Praise for Engagement Marketing

“This book is for small business owners who want to learn how to leverage the power of online and offline communication to grow their business. It offers a refreshing look at how any business can grow by engaging with their customers. It’s not about tweets or Likes. It’s about doing right by your customers and enabling them to let others know about it. This book helps you do this in very practical terms. This book is a must-read for any business owner who is tired of the song and dance of ‘content,’ tone deaf to social media, and sick of blogging. This book is for those who want the ‘steak’ and not ‘oatmeal’ of making customers, loyal customers.”

—Ramon Ray, Technology Evangelist and Editor,

Engagement Marketing lives the talk with practical examples from small businesses on how to excel in their business with online content and make it easy for customers to interact with the business. Gail Goodman uses the power of storytelling to explain online marketing in the easiest and grassroots terms.”

—Shashi Bellamkonda, Senior Director, Social Media, Network Solutions and Adjunct Faculty Member at Georgetown University

“If you’re a small business owner you probably know Constant Contact. In her new book, CEO Gail Goodman takes you further down the road to success. The old values are still the best values and Gail has given them new life for the Internet age. She helps entrepreneurs understand that Main Street isn’t dead, it just went digital. Throughout, you’ll learn how to put the ‘word-of-mouth’ power of social media to your advantage. Small business owners who want to survive and thrive in the new world of Yelping and blogging need to read this book.”

—Charles “Tee” Rowe, President and CEO, Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC)

“This book is a must-read for any small business owner looking to understand the latest trend in permission-based marketing—permission to engage. When done well, it brings small businesses new customers from their existing ones. Gail Goodman makes a strong case for how Engagement Marketing will become an incredibly important source of new customers for small businesses—the key to growing in any economy. Best of all, she explains how Engagement Marketing gets ‘done’ in very practical terms, using a combination of old and new online marketing tools, including e-mail and social media.”

—JJ Ramberg, Host of MSNBC’s “Your Business”

“Businesses that have a loyal and engaged customer base enjoy greater success. Why? Because educated consumers seek those companies that listen to their needs, and when they find them, not only do they stick, but they also share their experiences with others. It’s a marketing strategy known as engagement marketing, and no one is more of an expert than Gail Goodman. In her book, Gail shares the important strategies all businesses can employ to leverage technology and social media platforms to build their businesses. This is absolutely a must-read for any owner or team that is struggling to survive. Gail’s sage advice will turn your business into a thriving entity, and you’ll soar to success.

—Susan Solovic, CEO and Cofounder, , New York Times Best-Selling Author of It’s Your Biz: The Complete Guide to Becoming Your Own Boss

Engagement Marketing, as clearly explained by Gail Goodman, will help businesses face the public in personal, human ways. That connection is what chambers of commerce do, too; at least they should. Those who read the book will know better how to reach out to their community and their current and potential customers.”

—Mick Fleming, President and CEO, American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE)


This book is dedicated to small businesses and organizations everywhere. Your dreams, passion, creativity, tenacity, and guts continually inspire me.


A few years ago, we did a survey of small businesses and found that 83 percent said their main source of new business was “referrals.”

Think about that statistic for a moment. As a small business owner, your new business most often comes from other people who are talking about your company. And who are those “other people”? Complete strangers? People who’ve never heard of your business? Of course not!

The people who recommend your business to others are those who already know your business. They have had a positive experience with your business. They feel so positive that they want to tell others about it. Those people are, in two words . . . your customers.

The people spreading the word are current or past customers who, when asked which company they recommend, have such a warm and fuzzy feeling (in marketing speak, they are “highly satisfied”) that your company’s name is the first out of their mouths. They don’t have to think long and hard about it. It pops out spontaneously. Your business is top-of-mind.

Highly satisfied customers often don’t wait for anyone to ask. They may be so wowed by their experience that they rave about it over lunch with colleagues or at networking events. They might even volunteer how happy they are with your product or service by writing about it on their company blog or personal Twitter account. Or perhaps, if they think that your company really went above and beyond, they’ll leave a five-star review on one of the many consumer review sites.

Whatever they do, they are telling others about your business in such a way that it leads to new customers and more sales.

Our Endless Quest for New Customers

We business owners and marketers tend to obsess over new customers. A friend of mine calls the quest for new customers the “Holy Grail of small business.” It’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s the buried treasure we seek.

A question I hear over and over in my interactions with other business owners is “How do I get new customers for my business?”

We see this question covered daily in the blogosphere. On social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, small business owners endlessly share tips about how to get new customers. We hear the topic discussed in person at conferences and industry events.

We small business owners talk with colleagues (though not competitors, of course!) about how to get customers. We may advertise to bring in new customers or offer special promotions and discounts. We invest in search engine optimization to direct new people to visit our websites or blogs, hoping they’ll find us online and get directions to our physical locations. We use Google AdWords to drive new customers to our eCommerce stores. We attend conferences to learn how to drive new sales. We may retain a business coach to help motivate us and our sales team to find new customers. We may even devour books in our spare time . . . books about how to sell to new customers.

Think of all the effort and brainpower we’ve put toward finding new customers.

Yet, how many of us devote a significant chunk of our resources—time, money, and staff—to actively engage with our existing customers? What do we do to increase the warm and fuzzy, highly satisfied feeling among the very people who are talking about our businesses, spreading that word of mouth that leads to new customers and keeps existing customers coming back?

And how many of us know exactly where our referrals are coming from? Do we make any effort to track the source of referrals and encourage them?

Most of us, I suspect, could do much, much more.

The need to engage with existing customers has become even more urgent over the past decade, because so much discussion happens online. With the explosion of social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, and review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, it’s easier than ever for a satisfied—or dissatisfied—customer to spread the word about your business. And does it spread! Even if you are certain that most of your business comes from your local community, whether you realize it or not, people may be discussing on the Web the experience they had with your business.

Enter Engagement Marketing

That’s where Engagement Marketing: How Small Business Wins in a Socially Connected World comes in. Engagement Marketing refers to providing a great experience and encouraging your customers to tell your story through socially visible word-of-mouth referrals.

As Gail Goodman points out in this book, Engagement Marketing is a cycle. She shows you how to engage your customers online to drive more new leads, more repeat sales, and more referrals. It’s all part of one loop, and when you get good at Engagement Marketing, you’ll sell more.

The Engagement Marketing Cycle consists of three steps:

Engagement Marketing is marketing, true. But it’s not traditional marketing in the sense of unrelentingly pushing “buy now” offers on your current customers. Do that and you’ll soon turn people off.

Rather, Engagement Marketing is about making your company so interesting and providing so much value that people want to stay connected and maintain a relationship. By doing so, you greatly increase the likelihood of existing customers talking positively about your business on social channels and thinking of your company when it’s time to buy again or they are asked for a referral.

If you own a small business, or you’re a marketer or sales executive challenged with increasing sales in your company, this is a book you can’t afford not to read. You won’t be presented with baffling technospeak about social media sites. Instead, you will get the straight scoop delivered in easy-to-understand business terminology. And you get practical advice that you can put to work no matter what size your business.

Anita Campbell,

CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends website


I’m an amateur chef (emphasis on “amateur”), and my husband and I enjoy entertaining and having people over to our home. I had needed to replace my knives for some time, so I went to Kitchen Outfitters, a local kitchen store, to see what was available. A little overwhelmed at the selection of knives and brands, I asked the shop owner a few questions. She took the time to explain the difference between German and Japanese knives and even pulled out a chopping board and proceeded to let me try the different knives by cutting up carrots. Sold! I ended up buying six well-made knives. Each time I have guests over and we are cooking together, I tell them about my knives and how wonderfully sharp they are, which leads me to tell them the story of my great experience with Kitchen Outfitters.

What’s key here is that I’ve shared my experience (multiple times!) via word of mouth. Word-of-mouth referrals aren’t new, of course. We’ve always relied on our friends, family, and coworkers for referrals. Maybe the trees in your yard need pruning or you need a new roof, so you ask your neighbors or coworkers which companies they’ve used in the past. Or it’s your 10-year wedding anniversary, and you really want to wow your spouse, so you ask around for recommendations to some of the better restaurants in your area. Word of mouth has always worked, and it still works.

What’s changed, however, is how we solicit these referrals. We still ask our friends, family, and coworkers for their feedback and share our experiences with them, but now we’re using technology to do it.

As a small business owner or marketer, you’ve seen firsthand the extraordinary changes that technology and social media have wrought, from the ubiquitous Facebook “Like” button and real-time tweets of global events to Yelp reviews and YouTube videos. Thanks to social media and its nimble partner, mobile technology, it’s now easier than ever for people to gain instant insight into news, events, people—and your business—by simply turning to their online networks and the collective experiences of others found on public review sites.

As a consumer and a businessperson, I, too, rely on my network and social media channels for information. I no longer go into a new restaurant, for example, without first checking the reviews at OpenTable or Yelp. And as a CEO, I no longer hire professional services firms without first checking with my network comprised of current and ex-colleagues and my CEO peers. As I write this, a friend in my network is moving to a new accounting firm. He used LinkedIn to ask if any of us had experience working with the firm and audit partner that he’s considering. He’s also doing social media searches to see what others have to say.

It’s easy to focus on social media and new technology as the marketing game changers, especially since the use of mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, is rising rapidly. However, smartphones are not what have changed the game.

What’s the real marketing game changer? Age-old word-of-mouth marketing strategies made publicly visible by social media sites. Word-of-mouth referrals, which used to happen between neighbors over the back fence, at cocktail parties, business functions, and your children’s birthday parties, are now visible to your customers and your prospects. With today’s social media tools, your customers can post reviews, endorse businesses using the “Like” and “share” buttons, and talk about brands on platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube for the entire world to see. Businesses can engage their customers in LinkedIn Groups or on blogs. Your customers now have a voice that can be heard beyond their immediate circle of close friends and family.

And that’s what this book is about: leveraging your existing customers’ “voice” to help you grow your business.

“What Do we Do with Social Media?”

Most of the small businesses we’ve talked to over the years (small businesses being the bulk of the Constant Contact user base) have two huge priorities: one, they want to find new customers; and two, they want to get the biggest bang for their marketing dollars and time invested. These were the concerns that we used to hear, and still hear, over and over at our small business seminars and workshops. But as social media emerged, we began hearing new concerns:

“Why should my customers care about what I had for breakfast?”

“I don’t understand how Facebook can benefit my business. Isn’t it just for kids?”

“Do we really need to pay attention to this? I don’t have the time.”

As social media continued to gain momentum and people began experimenting, they shared their success stories as well as their challenges. Healthy discussions blossomed as business owners investigated how social media could drive the most impact.

These questions were also driving deeper and lengthier conversations among us at Constant Contact—questions that prompted us to step back and think about the challenges and opportunities of social media. Was social media a fundamental change in marketing or just a new way of getting our marketing messages out? We kept talking and sharing and listening and realized that something was very different—but this difference wasn’t about the technology or the tools. It was about a new marketing concept . . . what we call Engagement Marketing.

Engagement Marketing: Making magic happen

Engagement Marketing is about getting new customers through your existing customers while driving more repeat sales at the same time. Engagement Marketing builds on the tried-and-true basics of building your business—namely, the importance of happy customers driving referrals. But now, with the addition of the social media megaphone, you as a business owner can drive more dramatic results with a lot less effort. This is because social media enables a different level of customer engagement, one that you can use to encourage and reward customer conversations—conversations that include positive mentions and endorsements, as seen in this Twitter exchange between Boloco fan @ajmadsen203 and Cassidy at Boloco:

@boloco Thank you for the greatest breakfast burrito I’ve ever had, it’s gunna get me thru hump day.

@ajmadsen203 aww ur welcome! what kind did u get? have a good #humpday! ^cassidy

There are two great outcomes from this exchange. First, @ajmadsen203’s followers hear a ringing endorsement of Boloco and their breakfast burritos. Maybe they have never tried Boloco, and this is the nudge they need. Or maybe they’ve never thought about a burrito spot as a breakfast choice! The second outcome is that Boloco’s response reinforced @ajmadsen203’s loyalty.

If you’re a small retail business, you probably already know your regular customers. I know that many of the local establishments with whom I do business know me by name. But what they don’t know is what I say about them to others. It’s difficult to track or reward your customers for promoting your business to friends and family “in real life.” You can use loyalty marketing to reward customers for coming back, but it’s not as easy to reward them for referring you, and it’s even harder to track these referrals.

Engagement Marketing, on the other hand, allows you to encourage your customers to engage and interact with you as if you are neighbors chatting across the back fence. By engaging your customers, you derive two benefits: You make your customers part of your marketing team, and it’s this visible engagement and the positive endorsements that will bring you tomorrow’s customers. Not only do your current customers and fans influence how others perceive your brand, they also help build the trust needed to get others to do business with you. The difference is that these valuable endorsers, who have always existed, are now in plain sight, ready for you to nurture, engage, and reward.

Who Should Read This Book

In this book, you’ll learn why Engagement Marketing is a real opportunity for fostering deeper connections with your customers, which in turn will drive new business. I can name dozens of books on how to use social media. This isn’t one of them. While I’ll cover social media tools and how to use them, this information will always be presented in the context of building and sustaining genuine connections with customers.

This book is for anyone who owns or works for a small business or organization, whether you sell to consumers or businesses or run a nonprofit organization or association. Whether you want to find more new customers, drive more repeat sales, bring in new members, or raise more money for your nonprofit, you will benefit from reading this book. In the first section, you’ll learn about the Engagement Marketing Cycle and how it works. In the second part, you’ll find case studies and practical tips for maximizing your Engagement Marketing opportunities.

I don’t have to tell you that social media networks, tools, and technologies are rapidly changing. In this book, you will find concepts that transcend the changing technologies, so if some of the examples are a bit dated by the time you read this, forgive us and focus on the message. I also encourage you to visit the companion site to this book, . You’ll find tips, case studies, and more. Be sure to pay a visit!

We here at Constant Contact see firsthand how many small businesses are thriving, thanks to simple techniques such as combining social media with e-mail marketing. I get excited about the fact that while marketing is changing, these changes allow you to reach your customers and connect with them on a personal level in a way you just couldn’t do even five years ago. I know, because many of the small business owners and marketers we work with are now using Engagement Marketing to grow their businesses—and you’ll read a few of their stories in this book. If it can work for them, it can work for you, too.

As this book was going to press, Facebook announced that it was replacing PageWalls with Timelines, so all references to Wall in this book are equivalent to Timeline.

Part I

Rev Up Your Engagement Marketing Engine