Have You Earned This?



“We need more earned engagement.” How many times have marketers heard this?  It is this year’s version of, “We need to make a viral video.” And it does seem like businesses with websites that earn engagement do well.  But here’s the thing.  They don’t try to get earned engagement.  They actually try to earn it.

Earned engagement is essentially when your customers are so invested in your website, content, video, products or services that they can’t help but talk about you.  What we used to call word of mouth advertising before we got all web fancy. And it is still the most powerful way to build a loyal customer base.  When your clients or customers recommend you to family or friends, they are personally invested in that recommendation and trust to you to fulfill on their promise. This is hugely powerful and difficult to maintain.  It’s hard to earn.


What is the difference between wanting ‘earned engagement’ and earning engagement?  The answer is in the approach.  It’s not about tearing your hair out trying to get people to engage.  It’s about tearing your hair out over what could encourage people to engage and then working your butt off to create an experience that has the potential to earn engagement.  It’s about realizing that you have no power or control over how something is received.  Only over how something is delivered.

So how do you earn digital engagement? By understanding your audiences and their needs, you can deliver segments of your audience information that is useful, helpful, interesting, disruptive, constructive, encouraging individuals within that audience to react to your message. The key is to understand that customers are individuals, not demographics, and want to be engaged on an individual level. And while this may not always be practical, it is worth working for.

“It’s about realizing that you have no power or control over how something is received.  Only over how something is delivered. ”

So where do we start?

Step 1. Pick one of your audiences.  You have many, let’s focus on one.

Step 2. Pick a platform for your message. It could be a post on Facebook, a video on your site, an infographic on Pinterest or all of the above.

Step 3. Find the story. Put together a list of topics. Brainstorm. Get creative. What is your customer doing? What challenge is she facing? How has she tried to solve it? What is frustrating to her right now? How can is your solution better?

Step 4. Test it out. Digital marketing is full of low input places to test content.  Start with a blog post, talk about it on your social channels, and see if you get a response.  If you do, put more resources into the story.  If you don’t, try another approach. Or another story.

Step 5. Repeat for other segments of your audience.


Before you know it, your audience will be talking.  You will have put in the work required to earn engagement.  Digital marketing isn’t about waiting for lightning to strike. It is about a concentrated effort to provide value to customers and potential customers.


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