Eight rules for predictive consumer engagement metrics
Locating marketing targets may be easier than ever before with the list of consumer-accepted media options growing every month, but actually engaging consumers is also increasingly complex, according to brand agency Brand Keys, which has observed eight rules that govern consumer engagement metrics.
Without engagement, advertising and marketing efforts are merely forays of creative communications aimed at the groups that brands identify as "appropriate audiences". But that does not guarantee positive consumer behaviour for the advertised brand, or that the target will become a customer.
So how do you measure engagement? That's a question that is still being addressed officially by the US Advertising Research Foundation. But, in a nutshell, Brand Keys says it revolves around how involved a consumer becomes with a media vehicle and how that involvement affects the brand being advertised.
Engagement metrics: the challenge One suggestion is: Time spent with medium + Response rate + Average Ad/Content Recall Rates + Increase in measured brand metric. It's actually more difficult than that to pin down, though: for a start, those metrics all have to be defined first - and many are only definable on a per-brand or per-medium basis. And some will be automatically biased, too. For example, Time spent with medium will usually favour TV and cable services, or web usage.
However, according to Brand Keys, there are eight certainties - or rules - that must govern any future predictive engagement metrics:
- Engagement is more than getting attention, being noticed, or breaking through the clutter of the 21st Century media ecology in which all marketers currently compete.
- Real engagement is defined as "the consequence of any marketing or communications effort (through any media touch-point) that results in an increased level of brand equity for the brand".
- Brand equity is defined as "the degree to which a brand is believed by the target audience as being able to meet or exceed consumer expectations they hold for the category in which the brand competes".
- Engagement must be measured on a category-specific basis. Cross-category generalisations may help to locate targets (and even contribute to the development of creative executions) but will reveal little about engagement opportunities.
- Engagement is integrally linked with loyalty and therefore positive consumer behaviour toward the advertised brand. If you are measuring anything else, you may be missing the point, and not actually measuring engagement.
- Engagement research, while applicable to any phase of market, brand, or communication planning, has to regard media planning as synergistic and not siloed - and it must have real motivation tied directly to the evaluation of media options (see rule 5).
- On the most basic level of assessment, where engagement is realised, targets will pay greater attention to advertisers' messages, will think better of the advertised brand, and (in the transformation from target to customer) will demonstrate a higher propensity to purchase or use the advertised product.
- The consumption and mix of media that is used to communicate advertising messages has direct and consequential behavioural effects on the level of engagement attained by the advertised brand.
Other factors And there are yet other factors in terms of consumer-brand engagement: for example, an increase in brand equity is another way of measuring loyalty, which is usually predictive of positive consumer behaviour and nearly always predictive of profitability.
Finally, consumer expectations in every category are on the rise - faster than most brands are able to monitor. This is why real engagement efforts involve understanding what consumers really want, as opposed to what they say they want.