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Consumer Engagement Defined

Engagement Marketing  sometimes called "experiential marketing," "event marketing", "live marketing" or "participation marketing," is a marketing strategy that directly engages consumers and invites and encourages consumers to participate in the evolution of a brand. Rather than looking at consumers as passive receivers of messages, engagement marketers believe that consumers should be actively involved in the production and co-creation of marketing programs, developing a relationship with the brand.

Consumer Engagement is the ultimate point in which a brand and a consumer connect in order to offer a true experience related to the brand's core values. It is a long term connection that must be enhanced over time. Brands that listen to consumers in their day-to-day lives, tap into their mindset, engage with response-driven conversations, strengthen customer relationships, build brand loyalty and increase purchasing power.


Consumer Engagement Benefits

Generally accepted benefits of consumer engagement are as follows: 

·         Increase Sales, Advocacy & Referrals
·         Increase Brand Loyalty & Retention
·         Increase Customer Awareness
·         Enhance Company Image and Reputation

Effective engagement activities create emotional attachments that draw customers closer to protect them from competitors; encourage repurchasing while lowering price sensitivity; gather insights to refine strategy; and ultimately promote evangelism. To succeed, customer engagement efforts must have a correlation to growth metrics, especially revenue and profits.

Engaged customers trust your brand, advocate for you, and buy a greater breadth and depth of your products without as much price-sensitivity. In a report titled ”Enhancingthe Customer Experience and Engagement in Retail,”  PeopleMetrics writes that companies focusing on customer engagement realize a 13% revenue reward, compared to a 36% revenue penalty for those companies obstructing customer engagement.

With the proliferation of personal mobile smart-devices comes the “Age of Engagement.” Customers are demanding to be heard and involved over mobile and social networks. The most successful companies will grow as they engage customers in customer acquisition, retention, operations, innovation, and even strategy.


Mobile Consumer Engagement

Personal smart-devices such as smartphones and tablets have surpassed the two billion units-sold mark. By 2016 it is believed that there will be over 8 billion smart-devices in the world outnumbering the human population. Consumers now spend more time on the web via smart-devices than they do on personal computers. Mobile consumer engagement is rapidly becoming a critical strategic step for brands as marketing teams seek to keep pace with explosive adoption rates among consumers. It’s important to note however, that “mobile” doesn’t change what you do; it simply enhances the way that you connect with your customers. Mobile affords a deeper and more intimate personal connection with each customer.

Brand managers who value engagement and recognize the new mobile-consumer are challenged with establishing touch-points to mobile. A brand’s mobile strategy will typically include multiple facets. Many times a native app is launched, multi-screen campaigns are utilized or social media channels are leveraged. Vehicles to mobile connect points can often include, Bluetooth, iBeacon, QR Codes, NFC or AR (augmented reality). To initiate the contact between brand and mobile consumer, marketers often look to more established traditional media channels such as the following:
·         Traditional Media (TV, Radio, Signage, Print)
·         Live Events
·         Email
·         SMS Text Messaging
·         Digital Radio
·         Web & Mobile Banners
·         Social Media
Recent developments in wearable technology have created a new touch-point to mobile. R-Evolution has taken the concept of wearable technology and applied it to the $19b vertical of branded promotional merchandise. By using standard and widely adopted 2D scan code technology, R-Evolution can cost effectively transform traditional promotional merchandise into interactive merchandise creating a new mobile touch-point for brands to leverage.

In many cases branded merchandise and promotional merchandise items are already a strategic part of a brand’s annual budget to drive awareness. By blending “physical” with “digital,” brands can leverage their existing merchandise budget to enhance the consumer experience and reach the mobile consumer simultaneously.   


Engaging Content

A critical component to any consumer engagement strategy is creating content that your customers want. Content Marketing has actually been around for quite some time. It hasn’t been until recently that it has played such a major role in brand strategy. The increased focus on content marketing is largely due to the widespread adoption of mobile and its close ties to social media.

Here are some examples of content that marketers’ create and deploy to engage consumers:

·         Live Events
·         Contests
·         Social Media
·         Sweepstakes
·         Newsletters
·         How-to-Guides
·         Coupons
·         Mobile Apps
·         Rebates
·         Trial Offers
·         Downloads
·         Music
·         Ringtones
·         Videos
·         Event Information
·         eBooks
·         Games
·         Magazines
·         User-Generated
·         White Papers
·         Webinars/Webcasts
·         Blogs

R-Evolution interactive merchandise leverages the power of content and engagement through an authentic one-to-one connection with each mobile consumer. In essence, interactive merchandise is not only a mobile consumer touch-point but also a controllable content distribution platform for continuous mobile engagement. Remember, effective consumer engagement is a long-term conversation spread out over time.


Engagement Goals

Earlier we identified the generally accepted benefits to consumer engagement. Let’s drill down further from benefits to direct campaign goals. Every campaign should have a measurable outcome from which we measure success. Success metrics should be indentified prior to the launch with a direct method to track and calculate the metric.

It is also wise to build in an “optimization” phase of each campaign where those executing the campaign can adjust and modify campaign variables to increase the probability of obtaining the desired results. Here are few examples of direct goals or outcomes a brand might seek when conducting mobile consumer engagement campaigns:
·         Lead generation
·         Content delivery
·         Event amplification
·         Customer intelligence
·         Activate brand advocates
·         Drive brand awareness
·         Extend brand persona
·         Drive ROI of existing marketing assets
·         Drive social channels
·         Drive ecommerce channels
·         Drive mcommerce channels


Social Media & Mobile Consumer Engagement

Social Media is the “mother” of all consumer engagement touch points. Like mobile, social is very personal in nature and allows marketers to connect individually with consumers. In this network, consumers interact with friends, relatives and others in their own personal network. To a brand manager, this is the Holy Grail of brand advocacy and referral based selling.

Social networks have grown hand-in-hand with mobile networks. Our smartphones have become the “remote-controls” of our lives and social media platforms (twitter, facebook, YouTube) are the channels we “watch” to interact with and interact through. The portability of personal mobile devices and the accessibility of social media align perfectly with millennials, gen-Y and even gen-X-ers.

This graph depicts the alignment between mobile and social:

It becomes quite clear that mobile-social networks and experiential marketing are almost one in the same. We are witnessing the true convergence of digital and physical worlds. Each day the lines between the two become blurred further and further as each generation seeks life experiences while becoming more immersed in technological advancements.


Comparing Response Rates

It appear as if the evolution of experiential marketing is calling out for “new” forms of consumer engagement; engagement that encompasses all of the components, both new and old, of the brand/consumer relationship. We have seen the early stages of wearable technology begin to take hold in the market place. Clunky and odd at times, fashion faux-pas extraordinaire, these attempts to capture the new experience are reminiscent of the very early days of personal computers.

We can however, take a much more simplified approach. Sure, it’s not as “sexy” as Google Glass or as cool or expensive as Augmented Reality but it can yield excellent results. When compared to other vehicles for consumer engagement, interactive merchandise performs at a statistically significant higher level. The chart below features engagement levels for a live charitable event using interactive merchandise to engage participants versus other forms of consumer engagement. 

Successful mobile consumer engagement at live events can yield good results. In order to ensure these results, it is critical to execute on six key components. These components are:
1.     Clear call-to-action and instructions
2.     Valuable content offers and incentives
3.     Responsive mobile rich-media experience
4.     Optimization across all mobile platforms
5.     Targeted campaign design and execution
6.     Track, measure and calculate ROI


 Summary Conclusion

As brands play catch-up to consumers’ rapid adoption of mobile-social networks, many will seek to intertwine mobile-social with live events and content marketing. The successful convergence of these marketing tactics will result in the ultimate fan experience which is what every brand should seek to accomplish.

Brands no longer view patrons as consumers. Consumers are now treated as “fans.” You cherish and nurture them with products, services, events and content that enhances the relationship and drives the overall brand-to-fan experience.

Brian Michalski
Co-Founder, R-Evolution Industries

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