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Brand engagement in a social and digital world needs a rethink.

As 2017 draws to a close, there are now over 3 Billion users and 40% of the worldwide population is now active on social media. So why is brand engagement dropping like a stone?

At the start of 2017 69% of businesses we surveyed said Social Media was going to be their leading marketing tactic in meeting their business goals this year.

Since then we’ve learned brand engagement in Digital is falling:

Why is engagement dropping like a stone? In part, the answer is in the shear volume of users, but it’s also in how Advertisers and Brands have approached digital and social channels. For years this widespread approach has been fundamentally flawed and needs to change.

The last 10-15 years have changed how consumers interact, but not necessarily how Brands go-to-market. It wasn’t long ago that we were more than okay waiting a few days (or a week) for a response or information. Today, we just look it up, check the reviews, ask our network what they think and who they use, and download all the resources available before taking the next step. No wonder over 70% of the buyer’s journey is done digitally before reaching out to the Brand – (SiriusDecisions).

Today, Brands and marketers create content and assets, making them available online and promoted via digital and social channels. Sure, some require ‘forms’ before gaining access to the information, but with the increasing bounce and abandonment rate when users are faced with forms, or who are turned off by too many “required fields”, that is changing.

As we close out 2017, marketers are adopting a new strategy – that of putting the top-of-funnel assets ‘out there’ un-gated, with small, progressive forms only appearing as your website visitors (customer or prospect) move lower down the funnel. This ensures leads are better qualified and worth passing on to your sales team. We’re adapting to meet the demand and expectations of our customers. We need to do the same in the Digital space.

Our customers have different expectations than they did 10 or even 5 years ago. We’ve trained them to expect follow up calls or emails when they provide their contact information—which could, in part, be why your email lists churn 30% each year (not including those who unsubscribe or opt-out). Speaking of which, as you look at your email lists, you’re probably seeing an increase in Gmail accounts. That’s not surprising as 30% of all email subscribers now use Gmail—an increase of almost 100% in 3 years. These could be set up as users’ secondary or third tier accounts to catch ‘less important stuff’ and are often temporary, disposable, and unmonitored—being used in large part to keep their primary email account less cluttered. It’s no surprise then that according to Yes Lifecycle Marketing, unique click rates fell by 14% and open rates have fallen by over 17% year-over-year. People simply don’t want to be marketed too. They do however want engagement on their terms and will buy when they’re ready.

Brandwatch recently put out an interesting analysis on social media response times by industry type. These are posts, tweets, etc initiated by customers and prospects asking questions of the brand. Interestingly, Airlines are the most aware and engaged with response times of about 2.5 hours, and just over 20% of those posting about the brand, product, or service, receiving a response. At the bottom of the list was the Healthcare and Pharmaceutical sector with an average 18 hour delay in response time and only 0.8% ever getting a reply.

Across industries, if you only monitor and ‘listen’ to your brand-owned social accounts you’re getting maybe 4% of the conversation. 96% of the conversation is happening on your audiences accounts and elsewhere… and it’s all out of your sight.

Clearly, as marketers and brands we have some work to do if we want to engage with our future buyers and capture marketshare from our competitors. The good news is, today we have the tools to do just that.

Digital and Social is all about engagement and making connections. Customers are asking us questions and wanting to hear from us at that time and in the manner they prefer – be it SMS, email, or any of the multitude of social and online platforms.

If marketing is going to continue to own ‘Digital’ and we want to grow marketshare and revenue, we need to be listening—not just to our own social media accounts, but way beyond and engaging in the conversations where and when they happen.

If your digital and social results are not currently achieving your marketing goals and you’re not practicing Social Listening but want to ‘try it out’ before committing long-term, we can help.

We’ll work with you to create a snapshot of your (and your competitor’s) social landscape. You’ll learn who’s talking about your industry, what they’re saying about you, where the conversations are actually taking place, and how your digital marketing budget could be reallocated—so you can get involved in active conversations with those asking about your products and services—resulting in increased brand awareness, sales and revenue.

Check out our recent post and infographic outlining the broader benefits and value marketers can realize by applying Social Listening as part of their 2018 marketing plans.

To learn more, contact us now to schedule a call or a meeting.