Audience engagement

Measuring the True Value of Audience Engagement Across Digital Media

Laura Noll Blog, Content and Creative, Delivery

The success of your digital marketing initiatives can be easily measured by engagement. The level of interaction created between your brand and your audience in the digital space can be very telling when it comes to the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. But, not all engagement is created equal and it’s important that you mind which types of engagement are most valuable to your brand.

Engagement is typically defined as a click, comment, share or even a hover — virtually any action that connects the user to your brand. For each online medium, the engagement tactics can vary dramatically, as can your expectations for ‘success.’ Generally knowing your options and how to best leverage the landscape can help to release your campaign with the greatest possible effectiveness while managing stakeholder expectations from start to finish.

Content Engagement

Native advertising and content generation have exploded the advertising-disguised-as-content trend. Why? Content generally comes across as more approachable, more trustworthy and, therefore, more effective when it comes to engaging users. What’s the true value of that direct engagement, though? When a user comments on your self-hosted article, blog post, landing page, etc. — there’s actually very little value in that engagement for most. On smaller sites, it’s unlikely that anyone else sees or notices the comment leaving it even more unlikely to spur discussion or boost your ROI.

Left to fend for themselves, your content generation efforts won’t get you too far. But place a content marketing strategy behind them, along with thoughtful engagement goals, and you’ll be looking at a much stronger campaign.

Social Media Engagement

Social networks rank highly in current marketer engagement efforts due solely to the role they play in “making it go viral.” Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google Plus, Swarm and the like provide ready-to-click communities that are hotbeds for user engagement. Because the communities are so large and each have a niche in how users interact – they can, together or single handedly, provide the perfect outlets for amplifying your content reach, engagement and success.

Share your content via:

  • Facebook and Google Plus when it’s most relate-able. Both are powerful options for achieving longer-term engagement with a wide variety of content categories. Educational, informative, funny, opinion columns, sports, business and so much more resonate with their vast audiences without the flash-in-the-pan effect of many networks. Through shares, likes, comments and other engagements, your content’s reach can be organically amplified very quickly. Because the each engagement positions your content as being virtually endorsed by readers, you’ll naturally find effective reach among their followers — opening you to parts of your audience you hadn’t before had access to.
  • Instagram when it’s highly visual. Consistent gorgeous snaps can do wonders for driving likes and tags within the community — both of which will help to grow your following. As your number of followers grows, you will hold the keys to easily engaging a portion of your audience in a flash — further growing your fan base, driving site traffic and more.
  • Twitter when its easily digested. The quick and immediate nature of Twitter makes it the perfect outlet for sharing fast, easily consumable bits of content. Sure – you can post a link to your article there, but it’s going to drift from the forefront quickly as the community rolls on. Some of the most relevant Twitter-ing I’ve seen in the recent past comes from food trucks, pop-up shops and events whose news is equally as fleeting as the tweet they post it in. It’s also a great place to make quick connections and informal introductions.
  • Swarm/Foursquare when it’s in your physical location. Similar to Twitter, Swarm shares quick bursts of information, but they’re directly tied to your location on map. Depending on the nature of your business and content, growing your following here may not be nearly as valuable as just speaking to the public in your location at precisely the right moment. Swarm and other location-based communities can help you to communicate with audiences when the location is the most relevant and uniting factor for your message, like during events, gatherings, etc.

For these reasons, social media engagement may be among the most valuable form of engagement for many marketers and content creators. Again, that value can vary for each brand and strategy — but the amplification effect created by most social networks continues to increase the value of its contribution to the digital media mix.

Email and Newsletter Engagement

Email continues to be one of the heavy lifters in driving audience engagement. With nearly 90% of US Internet population using email for communication, it provides the ability to not only reach but also directly interact with your target audience. Marketing messages and personal notes alike are easily shared via email to desktop, tablet and mobile devices. Regardless of where the engagement takes place, email immediately pushes highly interested traffic to your brand — making your email list one of the most valuable tools in your marketing arsenal.

Email engagement is traditionally measured through open and click-through rates. However, with continued emphasis on integrated marketing strategies, social media engagement opportunities in email are becoming increasingly more popular. In fact, social media links in email have been known to improve both open and click rates as well as driving additional engagement at the social network level for a one-two punch that is virtually unbeatable.

Ad and Offer Engagement

Ad and offer engagement open the doors to monetization of your brand’s digital properties. As you build your audience through content, social media and email engagement, ads and offers can help you realize the true monetary value of those clicks, likes, shares, opens, reposts and more.

Monetize your content by serving dynamically targeted ads next to your content. When doing so, the more relevant the ad, the better. To achieve the greatest engagement and ROI, deliver only the most click-worthy ads to your readers — most likely opting to serve contextually or categorically relevant ads.

You may also choose to monetize your email list in a similar fashion. Delivering highly targeted stand-alone offers to your list, outside of your usual newsletters, can help to realize the monetary value of your list. The process can also improve your IP reputation and deliverability by sending exceptionally relevant content which is really just an added bonus. Marketers have also found success in delivering dynamically targeted offers as part of their newsletters to create the greatest possible relevance to the user, ultimately driving more clicks.

The value of each type of engagement will vary for each brand and circumstance. Before beginning a campaign, note which forms of engagement will be your indicators for success and why. Track your efforts by these metrics, regularly review the results and optimize the campaign to continue to grow them and achieve the greatest ROI.

The recipe for driving engagement is not one-size-fits-all — and should be respected as such. If you repeat the same patterns over and over for each initiative, or even copy the patterns of a competitor, it’s unlikely that you’ll achieve the same success. What works for one is not guaranteed to work for another — leaving you to hypothesize, test and optimize to create your own special sauce.

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About the Author
Laura Noll

Laura Noll


Laura is a seasoned marketer with passion for user experience, design, development and snowboarding. Using her knowledge of ad technology and the digital space, she starts conversations — like this one. Join in: @AdStationbyAdk.