A couple of articles I wrote for MarketingNPV Journal are now available on their website. The first, “How Do You Measure Engagement?”, examines the emergence of customer engagement as a hot new marketing metric. The problem is that marketers define engagement in many different ways, which makes it difficult to come to any common understanding of its importance. The article looks at the more accepted view of engagement – the emotional connection a consumer makes with a brand – but argues that a better way to frame engagement is around behaviors, not emotions:
It’s important to note that behavioral engagement is not limited to a purchase of a product or service; it encompasses all the interactions that a prospect or customer has in relation to a brand. There are any number of pre- or post-sale activities that can be (directly or indirectly) predictive of a future purchase or re-purchase; they include visiting a Web site, downloading a whitepaper, calling customer service, recommending a product, or even commenting on a blog.Such behavioral measures of engagement hold the potential to displace awareness and brand preference as interim measures of marketing effectiveness.
The second (related) article is “Calculating the Value of Referrals: Easier Said than Done.” This piece looks at the emerging methods for determining the economic value of customer referrals and other word-of-mouth marketing activities:
Current methodologies and research give us small glimpses of a great universe, but in many ways our current approach to charting WOM is like being an astronomer back in the pre-Galilean era. We can see the moon and the stars, but we have no real frame of reference around how big the universe actually is or the activity that’s taking place outside of our view.
Consider, for instance, that even the most advanced third-party tools primarily track online WOM — a severe limitation when you look at studies like the 2006 Keller Fay Group survey, which concludes that only 8% of brand-related conversations take place online. “Online tracking mechanisms make it easier to track who’s recommending what,” says V. Kumar, the ING Chair Professor in Marketing at the University of Connecticut’s School of Business and executive director of the school’s ING Center for Financial Services. “But still the hole is there, because the offline activities are not captured.”
The good news is that the tools and research methods are improving — much as the modern telescope has evolved from the early models built by Galileo — helping us to gain more informed insight around the real drivers of WOM.
I came across two important papers while researching the WOM article, which are cited in the feature: “How Valuable is Word of Mouth” from the Harvard Business Review, and “Measuring the Ripple,” a joint effort by Northeastern University and BzzAgent. Good reading if you’re into that marketing geek analysis stuff.