Engage Me: Part 1

February 9, 2016

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The key to engagement is keeping it relevant

“Engagement” is the buzz word at the top of the list this month. More than 10% of American Couples get engaged (6 million Americans plan to ask or accept a proposal) on Valentine’s Day, making it the number one day of the year for the momentous event. And for the 50 billion dollar a year wedding industry – that’s big business. But even higher on the buzz worthy list is “engagement” of a different sort. Fan engagement, employee engagement, patient engagement, political engagement – these are ever present topics across national conversations, in the news, and problem solving within the markets themselves. Engagement is what everyone is striving for.

In today’s heightened “information now” mentality, the population expects to be engaged across all sectors of the marketplace. Entertainment is on-demand, curated, and recommended; employee retention and productivity requires employees to be actively “engaged” with their work and their employers; in healthcare – patient empowerment, shared decision making, and informed consent through patient engagement are key metrics of success; the 2016 election requires party members’ support, activated grass roots efforts and debate turnouts. Across the board we’re talking about an increasing level of “engagement” from stakeholders.

So – how do we accomplish this? The key lies in making touch points relevant. Communications (ads, notifications, information) must speak directly to the issue, be interesting and visually appealing, and capture the attention of the intended target within 3 seconds or be deemed unengaging and therefore – irrelevant.

We are seeing more and more use of the term “curated” – from curated content to curated commerce2. What it boils down to is making things immediate, and relevant, for the consumer. From subscription commerce (think Dollar Shave Club and Birch Box) to Amazon’s “Recommendations for You” based on your shopping and viewing patterns, the Netflix and Xfinity on-demand entertainment models, to targeted digital ads that seem to stalk you throughout the internet reminding you of the pair of boots you abandoned in the Zappo’s shopping cart or the coffee table you lusted after on Wayfair – we are living in a customized consumer market.

Employers are encouraged to monitor the engagement of their employees in order to maximize productivity. With 71% of all employees not fully engaged, and the companies with engaged employees performing at 202% over companies without3 – the term “engagement” has significant ROI implications. While attributes like empowerment and inspiration are key factors of employee engagement, so too is communication. Meaningful communication that imparts the vision of the company (inspiration) and provides a sense of team and ambassadorship, keeps things relevant for the employees.

Similarly, in healthcare, engagement is being looked to as a strategic ROI driver. Engaged patients have better health (recovery) outcomes, engaged individuals have better success at managing chronic disease and preventing complications at a huge cost savings.4 But in the case of healthcare – the debate is heavy on the definition of “patient engagement”. Just having a patient portal or remote monitoring technologies in place is not enough. With adoption and usage rates lower than 10%, Electronic Medical Record systems and patient portals alone do not equal patient engagement. We need people to actively use them.5

The upcoming election has spawned an uptick in political engagement. The absurd number of Republican candidates alone has breathed new life into the party as issues and debates, jabs and sound bites rock the news across both parties. With a record setting 6 billion dollar projected political ad expenditure for 2016, the LA times reported that “The nominating process has taken on a higher profile with a more crowded and contentious field of presidential candidates and no White House incumbent running for reelection. Televised debates have drawn higher TV ratings.” but “the primary reason for the increase, observers say, is that campaigns and political fundraisers have figured out how to more fully exploit super PACs to raise huge sums of money to help their favorite candidates.” 6 That is to say – they’ve made it very relevant.

Why blog about this? Because we can be relevant in all these areas and more. In today’s digital, mobile environment, companies, organizations and causes can target very specific communications across very specific demographic and geographic markets to make sure the communications are reaching the people they’re meant for, the people for whom it is most relevant. The people with whom they are looking to engage. Wasteful mass market TV spends will be the dinosaurs of this era, like the opioid induced constipation ads from pharmaceutical companies Daiichi-Sankyo and AstraZeneca running in Sunday’s Super Bowl – irrelevant for most viewers, but posed as public service announcements co-sponsored by various pain management foundations.

This particular ad simply wasn’t relevant to the majority of viewers of the medium it was delivered through. Who stands to benefit? The manufacturers of the expensive drugs, adding to the cost of the medications by an expensive ad buy, in order to reach the 8 million or so potential users in a viewership of nearly 115 million. Baffling more than 100 million viewers with its obscurity. How to better deliver? Through pain management or constipation related resources, Doctors offices – awareness campaigns more targeted to the suffering individuals. The individuals and insurance providers who no doubt will be paying, in the cost of the medication, for the estimated 5-10 million-per-minute spots7.

Follow me here at Enradius in this 5-part blog series as we dig deeper into the concept of relevant engagement through the digital market.

Cindy Carson, cindy@enradius.com ; @cbcarson

 photo credit nenetus FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1 http://about.americanexpress.com/news/pr/2014/valentines-day-2014-more-spend-for-love.aspx

2 http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/C/curated_commerce.html

3 http://www.dalecarnegie.com/employee-engagement/engaged-employees-infographic/

4 http://www.healthitoutcomes.com/doc/the-shocking-truth-about-patient-engagement-0001

5 http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/what-does-patient-engagement-really-mean

6  http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/la-et-ct-political-ad-spending-6-billion-dollars-in-2016-20151117-story.html

7 http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2016/02/super-bowl-opioid-constipation-ad

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