Welcome to the Era of Engagement Marketing

Engagement Marketing


Hey, you talkin’ to me?

That’s one of the greatest lines from Robert De Niro’s character in Taxi Driver – but it’s also an important question for marketers today. Given our struggles to rise above the noise, and to establish resonance in a personalized way with our prospects and customers, our audiences are often left to wonder – who exactly are we, as marketers, talking to?

As a marketing executive for 15+ years, I can say that the quest of every company can be summarized as such: to acquire customers quickly, grow their lifetime value, and convert them into loyal advocates (who, in turn, influence new customers, creating a virtuous cycle).

But today’s digital, social, mobile world has made it very hard to drive that cycle. Consider this:

  • Buyers are more empowered than ever. Armed with extraordinary information access, they are forming opinions and drawing conclusions well before they choose to interact with a particular company. Forrester’s recent research demonstrates that two-thirds to 90%  of a buyer’s journey today is self-directed, happening before buyers interact directly with the brand.
  • Customers are bombarded by nearly 3,000 messages per day, many times from the competition, at every step in their journey. If a company can’t stay top of mind and relevant, it can’t grow the lifetime value of customers through up-sell, cross-sell, or renewal opportunities.
  • Buyers are influenced digitally by other buyers all the time – a recent McKinsey study shows that up to 50% of purchasing decisions are influenced by advocates.

Having experienced these challenges, and after talking to hundreds of Marketo customers and other marketers, I see two clear patterns of massive change that marketing is undergoing: 1) Marketing is now in the driver’s seat, and 2) Marketing is shifting from the traditional techniques of mass marketing and transactional marketing to engagement marketing.

Evolution #1: Marketing is in the driver’s seat

Marketing – more than any other business function in a company, such as sales or customer service – is becoming the steward of customer journeys. Marketing owns the channels buyers use to interact with brands, and is becoming the amplifier of their customers’ voices and insights.

As Gartner’s Jake Sorrofman and Laura McLellan summarize in their Sept 2014 study:  “Marketing is expected to create exceptional branded moments at every customer touchpoint.”

Marketing is in the driver’s seat. Simply put, it is a Marketing First world.

Evolution #2: The shift to engagement marketing

Digital, social and mobile technologies have forever altered the way marketing is interacting with people.

We used to live in the era of mass marketing – creating single messages designed to appeal to everyone, and focused on talking at customers via advertising. The internet introduced transactional marketing – during which the emphasis was on the “click,” or the point of interaction, and the entire goal was to win the transaction upfront. But today’s digital world has shown us that the “click” is only the beginning of a customer relationship, not the end.

Marketing is shifting. It is shifting from talking at people, and focusing on transactions, to engaging with people – building meaningful, life-long, and personalized relationships.

We call this engagement marketing. 

Stephanie Meyers, vice president of GE, aptly summarizes this concept:

“We’ve banned use of the term ‘demand generation’ because it implies that marketing’s job is limited to identifying potential customers, when really that’s when marketing’s job is just getting started.  Instead, we are focused on continuous customer engagement in order to build personalized and enduring relationships with our customers and Marketo helps us do just that – at GE scale.”

The term engagement is a popular one today. It’s used in a lot of different contexts – in marketing, support, customer success, gamification, and others. To define engagement in a marketing context, we’ve talked to hundreds of marketers, including our own prospects, customers, and experts in our industry. The result? Seven key principles that define engagement marketing:

engagement marketing principles chart

To learn more about each of the seven principles in detail, you can download our new ebook, The 7 Principles of Engagement Marketing.

Are You Prepared?

We don’t all have to practice all the principles of engagement marketing on day one. Nor do we want to view these principles as a destination to be reached. Instead, they are guideposts for all of us marketers as we shift our mindset, strategies, and tactics from traditional techniques to modern techniques.

The combination of these seven engagement marketing principles and the right technology platform  can help all us marketers deliver the same experience that companies like Amazon or Netflix deliver to us everyday – a  meaningful, personalized one at every step in our journey. Marketing has changed more in the last five years than it has in the last five hundred.  And it will change more in the next five years than it has in the past five. It’s time for a sea change in our techniques. It’s time for us to shift from the eras of mass and transactional marketing to this new era of engagement marketing.

Are you prepared?