audience engagement

What to Ask when Selecting an Audience Engagement Solutions Provider

Audience engagement mechanics should not only use existing customer data to recognize and personalize each individual engagement journey, they should also gather that Earned Data in real-time and adapt each repeat visit accordingly.

A great audience engagement tool can be the difference between marketing campaigns that grow your customer base and ones that disengage your audience. But, with many features and methodologies to consider, how do you know which solutions provider has the functionality where it counts?

by Michael Fisher, Ed.D

By asking the right questions, you can ensure you receive a solution that improves audience engagement and, ultimately, your bottom line.

Here are the questions that you need to ask potential audience engagement solutions providers…and why you should ask:

How is personalization accommodated within the audience engagement solution?

Personalization is no longer simply ‘in vogue’; it’s expected and should be built into every stage of the marketing funnel and every audience engagement activity. If there is no personalization, then your engagement mechanic simply becomes an elaborate method of handing over a sales coupon. There is minimal value exchange and little to increase further consumer insight, interest, or advocacy. Ensure your audience engagement solutions provider can deliver experiential personalization.

Experiential personalization is driven by consumer-defined parameters that deliver experiences based on customer interests, motivations, and future intent. The more your engagement journey can adapt to the customer’s previous interactions, motivations, and/or intent, the more meaningful the value exchange will be. Asking about the level of experiential personalization that can be delivered will, in many respects, give you an idea of the quality of the service you will be given.

How dynamic are the engagement journeys?

It’s important to recognize that no two customers have the same experience of your brand, and that is a good thing. Consumer journeys should vary depending on their preferences and historical relationship with your brand. Audience engagement activities need to acknowledge past conversations and build this into each repeat visit to deliver the most appropriate experience. After all, you wouldn’t expect a sales assistant to keep trying to sell you the very product you just bought moments ago.

In general, customers will also expect a different experience based on the status of their relationship with a brand. For example, the primary aim for most banks will be to encourage potential customers to open a checking account. Engagement journeys and key messaging for this audience will drive towards opening a new checking account as the first target. If a customer goes ahead and opens a checking account, they would not expect to be given that same engagement journey when they next interacted with the bank. The more dynamic you can make each engagement journey, the more value both you and your customers will receive from each interaction.

Are engagement journeys initiated via landing pages, or are they adaptive to website technology platforms?

Creating a smooth engagement journey for customers should be at the top of the agenda for all marketers. However, a seamless brand experience is hard to achieve when each new campaign strategy or engagement journey must be initiated from a separate landing page. Your audience engagement solutions provider should incorporate current website content and integrate this into your existing technology platforms and programs.

Aligning website content with your audience engagement mechanics also allows for the engagement journey to be consumer-defined. Building in existing data, augmented with real-time earned Data, will create the personalized experience that consumers expect. Solutions providers that are adaptive to website technology platforms open up a much greater range of possibilities for meaningful value exchange with customers.

How personalized and adaptive are journeys for repeat visitors?

Just as no two customers will have the same experience with a brand, no two interactions should be the same. Audience engagement mechanics should not only use existing customer data to recognize and personalize each individual engagement journey, they should also gather that Earned Data in real-time and adapt each repeat visit accordingly. The greater the levels of experiential personalization are, the shorter and smoother your sales funnels will be.

To return to the financial services analogy from earlier – once a new customer has opened a checking account, it is then about discovering intent. Knowing the intended use of the account will help the bank understand the customer’s needs and allow them to recommend services or products that will actively help the customer.  It is then possible to chaperone your customers through your website to allow them to discover the additional value you can provide.

Is there a value exchange methodology that allows the consumer to define the value they seek?

Just as customers should be able to select the ways in which they engage with a brand, they should also be rewarded in the manner of their choice. Not all rewards are created equal, and what will entice one audience may not incentivize another. Basing strategy on the premise that customer interaction is a two-way value exchange will empower brands to discern the reward with the greatest value to each consumer.

Allowing consumers to have control over their data permissions builds the kind of trust that develops long-lasting relationships. Back at the bank – say there is a reward scheme for every time you use your checking account; the questions to ask your audience engagement solutions provider are: how do we align our reward scheme with what matters to our customers? How is this reward scheme going to collect data in a manner that builds trust and long-term relationships? How do we find out which rewards are the most meaningful to each individual in return for sharing their consented data with us?

Are journeys dynamically designed to acquire data directly from the consumer?

There’s no question the most valuable data comes directly from the source. That is, data that the customer has knowingly shared with permission to utilize it. It is easy to see the inherent reliability issues with any inferred, first-party data – let alone third-party data. Harnessing the power of Earned Data creates meaningful exchanges that are valuable to the customer, as well as the brand.

Your audience engagement solutions provider should be able to create journeys designed to acquire declared data directly from the consumer. When a customer is asked to provide this consented data, the meaningful value exchange should be created by setting up an incentive or reward for doing so. As stated in the previous question, the reward should be customer-defined and so add actual value to the exchange.

What revenue attribution and measurement solutions are offered?

There’s no point embarking on a campaign if you don’t know what success looks like. For this, you need to be able to measure your results. Like all digital platforms, your solutions provider should be able to provide detailed insight into audience growth and channel performance. Not only that, they should also be able to attribute revenue to specific experiences within the engagement platform which will help track campaign ROI.

If there are capabilities to track these metrics in real-time, there are also significant advantages around optimizing and improving the engagement journey itself. The ability to adapt and respond, just like the audience engagement mechanic that you are implementing, will help provide the best possible experience for the customer and valuable data for the brand.

Can a source performance prioritization report be created for source optimization performance?

Aside from the performance of the engagement mechanic itself, knowing the source of the most valuable traffic is essential to optimizing your results. Your audience engagement solutions provider should be able to provide a report that offers explicit performance and conversion data by channel and source. This report will allow brands to maximize results by optimizing marketing activity in the channels that are providing the highest numbers of conversions.

After all these questions have been answered, you should be assured that your audience engagement solutions provider understands that consumer experiences are human experiences with differing needs, motivations, and values. By looking at consumer data acquisition from this perspective, organizations can develop the capability to move beyond traditional data and get to the heart of what really inspires and activates their audiences.

At 3radical, we believe in an Earned Data approach. This is data that is captured directly from consumers through consumer-defined value exchange. This makes it a rich, actionable and fully consented data set that creates strategic differentiation for brands. Let us know how we can develop your audience engagement strategies, reach out to us here.

Michael Fisher is CEO of 3radical and is a board member at TheCustomer.

Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash.

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