Get Ready for Engagement Scoring: Four Key Steps

Posted on by Phil Hussey

The vast majority of marketers are unable to follow up on or interpret critical purchasing cues because they can’t track their customers’ engagement across channels, according to a survey on engagement scoring by 89 Degrees.

Considering the enormous payoff for engagement scoring done right, this is a skills gap that needs to be filled fast.

89 Degrees surveyed 176 marketers for its Pathway to Advanced Customer Engagement study,  which examines the rewards and challenges of tracking and leveraging customer engagement across channels.

Engagement is most broadly defined as a touch point a consumer has with a brand, any point in the customer journey where he or she has taken action and interacted with the brand. More and more, marketers are capturing and organizing the data from each of these interactions, forming a trail of digital “breadcrumbs” enabling them to understand customer engagement, and positively influence it to drive revenue.

For example, a popular home improvement retailer has been dutifully sending email to a previous customer. This customer has only made a few purchases, none of which are in the recent past. Furthermore, like many of the brand’s other email subscribers, this customer rarely opens any communications, and is even less likely to click on a link.

This customer can be defined as an “ignorer” when it comes to email engagement. Now, let’s imagine at a certain point in time, something changes and the customer opens an email from the retailer, and clicks a link on “how to build your own deck.” The customer spends 20 minutes on the retailer’s website. During this visit the customer views a video on building your own deck, and later reads recommendations on related products, including pressure-treated lumber, wood stain and hardware. The customer leaves the session without making a purchase. In fact, unknown to the retailer, the customer goes on to visit a number of similar and competitive websites, comparing products and information.

Up to now, this retailer’s marketing team has done everything just about right. But as the study found, only 27% of the 176 participating companies had integrated web browsing behavior into their marketing database. What’s more, less than 10% had integrated social or mobile data. In this case, if the hardware retailer had been analyzing web activity, the consumer’s engagement score would go through the proverbial roof.

The study also reveals that those who act on engagement data enjoy a 700% increase in ROI – a fact that intuitively makes sense. The challenge, however, is in the inherent complexity and overwhelming volume of data.  To create value from this data, there are four key steps to engagement scoring success.

1.    Understand engagement analysis and why one size does not fit all.

In engagement analysis, the underlying analysis is completed much like a traditional segmentation, clustering together consumers with similar patterns across digital channels. With regards to email, the segmentation is based on patterns in opens and clicks. For more advanced mobile messaging platforms, responses can be measured in much the same way as email. For websites, the analysis typically focuses on recency of site visits and the depth of those visits. And finally, the most typical integration for social includes an identification of friends at a minimum.

2.    Gauge the health of your customer base.

Engagement scores can be judged to run from 0 (not engaged with any channels) to 1, which would indicate that all consumers were engaging at the highest level, across all channels—not a likely scenario, given that a fair number of the consumers may not be engaging at all with a channel like Facebook. So interpreting engagement scores requires a bit of art and science, and will always depend on the brand and the number of engagement opportunities available.

3. Use changes in engagement score to determine intent and trigger communications.

While engagement is strategically useful at the customer portfolio level, it is also supremely actionable at the individual customer level. A change in a consumer’s engagement score should trigger a range of actions on the marketer’s part. The key to success is understanding the customers’ intent as they engage, and using that information as leverage to drive relevance.

4.    Are you ready for engagement scoring?

Before getting started, marketers need to ask themselves some important questions about their readiness to begin engagement scoring, and what they need to do to move forward profitably, including:

  • Is your email click data integrated into your marketing database at the individual level?
  • Is your website clickstream data matched to your customers and stored in your marketing database?
  • Are you able to identify Facebook likes in your marketing database?
  • Do you have the mobile SMS messaging equivalent of open and click data stored in your database?
  • Have you completed any analysis that segments your customers based on their level of engagement?

The question is not if business should practice engagement scoring, but when to begin. The sooner they gain these abilities, the sooner they can tap into the deeper customer relationships and huge profit potential that this process represents.

Phil Hussey is president of 89 Degrees.

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