Winning in the Engagement Economy: Takeaways from Marketing Nation Summit 2017

By Joanne Morrison, General Manager, North American Head of Marketing 

More than 6,500 marketing professionals converged on downtown San Francisco April 23-26 for Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit 2017, which highlighted the most innovative ways to win in the “engagement economy.”

With a speaker roster that included James Cordon and Queen Latifah, attendees learned more about the hottest topics in marketing, including bots and digital transformation, customer obsession, and predictive content.

Winning in the Engagement - Takeaways from Marketing Nation Summit 2017 Economy Takeaways from Marketing Nation Summit 2017

The event kicked off with a keynote delivered by Steve Lucas, CEO of Marketo. The talk focused on a single but simple question, “Do you want to be marketed to or engaged with?” Lucas highlighted a Wunderman survey that showed 79% of people in the U.S. would only consider brands that show they understand and care about them, while 89% “are loyal to brands that share their values.” Additionally, the survey found that 87% of people in the US no longer measure brands against their peers, but instead compare them to the best companies, regardless of industry, such as Amazon, Netflix, and Starbucks.

In his book, Engage to Win, Lucas claims the keys to engagement are:

  • Aligning what you do to your customer’s personal and business values
  • Displaying and extending a feeling of truly wanting and needing that customer
  • Creating the experience customers want

And, as Lucas puts it, “Share of heart is as important as share of mind.” Human beings do not always think logically. To drive this point home, Lucas acknowledged that while the Android phone is better (better camera, better hardware, replaceable battery) he owns an iPhone because Apple has succeeded in building a deep emotional connection with him.

The idea that none of us are logical (particularly not when we’re making decisions as consumers) was echoed by Nancy Harhut, Chief Creative Officer at Wilde Agency, in a session titled “7 Human Behavior Hacks that Increase Engagement and Response.” According to Harhut, research shows that 95% of purchase decisions are made subconsciously, and these automatic behaviors can be prompted! Harhut described how interactive marketers can leverage scientific principles such as:

  • Availability Bias: Consumers prefer the brands that they have personally observed most recently, and those that were more memorable. Storytelling can create emotional reactions, which magnify the perception of the brand in the buyer’s mind.
  • Social Proof: People are more likely to buy from brands that can demonstrate through testimonials and other proof points that peers in the same industry or people living in the same neighborhood are also purchasing that product.
  • Scarcity: Demonstrating either exclusivity (only certain people are invited to purchase/participate) or urgency (using phrases like “limited time,” “while supplies last,” and “spaces limited” encourage more consumers to engage with your brand.
  • Commitment: Companies are most likely to close a sale—especially the sale of an expensive, large ticket item—if  they ask for something small first. Think about a trial version of a software platform. Once the seller gains that first “yes” it becomes much easier to get a subsequent yes response.
  • Choice architecture: The brain doesn’t like logical decisions and it will take any shortcut it can to circumvent logic. This means that marketers can never underestimate the power of emotional connection with their consumers.
  • Pricing Perceptions: People perceive prices that end in “9” as better value. Harhut gave the example of a woman’s shirt that sold better at $39 than it did at $34.
  • Neuro 9: This refers to a cluster of subtle but proven ways to gain the attention of consumers in marketing material. For example, studies show that marketing communications are most effective when pictures of faces are used, especially with eyes looking directly ahead or looking over a shoulder to something else. Our natural tendency is to follow the gaze of the person in the photo. People respond to before and after pictures (and the closer they are side-by-side) the better.

During almost all Summit sessions, it was clear that while today’s marketers have unprecedented access to 1.8 billion internet users through seemingly endless digital channels, we are more challenged than ever before to gain the attention of consumers who are bombarded with hundreds of marketing messages daily. The keys to breaking through the noise? Ensure your organization stands for something and shares the values of your target audience, listen to your customers and act on the feedback, and most importantly, engage to win!


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