Wildly successful communication requires you to engage your audience, no matter which field you’re in. Information bombards us through print, portable devices, digital displays on subway cars, buildings, highways; even in taxis (at least in New York) we are exposed to messages constantly. Who can reach us in this environment of over-exposure and heightened visual stimulus? Without some reason to linger, we rush off to the next thing. Only those who engage us win our attention long enough for us to become connected to something in their message. In my last blog post—Ad Tech, Communication and You—the focus was on clear communication and delivering your intended message. This time I want to go deeper and explore ways of making that message powerful and inspiring. Let’s make it sticky.
What is engagement?
One of my favorite definitions of engagement is: to engage someone is to bring her into the conversation. As marketers, we know that messages come and go but only some are remembered or felt. In business and marketing, it is our job to get to know who we are communicating with and bring them into the conversation. Who are they? What do they want or need? Knowing your audience is the key to engaging them, and the only way to get to know your audience is to Listen with a capital L. Through listening, we can tap into the thoughts and desires of the person with whom we are communicating, whether we are just chatting, presenting formally or marketing. In marketing, much of today’s listening occurs digitally though data, and through user-generated content from social media.
I know engagement through the act of teaching. In any learning situation, whether it’s a corporate classroom or a social learning situation, the road to engagement is the same. First, be engaged with your story and content. If you aren’t passionate, can you expect others to be? The passion you bring to the conversation draws people in for more. As the “conversation” continues, listen to your audience with full presence of mind and body. This will shape your content, allowing you to home in on the needs and wants of your audience, creating a shared experience and possibly a transformation. Engagement is “other-focused.” Why has engagement become such a pervasive hot topic? Perhaps a closer look at one of the fastest-growing areas in marketing will reveal why business, amongst other fields, is enthralled with the power of engagement.
Engagement prompts involvement
Content marketing is all about engagement and it is gaining ground in the adtech world. According to PQ Media’s Global Content Marketing Forecast 2015-2019, “Content marketing will be a $300 billion industry by 2019.” The rise of omni-channel marketing enables marketers to reach consumers everywhere they click. The problem is, just putting more content out there does not increase engagement. In fact, it seems to be having the opposite effect. The content marketing paradox is the phenomenon where generating more content produces lower returns. As more brands increase their spend on content marketing, the competition stiffens to get and keep consumer attention on your brand (for the full report from TrackMaven, click here).Where does this leave the marketer who must find a way to engage consumers?
Marketers must get very good at knowing their customers and with creating the ads that speak to their business for B2B, or their lifestyle for B2C—the effective use of programmatic native might just do the trick. Programmatic native brings together the power of purchasing superior impressions and the personalized content to which consumers have grown accustomed. In the best native campaigns, the consumer engages with the ads and the surrounding content seamlessly, generating a digital experience that supports their lifestyle or business aspirations. It’s as though the ads were born there. This level of successful engagement comes only with a lot of planning, predictive modeling and well-executed, personalized content. True engagement takes work.
Communicating in an engaging way deepens your connection, making your message meaningful and memorable. Through focused discourse, infused with passion, you can engage an audience through any media, in any field and for a variety of outcomes. Delivering seamless conversation across touchpoints for your intended audience and reacting to their reactions informs the frequency and cadence of communications. Engaging communication is possible. You must take the time to get to know your audience and deliver a message that connects them to what they need or want.
In this way, whether it’s in marketing or in life, you learn the art of engaging your audience effectively so that they will hopefully not only remember what you communicated, but also use the message to put into motion the desired action you want them to take.