Welcome to the age of Engagement Marketing

So…you’ve done your Inbound Marketing…

…your Search Engine Marketing…

…your Content Marketing…

…your Social Media Marketing…

…your Influencer Marketing…

…your Marketing Automation…

…and more.

And it’s starting to work. You’ve got people visiting your site. Exploring multiple pages. Even downloading a white paper or two. You’ve optimized your site messaging and now have a bunch of people actually clicking your “Signup” button.

Congratulations…you’ve got users!!
Pop some corks. Ring some gongs. Bump some fists. Celebrate…you’ve done it!
Now what??

The new software world — it ain’t Kansas anymore

Anyone who has run or been involved with a software business in the past 10–15 years knows that…this game has changed.

Gone are the days of seven-figure contracts and multi-year software licenses. Gone are the days when one would capture the entire value of a deal at the time of signing and loooong gone are the days when someone had to actually cut a check in order to be able to use your product.

Most importantly, gone are the days where you could signup a new customer and then….do nothing.

Sure, there was some implementation work and some ongoing customer support work to do after the sale, but in the old days, once the sale was made — the hard part was essentially done. Corks were popped, dinners were had, new cars were bought and, for all intents & purposes, the work was done.


The “Post-Sale” world — The new normal

In today’s software world, the “sale”, or the signup, is just the beginning.

Web distribution and the business models it has spawned (SaaS, Freemium, etc) have essentially eliminated most of the hurdles of getting users to signup or trial a product.

Like what you see? Give it a try — it’s free. You don’t have to talk to anyone. Hell, you don’t even need a credit card. Seriously. Just click that big ‘Get Started’ button…and start using our product.

This evolution has shifted the main challenges for software businesses away from:

“Getting customers to AGREE to use our product”


“Getting customers to ACTUALLY use our product”

Old World:

I need you to just say Yes to using my product. I can build a huge business off of that Yes. Whether or not you actually use the product after that is not really my problem (because I’ve already got your money).

New World:

I’m making it super easy for you to say Yes to using my product. Unfortunately, I can’t build a business unless you ACTUALLY use it. In today’s world, whether or not you use the product is absolutely my problem.

In this new world, monthly New Sales has been replaced by Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) as the most important metric to any software business. Basically, how can you get as many as of your signups to (a) start, and (b) continue paying you (c) as much as possible for (d) as long as possible?

This is the name of the game in this new software world.

And this is why the most significant shift from the old world of software to the new world of software is the new world’s dependence on engaged users.

Engaged users pay to use your product. Engaged users continue to pay to use your product for months and even years. Engaged users grow their accounts….and engaged users even tell other people about it! Ultimately, engaged users are profitable users. And this is why:

In this new world, engaged users are the lifeblood of any software business. Without them, there is no business.

The new role of the Product Marketer

The new realities of the software world is forcing many changes in the way these businesses are organized and operated. One role that is feeling a significant impact is that of the Product Marketer.

In the old days, the Product Marketer’s job was to simply fill the top of a sales pipeline. Generate a bunch of leads and step out of the way so that Sales to do their thing.

But today — now that a “signup” doesn’t generate much (if any) value and the value of a customer is generated for many months/years AFTER a signup — the role of the Product Marketer is extending beyond lead gen.

Marketers need to be aligned with value generation. This means that today’s Product Marketer must be as (if not more) concerned about driving life-long user engagement and the LTV of existing users as he/she is with driving new leads.

And this is something new for many software marketers. In many ways it’s a new practice — requiring slightly different skills, strategies & approaches. In many ways, it’s ushering in a era of marketing — the era of Engagement Marketing.

Introducing Engagement Marketing

You may be thinking…WTF is Engagement Marketing?!?

Simply put, Engagement Marketing is exactly what it sounds like — the art of marketing to your EXISTING users/customers with the goal of driving long-term engagement and increased LTV.

Now, you are probably thinking — oh yeah, we market to our existing customers. I think. Sometimes we do. Well, when we remember to. But probably not as much as we should. I actually don’t even know who to ask about that. Hmmm…we’re probably not doing a good job with that.

It’s ok. Many companies are in the same boat. Many companies are, well, kind of marketing to their existing users, but not with the same formality, attention and gusto as they do to their prospective customers.

In fact, in many companies, the “post-sale” landscape is really the purview of a customer support or customer success team. Marketing is still washing their hands at the “signup”. However, this is quickly changing. More and more, the best software companies are realizing that the skills, talents and perspectives of the marketer are absolutely required here.

How is this different than marketing to prospects?

It’s very easy to think that marketing to existing customers is the same as marketing to prospective customers. And in many ways it is. But in many ways, it’s not. I’m not going to make an exhaustive list here (I’ll leave that for a later post), but the biggest difference between marketing to prospective users and marketing to existing users is that:

You actually know your existing users!

No, you many not know them all by name or personally — that’s not what I mean. But you do “know” their activity, their preferences their behaviors. You know what they’re clicking on, what they’re not clicking on, who they are connected to, etc. You know a LOT about them.

This completely changes the way you need to market to them. This means that you can’t treat them as one big faceless blob of email addresses. It means that personalization of messaging is essential. Anything less would be disrespectful. These are your users. They are members of your tribe. Treating them like strangers is a sure fire way of sending them down a path of disillusionment…which is not a fruitful path for your modern software business.

To succeed in any Engagement Marketing effort, you have to really care about your users. You have to care about their preferences, care about their time, care about their lives both with and without your product.

This ALSO means that, more than any other marketing practice, Engagement Marketing is reliant on smart use of data. And not just about using data to figure out how people are using your app, but using data from your users to actually deliver more value to those users.

In short:

The art of Engagement Marketing is the most sophisticated and empathetic of all marketing practices.
Engagement Marketing is not for all marketers. It’s not always for the faint of heart. But smart and diligent Engagement Marketing will certainly be the difference between the winners and the losers in the future of the software game… Much more to come.