As pointed out in the previous post on this topic, “cluster husbandry is not about targeting consumers. It’s about encouraging them to become meaningfully engaged by interacting with them in an authentic voice.” The social foundation of a cluster in this sense is conversational reciprocity – two-way communications between participants in the cluster. This is a key tool in fostering meaningful online engagement.
It is important to take into account that “two-way” communications is not limited to verbal communications. A person’s mere presence in a cluster communicates something if only curiosity about the cluster, who is it and why. From a marketer’s perspective cluster metrics can have enormously information value. They can put the market analyst in the position of being “a fly in the corner,” observing what other cluster participants are saying about a brand, their needs, the quality of their lives, their pains, but also their dreams, hopes and plans for the future.
The frequency with which a topic is discussed by participants in a cluster can also have great value to the analyst. It can be a measure of the intensity of a need and the percentage of cluster participants experiencing the need.
Advocates of cluster husbandry regard it as one of the most significant developments in Web 2.0 – a term widely used to reflect the transition of consumers from passive recipients of market information exchanges to active co-creators of market information. To an analyst skilled in gathering, analyzing and interpreting cluster metrics virtually no other form of exchanging information with consumers provides a more empathetic view of customers.
Cluster husbandry takes its cues from customers’ values, circumstances needs and emotions, particularly as they are revealed in social networking venues. As such, cluster husbandry is strongly grounded in empathy: the act of identifying with and understanding another person’s values, circumstances, needs, and emotions.
Engagement clusters are economic ecosystems within larger economic ecosystem that include industries, government entities and society at-large. Engagement clusters, like other economic ecosystems, are organized around the information needs and exchanges between their participants. This is the essence of the multiple stakeholder relationship (MSR) business model that will be the subject of an upcoming post in this series.)
The market analyst in cluster husbandry is not a passive recipient of information generated by consumer participants in a cluster. But the proactive focus different from what focused marketers’ attentions in the past when they were more concerned with “sales funnels” and the direct conversion of consumers’ attention into sales.
In marketing based on cluster husbandry, the marketer automatically shifts greater attention to “referral funnels” by empathetically connecting with consumers’ need. This requires a different way of thinking about marketing. As the term “husbandry” suggests, it means growing, nurturing and feeding clusters with information relevant to the topics and needs generated by cluster populations.
Through feedback from r members of clusters comprising the total marketing realm of a company’s economic ecosystem, the marketer comes to understand how his or her messaging resonates throughout the various clusters and why. This provides a knowledge-based foundation for refining or changing messaging and media buys to reflect the messages that emerged in the ecosystem and thereby increase conversion of interest to sales and extend advertising reach.
Immersion Active recently designed and carried out a campaign that illustrates significant increases in marketing effectiveness that can be achieved from a consumer-centered cluster husbandry approach to marketing.
Home Instead Senior Care wanted to connect with the adult children of older parents. Immersion Active responded by first identifying a variety of channels adult children were using to communicate with others. By monitoring these channels, the market analysts was able to identify topics, needs and values that would be helpful in creating messages from Home Instead Senior Care that were relevant to potential customers.
Immersion Active inferred from its analysis of these channels that features-based advertising would likely have a weak conversion rate from attention to sales. In fact, it believed that the ability of such advertising to get prospects’ attention would be poor.
So, instead of a features-based approach, Immersion Active used a story-telling approach in emails and other online messaging. The impact was unambiguously positive: A 400% percent conversion lift and a five-fold increase in service inquiries year over year.
Additionally, Home Instead Senior Care experienced a more than doubling of the amount of sharing of content on its domain through the use of helpful, conversational resources. It found that that people who shared materials were over five times more likely to inquire about services as those who did not share. That provides strong support for the importance placed on achieving meaningful online engagement that was discussed earlier and the vital importance of conversational reciprocity.
Special Thanks to Joe Ford, Director of Analytics and Optimization, Immersion Active, for help in developing this series.