Focusing on the moments will lead to a lifetime of engagement

by: on 29 May 2015

Steve Gatto, Partner at Rosetta, outlines findings from research into customer engagement

Moments. At today’s frantic and ever increasingly demanding pace, it’s the moments that matter. These regular interactions – like that morning hug with a loved one before you head out the door – these are the elements in our lives that build and sustain our personal bonds.

It’s also these regular interactions with brands that initiate, secure, and unfortunately sometimes weaken or even break our brand loyalty. Consider today’s varied interactions with the brands and products we use in our daily lives – interactions that include your recent experience with a customer service agent, the speed and ease of shopping online, and the use of a mobile device to inform your recent in-store purchase – it’s those moments that eventually dictate our brand loyalties.

We truly interact in these moments when we’re engaged. When applied to retail, this engagement is defined as a personal connection between a consumer and a brand that is strengthened over time, resulting in mutual value. It’s an enduring, two-way active relationship that simultaneously delivers on customers’ needs and generates greater profitability for the brand.

It’s easy to talk ‘engagement’, but what does this mean?  What does it look like to a consumer?  While the term is used to describe a brand’s “best” consumers, it often remains undefined, obscuring the goal. Engagement is complex. Like a human relationship, it is the culmination of ongoing interactions and experiences with the brand. Now, with regards to social engagements, don’t worry – there will be no guidance from this guy on interpersonal relationships (see also: Dr Drew), but I will submit recent insights that aid us all clarifying this allusive mate of retail engagement. Let’s check out a few of these insights:

How engaged customers feel

A recent study on Customer Engagement from the Consumer’s Perspective (featuring first party polling data across 4,800 U.S. consumers, 15 industries, 83 market-leading brands) was purely focused on  better understanding highly engaged customers, including the characteristics and experiences shared by these valuable customers.  It found engagement is:

  • PERSONABLE – no shocker there, but this personalization is quantifiable : consumers feel 6x more likely to believe the brand “knows who I am” and 4x more likely to agree, “this brand knows what I want”
  • FULFILLS EMOTIONAL NEEDS BEYOND SATISFACTION – again, commercially this means consumers feel 6x more likely to believe “this brand is worth more than I pay for it”. No more racing to the bottom of the margins my friends, engagement = value+!
  • RELEVANT & MEANGNIFUL – consumers feel 4x more likely the brand’s “communications are relevant” & “knows how I prefer to interact”. Read - stop the generic communications.

How engaged customers behave

That same study uncovered interesting behaviors, like

  • ENCOURAGE INETRACTION & COMMITMENT – consumers feel they’re 6x more likely to say they would “try a new product or service from the brand as soon as it becomes available”, they’re 2x more likely to upgrade or purchase additional services from the brand, and 2x more likely “to spend more money on this brand. 
  • PROMOTE ADVOCACY – we’d be 3x more likely to advocate to friends and family and 4x more likely to advocate to colleagues and acquaintances.  Put another way, this = trust!
  • IMEDIACY & RELEVANCE - the new ‘jack’s or better’ for brands. If you trust Google (my attempt at humor), a recent think with Google article talks about the “I-Want-to-Buy Moments” as important moments for consumers, and critical for brands. They're opportunities to connect, especially on mobile: 93% of people who use a mobile device for research go on to make a purchase. And the spectrum is broad – applicability spans everyday purchase to research a big-ticket item.

Value of engaged consumers

Now, of course there’s detail on the value of these engaged customers. Since a picture says a thousand words:

Meeting buyers’ expectations for those varied moments with a positive, engaging outcome will increasingly depend on a brand’s digital approach. And getting it right is a big task for the digital marketer. The strategy requires a nimble, yet focused approach. 

And yet even today, many enterprises still evaluate the merits of their digital solutions against traditional criteria. In the case of ecommerce, although data points such as average order value, conversion and bounce rates are still meaningful, too much emphasis is placed on swings in these measurements as the means to gauge success.

As marketers, our remit should not be focused on the growth, merit, value of digital, or even digital vs. physical world metrics (think comparisons across same store sales). Rather, we must set our goals on measuring success by building relationships with customers over time through delivering great experiences. Deliver on each moment while measuring engagement over time.

And I’ll say it again -- when digital and physical are combined correctly, it creates a personal connection between a buyer and a brand that is strengthened over time, resulting in mutual value. 

Now, whose interested in getting engaged?  

By Steve Gatto, Partner at Rosetta