Audience engagement is what marketers are working for. Audience engagement is what happens when a marketer connects effectively with the right people in their market, and gets them to do what the marketer needs. Getting audience engagement isn’t easy, it takes smart tactics for driving it, increasing it, and making it cost-effective. Often times there’s not much opportunity or budget to engage audiences beyond the level of printed brochures; the basics just need covering. We all know where most brochures end up, so digital marketers today understand that they need to step up their game beyond brochure type sites.
The techniques we marketers favor, ever since the advent of the web, are constantly changing and have always been evolving. Now we’re in the beginning of the third decade of online marketing. We’ve learned that different levels of audience engagement yield different rates of return; the more evolved levels perform better than the less evolved levels. If you’re communicating better, you’re getting better results. Pay attention to how your efforts fall into one of these five levels of audience engagement. If you can recognize a better opportunity to engage, go for it!
5 different levels of audience engagement, from the most basic to the more advanced:
Earliest websites, and the most basic ones today, are essentially “brochureware,” little more than online representations of a company’s brochure materials. Just like offline printed brochures, they focus purely on “company speak”. The websites that result from marketing led by business insiders often fall short of their potential and end up becoming brochureware. Brochureware ends up speaking in the language of the stakeholders, not in the language of their audience. In marketing terms, this is what we call “drinking the Kook-Aid.” There’s little benefit communicated to the audience, little reason to expect audience engagement.
Don’t drink the “marketing Kool-Aid” – instead take time to raise your productions and promotions beyond brochureware. We recommend taking the time to evolve efforts beyond brochureware and into a Call-to-Action, at a minimum.
Call-to-Action is one level above producing corporate brochureware You basically ask your audience to respond to a promotion by telling them what to do next. It’s a better approach when you compare it to the numbers of leads or sales generated via bro
chureware production of websites, email and social presences. Audiences respond to Calls-to-Action.
The best Calls-to-Action take a 1-2-3 punch approach.
- First: Establish identity. State who you are and/or what you’re promoting.
- Second: State what the benefit of you or your offer is to your clients.
- Third: Tell your audience what to do next. Do a Call-to-Action
Make a banner that shows your logo and tagline. Say you’ll give them a coupon if they click. It’s that simple in most cases.
Effective Calls-to-Action are that simple. The problem is that audiences are nagged by them everywhere. Audiences tend to tune them out. They quickly forget about their message.
Storytelling is a form of content marketing that’s grown in popularity recently among digital marketers. It is an evolution of the Call-to-Action, for example, revealing what happened when someone followed it’s directions and benefited.
The power of the story to influence is a very ancient technique, around since before the written word. The advent of the web involved too many decision makers who had forgotten how critical this mode of communication is, and too often resorted to brochureware. Now the power of storytelling has been rediscovered. Content marketing storytelling involves using stories to promote an idea, service, product or organization. Using characters that audience members relate with is a powerful way to keep a great portion of the audience’s attention. Product placement in movies and TV shows is a cheesy, but effective way to use storytelling to promote.
The audience engagement that results from content marketing is revealed both online and offline. People remember stories that resonate with them. Effective content marketing storytelling leverages the digital generation’s media consumption habits, and reaches them emotionally more than other marketing media. Your best client’s experiences can often reveal the best story material.
Gamification – Audience Game Involvement
Getting an audience involved is a very effective communication technique. Letting an audience express themselves or identify themselves via the promotion is a form of endorsement. Gamification is when game elements of participation, competition or achievement are integrated into the promotion. It’s a super-effective form of audience engagement, but not practical for every brand at every budget level. If you’re going to gamify, you’ve got to know your audience well and be smart about it. Many brands have succeeded using gamification and driven massive audience engagement.
For example, Facebook Games promote themselves by automatically letting Friends know about a player’s status the game via automatic posts on that player’s Wall. That works so well at getting new players. They see their friends enjoying and endorsing it. The viral impact of the game sometimes overshadows the brand’s message, but that’s OK, compared to other modes of promotion, the audience size makes up for it. The dancing elf that you could stick an image of your face over was cool, but who did that again? If you’re like me, you can’t name the brand without Google.
What Facebook Games do is just the tip of the iceberg with regards to the potential of gamification. It’s important to note that gamified elements within Facebook act to promote Facebook itself, and give audiences yet another reason to stick around, and put off Facebook’s “jumping the shark” for another day.
Gamification gets audiences to compete against each other, prove themselves in comparison to other audience members. This is done with scores, badges, achievements and other tokens of accomplishment within the gamified system. Foursquare is a good example of an social media site that gamifies the process of “checking in” to real world venues. Creating a great gamified promotion requires both the creativity, marketing know how, and technology to pull it off. Marketers like us at Massive Impressions, marketers who have experience integrating applications directly with social media for viral effect, are the ones you should be looking for when you’re ready to start getting results with gamification.
Getting your audience to advocate for you is great. Whether they do it for you organically via social endorsement, or in an automated fashion, driven by apps and games, the result is having the public’s thumbs up towards your brand. The old mode of marketing was to push only the brand, and never involve too much the faces behind it. Today things are very different. That old modality of hiding behind the brand is going away. Engaging audiences is about sincerity, not wearing masks. Your audiences expect you to step up for your brand now, and they want to hear from your subject matter expects. Google now rewards brands that bring a face to their web pages; the more your website authors engage with others in Google Plus, the better your website’s search engine results will appear. Faces can hide behind brands no longer. Better audience engagement is about getting those faces up front.
Getting your workforce to advocate your company’s message is called Brand Ambassadorship. We’ve helped companies set up social media ambassador campaigns. They leverage your workforce to be ambassadors of your brand by making social media posts, speaking about the brand, and acting as brand spokespeople 24/7 online via social media, blogs, and innovative web technologies.
At Massive Impressions, for example, we use our Content Marketing Management System, Mi360, to automate the push from company publications to workforce social media accounts. We slice and dice the incoming click counts to tell which employees are driving the most engagement on social. Find out who your social stars are easy, and make them shine for your company online. Nurture your Digital Ambassadors.
Your company can benefit today by improving and evolving your audience engagement. Getting from one of these levels to another is sometimes easy, sometimes more difficult. Depending on your industry, market and workforce, it can be a challenge. If you need marketing professionals to help your business evolve its communications, call us at Massive Impressions Online Marketing. We’ll take you to the next level, and connect more of your market to you. Call us now (866) 800-3579.