The shift towards ubiquitous marketing is a living reality. Simply dabbling in multi-channel marketing is no longer an option. Engagement marketing, your ability to deliver personalized and connected messaging at scale, will determine your success over the next five years. These changes will significantly impact buyers and sellers in an era where everyone and everything is connected. Marketers are going to face a new digital reality going into the next decade, and traditional practices will no longer suffice.

Engagement Defined

A key progression that has actively influenced marketing over the past 10 years is the tighter alignment of messaging to unique interests and personas vs. generic groupings. A great example of this is the decline of ‘batch-and-blast’ mailers and emails. This hyper-focus has been leading the shift away from impersonal communications to engagement marketing, which is all about building personalized, authentic relationships with your customers and driving the idea of wantedness.

The concept of engagement goes beyond automation because it implies that marketers are responsible for delivering a captivating experience, not just a series of ongoing communications. Today’s buyers are highly informed and much farther along in the decision-making process before they ever reach out to your brand. In fact, many decisions for both B2B and B2C products are made long before interacting with a human being.

While automation is a core component of engagement at scale, the main difference between traditional automation and true engagement is the ability to centrally deliver content and messaging across multiple channels in a highly coordinated and interactive fashion. This allows you to continuously differentiate yourself in the market and capture the attention of your audience.

Master Engagement Marketing

Bombarded with thousands of messages daily, your audience actively finds ways to avoid information that doesn’t pertain to them. In fact, studies show that the human brain naturally avoids or filters out stimulation that doesn’t align to top-of-mind interests. In such a highly-stimulated society, listening to, learning from, and engaging with your audience is a central way to cut through the noise.

Applying this concept to B2B marketing is just as important as consumer marketing for major purchases. Raising engagement levels sets the stage for internal and external advocacy, and delivers critical support for your sales teams within the complex buying committees that decide today’s business purchases. Top-of-mind is no longer a matter of bulk–it’s a matter of relevance.

Take for example two very different experiences:

  • Company A uses generic messaging on their website and within their emails, hoping that their continuous communications will lead to more new names and that the increased bulk at the top-of-the-funnel will translate into more closed deals.
  • Company B delivers personalized experiences, with personalized emails, dynamic content, and targeted remarketing messages based on the specific industry that their audience belongs to. They listen for the products that buyers are interested in, offer additional content based on specific behaviors, and coordinate sales follow-up based on their behaviors and actions. All of these interactions are centrally managed, monitored, and configured within a marketing platform.

When messaging is tightly timed and aligned to the interests of your target audience, the likelihood of audience engagement increases dramatically.

Deliver Engagement at Scale

While automation has largely focused on predicting the buyer’s journey, engagement marketing shifts the focus from a prediction-based mindset to a real-time response-based mindset. This does not diminish the value or purpose of predictive analytics, which is a component of marketing that will continue to be vital to understanding audience behavior. The difference is that response-based marketing emphasizes the need to listen for the actual interactions of audiences and then respond according to explicit actions and behaviors.

In this sense, a marketing platform must be able to deliver a number of key features for engagement marketing at scale:

1. Centrally capture interactions across channels

The challenge of multi-channel marketing is two-fold as marketers not only need to deliver communications through a growing number of channels, but they must also monitor and respond through these channels as well.

Moving forward, it will no longer be sustainable to create and monitor interactions within disparate platforms. With the growing number of channels and technologies, this approach will become unmanageable and costly. Additionally, without a central means for reviewing and responding to interactions, it is incredibly difficult to obtain a holistic view. Marketers need to adopt an engagement platform that serves as the central repository for all of the data—a place that can listen for all the signals your buyers are sending when they interact with you across channels (offline and online), where it can be analyzed and utilized by your team, used to automate campaigns, and pass information quickly and seamlessly between your technology platforms.

2. Simplify audience segmentation

A marketing platform built for engagement marketing should not only be able to connect a variety of touchpoints, but it should also allow marketers to easily leverage connected behaviors to define and personalize the next most appropriate interaction.

Audiences that exhibit repetitive behaviors or a preference for a specific medium of interaction should be distinctly managed and even escalated for follow-up. Your ability to access and group individuals based on the full set of interactions can make a huge difference in delivering on mission-critical business objectives.

3. Align audiences to multi-channel campaigns

Beyond monitoring touchpoints in a hub and accurately grouping individuals based on their individual preferences, marketers must be able to centrally deliver multi-channel communications.

A marketing platform interface must be dynamic, so marketers can easily adjust the channel of communication in the same way that creative services selects a color from their design software. The platform should allow non-technical marketers to manage distinct campaigns, without having to code or configure technical settings.

4. Consistently measure and report across channels

Rather than focusing on first-touch or last-touch attribution alone, a solid platform will help the marketing team accurately understand the full lifecycle impact of all touchpoints along the buying journey and be configurable to the specific business model for any given company. Reports should be simple to configure and highlight results based on industry best practices as well machine-based insights.

Rather than focusing on automation alone, marketers must begin to embrace the concept of engagement–a holistic management of experience across channels that delivers top-of-mind brand awareness and increasing brand equity.

Please feel free to share your impressions on the impact of engagement marketing and how your marketing team is addressing it below.