The popular wisdom among many marketers has been that consumers want a sense of control over the brands they use. Brands are getting on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms partly to provide customers with that capability.
But hold on! A new report by Razorfish that looked at how consumers want to interact with brands finds that control is actually the least important of six Engagement Elements. What do consumers want most from their engagement with brands? They want to feel valued.
The study, titled Liminal, was designed to define brand engagement from the consumer’s, not the marketer’s, point of view. Through its research, Razorfish discovered that “consumers’ six Engagement Elements – the needs they have when they interact with a brand – are feeling Valued, Trust, Efficiency, Consistency, Relevance and Control.”
Feeling valued, trust and efficiency were the top three brand engagement priorities across all consumer segments. Consistency, relevance and control ranked at the bottom.
This study also looked at the channels that are the most important and the least important for consumers when it comes to engaging with brands and which channels did the best job and the worst job at meeting consumers’ brand engagement expectations.
The findings are that “the most important consumer engagement channels are transactional email, company websites, traditional word-of-mouth and face-to-face conversation with a company representative.”
What channels do consumers regard as the lowest in importance? According to the study “social networking services were the least important, be it LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or the even newer location-based social networking services”
Moreover, “the least frequent actions taken on individual channels were participating in a company community site, looking up a company on YouTube, posting a review, reading or participating in a company community site and sending an email to a company. Twitter and Facebook didn’t even make it into the top nine in terms of importance or frequency of use.” Surprised?
When it comes to meeting expectations, consumers felt that the channels that did the poorest job of meeting their brand engagement expectations were postal mail, print ads, mobile applications and real-time chat with customer service representatives.
Now, what are marketers to do with these provocative findings? First off, conduct an assessment of all of your company’s customer contact points. How do they measure up against the six Engagement Elements? Are your external interactions designed to evoke feelings of value, trust and efficiency in your prospects, installed base and partners? If not, improve existing processes. Focus on personalization. Modify call center scripts. Write new website text. Revise your salesperson training. Further customize the emails and direct mail that you send out.
Are you missing opportunities to provide positive brand engagement? Brainstorm and implement new ways to interact with your customers that deliver a respectful, highly responsive and efficient experience.
Even though social media ranked low as a preferred channel, stay with it. Use the six Engagement Elements as a litmus test for your social media initiatives. Implement changes that make your brand seem more attentive and responsive to customers.
Creating brand affinity and loyalty is a critical imperative for marketers because strong brands enjoy dedicated customers, repeat sales and competitive barriers. Take the insights that this study provides and use them to advance your brand building efforts.