written by: Lau Kit Hung, Krista

Engagement marketing referring to the the use of strategic, resourceful content to engage people, and create meaningful interactions over time. In the recent years, it has become a “hot topic” in the digital space as a new form of marketing and communication for brands to link up with their fellow customers.

Engagement marketing is not a newly developed communication strategy. In the past decades, it has been widely used as an effective strategic backbone to communicate with customers. However, back in the time when information and delivery channels were relatively scarce, engagement marketing is limited mostly to sales engagement. Corporations organized event booths, exhibitions and pop-up stores for displaying and talking to the potential customers direct to sell their products/services. The key objectives of such engagement events are dissemination of information and sales pitch. Nonetheless, with the digital development and information abundance, consumers’ buying journey become self-guided, which means they would have their own thought on products or services before approaching salespersons or shops. As such, engagement marketing is shifting from “talk to people” to “engaging with people” – the focus is changing sales pitch to marketing for self-education – with the aim to influence consumers’ decision in the earlier stage.

 

 

There could be three important elements in engagement marketing today. They are (1) customized service – which allows you to open up conservation with customers as a first step of a life-long relationship, (2) value creation –which creates converged values and goals meaningful to brands and their customers, and (3) two-way or interactive communication —which brings customers a strong sense of involvement. The ultimate goal is to turn the potential customers into loyal followers. To sum up, engagement marketing is engaging consumers’ proactively to channel through brand values and messages.

Engagement through physical events
Organizing physical events is one of the most common engagement campaigns among others in these couples of years. Corporations like to organize high involvement marathons to let consumers experience corporate values through active participation.

For example, A Drop of Water, an NGO have been organizing a Race for Water fund raising trail event to let participant experience the hardship of carrying water from water source. The objective is to promote public awareness on water conservation and shortage problems. Hong Kong Disneyland is also organizing their very first marathon: Marvel 10K weekend in 2017 to convey the message of taking up challenge as a superhero from their movie series.

 

 

Social Media – a showroom of engagement marketing
Social media as a high-involvement channel is a good showroom for consumers’ expression in engagement marketing.

Good examples including the “One Day without Shoes” from TOMS and “LikeAGirl” form Always. Both campaigns encouraged people to share their own photos on social media and express their own personal messages under a specific theme. Through the actions of posting comments, pictures or videos, brand messages are effectively imprinted onto the consumers’ mind with their own echo of voluntary participation.

There is a saying that: buyers are as much as 90% of the way through the buying process before they ever reach out. The ultimate goal of doing engagement marketing is to place the brand at the top-of-mind spot of the customers to facilitate purchase decisions. Engaging campaigns are created to generate interest, attention and appeal. Once an association is built upon agreed personal values and goals (Always for women independence and A Drop of Water for environment conservation) brand appeals would be there to sustain.

A Double-edged Sword
However, engagement marketing is also a double-edged sword that needs to be managed carefully. First, the interactive nature of engagement marketing makes it hard to contain negative reactions from the public that leads to PR blunder. Second, there are usually gaps between what to tell and how the message is received when trying to build a common ground on values and goals. Any off-topic implementation would render the marketing efforts irrelevant.

References:
What is Engagement Marketing. Marketo.com. Retrieved from https://www.marketo.com/engagement-marketing/
7 engegament marketing tips. Patrick Zuluaga, PMZ Marketing. Retrieved from https://www.pmzmarketing.com.au/articles/7_engagement_marketing_tips
What Is Engagement Marketing?. Sam Brennand. Retrieved from https://hub.uberflip.com/blog/what-is-engagement-marketing
Customer Engagement Marketing: A New Strategy for Today’s Economy. Pete Schmitt. Retrieved from https://www.dialog-direct.com/media-room/article/customer-engagement-marketing-a-new-strategy-for-todays-economy/