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3 Types of Engagement Imposters

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enagement-imposterAt the heart of every customer engagement is a value exchange. At its best, engagement is a fair trade of value between the customer and the brand over time. Unfortunately, not every value exchange is equal. When the scales get tipped too far in either direction, we get engagement imposters–experiences that might be labeled as customer engagement, but are missing the essential ingredient of reciprocity.

Imposter #1: Unprofitable Engagement
Unprofitable engagement happens when the desire to “engage” with a customer supersedes the brand’s financial objectives or resources. In this scenario, the customer derives a high value from the engagement, but at a price that is not sustainable for the business. Consider the many small businesses that promoted their companies using Groupon. A Rice University professor released a research study that found that over 40% of businesses that used the promotional offers found them to be unprofitable. Consumers got great deals, but at the expense of the company’s bottom line. These high-profile, often trendy, marketing programs can fly high, only to crash and burn followed by agency reviews, budget cuts and executive shifts.

Imposter #2: Opportunistic Engagement
If unprofitable engagement is unsustainable in the short-term, opportunistic engagement is unsustainable in the long-term. Here, the engagement equation is weighted too heavily in favor of the brand’s objectives–contributing to the top or bottom line, but at the cost of brand equity, loyalty and advocacy. Think of businesses that lock down contracts by enacting large penalties for cancellation or “automatic renewals” that aren’t explicitly requested by customers. Companies that practice opportunistic engagement are prone to competitive threats, having eroded all goodwill with their customers in service of turning a profit.

Imposter #3: Meaningless Engagement
Meaningless engagement is exactly what it sounds like. It’s an interaction that meets neither the consumer’s objectives nor the brand’s objectives. This type of engagement often occurs when a brand tries to meet needs their customers do not expect or want them to meet. Take the example of a dental insurance provider who posts general health news daily to a Facebook page frequented by less than 100 fans. Do their customers want to get their health news on Facebook from their dental insurance provider? No. Does receiving these updates make them more likely to do business with their dental insurance provider? No. Meaningless engagement makes you wonder: what’s the point?

So what’s the goal? The objective of any brand-customer interaction should be to find the balance between what’s good for the customer and what’s good for the business. The opportunity for meaningful engagement lies at the intersection of those two ideas.

Get the complete guide–Meaningful Engagement: Connecting at the Moments That Matter at

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