This sponsored post is produced by Marketo.

The quest of every company can be summarized up pretty fast: to acquire customers quickly, grow their lifetime value, and convert them into loyal advocates (who, in turn, influence new customers, creating a virtuous cycle).

But today’s digital, social, mobile world has made it very hard to drive that cycle. Consider this:

  • Buyers are more empowered than ever. Armed with extraordinary information access, they are forming opinions and drawing conclusions well before they choose to interact with a particular company. Forrester’s recentresearch demonstrates that two-thirds to 90% of a buyer’s journey today is self-directed, happening before buyers interact directly with the brand.
  • Customers are bombarded by nearly 3,000 messages per day, many times from the competition, at every step in their journey. If a company can’t stay top of mind and relevant, it can’t grow the lifetime value of customers through up-sell, cross-sell, or renewal opportunities.
  • Buyers are influenced digitally by other buyers all the time — a recent McKinsey study shows that up to 50% of purchasing decisions are influenced by advocates.

Looking at these truths, there’s no question that marketing is shifting from the traditional techniques of mass marketing and transactional marketing to engagement marketing.

The shift to engagement marketing

Digital, social and mobile technologies have forever altered the way marketing is interacting with people.

We used to live in the era of mass marketing – creating single messages designed to appeal to everyone, and focused on talking at customers via advertising. The Internet introduced transactional marketing – during which the emphasis was on the “click,” or the point of interaction, and the entire goal was to win the transaction upfront.

But today’s digital world has shown us that the “click” is only the beginning of a customer relationship, not the end.

Marketing has shifted. It’s shifted from talking at people, or focusing on transactions, to engaging with people – building meaningful, life-long, and personalized relationships.

The seven principles of engagement marketing

The term engagement is a popular one today. It’s used in a lot of different contexts — in marketing, support, customer success, gamification, and others. To define engagement in a marketing context, we’ve talked to hundreds of marketers, including our own prospects, customers, and experts in our industry. The result? Seven key principles that define engagement marketing:

Engagement marketing is about connecting with people…

As individuals: Engagement marketing means shifting from mass communication to targeted, personal communication. It means understanding a customer’s individual preferences, history, and relationship with your company. Persona-based marketing may speak to ‘typical’ buyers, but engagement 1:1 marketing speaks to customers as individuals with their own unique patterns, behaviors and preferences.

Based on what they do: Engagement marketing moves away from demographics-driven marketing to marketing based on behavior. Rather than assuming what a customer is interested in because they fit a certain profile, engagement marketing uses technology-enabled data to tell you precisely who to target, with what, and when.

Wherever they are: Siloed communications ignore the reality of today’s customer moving seamlessly from her email, to her Facebook page, to her favorite blogs, to your website, and back to other social media channels. Engagement marketing shifts this to an integrated marketing approach that’s not simply about being multi-channel — it’s about being ‘omni-channel’. To do this, marketers today need to create a consistent experience across every single platform, continuing a conversation across from one channel or device to the next.

Continuously over time: Instead of relying on disconnected, point-in-time campaign blasts, true engagement marketing is a continuous process. It responds to customers at every stage of their purchase to keep them engaged to the ultimate point of purchase. It flows in a logical fashion and every interaction asks for another interaction, becoming part of a longer chain of events. In this way, a customer’s first purchase is only the beginning of their value.

Always directed towards a goal: Engagement marketing moves from unclear objectives to clear customer journeys. Every interaction moves customers further along their lifecycle. From acquisition to advocacy, your goal is to move those buyers into the next phase, understanding their current mindset and inclinations so that every call-to-action is targeted with laser precision to move them forward.

With measureable impact: Subjective gut-level estimates of a program’s performance can’t provide sustainable success for the future — and can’t reflect back on a marketing team’s true value. Engagement marketing is measurable. With advanced analytics and reporting, you can track customer actions and tie them back to specific marketing tactics to optimize going forward, and show marketing as a revenue-driver, not just a cost center.

At the speed of digital: Engagement marketing allows you to coordinate marketing campaigns faster and with greater efficiency. Tedious tasks that were previously time-consuming can be completed in minutes to manage volume and complexity. Campaigns across multiple channels become an orchestrated, coordinated effort. And most importantly, as your company grows, engagement marketing allows for total scalability.

Get more insights and real-world examples. Download The 7 Principles of Engagement Marketing.

Chandar Pattabhiram isVP of product and corporate marketing for Marketo and is a seasoned enterprise executive with 20+ years of experience in both private and public companies. 

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