If the customer is not “engaged” has marketing failed?


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Research shows that we tend to remember:

• 10% of what we read
• 20% of what we hear
• 30% of what we see
• 50% of what we hear and see
• 70% of what we say
• 90% of what we both say and do

In other words, you are more likely to learn and retain when you are fully engaged in the material. When I’m facilitating classes I keep those statistics in mind because it suggests that the students who are active discussion leaders, and are fully participating in the group assignments are engaged with the concepts I’m trying to get across. In short, they usually perform very well, and are a blast to have around.

As a marketer, I also like to reflect on what those percentages might suggest as it relates to customer engagement and retention. Net promoters, advocates, evangelists; whatever you call them, when they are engaged with your brand it’s a blast. But then again, does life always need to be a blast for marketing folks? Many social media experts would insist that having a blast is the whole point of being social and anything less than two-way engagement is old school thinking. I’ll have to admit that I’ve shifted my thinking over time on that topic just based on my own social interactions and metrics.

Let me explain. I currently have 39K followers on Twitter and over 33K profiles that I follow. I’ve also tweeted over 12K times. Those are fairly low numbers when compared to many avid twitter users; although high enough to rank in the top one percent of users according to Twitter Grader. But what does that all mean? For me, it means that it is highly impractical to be highly engaged with the vast majority of my connections and still keep my day job. I follow and friend several brands and I read their posts; but I just don’t communicate back to them that often.

So does that technically mean I’m not engaged with those brands? I don’t think so, because just listening can be just fine. After all, I’ve had several students who I would not describe as the “life of the classroom.” And yet their assignments and test scores clearly showed they were engaged with the material.

Alan See
Alan See is Principal and Chief Marketing Officer of CMO Temps, LLC. He is the American Marketing Association Marketer of the Year for Content Marketing and recognized as one of the "Top 50 Most Influential CMO's on Social Media" by Forbes. Alan is an active blogger and frequent presenter on topics that help organizations develop marketing strategies and sales initiatives to power profitable growth. Alan holds BBA and MBA degrees from Abilene Christian University.


  1. Engaging & “Voicing it” are 2 different things.

    Marketers can easily count the customers that “voice” their engagement but should also take into account their “silent” ones in order to determine their marketing achievements.

    Thanks Alan, for this insightful article.


  2. Great post. I agree. Voicing an opinion on a Facebook fan page or tweeting a question is not the true measure of customer engagement. Purchasing is. If a marketer produces posts customers and potential clients read, that marketing professional has invested time wisely – especially if, after time, readers turn to that marketer for product. If you’re not bending the consumer’s ear, you can bet your competition is. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Alan,
    Marketers are definitely happy with people like you, listening and being engaged – and when it comes to a purchase decision you’ll remember them.
    Yet, you do need active engagement, you do need ambassadors who are spreading your (their) message actively. You do need these supporters as you need some of your 39K followers to increase that number further.
    If marketing does not get such “engagement”, they failed.

  4. Hi Juerg,

    I hear you. I guess each marketer’s definition of engagement may vary. I’ve only had 3 comments on this blog post. Which I would consider true “engagement.” And yet it has had 1,420 reads, 23 retweets and 5 shares on LinkedIn. Overall those are results I feel pretty good about; so, I’m not sure the post “engaged” the audience … you might say it “resonated” with the audience.


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