According to the English-language version of Wikipedia on 2 January 2009, edited here for concision, customer engagement refers to the engagement of customers with one another, with a company or a brand—either consumer- or company-led using offline or online media.
Unlike the marketing term, positioning, no single source defined customer engagement (CE). Discussed widely online and representing hundreds of published pages with reader comments, CE has become the topic of numerous conferences, seminars and roundtables.
Customer engagement presumes a longer term, more strategic context with the assumption that simply maximizing for sales conversions can decrease the likelihood of repeat conversions. CE aims at long-term relationship, customer loyalty, and advocacy through word- of-mouth referrals and recommendations.
Customer engagement in online media differs from offline engagement: the nature of the customer’s interactions with a brand, company and other customers; discussion forums, social networking sites, blogs, and rankings enable people to communicate in ways not possible in most offline media. The rise of online user generated content now makes customer advocacy and antagonism a common feature of most markets.
Customer Engagement enables organizations to more effectively respond to the fundamental changes in customer behavior brought about by the Internet. CE addresses the need to offset the increasing ineffectiveness of the traditional ‘interrupt and repeat’, broadcast and print advertising approach.
Customer Engagement enables organizations to overcome the following sources of increasing loss in market power:
• Fragmentation of media and audiences
• Greater specialization of media content
• Consumer expectation for variety and convenience
• Simultaneous multichannel media consumption by consumers
• Instant messaging among peers while consuming media
• Lower physical switching costs for most products and services
• Widening of geographic market access
• Lower reputation among some consumers of many corporations with non-sustainable offerings and offensive policies
Customer Engagement seeks deeper and more frequent customer contributions as an important source of competitive advantage: public endorsement of advertising themes, user-generated product reviews, customer service FAQs, etc.
Wikipedia offers the following definitions of online customer engagement:
A social phenomenon enabled by the wide adoption of the Internet, exploiting the technical developments in high-speed broadband, low-cost Internet-connected devices, and digital media.
The behavior of customers that participate in online lifestyle communities, directly or indirectly, associated product categories (cycling, sailing) and other consumption topics; a socialization process that induces participants to create positive association with sponsoring companies or user groups.
Marketing practices that create, stimulate or influence CE behavior.
Metrics that measure the effectiveness of the marketing practices which seek to create, stimulate or influence CE behavior.
Amazon recently re-branded itself, using the slogan “Serving the world’s largest engaged online community.”
The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) offers a “Blueprint for Consumer-Centric Holistic Measurement.”
The Association of National Advertisers (ANA), American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) and the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), now operate an “Engagement Steering Committee” to define metrics for customer engagement.
Nielsen Media Research, IAG Research and Simmons Research all pursue the development of a CE definition and metric.
In March 2006, the Advertising Research Foundation announced the first definition of customer engagement the first definition of CE at the re:think! 52nd Annual ARF Convention and Expo: “Engagement is turning on a prospect to a brand idea enhanced by the surrounding context.”
Some theorists and practitioner refer to customer engagement as the stages through which consumers travel as they interact with a particular brand and developer deeper bonds of affection and reciprocity.
This Customer Engagement Cycle, or Customer Journey, has been described using a myriad of terms but most often consists of 5 different stages: Awareness, Consideration, Inquiry, Purchase and Retention.
Marketers employ Connection Strategy to speak to would-be customers at each stage, with media that addresses their particular needs and interests.
When conducting Search Engine Marketing & Search Engine Optimization, or placing ads, marketers must devise media and/or keywords and phrases that encourage customer flow Customer Engagement Lifecycle towards Purchase.
Because the various definitions often focus on entirely different aspects of CE, competing definitions