3 Companies That Increased Engagement Through Digital Marketing Strategies
Engagement is what today’s most innovative advertisers strive to achieve. But what exactly does a successful engagement strategy look like? This question is tough to answer because the concept is a moving target. Engagement patterns vary between devices. Not to mention, trends tend to morph as audiences increase. An ad campaign might be successful as a test, but when scaled, results can vary as your targeted audience becomes more diverse.
When building out advertising campaigns, especially ones that follow customer journeys that are often indirect, advertisers need to find what engages the audience at scale. Many metrics will provide benchmarks for success—interactions with ad units, click-through rates, conversions, long-term customer value, loyalty, etc.
What you and your marketing team will realize, if you haven’t already, is that engagement is challenging to scale in a digital setting. Every company needs to develop their own strategy. Here’s what 3 innovative companies have learned from creating their own digital engagement strategy.
AOL analyzed 55,000 consumer interactions to figure out what sparks engagement online
AOL has some of the richest, most diverse media data in the world. The company wanted to understand if there were universal, engagement-driving moments—to understand why and how consumers respond to certain types of information.
Released in 2016, the goal of the study was to help advertisers pre-plan their ad campaigns with more precision. The company’s data scientists found that consumers are likely to engage in eight distinct moments online when they’re looking to:
- Feel inspired
- Be in the know
- Seek answers or advice
- Gain comfort, support, or insight
- Connect with others, learn something, or be a part of a community
- Feel good, improve their moods, and be relaxed
- Discover an escape or mental break when entertaining
- Find social updates to keep in touch with trends and friends, and to take a break
AOL found these moments to be universal across the globe. But there’s still nuance. According to this study, even when people are sharing similar experiences, “they seek out different kinds of content dependent on the many moments that make up a particular day.”
Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) shifted its advertising strategy to focus on deep-dive data collection
In an interview for the Dun and Bradstreet Perspectives blog, Lucas Rontondo, Senior Marketing Director at D&B explains that their “go-to-market approach was more inside-out” historically: “We started with the products we needed to sell. Then we cast a wide net to find relevant contacts, hoping to drive a high volume of leads that would convert quickly.”
These marketing tactics were no longer effective. D&B wasn’t finding the best buyers for their solutions. So they shifted their focus from pitching products to learning more about their customers.
D&B’s marketing team began profiling high-value customers, isolating firmographic characteristics such as the size of the business, industry growth rates, and the complexity of their corporate structure. The company also examined their best buyers’ purchasing behaviors including renewal and product migration history. D&B also studied cross-sell activity to predict specific businesses’ likelihood to buy D&B products. With this data, the company located lookalike prospects from third-party commercial databases.
Using these advanced analytics, Rotondo’s team achieved 186% of its pipeline goal.
According to Rotondo, “A huge advantage of intelligent segmentation is that it reduces the time, effort and money marketing might otherwise be wasting,” translating “into big value for the business.”
CVS built a forecasting model that connects digital investments with financials
The biggest risk in advertising is waste. However, you can control for variables that are notorious time sinks by working with trusted marketing partners, automating decision logic, starting campaigns small, and then scaling up. As Brian Tilzer, Chief Digital Officer at CVS suggests in an interview with Innovation leader, CVS solved this problem primarily by developing a model:
We now have a very precise model of, if I do X digitally, it translates into better medication adherence, which translates into more [prescriptions], or it translates into a customer who’s self-servicing for things that they might call for...it’s eliminating workload in our stores. Those kinds of linkages are something that we’ve worked really hard at establishing.
In other words, digital marketing creates opportunities for the healthcare industry to engage with customers in new ways. Tilzer maintains that healthcare was historically centered on the hospital in big urban centers: “Doctors told patients what to do and patients were supposed to comply.”
But now, online marketing channels, and advertising in particular, bring established industries like healthcare closer to their customers in more creative ways: “Digital is ultimately about making [healthcare] much more accessible, convenient, [and] proactive for the consumer,” maintains Tilzer. “Orchestrating all that we do around the mission of making someone’s life and healthcare situation easier to manage.”
Healthier people drive healthier bottom-line metrics for retail brands like CVS. But how can an organization take a data-driven approach to quantify a concept as abstract as “health?”
The answer to this question comes down to one word—orchestration. Every step of the customer journey is a discrete optimization point. Multiple campaigns weave together to connect buyers and advertisers.
Think with Google has created a framework for turning signals into strategic guidance
Thanks to mobile, search is becoming a complex, multi-device ecosystem. Moments drive consumer decisions. As a result, search giants and third-party data aggregators are collecting a wealth of organizational insights. The challenge is what to do with these signals.
Many high-volume marketers aren’t sure how to scratch the surface due to the sheer level of resource investment needed. Google has compiled some guidance for marketers planning comprehensive, multi-channel, personalized campaigns. Here are some reference points to get started:
- Use location data to deepen engagement
- Connect people with interests
- Understand users’ daily routines
- Think of context as a story and setting
Instead of thinking about “device targeting,” consider the moments, context, and decision criteria that led up to the point of search. Check out more of the research and how it pertains to the future of search-based advertising, here.
Connection + orchestration = key components to engagement at scale
The past, present, and future of advertising have always been about connecting audiences with the right message at the right time.
Figure out your end goal. Map your customer journey. Connect points of this journey to engagement moments. Your ad copy, messaging, landing pages, and corresponding content will help you achieve these goals. Start focusing as deeply as you can on your customer segments. Build forecasts and connect your marketing investments to ROI.
Start small. Run experiments. Incorporate feedback from cross-functional teams. Get to know the people you’re trying to reach through data collection. Partner with vendors and technologies that automate your campaign logic.
What the success of these companies shows us is that in a digitized world, scale increasingly means depth and portability.
About the Author
Charles Studt leads the marketing team at QuanticMind. A veteran of the software-as-a-service and hosted services spaces, he has served in marketing leadership roles at successful SAAS firms such as RedBooth and IntelePeer. He received his degree in Economics and International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania.More Content by Charles Studt