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What Is Brand Engagement and Why Is It Critical for Business Growth?

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Brand engagement is the emotional connection between a consumer and brand built through participation, advocacy, loyalty and meaningful interactions over time.

For companies today, high brand engagement sets businesses apart from competitors just chasing surface-level awareness. It drives measurable growth in revenue, referrals, retention and lifetime value.

Let‘s explore powerful brand engagement strategies and examples for bringing your audience closer to your brand.

The Growing Business Impact of Brand Engagement

Brand engagement – fostering invested, highly involved audiences – should be a priority focus for marketers in 2023 and beyond.

Recent statistics reveal its strong bottom line results:

  • +30% higher revenue growth for brands ranking highest in engagement, per Forrester [1]
  • 4-5x greater average order value from an engaged email subscriber [2]
  • 57% more likely for engaged customers to purchase at full price [3]

Plus engaged visitors deliver longer customer lifetimes and drive acquisition through referrals. They intrinsically reward brands by cost-effectively scaling reach and visibility.

For further perspective, view the impact across metrics:

Non-Engaged Engaged
Email Click Through Rate 2% 6%
Campaign Conversion Rate 5% 25%
Average Order Value $50 $250
Products Per Order 1.2 4.1

Clearly deeper emotional connections change behaviors and metrics for the better.

Now let‘s examine brand engagement strategies for strengthening bonds.

Brand Engagement Strategies to Steal

Leading brands engage audiences creatively across platforms with these approaches:

Encourage Authentic User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) works wonders for engagement and reach. Outdoors brand REI runs an annual #OptOutside campaign rallying users to share photos of their Black Friday adventures tagged with OptOutside.

This inspires customers to proudly display REI as they forgo holiday shopping for outdoor experiences REI provides gear for. The brand then reshares this UGC.

Campaign results [4]:

  • 9,000+ UGC photo submissions yearly
  • Over 5 billion campaign impressions annually
  • 80% brand recall from #OptOutside

UGC makes users both visually showcase products and convey emotional affinity for REI‘s mission around nature enjoyment over consumption. Their owned content builds credibility through customers‘ voices.

REI brilliantly mobilizes micro-influencers organically at scale while spreading its branding widely from piggybacked shares.

REI OptOutside Campaign UGC example

Launch Creative Contests and Interactive Games

Contests can spur viral activity and memorability through creativity.

Kit Kat‘s "Have a Break" jingle informed their Gram Break campaign awarding $20k musician grants during the pandemic concert shutdown. Musicians posted performances across Instagram to enter and rally fan votes for winner selection.

They designed prize incentives and voting mechanisms for maximize user shares to stand out from typical sweepstakes. Activity translated to [5]:

  • 290+ contest video entries receiving 560k video views
  • 5.5m contest hashtag impressions
  • 170k visits to the campaign hub site

The results demonstrate the power of contextual, engaging contest formats beyond basic gatekeeping ones for giveaways.

Facilitate Social Connections In-Real-Life

Relationships cement loyalty. That‘s why workplace chat platform Slack formed Slack User Groups to facilitate meetups worldwide. These localized meetups help users befriend others using Slack in their city. Humans trump hashtags for engagement!

Consider promotional partnerships, brand ambassador programs and experiential events that immerse users socially in-real-life. Events also unlock sponsorships as income to fund overhead costs.

Prioritize Long-Term Value Before Short-Term Transactions

Avoid flooding customers solely with sales promotions and offer education instead to demonstrate commitment.

For example, insurance provider Lemonade built an online community and content hub, Lemonade Alley, focused on home insurance guidance versus pricing. Consistently publishing helpful, non-promotional info builds authority and trust for eventual conversions.

Lemonade Alley Insurance Education Example

Think beyond transactional emails to add self-service tools and resources your audience finds continually useful if you genuinely aim to enhance lives long-term versus quick sales.

Track Engagement Analytics Rigorously

Marketers who carefully track engagement behavior metrics across platforms and segments unlock optimization insights their guesswork competitors miss.

Prioritize monitoring metrics like email clickthrough rates, time on site/page, repeat session rate, follower growth, contest entries, UGC submissions, chat messages and more.

Map metrics to business outcomes through multi-touch attribution to strategically steer budget. This analysis Spotlights High-ROI touchpoints and underutilized channels and helps A/B testing of messaging, offers and creatives.

Apply hardcore analytics to take the guessing out of engagement wins.

The Neuroscience Behind Brand Engagement

What causes consumers to engage emotionally and behaviorally with certain brands
over others? The subconscious drives engagement more than rational thinking.

Dopamine release creates pleasure during intriguing content and interactions. Uncertainty and mystery triggers its release, hence the love of surprise boxes and plot twists!

Oxytocin generates feelings of fondness and trust while forging social bonds. That‘s why influencers who are relatable companions command engagement versus stiff corporate shills.

Mirror Neurons activate empathy when we observe others displaying emotion. Seeing user-generated photos and video inherently connects us to strangers through shared experiences.

Understanding these mental mechanisms enables optimizing content and community for maximum stickiness.

Developing an Integrated Brand Engagement Plan

With strategies identified, integrating engagement building across touchpoints requires detailed orchestration.

Follow this high-level plan format:

1) Set Target Audience Personas

Define your ideal engaged member profile across demographics, psychographics, behaviors and brand beliefs. Clarify their values and community expectations.

2) Map Desired Actions to Outcomes

What post-click or post-view actions – votes, tags, logins, content creation, purchases – align to business goals around retention, referral, revenue?

3) Perform Channel & Competitor Audits

Assess owned media fit alongside performance benchmarks of paid/earned channels and competitor activity for right channel mix and gaps.

4) Create Valuable Content

Develop recurring and campaign-specific content and community functionality that caters to audience needs and promotes target actions.

5) Build Incentives for Engagement

Encourage desired social sharing, creation and conversion actions by structuring tiered benefits and rewards.

6) Activate Seeding and Advocacy

Identify and equip internal, employee and select power-user advocates to ignite initial sharing momentum.

7) Amplify Reach Through Partners

Secure co-marketing distribution partners to expand exposure with alignments to shared interests.

8) Track Performance and Listen

Monitor analytics to identify high-traction areas and listen across forums for optimization insights and new ideation. Continually test and refine.

While each brand must personalize activities to their positioning and goals, this strategic blueprint powers scalable engagement growth.

Now let‘s explore popular engagement formats to plug into campaigns.

Top Content Formats for Brand Engagement

These leading digital formats consistently drive active participation:

Promo Codes

  • Reward followers and incentivize conversions and reactivation
  • Announce creatively across email, social media and influencer channels

Giveaways / Contests

  • Increase opt-ins, social followers and visibility via participation
  • Require tags, shares, follows or content creation for amplifying entries

User Generated Content Competitions

  • Crowdsource visual and verbal customer content celebrating brand affinity
  • Foster user creativity and pride in media making for display

Interactive Quizzes / Calculators

  • Increase time-on-site while positioning thought leadership value
  • Present engaging questions, scoring and sharable personalized results

Live / Livestream Video

  • Deliver authentic transparency and facilitated real-time conversations at scale
  • Share company culture, Q&As, events and more

Ask Me Anything (AMA) Chats

  • Provide direct access to executives, experts and insiders
  • BuildGoodwill and trust through conversation

Surveys / Quick Polls

  • Solicit fast feedback signals to feel closer to the customer pulse
  • Shape decisions, product enhancements and experiences together

The content world moves fast. Continually A/B test formats while inspecting platform analytics and listening tools to double down on the highest traction areas that best deliver ROI.

Let‘s now detail platform-specific tactics to maximize awareness and engagement.

Proven Platform Strategies

Tailor digital activities across key social and community channels:

Instagram

  • Compel browsing with clickable graphics and captions
  • Usecarousel posts and Instagram Stories for condensed updates
  • Geo-target IGTVs and posts when relevant
  • Trigger Saved profile adds through value on a niche

Facebook

  • Structured Q&As during Live broadcasts withComments enabled
  • Local awareness campaigns with Call Now buttons
  • Messenger campaign bots for personality and promotion

YouTube

  • Encourage video comments, translations andsharing through cards/end screens
  • Moderate livesupport communities and hashtag discussions

TikTok

  • Issue branded hashtag challenges forUGC video generation with effects
  • Cross-promote through other owned channels

Slack / Discord

  • Facilitate topic-specific conversationchannels for peer sharing
  • Cultivate with rewards based on contribution tier

Multiplayer Games

  • Provide virtual goods through neargamification and redeemable codes
  • Align branded environments and avatarassets

Community Apps

  • Build dedicated chat and forums forquestions and advocacy
  • Incent with status, exclusives and assistance

Email / SMS

  • Personalize and segment journey flowsbased on traits and behaviors
  • Schedule re-engagement triggers based on dormancy or activity

As explored, many avenues facilitate relationships when creatively activated. Map owned properties and emerging media to audience consumption patterns.

Measuring Brand Engagement Performance

With strategy set, properly tracking engagement signals improves decision making and impact.

Quantitative

  • Impressions / Reach
  • Click-Through-Rates
  • Time-on-Page/Site
  • Bounce rates
  • Follower growth
  • Mentions and tags
  • Web traffic drivers
  • Loyalty member sign-ups
  • UGC content creation

Qualitative

  • Sentiment scoring
  • Exit surveys
  • Net Promoter Scores
  • Testimonials
  • Customer feedback
  • Focus group reactions

Correlative

  • Channel attribution to conversions
  • Predictive engagement scoring
  • Content type performance matrix
  • Funnel stage progression optimization

Measure across perspectives to refine understanding of relationship strength.

Final Tips for Boosting Brand Engagement

While tactics must align to brand positioning and audiences, these overarching tips drive engagement lift:

Be Consistent – Steady visibility and value creation builds stable expectations over time versus intermittent surprise moments.

Reciprocate – Actively respond to replies and content submissions with thoughtful comments.

Get Personal – Humanize your brand by highlighting team personalities, company culture and behind-the-scenes glimpses.

Listen – Social monitoring identifies pain points and enhancement ideas. Use surveys proactively as well.

Applaud – Recognize top brand ambassadors, longest tenured happy customers and UGC creators.

Pre-Suade – Prime audiences for future participation by trailling upcoming opportunities early.

As the digital world grows more cluttered, focusing on brand engagement drives exponential growth not possible through blunt or passive tactics.

Review the frameworks here for educating stakeholders and collaboratively building an engagement plan that emotionally connects your audience to maximize loyalty over time.

What new ways will you spark meaningful interactions moving forward?

Sources

  1. 2022 Customer Engagement Study, Forrester
  2. 2021 Customer Engagement Impact Study, Synergy Marketing
  3. 2022 Global Consumer Insights Study, Twitter / GWI
  4. 2022 Opt Outside Campaign Results, REI
  5. Case Study: Spotify‘s Gram Break Campaign

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