The Rise of Product Engagement

The Rise of Product Engagement

Published on LBBOnline here.

Given the current landscape of the marketing industry and widespread budget reductions, brands are having to be ever more adaptable and nimble – helping existing customers find new paths to purchase, developing new ways to acquire customers and continually raising awareness – all whilst adopting an appropriately sensitive tone that acknowledges the difficult situation the world is facing. Luckily, we’re a resilient breed of person – we’ve made it through times of crisis before, remember 2008? – and (like the rest of the world, I’m sure) pivot has rapidly become the phrase of 2020.

As we look to adapt and move forwards, one seemingly simple, but actually strategic and complex (when done right), tactic is proving successful – engaging talent and people of influence through product. What may previously have been referred to as ‘gifting’ is actually a well-crafted, insight-led and targeted approach that is much more than simply sending something to a well-known celebrity.

In order to begin to understand the results of this strategy, it’s important to frame why this approach has proven successful in the context of our current climate, and why it has the potential to be even more successful in the future as we leave this stay-at-home state.

ITB’s proprietary research indicates that 56% of people are ready to receive branded messaging right now (not next week or next month, now). In addition to this, Kantar reported that social media usage is up 63%, Quantum Metric reports that online orders have surged by 108% year-over-year since February, and according to Izea 99% of social media users believe there is a chance they will purchase something online if they are confined to home during the Coronavirus outbreak. When you take a step back this is a pretty potent and compelling combination.

As a positive result of the above, in this time where the at-home audience is captivated by social content and looking to influential talent for advice and recommendations, there has been a notable increase in the efficacy of product engagement campaigns.

Talent – from influencers to A-list celebrities – know they need to entertain, excite, educate and inspire us right now. They’ve seen a marked increase in content performance with engagement rates spiking, so they’re becoming content machines, especially as they’re just as bored at home now – with nothing else to do – as the rest of us. With brands’ own production teams pretty much on pause, the benefits of having fresh content from talent that can be repurposed organically is a gold-mine.

Like any good machine, the world of social content needs constant fuel and sustenance to keep moving – in this instance that fuel is product and creative ideas. Whilst talent are the creative minds, we marketeers can provide the product.

For brands, the strategy of product engagement has the benefits of being a low risk, cost-effective marketing tool. It’s also an approach that can be implemented quickly and efficiently and has been proven to drive reach and purchase consideration. We’ve seen a huge lift in conversion of gifted product to produced content, in our most recent case 80% of those gifted with product posted, with all of our clients ROI (based on AVE) run into the thousands of %’s – aren’t those the kind of numbers we were put on this earth to deliver for CMO’s? So far in 2020 we’ve seen product engagement programmes deliver a reach of over 500 million, over 200 million impressions and over 2.7 million engagements.

It’s key to remember that product engagement is not as simple as just sending something out to talent and hoping they post – the conversion to featuring product relies heavily on having direct access to talent which only a network of good relationships allows. The main take away from this should be that a considered and strategic approach where product gets to the right talent for the brand’s objectives works extremely well and you’ve been WFH too long if you don’t want ROI that’s hitting thousands of %’s.

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