January 25, 2019

Why is my Engagement Lagging Behind a Competitor’s?

It’s the last thing a CMO — or anyone on the marketing team — wants to hear. “Why is our archrival doing this, that and the other and getting all this press but our sales and digital engagement are only up 10% from last year?” Marketing attribution, being able to grasp the true ROI of creative and ensuring everyone is using the same data, tone and voice cross-channel is enough of a challenge without a sudden publicity spike for a competitor. The new strategy can often become, “let’s try a new creative agency” and “let’s change our logo and colors.” This can work, but if the business has these common snags, you will continue to ask, “Why is my engagement lagging behind a competitor’s?” Persado Solutions Consultants Kirill Gil and Grace Fisher offered tips to get you back in the ring.

CMOs want accessible data

On web, having top-notch SEO, SEM and site speed are table stakes. You have those right, but your engagement is still lagging behind a competitor’s. This year, the focus on data will continue to increase. “CMOs are going to be asking for a better understanding of their overall marketing success through stronger attribution and ROI analysis,” said Fisher. “We need systems to be able to speak to each other. You can’t act in siloes.” As a CMO, you shouldn’t have to go to multiple systems to see how your site and other marketing channels are performing. “Tackling these disparate systems will trickle down to engagement,” she continued. “Once you have that cross-channel data and picture, you’ll be able to see your weaknesses and strengths. You can then build customer-centered strategies based on real results. In 2019, this will likely involve doubling down on acquiring new customers. Once you get someone to be a customer it’s much easier to keep them.”

Not sharing performance with your creative team

Often, brands use an outsourced agency for creative, and they spend millions of dollars and place trust in them to rake in significant results. They get lukewarm ones, and either fire the agency or hire them again without any analysis on the last campaign. “Having analytical tools that help with that communication is critical,” Gil said. AI can help. It not only provides deep insights into how a campaign performed, but it can also actually ensure the creative team is deploying the best content. By putting all of their ideas into a machine, the technology can quickly analyze them and find the best combination of words, phrases and images for a campaign. Then, it will measure its ROI and lend credibility to creative marketing, thereby giving you a leg-up on the competition.

Lack of communications

Fisher and Gil both said that too often, teams tasked with working on different channels don’t communicate well enough. “The paid media folks don’t talk to the email folks, which is an issue because they’re missing out on potential learnings,” Gil said. “Email teams could learn that a word, phrase or imagery works well.” If these teams are not in-sync, they run the risk of running the same experiment or making the same mistakes. As a senior member of the marketing team, encourage meetings between the teams. This can — and likely should — include a formal weekly meeting, but also work to foster more informal ones where the different teams report on new insights or ideas for campaigns. There should be tools that encourage the sharing of these types of learnings to allow team members, like their CMO, to research cross-channel data with ease.

This also ensures a consistent customer journey, something that is a must in 2019, and that you are not missing out on opportunities a competitor is capitalizing on.

Not getting a full picture of customers

Part of fostering a cohesive, well-oiled marketing machine is reaching your current clients and good customers across all channels. Not doing so can cause engagement to lag, while a competitor who is doing this properly will see a spike. “There’s no reason not to reach customers cross-channel,” Fisher said. “That data should be shared.” This goes for reporting, too. If you have it, upload offline attribution data to see a fuller picture of how your ads and marketing campaigns integrate with your full business strategy. “This is especially important if it’s a retail business where often 90% or more transactions happen offline. Digital marketing could be affecting sales much more than you think, but without the data and ways to attribute sales you could be missing out on a critical opportunity. This information will be huge for CMOs.”

Fulfill your promise

Sometimes, a brand will post a Facebook carousel ad for several products, but when a customer clicks on the photo they like, they are simply taken to the homepage. “If you say you have 1 GB Internet, the customer expects to click on it and land on a page that talks about 1 GB Internet, not a generic website,” Gil said. “It should deliver, or you’ll lose people. Similarly for web, making the customer journey relevant and fast is critical to converting visitors coming from other marketing channels. “You don’t want to distract customers with irrelevant content or 20 step checkout processes. Keep it simple and follow through on your unique value propositions,” he added. If a competitor is delivering and you are not, expect customers to engage more with them and your loyalty to lag.

Bottom Line: To keep engagement up, your brand must have a customer-obsessed culture. This means always keeping the customer top of mind in everything you do — internally and externally. Communicating with teams to ensure their journeys are seamless across channels is crucial, and sharing data internally and with creative agencies will continue to bolster the customer experience.

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