Marketing has changed dramatically for the past few years and it has changed us too, as marketers or business owners. We’ve seen the fall of the unidirectional communication, the appearence of big-data and the constant technology development that led to more and more innovations.
Even the brand perception has changed (obviously, from the consumer’s point of view). Now, the consumer needs to be engaged, needs to be part of our brand and he demands it, because his expectations have evolved. It’s just a matter whether brands will respond properly or not to these changes.
First thing first: Do we need engagement?
Or diferrently said: Do we need air to breathe? It’s more like a rhetorical question. All businesses require a certain level of engagement, whether we’re talking about engaging our colleagues or our customers.
And you know what? It has been here forever. Only that now we have a fancy word for it.
A few years ago, media coverage rulled the land of marketing. You had coverage, you had „results”. However, with the increase of information that surrounds us every day, media coverage is just not enough. We need to make sure that our audience receives, understands and responds to our messages.
The battle for a memorable brand experience has begun. Get to the core of what they feel and engage with them. Thus you will establish the connection between your audience and your brand.
The software industry
Taking into consideration the rise of the software industry, a new challenge has risen too. The challenge of hiring and retaining the best employees. However, it seems that there are never enough candidates. Also, there is somekind of a struggle to retain the good employees, as they are constantly “hunted” by the competition. What to do then? Well, engagement marketing may be the only solution for your employees to commit to the brand’s core values, thus making them happier and more productive at their jobs.
Software companies should take into consideration that they run their business in an ecosystem and the engagement process can occur in multiple contexts and types:
1. Social Media. The whole concept of Social Media revolves around the need to interact with others. Brands are getting closer to their fans and Social Media provides the perfect tools for this. Remember one thing though: Social Media is not just Facebook!
2. Professional Networks. It represents the opportunity for a brand to position itself within a community with the same interests. Content generation plays a vital role in this process, as your know-how and shared experience will get people to consider that you can provide the perfect work-environment for them.
3. Local Communities. A good and respected brand image is the key for recognition and differentiation. Also, it sends a clear message that you understand the importance of the support and implication of these local communities. People feel closer to such brands and they are more likely to feel that they want to be part of it. (whether as employees, business partners or just fans)
4. The company itself. Let me put it this way: if your own employees don’t trust your brand with its values, how do you think that your customers or partners will? Employees are the most valuable brand ambassadors you will ever get. More than that, engagement within your company will add a non-material motivation for your employees that should transcend the financial one. Just give them a chance to feel that they have an important role in building a successful brand.
How can we generate engagement?
We should first consider the very basis of the communication process, because engagement marketing (as any part of marketing) has a strong component of communicating and exchanging feelings and know-how. And we need to clearly understand that engagement is all about establishing a long-term relationship. Is like the promise between two life partners and it should eventually lead to a beautiful marriage.
But let’s take a look at a few things to consider in order to generate engagement:
1. know your audience. If you don’t get this step right… don’t even consider to go further. It’ll be a waste of time and resources. (or pure luck if you get some results) Where they eat? When they wake up in the morning? What are their core values? How they buy food? And so on.
2. create (or find) the context for your audience: the appropriate communication channels in the right timing. And here comes the issue of having the right coverage on the right channel. OR should I say channels? Nowadays, we’re talking about cross-channel communication and integration of digital and physical engagement.
3. generate the relevant content for your audience, always based on their needs which first should be carrefully assessed. The quality of content is directly influenced by the degree of your knowledge about your audience’s expectations, at an individual level preferably. In a disruptive context, the content is what can set you apart from the others, setting up a true competitive advantage.
4. interact with your audience. Often we realize the importance of engagement only in this stage. The interaction itself allows us to get feedback and discover new opportunities. Ah… and one more thing, it’s a 24 hour „job”. Be prepared to interact anytime and don’t be afraid. Your audience is like a predator that smells when something’s fishy.
Online or offline engagement?
Simply put: both! Or you should be ready for both. We’ve all become context-, place- and time-aware and our way of life, due to the mobile era, is demading for a seamless and customized experience. The real challenge for a business is to be adaptable, in order to keep up the pace with a dynamic world. It isn’t about choosing between online and offline engagement. It’s about understanding your audience and communicating efficiently.
More than that, engagement is currently re-shaping the core concepts of running a business: how we communicate with our colleagues/ employees, distribute our products, reward our partners and increase our brand’s value. Human relationships are re-defined and thus, our entire society. It’s a bit scary… this whole new process but somehow, it feels natural as we all evolve and try to find better solutions in being more efficient.
Engagement marketing is more about creating the context of a customized experience for your customers, employees or partners, based on their needs, acknowledged or not. And maybe the word „engagement” it’s not enough because we need people fully commited to our cause in order to be successful and get results.
At Loopaa – Your dedicated marketing agency, this is our main challenge and we love to generate that idea that will secure your audience’s commitment.