Consumer Engagement – Are Your Consumers Lying to You? What consumers really want from your brand.

“Consumer Engagement” – It is all the rage since a while now. But maybe a lot of marketers are getting it all wrong and the precious Dollars spent on social media engagement are really not delivering any ROI.

A recent HBR blog, “Three Myths about What Customers Want”, reveals some harsh truths about consumer behavior and response to the multiple messages marketers churn out.  We adore their findings, although we have our own thoughts on their marketing ‘solutions.’  Here are the highlights:

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Myth #1: Most consumers want to have relationships with your brand.

Actually, they don’t. What consumers really want when they interact with brands online is to get discounts.

The HBR study found that only 23% of consumers claim a ‘relationship’ with a brand.   They suggest you market differently to this group, identifying them and addressing them with greater emphasis.

What the authors don’t define is what those 23% think a “brand relationship” looks like.  From the activity we see in the communities we manage, having a brand relationship means commenting on a Facebook page, repinning on Pinterest, maybe, maybe sharing a recipe.   The point is, the consumer controls the relationship.  She comes to us for suggestions, recipes, help, and the occasional coupon, but we’re not pushing it out to her in a constant stream of ‘like me like me.’

Their second finding: Myth #2: Interactions build relationships.

According to their findings, Shared values build relationships. Of the consumers in our study who said they have a brand relationship, 64% cited shared values as the primary reason.”

We agree.  But….

Values aren’t pasted on.  They’re in your brand’s DNA.   Take the example of Patagonia, whose “Let My People Go Surfing” brand value is about making sure the people who design the products are also people who use the products and have a passion for functional features: a hiker who designs my jacket is going to know what kind of zipper holds up and where I need pockets.

The next Mythbuster: Myth #3: The more interaction the better.

The author’s study found no correlation between frequent interactions with a customer intended purchase, repurchase, or recommendation.

They suggest you “treat the attention you do win as precious.”

Amen. Don’t inundate consumers – we’re all already overwhelmed. The strategy here is “surprise and delight” – think of creative ways to remind consumers of your existence, or send them the occasional thank you offer.  Occasional, unpredictable offers create higher brand image and raise appreciation for the offers you do send.

To sum up, this sounds a lot like a real-life relationship, right? Build trust by respecting their time, don’t inundate them with contact, and keep the interactions appealing.  That way you’ll know if she likes you for you or just wants your coupons.