Why Marketers Are Still Struggling to Measure Engagement

Why Marketers Are Still Struggling to Measure Engagement

August 21, 2018
4 min read
The most engaging brands – the ones who are offering data-driven contextual experiences for customers – are the companies who are winning over the hearts and minds of consumers. And they are keeping them.Consumers gravitate to relevant, personalized experiences like moms to coupons. When well delivered, they aren’t just rewarding, they’re fulfilling.But, for all the well-justified hype about investing resources into boosting CX to boost engagement, the reality is, marketers are having trouble making an impact. Most marketers are struggling to measure engagement. And, what you can’t measure – in the world of marketing, at least – you can’t understand or deliver on.So, what’s holding marketers back?

Real-Time Analysis Isn’t Happening

One of the golden keys that were supposed to be handed over to marketers with the push for new and updated technology to streamline the customer experience was real-time analytics.

With real-time analytics, marketers know how a campaign is performing – today – and then, can deliver personalized engagement with customers in real time.

Without it, we’re stuck relying on historical data to understand campaign performance, to refine customer segmentation, and to determine what offers and messaging should be delivered. It’s the right content, right time, right channel to the right customer – which is like figuring out a Rubik’s cube without quality, real-time analytics.

According to the CMO Council’s The State of Engagement 2018 report, the most important ingredient needed to deliver the customer experience strategy is having systems that can leverage real-time data.

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But, despite the martech buying sprees over the past couple of years (in 2017, 43 percent of marketers spent more than a quarter of their budgets deploying new or updated technologies) only 7 percent are successfully leveraging real-time data within their engagement platform for a better customer experience.

According to the 2018 Harvard Business Review Analytics Services Survey, which interviewed 560 enterprise business leaders, only 16 percent feel that are very effective at delivering real-time customer interactions across touchpoints. A third admit they aren’t effective at all.

It’s not only CX that’s lagging, but also an understanding of business impact – only 5 percent are able to see the financial impact of engagement in real-time.

The Dots Aren’t Connecting

In order to get this real-time insight, to then turn around and use it to offer personalization and to make better marketing and business decisions, a lot of moving parts need to line up.

1. On one hand, data needs to come together from multiple events.

  • Web browsing sessions
  • Social media posts
  • Online transactions
  • Email messaging

2. Then, these events have to be properly connected to customer data in order to drive the real-time experiences. Ideally, this results in each step the customer takes along the customer journey providing input to create better engagement for the subsequent steps.

3. And – everyone on your marketing team needs to be seeing the same 360-degree perspective of the customer.

This requires your marketing technology stack to line up so that all of this data is integrated. So, in order to get this clarity out of data complexity – the single view of the customer and technology that can combine inputs from multiple channels, then look at customer data, and create relevant actions for consumers automatically – marketers have been scrambling to make their technology deliver.

What they’ve done in the rush is what The State of Engagement report calls ‘rip and replace.’ In the last year, 78 percent of marketers have implemented new marketing, data, analytics or customer engagement technology, with most bringing in new solutions to replace the existing tools that aren’t connecting data and channels in the way that was promised. There’s a lot of pressure to make these big martech investments work. In fact, 24 percent of marketers say if CX efforts fail, they believe their jobs will be on the line and 48 percent think they are at risk if the technology investments fail.

‘Rip and replace’ is basically an ongoing battle between old systems and new cloud solutions in a desperate attempt to make the technology bear fruit. Trying to catch up or patch up holes in the marketing stack, marketing teams are then left with a patchwork stack that isn’t necessarily capable of delivering that constant flow of real-time analytics and triggering real-time customer recommendations, messages, offers, and other experiences.

“Marketers are not advancing experience agendas or accelerating results with new technology investments.”

-The State of Engagement, 2018

To add another monkey on the back of the marketers who are struggling with their technology, some of their competitors have figured it out. They are the ones excelling at CX. According to Forrester’s research, 95 percent of companies who have implemented a CX data platform rate their customer experience strategy as successful.

How Can Marketers Catch Up in the Engagement Game?

In order to keep up as we move closer to 2019, marketers are going to have to consider taking more serious technology leaps – implementing a single system instead of trying to tweak and mash together different tools and either upskilling and increasing IT training or bringing on more analytics talent.

Those who are really excelling at engagement – Amazon, REI, Home Depot, Spotify, Brainshark – have already developed machine learning algorithms. These algorithms are getting smarter, learning with each customer interaction and data input, while the rest of the business world is still trying to set up their systems.

Delivering a better customer experience is going to become even more critical over the next couple of years because consumers are getting used to this seamless, always-present experience that feels like it was created just for them.

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Not only is mastering your engagement metrics at the real-time level essential, it may get morecomplex a few years from now as technology changes. So, marketers need to be ready.

It’s hard to believe but just over ten years ago, the first iPhones were entering the market. Only a few years ago did mobile marketing start to take off. Now, we are looking at more changes with smart home devices and an even more plugged in world. 39 percent of enterprise execs from the Harvard Business review survey cite the IoT as an important technology right now for improving customer experiences. 55 percent believe it will be important in 2020.

The good news is, once you go through the ring of fire, the race to measure engagement will be over. You’ll get to focus on refining and expanding your CX rather than catching up. You’ll have your single customer view, integrated touchpoints, and machine learning algorithms in place. Your organization will be one more of the anointed brands who are using the ‘golden record’ to create the type of high-level CX your customers expect.

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Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula", and Founder of Marketing Insider Group. Recognized as a Top Content Marketing expert and Digital Marketing Leader, Michael leverages his experience from roles in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as his leadership in leading teams and driving growth for thriving startups. Today, Michael delivers empowering keynotes on marketing and leadership, and facilitates actionable workshops on content marketing strategy. Connect with Michael today.