The perfect storm: adapt to the engagement economy or be swept away
Chris Connell on how to understand, embrace and harness the power of the engagement economy.
Marketers are caught in the eye of the perfect storm.
On one hand, we are being pummelled by a wave of new demands from business leaders, wanting us to take more responsibility for the customer experience (CX), deep into parts of the business we have traditionally never set foot.
On the other, like an incoming tide, customer expectations have risen rapidly while communication channels have fragmented into a thousand pieces. And the pace of change isn’t slowing down, it’s accelerating.
The strategies, tools and channels we relied on to be successful in the past simply weren’t built to handle the engagement needs of today.
In the face of all this – how does the marketer keep their head above water? How do we adapt? How do we deal with this increasing need to engage effectively across the business ecosystem from buyer to suppliers and beyond? How do we connect the dots in a unified way that makes business sense?
If marketers can’t keep up with customer engagement and digitisation at scale, what chance do business managers have?
The truth is some marketers won’t. They will fail, as will the companies they represent.
For savvy marketers, however, digital transformation brings enormous opportunity. Not only for their organisations, but for their place within it. It’s a unique chance for smart marketers to navigate into the ‘big chair’ – taking far greater strategic responsibility within their businesses.
In many ways, there has never been a more demanding time to be in marketing. But there has never been a more exciting time either, for those that seize the opportunity and take up the call to arms, that take charge of change and lead their organisations in the engagement economy.
What is the engagement economy?
The world is constantly changing and we have now entered the age of the engagement economy. In this new paradigm, we have finally acknowledged the shift in relationships between buyers and sellers and understand the importance of digital where everyone and everything is connected.
Thus in the engagement economy, organisations must listen to and engage with people across a multitude of touchpoints. In this way, the engagement economy is not solely made up of buyers and sellers but also employees and partners as all stakeholders become vital to the success of businesses.
While marketers and companies have figured out how to capture the attention of their customers, it is time for the next step: gaining their engagement and active participation.
The collaborative nature of the engagement economy means that marketers now have the opportunity to fully understand their customers and engage them in personalised and authentic ways.
How to shift business practices to reflect the engagement economy
In the engagement economy, businesses must embrace digital transformation in order to create personalised, authentic experiences at scale. As a natural byproduct of digital disruption, the engagement economy also changes business foundations to deliver meaningful experiences that feel real, human, and are founded on trust.
In order to do this, businesses need to listen to what every individual does, wants and needs and then engage with them to provide an individualised experience.
By ensuring that these experiences take place at every touch point throughout the customer lifecycle, organisations will be able to develop and maintain long lasting relationships with all stakeholders.
The engagement economy also brings about significant change for marketers as their role now changes.
In this new age, chief marketing officers have now become chief experience officers and their role is to deliver exceptional experiences to customers throughout the entire customer lifecycle. Marketing executives also need to look beyond customer acquisition and seek to provide unique valuable experiences for their current customers to encourage retention.
Therefore, marketers need to work with all facets of the organisation and engage with all stakeholders in order to create authentic, personalised and adaptive interactions. These adaptive experiences need to evolve over time so marketers can develop meaningful and lasting relationships between brands and customers.
Embracing the engagement economy
The engagement economy isn’t going anywhere and therefore meaningful, digital experiences are required in order for organisations to succeed. Fundamentally, organisations that don’t embrace this new paradigm are the ones who will lose out on the rare opportunity to gain a competitive advantage.
The value provided by the engagement economy is unparalleled and creates a space where genuine relationships can grow and develop at astonishing rates. Furthermore, organisations are able to grow exponentially as digital transformation allows them to learn more and build relationships with more of the market.
As value is placed on digital, authentic and personalised interactions for the customer and other stakeholders, businesses will be able to capitalise on this and differentiate their offerings from those of their competitors. The competitive advantage created by embracing the engagement economy will ensure profitability and continued success in the years to come.
Chris Connell is marketing director at Marketo
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