How to measure engagement

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Adam Weil
Adam Weil

Engagement has been a primary goal of every marketing campaign, long before the Internet turned commerce upside down or the CMO title was invented. Since the beginning of the digital marketing age, it has been the Holy Grail of brand managers. The rise of Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools has only intensified the scramble to connect with customers and turn them into acolytes, rather than simple buyers.

It's far better to have a customer who is engaged with your brand than one who is not. The real difficulty comes in measuring the level of engagement, determining how it affects buying behavior, and making informed decisions based on these determinations. While there's no solution for gauging the precise level of connection, and every marketing program has distinct goals, it is possible to set down markers and evaluate the impact of a campaign, adjusting strategy accordingly.

What exactly constitutes successful engagement? Is it increased sales, greater feedback or brand recognition? That depends on the media strategy employed. We define a "quality lead" as someone who has genuine interest in a product. In the case of an email campaign, if a marketer can generate a registration from a target who engages (opens, clicks, calls or potentially purchases) based on a specific communication, that lead is engagement. No client expects all leads to convert into customers; what they want are interested prospects.

A well-designed campaign should have engagement points that enable the program to be evaluated and response rates determined at the earliest stages. This helps with the predictability of long-term lead value. For example, if the goal of a campaign is to generate leads and build a database, engagement can be measured early on by sending out a series of auto-responder messages and tracking opens and clicks. These can be followed up with additional, trackable drip emails. 

Ultimately, greater engagement should yield greater profitability. For companies with longer sales cycles, it may be necessary to create touch points at each stage of the transaction. An online educational institution, for example, might measure the quality of leads by initial contact rates followed by interview rates.

The rise of social media has brought the element of sharing into the picture. If a potential customer has taken the initiative to "like" a company's Facebook page or share a product link with a friend via email or Twitter, these actions can be measured and evaluated. The sheer number of channels consumers use to interact makes it more complicated than ever to get a handle on every possible engagement medium. That is why it is incumbent on marketers to have a good understanding of the vehicles their audiences are using.


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