Razorfish FEED 2009This year’s Razorfish Digital Brand Experience Study was particularly interesting to me, as its focus shifted to ways consumer interact with brands online. This tells me what we’re seeing more and more – a brand’s online presence doesn’t just exist to “tell and sell”; today’s consumers want more.

Razorfish reports that “the overwhelming majority of consumers who actively engage with a brand digitally—whether by entering a contest, “friending” a brand on Facebook, or even watching an advert on YouTube—show dramatic upticks across the entire marketing funnel.” In short, digital experiences create customers.

Here are a few key takeaways.

“64% of consumers have made a first purchase from a brand because of a digital experience such as a web site, microsite, mobile coupon, or email. No other medium has so impacted—or altered—the traditional marketing funnel this way.” And these purchases aren’t limited to online activities. A nearby local coffee shop has no website, but tweets special offers and events. With iTunes, DVRs, Tivo, and hulu, there’s no need for me to hear or see most ads anymore. Brands that aren’t present online – in multiple ways – are missing out on huge opportunities to reach consumers.

And this first impression is critical – these online experiences can also impact offline decisions.

“65% of consumers report that a digital brand experience has changed their opinion (either positively or negatively) about a brand or the products and services a brand offers. For those brand marketers still neglecting (or underestimating) digital, it’s as if they’ve shown up to a cocktail party in sweatpants.” We’re seeing more and more brands putting just as much into their online presence as they do their brick-and-mortar stores. Both experiences should help consumers not just buy, but engage with, a brand.

Content must be credible and relevant to draw consumers in, and user-generated content fits both of these criteria. Brands that ask shoppers and customers to engage – by answering questions, writing reviews, etc. – are building unbiased, authentic content from people who already have an online network. More and more content on the Web is created by consumers, but enabled by brands.

As Ze Frank and I wrote in our recent paper, “Participation Chains Connect Customers to Your Brand,” each contribution drives more contribution. When I share my review on Twitter or Facebook, my followers have a chance to see it. And once people start reviewing products online, others want to chime in with their opinions – it’s why an inexpensive dog treat, Greenies, has thousands of reviews on PETCO.com.

If you haven’t read the study yet, it’s full of insights about who’s online, how often they’re online, and how they engage with brands – not just their friends – online.

One Response to “Interact, don’t just engage.”

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