s engaged customers stroll past â€œfinished roomâ€ furniture displays to get to lots of the good stuff. Along the way, they seem to buy a lot of furniture
Nike Running website: Articles, splashy photos, and aspirational content motivated Harley to drop a wad of cash on Nikeâ€™s best running shoes, begin running again after a lengthy hiatus, and then drop more cash on Nike apparel. Is Harley buying shoes or buying into a lifestyle?
LeapFrog: Toys that engage Harleyâ€™s sonâ€™s brain while heâ€™s too busy having fun to notice that he is learning too. No wonder these toys sell like hotcakes.
Two brands, two superfans, two very different reactions â€“ one shove, and one embrace. If you want your fans to keep loving your brand, try hugging them back!
The Ikea Superfan
Brian starts by sharing a story of true engagement, and how gazing into the eyes of superfan love be hard for some corporations. Jen is an Ikea superfan from Ohio, and she singlehandedly started a movement to bring Ikea to her corner of Ohio. She started a website, scouted retail locations, and worked tirelessly to drum up support for Ikea to move in. How did Ikea management react? They warned her to stop using their trademark, were concerned when her Google rank approached that of the brand, and after actually building a store in her neck of the woods, Ikea didnâ€™t even respond to her job application. While Ikea is a great brand that does many things right, they could have handled this superfan in a more enlightened manner.
What can we learn from Jen’s story? The traditional marketing funnel and message control is a thing of the past. Consumers can now chase down a spaghetti maze of paths to your brand, and marketers risk drowning in a sea of metrics â€“ too often we donâ€™t know which matter, what to do with them, and even if we did, how to track them technologically and across channels.
Even overcoming all these hurdles, the next challenge is how to make â€œengagementâ€ actionable. What does engagement mean?
In simple terms, engagement is a personâ€™s participation with a brand, regardless of channel, where they call the shots. Brian defines engagement as the 4 I’s, the level of Involvement, Interaction, Intimacy and Influence that a person has with a brand over time:
The Alli Superfan
Brian shares a contrasting example â€“ Laura, who tries out GlaxoSmithKlineâ€™s â€œalliâ€ weight loss system and community website. The system and site effectively engage Laura:
As Laura worked with the system and the website (and lost a lot of weight!), GlaxoSmithKline decided to feature Laura, one of their most engaged customers, on the web site. This highly engaging system realized a very successful launch â€“ in just the first six weeks, 1 million people tried product, and they rang up $155 million in sales on a $150 million ad budget.
Brian then discussed some of the steps for defining and measuring engagement (understand existing and outside data and metrics) and encouraging engagement (provide content, facilitate conversations, give customers a reason for sharing information). Engagement involves a fundamentally different relationship with customers.
And he reminded marketers to engage, embrace, and encourage the Jenâ€™s of the world.
Q & A Discussion with Brian
How to address the fact that companies have many different departments involved in â€œengagementâ€ and many different metrics are used? The marketing team needs to take lead with other parts of the company to share the vision of engagement, provide value to those groups, and bring the company together on goals and associated metrics.
How to identify and scale Superfans like Jen? Online is a great place to start. There are brand monitoring services, even Google search can be used to find the bloggers. To scale this group, first nail the customer insight, who the customers are, what they care about. Then the best way to attract, encourage and track them will depend on the answer to those questions.
How can companies engage around intangible, infrequent purchases such as insurance or other financial services? The purchase may be infrequent, but there is ongoing usage data that you can track and monitor. These customers may not be engaged Superfans like Jen, but the same principles apply.
How should Ikea have treated Jen? Not to pick on Ikea, but Jen wasnâ€™t doing anything bad, everything she communicated about Ikea was positive. Ikea should have leaked her information about the store in advance, given her access to better technology to support the blog, talked about her on their own website. Reach out, embrace, and help your superfans! Very simple things would have meant the world to Jen, and would encourage others like her.
Are there examples where pursuing engagement has backfired? There is nothing negative about understanding who your customers are and what they care about. Overall there are negative things that can happen, but remember weâ€™re in a different world now, and we donâ€™t have the same control. We have to stop being scared of our customers.
What do you do about people who are negatively engaged with the brand? We call this disengagement, and it will happen whether you like it or not. The question is do you want it to happen where you can see and influence it, or spread out beyond your reach. Ultimately, brands need to pay attention to the reasons for disengagement and make their products better!