The Era of Engagement Marketing

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Marketers world over are buckling up for an exciting ride as an explosion of messages and media has thrown them right in the midst of unprecedented change sweeping the marketing matrix. Countries and corporations want to ‘expand engagement’ with their citizens and stakeholders to establish resonance in a personalised way. Whether it is cars being sold, or election campaigns being run, we find that consumers today are way more informed and hence more empowered. They are well networked and are able to get relevant information from different sources, particularly in the digital domain. Social media networks are making it possible to share views and opinions on products and services much faster and much wider than ever before.

In today’s consumer age, what applies to businesses applies to political parties as well. Look no further, Prime Minister Narendra Modi combined his core attributes with effective marketing, engagement of citizens and voters of all age-groups, to deliver the kind of political campaign never witnessed before. In the run-up to 2014 general elections, his ‘Chai par charcha’ re-wrote the rules of political engagement. As the PM now, he is using the radio to engage with audiences, young and old alike through his radio talk show ‘Mann ki Baat’ and is giving them a platform to express their opinions on his government’s website.

There are innumerable lessons that marketers can learn from this changing nature of engagement, whether in business, politics or in the social spheres. Technology, needless to say, is playing a key role in enabling the engagement with different audiences. India’s digital landscape is evolving fast with 243 million internet users and 106 million active social media users. Industry experts feel there is scope for enormous growth as only 1 in 5 Indians is using the internet. Data reveals 70% of internet page views in India originate from mobile devices, while 87% of all Facebook users access the platform through their mobiles.

There is a clear shift from mass communication to targeted personal communication. Consumers are being identified not only on the basis of demographics but also psychographics through their education, preferences, values, associations. Communication is being designed and customized for various consumer-segments. Mobile, digital and social initiatives have transformed the way marketing is working for people. Effective engagement is making it possible for companies to deliver customized products and services to its consumers.

Continuous engagement: The focus of marketing has always been to acquire customers, grow their association and convert them into loyal promoters who then help the brand grow. The intrinsic role of marketing is not going to change but there is a clear paradigm shift in the manner in which marketers are reaching out to consumers. With the all-pervasive internet, marketers have to now go beyond just clicks as point of interaction, to treating it as the beginning of a lifelong relationship with the customers. Companies are now using new technological tools to not only understand what their customers want but are also imbibing feedback to deliver what they expect.

Engagement is a constant over time. One can know the pulse of their customer only if they are constantly engaged and in turn they could be nurtured by deeper engagement if they receive personalised attention. True engagement comes from authentic, consistent participation across diverse channels. Constant engagement does prepare the ground for loyalty. Loyal consumers or buyers are as valued today as they were years ago. Their referrals and word-of-mouth publicity can make an enormous difference. This is why most organisations or companies – whether they are selling ideas, cars or financial products – are constantly engaging with their customers. At Pearson, we are engaging with educators and learners through innovative ways like the annual Voice of Teacher Survey and Pearson Teaching Awards to ignite their potential and to communicate our values and beliefs.

This new era of marketing will hinge on the ability of organisations to engage people on an individual level, continuously over time, across channels, and across all of their experiences. For marketers, engagement has truly become the most effective and invaluable currency for growth in this new socially connected world.

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