Disruption is a popular term these days, especially in regards to business model innovation. Thanks to profound advances in both technology and the strategic insights to optimally exploit it, conventional advertising is being disrupted in such a way that brands are able to reap increased value from consumers over an extended amount of time.
Capturing Attention with Customer Engagement
The disruption to conventional advertising comes in the form of “customer engagement,” a significantly different way of interacting with consumers’ attention than what has been present in traditional marketing practices; and few organizations are actually taking advantage of this new opportunity. But what, exactly, is customer engagement? And why is it so much better than the conventional wisdom?
One way to conceptualize customer engagement is as the sustained maintenance of (the customer’s) attention over time. Contrast this with the effect of traditional advertising, which also captures the customer’s attention…but does not sustain it; that attention is fleeting, typically gone in an instant.
We can think of attention as that resource which the customer (quite literally) pays, in exchange for something of value, delivered by the brand’s message. The message is a valuable stimulus; the customer matches that value with a response, which comes in the form of paying attention. During that period of engagement, if even greater value is delivered by the marketer, then the customer may exchange additional resources, of even higher value (e.g. cash, information, adherence, trust, loyalty, feedback, etc.).
Value is Exchanged When the Customer Pays Attention
One insight in the innovation world is that the primary opportunity to exchange value with a customer is when you have their attention. Conventional advertising can only deliver and receive value for a brief instant. In contrast, customer engagement can exchange value continuously throughout an extended period of time, during which it earns– and sustains – the customer’s attention. The amount of time it is able to do so – and, thus, the corresponding amount of value it is able to both give and receive – is dependent upon the effectiveness of that brand’s ongoing dialogue with the customer.
We can visualize the value displayed by these two methods through the simple graphic below:
Compared with Advertising, Engagement Generates Much Greater Value
In the above graph, the initial stimulus is the original advertising effort that makes an impression with the customer. With only a conventional call-to-action, advertising does not reap much value from the customer (at least not immediately), and is less likely to as time passes.
On the other hand, in the case of engagement, the initial advertisement contains a call-to-action stimulus (e.g. text COUPON to 51684), with subsequent prompts for additional compelling activity. All the while the customer’s attention is sustained at a high level.
The total value reaped by the brand in each instance is the total area under each curve. With an increased number of calls-to-action, the engagement curve is significantly more likely to produce greater value than that of the advertising-only curve. Furthermore, engagement’s advantage in value to both customer and brand is limited only by how long, over time, the customer’s attention can be sustained via this dialogue.
Customer Engagement vs. Conventional Advertising
Customers’ attention is in high demand and the longer it can be sustained, the better. Through customer engagement, brands cannot only capture this attention, but also have the ability to build a relationship that can lead to even greater returns, including adherence, loyalty, and the opportunity to transact.