Engagement Marketing: How Small Business Wins in a Socially Connected World  is the new book about how to get and keep customers by engaging with them.
I love the premise of this book because it is utterly realistic for small businesses. Engagement marketing, according to the book, is the art of “getting new customers through your existing customers, while driving more repeat sales at the same time.” It’s about serving your existing customers well, and deepening your relationship with them by engaging on social media and online.
The outgrowth is a stronger customer bond and more satisfied customers. That leads to natural word-of-mouth — and more repeat business and sales to new customers who learned about you through existing customers. And in fact, referrals and word of mouth are how many small businesses get new business today.
The second thing I like is the marketing blueprint that the book lays out. Chapter 1 starts with the “engagement marketing cycle” — a framework for growing sales with the help of social media. Think of it as a 3-step process:
- Step 1 is that you provide a great experience to existing customers — the book calls it a WOW! experience. As the book points out, customers unfortunately have come to expect mediocre service and the bar is low. Small businesses, being nimbler and able to make changes more quickly than larger companies, are in a better position to make changes to create exceptional service.
- Step 2 is to entice customers to stay in touch. This is about persuading customers to opt in and stay in touch — whether through email marketing or via social media such as Twitter, Facebook or Google+. When customers want to stay in touch, you are able to keep that great experience alive and stay top of mind.
- Step 3 is to engage people. Engaging people means sharing content on your blog or social media channels that inspires followers. It’s about interacting with followers on those channels through encouraging them to participate. It means holding events or doing surveys — activities that actively involve them.
“Developing this cycle until it’s a well-oiled machine,” says the book, is what will lead to more sales by increasing repeat sales and referrals.
Everything in this book is practical, including a chapter on overcoming common obstacles. Obstacle #3, for example, will resonate with many business owners: “I don’t like imposing on people.” But as the author explains, one way to overcome that is to focus on creating great “enticement offers” such as a coupon or free report to persuade people to sign up for your email list or follow your Facebook account. Then you’re not imposing – you’re giving people something they want.
There’s even a Quick Start Guide and a Glossary to help you get up to speed quickly on the sometimes baffling terms (like “hashtag'” or “plus one”) in social media.
Most of the book concentrates on pointing out techniques to help you learn how to engage people through social media, email marketing, blogs, events and other activities. And that’s the third thing I like about Engagement Marketing. Intead of talking in generalities, the book explains what types of content to share on social networks, the types of activities to perform to engage with people on social media — and similar useful lessons. It can help you put in place the building blocks of a social media strategy and action plan. It answers the “why” and also the “how.”
The book is filled with examples, including screenshots and images. Examples are ones that most small businesses could attempt on a small budget or with a small team (or even no team). The book avoids one of my pet peeves: using big-budget corporate marketing campaigns as case studies. While I appreciate that Ford may be doing brilliant things in social media, a Ford marketing campaign will be so outside my company’s budget that we couldn’t hope to emulate it. Small business examples like the ones in Engagement Marketing are more useful.
About the Author
If you or your company are one of the hundreds of thousands of small businesses using Constant Contact, then the author’s name is likely familiar. Gail Goodman (@Gail_Goodman  on Twitter) is the CEO of Constant Contact (an occasional advertiser on this site). Goodman architected her company’s expansion from an email marketing provider, to one that now includes tools for social media marketing, surveys, event marketing and mobile marketing. She brings vision and subject matter expertise to this book.
Who Should Read Engagement Marketing
This book is ideal for a small business or non-profit with anywhere from 0 to 100 employees, and even larger.
I highly recommend reading Engagement Marketing if you:
- are scratching your head trying to figure out why your organization should get involved in social media, or
- are already convinced of the value of social media, but you just want someone to explain how to integrate it with the rest of your marketing and develop an achievable strategy, or
- want someone to demystify social media and show you and your team how to jump in and get started.