Ask an Expert: What is Engagement Marketing?

Today, small business owners find themselves in a unique position when it comes to marketing their businesses online.

On one hand, it probably feels like there’s just too much you need to be doing. Between Facebook and Twitter, email and mobile, deals, and whatever new social network is rolling out that month—there’s a lot to keep up with. And there are only so many hours in each day.

But on the other hand, business owners are finding that these tools have made it easier than ever before to stay connected with their target audience, both online and off. By staying connected, businesses are able to build stronger relationships over time and turn those relationships into new opportunities to grow their business.

That’s what Engagement Marketing is all about. And that’s how small businesses will succeed in a socially-connected world.

This week, I sat down with Constant Contact Content Manager Dave Charest to talk about Engagement Marketing. What is it? Why should you care? And how can you adopt an Engagement Marketing strategy of your own?

Watch this week’s Ask an Expert to find out!

Here is the transcript if you’d rather read.

What is Engagement Marketing?

Engagement Marketing really represents a fundamental shift in how businesses connect with their customers.

And I usually like to break that down into three buckets, because it’s more than just your customers.

It’s really about connecting with your peers, pros—which I classify as people who are just a little bit ahead of where your business is, and your customers or patrons.

Peers, pros, and patrons — that’s how I usually break that down.

What this means is that there’s a shift from businesses talking at customers—in terms of advertising—to where you can actually get in there and have conversations with your customers. And that goes a long way to helping you develop these relationships that will eventually benefit your business.

Why is Engagement Marketing important for small businesses?

When you consider that the number one way businesses connect with new customers is through word-of-mouth, it starts to really make a lot of sense to have these conversations and to deepen these relationships with your existing customers.

Their friends and their connections will actually end up being prime candidates to work with your business in the future.

So it really makes sense to develop those relationships.

What can small businesses do to take advantage of Engagement Marketing?

To start taking advantage of Engagement Marketing what you really want to think about is understanding the Engagement Marketing cycle.

The first stage of that is really understand that you need to be providing a great experience for your customers. That’s the beginning of it. If you don’t have a great product or service and a great experience for them—no one’s really going to be talking about your business.

And if they are, it may be negatively which you don’t want to happen.

But once you’ve got people and you provide them with a great experience and something that they really enjoy and they enjoy working with you—that’s the perfect opportunity to entice them to stay connected with you.

That may be through your social media networks or that may be through email. Email is the most ideal method because that’s really the driving force behind everything else you end up doing in the online world. And you control that as opposed to being on social media networks where they control what happens and the changes there.

But once you entice them to connect with you, again it’s all about having that engagement. It’s about having conversations with and keeping yourself top of mind with these customers that already love you.

Once you do that, then something interesting starts to happen. Because all these things are happening online now and it’s not just face-to-face interactions where people have to be in the same room to hear about your business, there’s what we call social visibility. That’s where this word-of-mouth really starts to take off.

Now, you’re not only communicating like we are right now, one-on-one—but instead you’re having the same conversation we’re having right now with hundreds of other people listening.

This will allow you to get exposed to other people that may eventually say, “Hey, I really like what these guys are doing—I’m going to check out their website, I’m going to read their blog, I’m going to connect with their Facebook Page, I’m going to sign up for their email list…”

It’s just another way to really extend that word-of-mouth, which will really benefit your business.

So it’s understanding that. The Engagement Marketing cycle is providing a great experience, enticing these people you’ve provided that great experience to connect with you, and then engaging with them on a regular basis and deepening those relationships. And that really starts to extend through social visibility and benefits your business that way.

Engagement Marketing: getting back to basics

In a lot of ways, Engagement Marketing is really about getting back to marketing basics.

Building relationships, effective communication, word-of-mouth—these are all things small businesses understand and can use when getting started with Engagement Marketing.

Since the start of the year, we’ve been talking about a lot of topics which can help you get back to basics:

The Biggest Advantage Small Businesses Have Today

Where are All the People? Why Small Businesses Need to Humanize Their Marketing

The Power of Telling Your Organization’s Story

Why You Should Market to Your Best Customer First (And Your Next Customer Second)

The Evolution of Word-Of-Mouth Marketing (And What It Means for Your Business)

Still have questions about Engagement Marketing? Share them in the comments below.

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