Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent

Professor Glenn Omura, Michigan State University

Dr. Glenn Omura, Associate Professor, Michigan State University, Broad College of Business

By Dr. Glenn Omura

Earlier this year I spoke with Manoj Saxena, General Manager of Watson Solutions at IBM, about developing a scale-to-measure customer engagement. We agreed that as businesses look for ways to retain existing customers and attract new ones, the question of what resonates with consumers and makes them loyal customers is increasingly top of mind.

In my research and work as a marketing professor, I’ve seen how organizations have succeeded in marketing to various population segments, and also how they’ve fallen short of their customers’ expectations.

The traditional way of marketing is no longer sufficient, particularly when dealing with a younger, tech-savvy digital consumer – the Millennial. Research shows that Millennials are optimistic, confident and pragmatic, are seeking more personalized attention and engagement. Smart businesses need to make sure they’re meeting those needs. As companies increasingly apply technology to satisfy the daily consumer demand for greater individual productivity and immediacy, they may be giving up relationship-building for the sake of efficiency.  

Can companies have both? 

At MichiganStateUniversity, we are developing a measure of engagement that we will use to evaluate whether technology can deliver a desired level of engagement and secure the company-customer relationship. Our customer engagement scale measures three dimensions of customer engagement – the degree to which a company/brand energizes or excites a consumer; builds enthusiasm for the brand; and enmeshes, or captures, the attention of the consumer with the brand or company. 

With smartphones and tablets never out of arm’s reach, Millennials are leading the trend toward increased digital engagement. It is estimated that there will be more than 10 billion mobile devices by 2016, outpacing the human population. Numbers like these indicate that the digital consumer is here to stay and businesses would be well advised to adapt quickly. Given the demand for immediacy, and the sheer volume of online information, it is crucial to be able to measure customer engagement, pinpoint how and where engagement can be improved, and deliver a better engaged experience. 

Whereas “traditional” consumers might see an advertisement on TV or in a magazine and visit a store to seek out information and make an in-person purchase decision, Millennials operate a little differently. They may see an ad on TV, grab their smartphone off the couch next to them, surf the Web for more information and make an on-the-fly online purchase. How can retailers increase their chances that these digital, Millennial consumers will make a purchase and, better yet, become a return customer? 

One of the things we’ve seen in our research is a strong correlation between social media and customer engagement. Those who are more engaged with a brand, also interact more about the brand via multiple social media. Millennials are very active online and looking for ways to engage.  

Have a question for your brand? You can send a tweet saying exactly what you want in 140 characters — but there’s still a wait time and the response may be limited in context.  

Need advice on the best product for your unique needs? You can perform a search, but there’s no one to guide you towards the most evidence-based recommendation, amidst a sea of forums, blogs and online opinions.

Successfully engaging consumers can have multiplicative positive effects in the social net.

Now is the perfect time to discuss new ways of understanding and reaching today’s digital consumers.

The Millennial consumers that marketers seek to engage may be tech savvy, and may have a range of devices at their disposal, but even in the age of all things digital, they could still benefit from an insightful, easy to access guide to ensure their decisions are well-informed and on the trajectory towards optimizing their consumption choices.

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In related news, this week IBM unveiled the IBM Watson Engagement Advisor, a technology designed to crunch big data and help brands deepen their engagement with customers who want fast personalized and mobile experiences.

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4 Comments
 
May 30, 2013
9:26 am

Ben, you’re right. Chalk it up to blog space constraints and being in the introduction phase of the release of our research results. We, at Michigan State University, are developing models to identify the drivers to customer engagement and the business results of firms with highly engaged customers. Drivers include the usual operational metrics, but also softer variables that are likely to lead to engagement. Business results include sales, retention, customer social networking.


Posted by: Glenn Omura
 
May 30, 2013
8:19 am

I absolutely agree. Engagement IS the key. Social Media technology has changed the rules. Corporations of every size need to respond or lose ground to those that do! Social Business positions a company to exploit and leverage this new method of engagement.


Posted by: Mike Sagar
 
May 30, 2013
3:11 am

Honestly, no disrespect intended but this article was all lead and no follow through, practically an abstract. Precisely when you discuss providing value and engagement here you fail to do so. An entire article about something that has long been clear to the entire industry for years rather than writing about the type of engagement and interactions that have proven to be successful.


Posted by: Ben
 
May 29, 2013
9:12 am

Great article. I wrote on the same topic a few weeks ago (link below). I think that engagement IS one of the keys to reaching millennial audiences (myself included!), but the TYPE of engagement is equally critical. Too often, we’re seeing marketers try to race to the lowest common denominator when talking to millennials. But there’s plenty of evidence that offering millennials substantive, value-based marketing leads to more responses and virality.

Link: http://www.mpdailyfix.com/marketing-to-millennials-then-take-us-seriously/


Posted by: Blair Reeves
 
4 Trackbacks
 
October 28, 2013
10:31 pm

[…] this is the engine of our business future. Millennial leaders are strongly committed to embracing these technologies and putting them to use in a way that drives their organizations forward, leaning on cloud […]


Posted by: Another Kind Of Revolution: Social, Mobile, Cloud - TalentCulture - World of Work
 
October 14, 2013
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[...] this is the engine of our business future. Millennial leaders are strongly committed to embracing these technologies and putting them to use in a way that drives their businesses forward: leaning on cloud [...]


Posted by: Social, Cloud, The Beatles, And The Millennial CEO
 
September 25, 2013
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[...] The Tide example is part of the “always on” phenomenon that enables brands to adapt their media plans based on trending topics. Companies that stay on top of real-time marketing metrics can remain relevant and engage consumers (a key part of marketing to millennials). [...]


Posted by: The Smartest Brands Use Real-Time Marketing To Capitalize On Trends | Lord of the Net
 
June 24, 2013
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[...] or developing interactive contests or campaigns that get them sharing, viewing, and talking, successful social engagement is crucial to marketing [...]


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