Time for us all to get engaged

After a week full of Royal Wedding excitement, I know I’m not the only person who’s writing about engagement. Opportunism? Perhaps. But hey, it’s a word that we’re using a lot in the world of direct marketing.
DM has always sold itself on delivering a defined and measurable response. However, as we know, our world has changed rather dramatically, where the roles of media have converged, and with many more now interactive or responsive.
So our definition of a response becomes broader and we find ourselves in a position where the types of response generated and the related commercial value are often less clear. When, in the past, a response was a phone call resulting in a sale, now it may just be active participation further upstream in the customer journey.
So, as agencies, we have a much broader role to play and many more tools at our disposal. These days we find ourselves talking in terms of ‘engagement’ rather than simply ‘response’.
With more opportunities to engage comes a wealth of data at each touchpoint and stage of the customer journey. The great thing is that this allows for visibility and measurement of engagement in a way that’s not previously been possible – everything from recommendation and word of mouth to attitude, response and customer value.
Our job is to determine which data is important at which point in the journey. And while transactional data (in monetary terms) still remains the end game, we can’t expect it for every piece of engagement. With the added visibility we now have, we can identify who is browsing and taking interest, who is rating, recommending or returning to the brand and when. By integrating online and offline data capture and analysis we can see the true customer journey, from start to finish.
Crucially, we can now see our ‘fans’, and build a holistic view of their lifetime value. An engaged consumer is a valuable consumer, who will review, return and recommend, as well as spend.
Hence, engagement represents real commercial value, just as Net Promoter Score created a link between advocacy and business performance, our new tools can help prove the link between engagement and sales.
Our challenge is to rethink the lifetime value equation. It’s no longer just about what they spend as individuals. As we drive new forms of engagement and facilitate community interaction, we need to factor in the commercial values of engagement, in all its forms.

Mike Cullis is managing partner of Elvis

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