On a company all hands today, one of our senior leadership was referencing a pre-digital era. I quipped, how would you measure anything without digital? After all, one of the greatest benefits of being part of the Digital Generation is the ability to take for granted an in-depth measurement of every possible action the consumer takes.
There are two problems right now to make engagement a leading KPI. The first is that action is cheap – and sometimes meaningless – online. There’s a minimal investment of consumer time or effort involved in the actions we based our marketing campaigns on. We re-market universally based on a single click, but not based on any further path taken from that click. We have the same outbound follow-up process for every lead form filled out, regardless of the customer’s enthusiasm or interest for the product. We segment and communicate based on email opens and clicks, but cannot do so based on how much of the email was actually read. With every single action taken, we have a marketing reaction, but it isn’t necessarily one of equal force.
The second problem is that often we grade an individual action based on its platform, in a silo that doesn’t connect to the customer’s overall engagement. What if someone followed a brand on social and read a sponsored article and submitted a lead form? Wouldn’t they be worth more than someone who simply submitted a lead form with a Chrome autofill quick-click process? What if someone came to a lead form from a branded search instead of a non-branded search, indicating they were seeking the specific brand, or came through a retargeted ad indicating multiple visits to the site?
There are a couple of key questions that can be answered using effective marketing databases for people based marketing. I believe that it comes down to that age-old question: who out there is willing to invest time or brainpower in what you’re selling? What are the channels that best track that? Branded search? Content? Social? CRM? Your own site? And how are you monitoring and measuring across all these channels and platforms to identify segments and behaviors that you can continue to apply and refine not only to acquisitions but also to retention?
This is what I believe will be most meaningful to brands as we move forward. It isn’t how a consumer engages on one platform. Platforms change, but a customer’s personal investment of time is forever. The customer’s time remains valuable, and their attention even more so in a fractured online world. If they’re giving you one of the other, they should have investment is acknowledged. If they’re investing both time and brainpower, then they should be one of your best customers and an advocate, and it’s your job as a marketer to invest right back by recognizing and honoring their valued commitment.
For the record, before the internet, the answer for tracking is inbound calls and “BRCs” – the business reply cards from magazines. Both have a high engagement level and would receive the highest lead scores in today’s marketing world. Less nuanced, but a lot easier than trying to accumulate a profile across multiple channels with multiple degrees of action. Still, I wouldn’t trade the challenges of the digital era for anything, even an easier job.