Friday, October 05, 2007

Engagement Marketing, Part 1 of 3

I'll be publishing a draft of a white paper I've just written in three parts... Sorry for how long it's been since my last post.

Putting the Relationship Back in Relationship Marketing
Driving Value through Customer Engagement and Advocacy

The goal of Relationship Marketing (RM) is to develop and maintain a base of committed customers who generate profit for the organization. Nowhere is RM more important than in the B2B context, where continued business from an established client base generates the lion’s share of revenue. While RM initiatives are standard in B2B enterprises, marketers seldom adopt a rigorous, data-driven approach to understanding and managing their ongoing interaction with customers and the impact of RM activities on their business. In this paper, we propose that managed customer engagement is a critical path to promoting advocacy for your brand and driving business results. We describe insights gained from years of client work across a range of industries and outline steps for developing an analytics-based RM engagement management and tracking system.

A Conceptual Framework

We will focus on two constructs that we have shown to be the mechanisms through which relationship marketing tactics impact business results: 1) customers’ ongoing behavioral engagement with a company, and 2) their advocacy for a firm and its product offerings. We have found that in B2B environments, proactive engagement of line-of-business decision makers (LOBs) at client accounts is a fundamental driver of these individuals’ perceptions of your brand and their willingness to advocate continued and expanded business with your firm. We maintain that the fundamental job of RM is to manage LOB engagement and promote advocacy – the vehicles through which marketing can expedite customers’ progression through the sales pipeline and generate incremental value for your business.

  • A Mass Market LOB is conscious of the firm’s offerings, but hasn’t formed interest in the products

  • A Seeker is interested in learning about the firm’s offerings, (i.e., its capabilities, pricing, and positioning) but has not yet taken a position on its appropriateness to his/her business needs

  • A Convert has determined that products are appropriate and has begun to form a favorable impression of, and willingness to advocate for, the brand

  • An Advocate has established a highly favorable impression and is strongly inclined toward recommending and/or purchasing the product

We (MarketBridge) have demonstrated the importance of advocacy by statistically validating its role in driving value for clients across several industries. Using customer survey data to define advocacy and sales databases to measure account-level wins, we have shown that higher advocacy is associated with greater incremental sales and generated revenue.

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