Engagement cycles

What constitutes the customer engagement cycle, emphasizing seven phases by which firms define and create engaging content?


Customers navigate the concentric rings of trust in their individual brandspaces (unique to each customer), arriving at the brand engagement theaters of their trusted brands. The figure below depicts what then ensues—the seven phases of the engagement cycle—how firms listen, interpret, plan, develop, stage, and provision content and interactive services that meet or exceed customer requirements for relevance, quality, and satisfaction.


Seven stage cycle depicts how firms create content and services that attract and keep customers for life. Process cycle times drive development and execution.

Brand engagement theaters constitute the first phase, presenting content, navigation, presentation, and context.

User reactions may entail reading or viewing, clicking through the next page or section, or exiting. Key point: Most visits exit for reasons unknown, a strategic breach that engagement managers must address with session-monitoring systems.

Behavioral data from most Web analytic systems provides useful but minimal insights into both anonymous unnamed and named users. The next frontier of behavioral data will include interaction data from inside immersive rich-media streams and video, documenting where users went and what they did.

Analytic insights include other sources of data: customer databases, social media monitoring, voice of the customer, and newer Web analytic tools.

Content-user requirements specify what types of “information food groups” particular high-value customer segments prefer; providing these will require a formal information consumption model and procedures for directing content creators to produce required information, matching user-consumption profiles to classes and types of information and media formats.

Content optimization starts with semantic tagging of Web pages and documents, creating topic maps (similar to tag clouds, only specific to an individual page) and metadata sets that later will power faceted search and dynamic navigation.

Contextualized content uses behavioral targeting, semantically tagged content that enables dynamic composition of topic maps or page-specific tag clouds, faceted navigation (dynamically constructed keywords within a multitiered hierarchy or taxonomy), and user account histories, journals, and personal collections within the site.


It then follows that the transit from awareness, consideration, and trial to purchase, adoption, commitment, and advocacy—stages of the brand lifecycle—comprise hundreds of discrete engagement cycles. The structured model below supports these key insights:

  • Faster engagement cycle times induce greater levels of engagement.
  • Few defects in delivered content, navigation, and presentation increase the probability of success.
  • Most defects occur unnoticed, leading engagement managers to make the same mistakes again and again.
  • Automation and policy management of content workflows can reduce the number of defects.
  • Voice-of-customer systems provide critical insights as to what’s broken, missing, or needed.
  • Analytic insights and voice of customers must inform content creation; this requires formal systems for documenting content-user requirements.
  • Effective engagement requires governance: someone within the firm must step forward and take ownership of the engagement cycle.