inbound marketing engagement

Before “engagement” became an overused buzzword in inbound marketing, its most typical usage involved a couple in love, a proposal, perhaps a dowry, and marriage.

But in a sense, its use is quite appropriate given how businesses of any scale aim to woo their target markets and, well, receive a dowry, and finally, remain in a long and committed relationship.

Why Does Engagement Matter?

It’s such a buzzword that its true meaning has been lost in the annals of social media mentions and search results pages. As early as 2005, inbound marketing started to focus on experiential approaches, where customer experience and user engagement were central to the task of bringing leads deeper into a sales funnel. This is why “engagement” matters – it’s the very heart of today’s marketing efforts, driving people from being interested to becoming “in love” with a brand. Forrester defined customer engagement back in 2008 as having of four different levels :

1. Involvement

The first time their eyes meet, or the first time they bump into each other in utter serendipity – the first contact between brand and user, regardless of how (website or physical store visits, mass media impressions), triggers the first phase of engagement: involvement. This engagement level helps measure client activity after discovery, thus helping form the first few data sets for market behavior, research patterns, and overall interest through sources such as Web Analytics and store traffic reports.

2. Interaction

The first date; the first few things people do while within the touch points that may or may not have been their method of discovering the brand or business. Notice that the process can proceed at a breakneck pace: the first-time a brand and user meet may very well be the first date. If businesses have their way, it certainly will be. Any form of interaction (aside from the action that led to discovery) can probably be measured, and these measurements can show brands how credibleaccessible, and relevant their solutions are to their date’s needs.

3. Intimacy

Now the relationship passes the “It’s Complicated” stage. This stage of inbound marketing engagement is markedly difficult to work with, as measurements of a user’s aversion or affection for a brand is the subject of measurement. There is little to no definitive numerical measure businesses can attach to how much a person likes or dislikes them, but they can usually get a clue, at least, through monitoring social buzz, conversations, sentiments on blogs, comments, and forums, and more. Obviously, the level of intimacy between brand and user dictates how long before the brand receives its dowry.

4. Influence

Finally, the union between brand and client – at least in as much as the client is willing to advocate for the brand. This level of engagement endeavors to measure how likely someone will become a standard-bearer for the brand in terms of purchases or spreading good word-of-mouth marketing – hopefully both.

Reviews, satisfaction ratings, and total purchases tell the tale here. In an age of social media, how much influence any single client brings is a very important to factor in the grand inbound marketing world.

That’s engagement for you. As complicated and ruthless as a real-life courtship can be. It helps businesses measure and monitor the complex middle of the sales funnel, where competitive analyses, peer reviews, user-generated content, and friend recommendations complicate things, and where leads become either buyers or contributors to a business’ marketing efforts, or both.