“What do you want me to do?”

By Cameron Heffernan | Nov 20, 2018

The term “engagement,” as in “engaging your audience,” has become a huge buzzword in modern marketing. We want our audience to engage with our content. But what exactly does that mean to our company? In our industry? And specifically, for this campaign?

Understanding your overall company or business goals is a good first step to determine how you understand, measure, track or even correctly identify what “engagement” means to you. Think about this in terms of “Afters,” a concept from presentation guru Andy Bounds. After they see/read/hear your marketing message, what will your audience get? After they see/read/hear your marketing message, what do you want them to do?

Measure the percentage of people seeing your content (a statistic you can track in many digital tools) against how many people actually did the thing you wanted them to do. For instance, 3,000 people may have seen your Facebook post about a new product but only 5 clicked on “buy now” or “learn more.” And of those 5 who clicked – how many people actually when on to buy? That is the most relevant metric and the best way to tie marketing to revenue goals: defining engagement in a sales context. Can you get to the deepest and most critical metric for your business? If not, how closely can you align engaging your audience through marketing to tangible business goals?

What if you’re not selling anything tangible and are using marketing to communicate and influence your customers to change habits or introduce a new habit? Make your message as simple as possible. Smokey the Bear told us we could prevent forest fires. Again, and again, and again. We’re not always camping but when we are, that message rings clear.

However, not all marketing, particularly digital, needs to have a specific intention or direction tied to selling your product or service. Sometimes simply building your brand and reinforcing your brand voice through sharing consistent and relevant content is enough. Use curated content to bolster your thought leadership and support your community by sharing interesting and relevant content created by someone else. When your potential customers are aware of your brand and they eventually do have a need for your offerings (or are receptive to the message you are sharing), the more likely they are to pay attention when you give them a specific direction.

We call that specific direction a “Call to Action.” If you’ve got a product, maybe you want them to buy it. If it’s a low-cost product, then maybe people will take a chance and buy right away. But if you have a high-cost product or service, then the next step in their decision to buy or not to buy likely isn’t a straightforward “add to cart.” Maybe they need to download a white paper or sign up for a webinar to learn more first. What one thing do you want a potential client or customer to do next? Establish your sales funnel and align your marketing efforts against those steps, making sure your Call to Action is simple and easy to do.

We see thousands of brand images per day (how many—from 5,000 to 10,000—depends on who you ask) and it can take several (ranging from a few to hundreds!) times of reinforcing a message across different media, platforms and channels before your target audience does what you want them to do like make a purchase, donate time to a cause or make an important personal or business habit change—or even to get to the first step on the path of doing any of those things.  Repetition and consistency of message are key. People pay attention to content when it is timely and useful to them. You’re not always looking to buy a new house but when you are, you’re likely to remember the realtors that connected with you in a way that is consistent with your worldview. Voting isn’t top of mind until there is an election coming up. People think more about exercising before the summer and at the start of the new year. Understand the cultural cycles that impact your audience and tailor your message to maximize retention of the information or call to action you are sharing.

To recap — how do you engage your audience?

  1. Decide what one thing you want them to do or get after they see/read/interact with your piece of marketing.
    1. Align this with your business goals.
    2. Break complex goals into small chunks (and maybe different campaigns) so it’s easier for your audience to comply.
  2. Repeat across media/channels/platforms.
  3. Measure.
  4. Reassess your methods.
    1. Did people do the thing?
    2. How many people did the thing?
    3. What changes should we make to increase compliance?
  5. Repeat.


Need help engaging your audience in new ways? Not sure where to start? We can help! Contact us today.