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The Long View of Customer Experience: Optimizing Engagement

The Long View of Customer Experience: Optimizing Engagement Greg Kihlström

This is the fourth and final installment in a series of articles about long-term customer experience and how to drive engagement beyond short-term and real-time efforts. In the first article, we introduced the concept of the long view of customer experience versus the more immediate idea of customer relationships and engagement. In the second article, we discussed each of the four steps in more detail. The third article discussed how to better understand our audiences in order to reach the maximum amount of engagement.

Now we are going to talk about how to ensure that each step of the process is optimized. Part of the thinking behind the Long-view Customer Experience is that each particular audience has an optimal place in the process and/or an optimal amount of time they will spend there.

In order to demonstrate this effectively, let’s use a hypothetical “client” or organization that we are trying to market. We’re going to use a fictional neighborhood within a fictional city for this. Let’s just say we’re in the city of Metropolis and the neighborhood we are trying to market is referred to as “Downtown.” Not very creative, perhaps, but it suits the need!

In marketing the Downtown neighborhood, we are most likely going to be concerned about the following things:

  • Utilization of retail and office space, and ensuring the right type of tenants move in to fit the feel of the neighborhood

  • Attracting foot traffic or door swings in retail stores

For now, let’s just concentrate on the above as we go through the process.


When we talk about awareness, let’s split our thinking into three parts:

  • From which audiences should we not necessarily expect to achieve anything more than awareness?

  • Which audiences require awareness as a baseline but have the possibility to become much more engaged?

  • How much effort will it take to achieve awareness across all the audiences we are engaging at this point?

So first, there is an audience who will probably never achieve more for your neighborhood than an awareness of it. This can still be beneficial. Someone being able to recall directions to it, recalling a store that exists there, or even some of your marketing language are all beneficial things. They will never be a diehard supporter, and might never shop in your neighborhood, but they can still support your cause.

Second, there is an audience for which awareness is just the beginning. These are people for whom the Downtown neighborhood could be a great place to shop, eat, move their business, or engage with in some other desired capacity. Awareness is where all of those things start.

Finally, when considering all of this, make sure to take into account the effort it will take to move a group of people into this stage of engagement. When we talk about awareness, we can think on a local, regional, national or international scale. For the purposes of our neighborhood, it might not serve us (or our marketing dollars) well to have high awareness in the general (non-traveling) population of northwestern Canada, if our Downtown neighborhood in Metropolis is on the East Coast of the United States. We probably want to focus our efforts on nearby residents, employees, and likely travelers. If others become aware, that is by no means a bad thing, but focusing on a smaller universe of potential targets helps push more people to the next level of engagement.


With perception, we follow a similar train of thought as awareness by splitting our thinking into several segments.

There is an audience that we know we need more from than simply a positive perception. These are the people for whom perception leads to further engagement and action. Using the tools at our disposal in order to monitor and measure this perception, we can then push these people to the next step.

There is also an audience with which positive perception is all we can reasonably expect, but that is enough to influence others and drive engagement and action in our more core target audiences. We want to spend effort on this group but realize that driving them to a conversion may be difficult, costly or impossible. At the very least, with these people, we know that not only will they know directions to our Downtown neighborhood, they will also be able to follow that with “and it’s a really great place to shop.”


At this stage, we have the people who are going to be actively talking about how great the Downtown neighborhood is. They might not eat or shop there as much as you’d like them to, but they sure do recruit others to take those actions, and thus they are very beneficial.

As far as what to do with your audiences at this step, you’ll see a trend emerging here. First, we identify those who we can push to further engagement. Then we find those who will probably never get beyond this level of engagement and find the best way to utilize their contributions. It’s really not any more complicated than that.


These are the people who go shopping in the Downtown neighborhood, work there, move their business there, rent an apartment there, or take some other type of action we would label a “conversion.”

The action part of our engagement process is the same as the others, with one exception. Because there is not a next step in the process, we will now identify those who we can simply expect to take an action, and those who will not only take this action but do it repeatedly, tell others about it and become not only a great advocate, but a long-term customer. We can refer to these two audiences as either buyers or engaged buyers. Both are valuable, but we can treat each very differently if we’d like.

The engaged buyer is going to drag their friends to their favorite store, or at least tell them all about it on Facebook.  The buyer might be a very loyal shopper but is not necessarily someone we can count on to bring a lot of extra foot traffic. As you can see, different opportunities exist with each.

Conclusion and Next Steps

This is where things can get very specific very quickly. While this series of articles has been written from a very general perspective in order to apply to just about anyone in any industry that has users they wish to have an experience, putting Long-view Customer Experience into practice will require tools that are specific to you and your business.

That being said, there are a few things that everyone will need to do:

  • Identify the steps in the process as they relate to your organization
    e.g. for your company, the “action” step might refer to the sale of a widget

  • Identify your audiences and their optimal end state in the process
    e.g. if you are a higher education institution, a high school counselor or a parent would never reach the “action” stage that would signal enrollment in the school. Instead, they might be perfect candidates at the “perception” or “engagement” stage.

  • Identify the tools needed to measure and analyze the process
    e.g. CRM tool (such as salesforce), Marketing Automation (Eloqua, Marketo), Analytics (Google, Omniture), CMS (Ektron, Sitecore, Drupal), etc.

How do you measure success?

Every organization has different KPIs and measures of success, as well as methods of measurement. The best advice here is to ensure that, along with all the financial measures that you have in place, you have measurements for customer satisfaction, retention and other data that helps you understand your customers and their reactions better.

Increasing customer satisfaction will have a direct, positive result in sales. According to a recent Econsultancy survey, nearly three-quarters of respondents said that an improved user experience provides the benefits of increased sales and conversions. That survey was talking more specifically about a website (or Web and mobile) user experience. Again, extrapolate those answers across an enterprise-wide omnichannel brand presence and you can imagine that the answer would be the same.

What next?

The next step is up to you. Putting the longview customer experience model to work is relatively simple, as it does not require you to approach your conversion process differently and is truly meant to help you manage your efforts and resources in order to optimize each step in your sales funnel. We also hope there are a few things in this white paper that have added a new dimension or new way of thinking about your efforts with regard to a specific audience at a specific point along the way.

Greg is SVP of Digital at Yes&, a performance-driven marketing agency in the Washington, DC region. He was founder and CEO of Carousel30, a digital agency he started in 2003 which was acquired in late 2017 by PCI Communications which, together...

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