Debunking B2B Marketing Buzzword "Engagement"

ArdathAlbee
Ardath Albee CEO, Marketing Interactions, Inc.

Posted on July 31st 2012

Debunking B2B Marketing Buzzword "Engagement"

I'm tired of seeing so many concepts that should be being used to evolve content marketing applied to vague notions or traditional practices that just serve to confuse marketers and cause a lot of semantic arguments across the space.

I'll be writing a few posts about buzzwords that are making me a bit nuts. Feel free to jump in with your thoughts. I think it would be great if we can bring some clarity and new thinking.

Let's start with the term ENGAGEMENT.

What does engagement mean? I hear it being used in reference to clicks, email opens, page views, time spent on page, new followers, ReTweets and a variety of other point-in-time activities.

I'd like to suggest that engagement is not about point in time. It's about longevity and sustained attention. If it isn't then lead nurturing wouldn't work. And it does. If engagement was about point in time then one touch should get someone to talk to sales, right?

As an aside - judging by the number of calls I receive from salespeople who just know I'm ready to buy from them since I downloaded their white paper - obviously that belief is alive and well.

But it makes no sense. Marketers that I work with have sales cycles that are long (9 - 12 months or more) and growing longer. Salespeople say that they're not getting into conversations until much later in the B2B buying process. So engagement must mean more than point in time.

The ability to measure engagement is (IMO) what lead scoring was meant to do once you get past the demographic scoring. But then we must take into account if all activity is contributing to engagement in the same way or if specific activity should mean more than other activities.

For example: If a prospect visits your website and bounces around, viewing 5 unrelated pages, is he as engaged as a prospect who arrives, clicks on a topical content asset and then follows the path you created with a string of relevant and related content that delivers a storyline about how to solve a business problem that may be a priority for him? There is a huge difference in those two scenarios.

What marketers need to do is to get better about how they design scoring frameworks. In those two scenarios, only one of those people warrant further attention from inside sales to validate their interest level. And I'd even suggest that their activity should trigger a follow-up with another related content offer that also provides contact info they can use, unless the prospect specifically requests contact.

And offer up some compelling reason for them to interact with you personally.

So think about how you're using the term "engagement" and whether or not the definition you're using is adding value to how you achieve your marketing objectives.

Engagement is about what comes next. Are they interested enough to click, read, and respond when you send the next email or publish your next blog post?

As marketers, we measure opens and clicks and as long as the numbers look good and continue to grow, we're satisfied that we're doing our jobs. But who is responding? Is it the same people? Or is it a whole new group of folks whose interest you caught?

I'd be curious about levels of engagement that we're creating. For example, go look at your lead nurturing program. Take the last 5 sends and look at the prospects who clicked on your links. Across the series of 5 touchpoints, how many times did each lead respond?

How many 5:5 results do you have?

There's research that shows a minimum of 5 touches are needed before a prospect will engage with a company on a personal basis. Are you sustaining that many? In which channels?

If you look beyond that, how many "see also" clicks did they pursue from the content assets you linked to in your emails? (Perhaps some to blog posts, an on-demand webinar, a slide share, etc.)

If you looked farther, are they on Twitter? If so, are they following you/your company? Better yet, do you follow them?

Are they following your company on LinkedIn? Did they join the group you sponsor? Do they post anything? If so, have you responded to them?

To stretch engagement a bit farther, it's a two-way street. You/your company needs to express as much engagement in them as they express in you. (More and you may look like a stalker), but think about it. Why should they be the only ones putting it out there? Could you shorten sales cycles if you become more responsive?

Yep. You absolutely could. What would that take?

If you had to create an engagement scorecard what would you put on it?

ArdathAlbee

Ardath Albee

CEO, Marketing Interactions, Inc.

Ardath Albee is CEO and B2B Marketing Strategist for her firm Marketing Interactions. She is an expert at creating contagious content and e-marketing strategies that engage prospects-from initial attention until they're sales ready. She has a unique ability to develop content strategies that work hand-in-glove with overall corporate and product positioning to deliver hard hitting e-marketing programs and tools that compel customers to buy. Ardath is the author of the popular book, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, recently released by McGraw-Hill.

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