Alloy logo

June 08, 2023

Simon Cowart


VP of Growth

This originally appeared in CMSWire.

To improve brand reputation, revenue and loyalty, focus less on marketing transactions and more on creating meaningful experiences.

In the aughts, the marketing industry said goodbye to the Age of Mass Marketing and began to usher in the Era of Engagement Marketing. Analysts and thought leaders (wisely) urged communicators to transition from a mass approach to a more segmented, personalized one with an increased focus on individual buyers.

This period pre- and during COVID ushered in a wave of business intelligence (BI) tools and advertising platforms that tracked numerical KPIs, with detailed data on conversion paths. It’s not surprising that the transaction-centered approaches of inbound marketing and account based marketing (ABM) also went mainstream during this time.

To further illuminate this trip down memory lane, let’s go back to 2014 when Marketo unveiled “The Seven Principles of Engagement Marketing.” Here’s an excerpt:

Engagement marketing allows you to coordinate marketing campaigns faster and with greater efficiency. Tedious tasks that were previously time-consuming can be completed in minutes to manage volume and complexity. Campaigns across multiple channels become an orchestrated, coordinated effort. And most importantly, as your company grows, engagement marketing allows for total scalability.

Without a doubt, the past decade made the marketing industry more data-driven. For the first time, marketing teams were able to deliver communications with precision and visually see prospects’ behaviors — click by click. Not only did these evolutions WOW us, but the metrics we produced increased our credibility with boards, the C-suite and sales counterparts, too.

However, as the era unfolded, it became clear that what was initially coined as “engagement marketing,” was really “demand marketing” — often prioritizing short-term revenue gains and leads over long-term customer relationships. Look back at that excerpt from Marketo for proof — there’s no mention of customers, only processes.

From Clicks to Experiences

At Alloy, we believe that in order to meaningfully improve brand reputation, revenue and loyalty, our industry should drop the word “marketing” for simply, the Era of Engagement. When we focus less on marketing transactions and instead on creating experiences that give buyers a reason to interact, we can fully realize the promise of engagement that our industry set out to achieve a decade ago.

To get there, CMOs need to focus on the three drivers of the customer lifecycle: 1) integrated marketing, 2) product engagement and 3) customer success.

Integrated Marketing. The first driver of the Era of Engagement naturally starts with the early phases of the customer lifecycle: awareness, selection and purchase. By blending communications campaigns and performance marketing, the practice of integrated marketing has proven effective at touching prospects numerous times, ultimately driving them to convert into a sales qualified lead (SQL).

But moving forward, our industry must make integrated marketing less tactical and more experiential. First, let’s clear something up. We aren’t talking about the traditional definition of “experiential marketing,” a live, in-person activation. Instead, the Era of Engagement calls for interactive, digital experiences that 1) captivate prospects, 2) create a psychological and/or emotional connection and 3) hold attention well beyond a traditional touchpoint.

Product Engagement. A key outcome of the demand marketing wave is that it’s now easier than ever to get people to try your product. However, due to the crowded and competitive nature of today’s marketplace, getting users to actually convert to paid subscriptions and stay loyal to your product is harder than ever.

In Alloy’s 2022 Tech Marketing Report: The State of the Modern Customer Journey, software vendors shared their concerns about buyers’ propensity to switch vendors. In fact, 67% of tech brands say they’re placing a greater focus on serving existing customers due in part to fears of churn. As a result, product engagement is critically important in the Era of Engagement.

Customer Success. Once a buyer has adopted your product and begun to engage, the Era of Engagement’s third driver — customer success — kicks in to extend the relationship beyond a single purchase.

Data suggests that perhaps there’s never been a more critical need for customer success than in today’s marketplace. Alloy recently asked IT leaders in a focus group what drives them to switch software products, and while the #1 reason is (unsurprisingly) pricing, the #2 reason is a lack of customer education and engagement.

The traditional model of account representative-led customer success isn’t enough to retain, cross- or upsell today’s B2B buyers. Brands must align customer success and product teams so they can synchronously deliver multi-channel touchpoints, product education and engagement, and self-service pathways in order to grow existing customer revenue streams.

Once organizations reimagine these three customer lifecycle drivers, they’ll be able to increase the impact of each engagement that their brand has with its buyers and existing customers.

To learn how to create marketing, product and customer experiences that build reputation, revenue and loyalty, download The Era of Engagement Playbook here.