A Framework for Engagement – Implementation

Like I said in the last post, I’m sure there are quite a few different reasons why folks want to measure “Engagement”, and not all of them have to do with Marketing.  But if you are talking about Engagement as a metric to be used in Marketing, now you have the complete framework for why (as opposed to how) it is so important to measure Engagement – to define the LifeCycle of the customer, in order to communicate and act in the most customer-centric, relevant way possible.  Logically, this approach drives higher profits.

The LifeCycle is about both Engagement and dis-Engagement.  If you are in the Marketing camp, you can’t just talk about measuring Engagement.  After all, if Engagement is really important and valuable, then dis-Engagement has to be really important and valuable in the opposite way – it’s a bad thing.  Dis-Engagement means, literally, that your company is no longer relevant to the customer. 

In some businesses, online display advertising for example, it’s not clear that dis-engagement really matters, at least in the current model from the perspective of the advertiser.  Hey, an impression is an impression, right?  Who cares what happens after that.  At least they’re talking about some kind of engagement metric – Duration – which should relate to the quality or the likelihood of an impression.  Not much more they can do, in my opinion, for that business model.  But from the perspective of the site owner the ads run on, dis-engagement should be a big deal – especially if you paid something to get that visitor to come to your site in the first place.

So, we have Engagement, and we have dis-Engagement, which it seems nobody ever talks about.  I sincerely hope that changes in the future as we move forward.

Now, how do we track the LifeCycle, how do we actually implement?  It’s really very simple in concept:

1. Define / Measure Engagement – any way you want to, as appropriate for your business; whatever activity or combinations of activity you feel appropriate

2. Measure dis-Engagement – the absence of Engagement, as in the visitor / customer stopped doing whatever it is you define as Engagement for your business model

3. Take some kind of Marketing or Service action to slow or reverse the dis-Engagement with dis-Engaging folks

That’s not very hard, is it?  No.  If you’re looking for some kind of model to follow for planning and managing LifeCycle communications, take a look at Satama’s REAN.

However, even when you get the LifeCycle and learn to react to it, the system is not optimized yet.  The Relationship Marketing Strategy is not optimized until you start predicting dis-Engagement, and taking action to try and re-Engage the customer before they completely dis-Engage.  Because once your company becomes completely irrelevant, it’s very hard to change that for the visitor / customer – much harder than if you act before or when the dis-Engagement is occurring.  You can’t have an “annual re-Engagement campaign” and fix this – you have to fix it as it is happening, meaning you throw out all calendar-based communication and communicate based on where individuals or segments are in the LifeCycle.

Fortunately, dis-Engagement is usually a process – unless the company screwed up in a really big way.  And this dis-Engagement process is fairly uniform and actually quite easy to predict with simple tools.  The company most often becomes irrelevant to the visitor / customer over time.  In other words, the company gets second chances, the customer often gives the company leeway to become relevant again.  So as a company or analyst, the key is to:

1. Recognize dis-Engagement has begun with a customer or segment

2. Have a re-Engagement plan and implement the plan before the company becomes irrelevant to the customer

I’m pretty sure most people reading this know what comes next – how to measure dis-Engagement and act on it – given I have plastered this information all over my blog and web site.  If you don’t know how to predict dis-Engagement and the triggers you can use to take action, this is a good place to start.  Depending on your business model, you should probably also take a look at what Theo proposes in terms of Kind and Degree for survey work once you have dis-Engagement behavior as a trigger for the survey.

For most web sites, regardless of what you are using as a metric for Engagement, a good clue the dis-engagement process has begun is when a visitor stops visiting, posting, commenting, buying, or whatever is key to generating value on your site.  The challenge is you have to recognize this non-event has occurred right away, because the longer you wait to try and re-Enage the visitor / customer, or ask why they are dis-Engaging though a survey, the less likely it is you will be successful.  And in case you are wondering, those of you with e-mail tactics that consist of relentlessly pounding your list with the same messages and offers regardless of visitor / customer behavior are not addressing the re-Engagement issue – trust me.  Think about it.

I’ll get into how a Relationship Marketing strategy affects e-mail marketing and measurement tomorrow in the next post.

Does the above make sense to you?  Questions?  Criticism?  Problems?  Let me know, leave a comment.

3 Responses to “A Framework for Engagement – Implementation”

  1. Very interesting. According to what you say, it is therefore imperative to clearly define how and when a customer has begun dis-engaging.

    This requires to benchmark website or industry performance and define what an average degree of engagement is. Anything below this number is dis-engagement and anything above it – engagement (which of course can and should be further refined and segmented according to progressive degrees of greater engagement/disengagement).

  2. Jim Novo says:

    Benchmarking? Perhaps, but there already is a universal standard measurement for dis-engagement – “time since last engagement action”. And dis-engagement is not typically an event, it’s a process. So the measurement is really not about over / under, it’s about degree and likelihood. What is likelihood customer is still engaged? This drives voice, how you speak to the customer.

    So, for example, the campaign by Steve Jackson and his “Inactive Registrant Index”. Customer registers for the MMS program but takes no action, or takes action but then stops. The longer you wait to address that inactivity, that dis-engagement, the less likely it will be you can re-activate the customer.

    You can set a threshold (Latency) “if they don’t re-engage within 2 weeks we will send a coupon” or you can scale the message and effort based on behavior (Recency), if they don’t re-engage within 1 week we will send an e-mail, those who don’t re-enage after another week will get a coupon, those who don’t re-enage after a 3rd week will get 2 coupons”.

    The point is to make the message and offer more relevant to the state of the customer based on their behavior while at the same time optimizing the cost side. Act only when you have to and always at the point of maximum impact. 

    There might be benchmarks for different industries but it’s much more likely – as is the point of this whole strategy – that these “time since” metrics will be different for different industries, and most important, different for different customers.  You have to test and optimize.  Once you find the optimal re-engagement point from a response / cost perspective for each segment, it tends to remain stable for that segment. 

    If you want more on the details, see:

    http://blog.jimnovo.com/2007/04/25/measuring-engagement/

  3. By benchmark i mean set a threshold ‘average degree of engagement’. Although it is a engagement/disengagement is a proces it seems necessary to set an average, a point, over or under which the customer is engaging or disengaging.

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