Turning Audience Engagement from a Feel Good Aspiration to a Core Business Metric

Since the dawn of the discipline of marketing, linking the intentions of various key strategic priorities and activities with the ultimate measures of business success has been much more faith-based than linear and demonstrable. Advertising agencies struggle to connect the dots between a well-crafted ad placed to draw lots of attention, and the ring of a cash register. Digital activities have progressed the conversation somewhat, by enabling a very robust set of behaviors to be measured, monitored, and linked to a referral, preference or sale. However, they offer little insight into “why” they are able to move the needle on any of the most important intended audience actions.

As an audience engagement firm, Cult Collective has doggedly pursued the intersection where brands and their followers meet on common ground, each benefiting from a relationship with the other, without sacrificing anything either holds dear. The firm’s first foray into understanding and reporting on the catalysts behind this ideal brand/audience state culminated in the book Fix. Break the Addictions that are Killing Brands, which details the six core principles a brand needs to embrace if it wants to build a cult-like following. This paper intends to outline the tenets of the next important thesis in this pursuit.

Cult believes that, to understand and affect the motivations which drive people to behave in the most positive and mutually beneficial manner with the brands in their lives, we must study, measure, and embrace a metric that is the ultimate engine for meaningful audience behavior: Engagement.

This paper outlines three key factors in the study, practice and measure of audience engagement:
1. What is audience engagement?
2. Why does engagement matter?
3. How is engagement measured?

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