Marketers often use the term ‘engagement’ as a measure of success but an online survey of 585 Marketing Week readers shows that while 78% would use brand engagement as an ROI metric only 39% believe the metric is taken seriously by senior leaders and the board.
The majority of marketers (84%) consider a positive mention of their brand on social media as an indicator of brand engagement. A similar number (82%) class a retweet, like or share as a sign of consumer engagement. Just more than half (55%) also view negative comments about their brand on social media as an indicator of brand engagement.
This compares to 60% of respondents who say a consumer purchasing a product or service is a sign of engagement, followed by 58% who believe a consumer clicking on an online advert shows engagement, while 14% think a consumer simply seeing an ad is a sign of engagement.
When looking at why marketers use ‘engagement’ as a metric, the survey reveals 79% do so to understand what marketing activity works and 36% use it to steer creative work in real time. More than half (57%) use it to prove the value of marketing while 33% use it to sell more products.
Commenting on the results, Metro UK’s digital director Martin Ashplant says he uses engagement as a reporting metric but admits that marketers have “used the word engagement for a long time without really knowing what it is”. He believes “there is no magic metric that defines engagement” as it should be a combination of behaviours that indicate it.
This behaviour must be measurable, which is why it works well for digital communications, according to Blippar’s president of global marketing Omaid Hiwaizi. He says: “The thing about digital touchpoints generally – whether it is banner ads, augmented reality or Pokémon Go – is that they are highly measurable in tracking every single micro-engagement, dwell time, interaction and click.”
The disparity between marketers’ opinions on what defines engagement, in response to an open-ended question in the survey, serves as an indicator that the term has no singular definition.
While some marketers call engagement metrics a “farce” and a “con played on marketers by social media shysters”, others believe it’s a “process of forming a meaningful attachment between a consumer and a brand” and is identified through a consumer “positively interacting” with companies.
The full report, analysis and views from brands will be published on 10 August