Being Moved to Act: Apex and the Science of Measuring Audience Engagement

Summary

  • Apex Scoring System is all about measuring the thoughts and feelings that drive audience behavior. Its unique approach is backed by behavioral science’s best understanding of what drives people to ultimately act the way they do.
  • Engagement is a complex behavioral and psychological process that begins upstream of the action(s) your audience takes.
  • Until you know the specific attitudes predict a specific set of actions, any attempt to change a desired behavior will be challenging.
  • Using Apex to easily quantify the ingredients of engagement in customer and employee contexts is the future of true audience-centricity.

Being Moved to Act

What is it exactly that compels a person to act? Imagine we could get a glimpse into the black box of the mind at the exact decision point of when – and why – someone feels moved to purchase, or to make the donation, or to tell somebody about a great product experience.

The business case for having this knowledge couldn’t be clearer. An organization that is able to steer its key touchpoints towards audience desires at this psychologically optimal ‘moment of action’ has clear competitive advantage in the market (Brodie et al., 2011, 2013).

Longstanding research within psychology and neuroscience has revealed that a behavior can be predicted and understood through a series of psychological systems that work in concert to  drive a particular action.

Specifically, APEX leverages insight from the Cognitive-Affective-Conative Model (Back & Parks, 2003). The model triangulates on these three major areas, offering a roadmap for how cognitive (thoughts-based) and affective (emotions-based) elements within an individual lead to the conative (action-based) output.

APEX Measuring Engagement

Cognitive

The cognitive or thinking elements involve gathering and processing information related to the brand or organization. They are the rational beliefs or attitudes a person has (Back & Parks, 2003). Some examples of cognitive elements include brands or organizations being predictable or uncomplicated.

Affective

The affective or emotional elements involve the evaluative judgment of things deemed good/bad, negative/positive, or exciting/boring. Emotions prepare us for action, to tell us to either approach something “good” or to avoid something “bad”. Some examples of affective elements include brands or organizations being joyful or empathetic.

Conative

Together, the ‘thinking’ and ‘feeling’ elements are the internal drives that compel a consumer, user employee, donor – a human – to act in relation to a brand or organization.

Finding a way to easily quantify engagement in customer and employee contexts based on these criteria is not only rooted in science’s best understanding of human behavior, it represents the next great leap in how brand health should be tracked and how the theory of “audience-centricity” can be made into an ongoing operational reality for businesses.

Engagement: what makes a human out of a customer and employee

Our full definition of engagement is informed both by many years of in-market expertise alongside the most cutting-edge scientific knowledge (McEwen 2004; Van Doorn et al., 2010).

Engagement is...

…the flexible psychological process made up of a combination of ever-changing rational and emotional bonds that motivate an end user to behave favorably towards a specific brand or organization.

Humans, we’ve come to understand, don’t just transact with brands and businesses. We don’t just consume, use and move on. Transactions, consumers, users – these are mostly stale terminologies that fail to capture the fact that the purchasing experience is highly relational and experiential.

We engage with our favorite brands and businesses; we relate to them in the way we do our favorite people (Delgado-Ballester & Munuera-Aleman, 2005).

Our understanding of engagement reflects its multi-dimensional, dynamic and fluid nature (Fernandes & Moreira, 2019). Engagement is a complex psychological and behavioral process. It is not a fixed ‘thing’ that can be captured in any single survey question (looking at you, NPS). Rather, it’s an unfolding series of mentalistic events that combine together to predict the likelihood of some brand-targeted action, be it (re)purchasing, advocating, promoting, writing, or sharing. Once the ‘action threshold’ is passed, next comes the downstream outputs that every human-centric business strives for, including growth and profitability, loyalty, and actionable insights.

APEX Measuring Engagement

Engagement is an unfolding process that happens both consciously and unconsciously. The majority of the process is an internal experience, with a focus on the rational and emotional elements, and the willingness to act. Without these details readily available, most brand agencies and management leaders tend to overlook the psychological motivators, and put too much emphasis on the external actions themselves.

The problem with this is, without precisely knowing what specific attitudes predict a specific set of actions, any attempt to nudge a desired behavior is bound to fail.

What happens when engagement is measured properly?

Apex is all about getting upstream of the behaviors your organization needs and your audience desires. We solve for the puzzle of human engagement through the science of measurement and psychology.

In partnering with our clients to drive their key business outcomes, we orient around three principles:

APEX Measuring Engagement

Proper and precise definitions lead to proper and precise measurements, which in turn lead to powerful business insight allowing you to orient your efforts around the elements that are quantifiably proven to drive your organization in the right direction.

It’s simple. It’s science. And it works.

Take it to the next level

Transform your business with a more in-depth Apex Roadmap exercise, which gives you a full understanding of your most important audiences and how best to engage with them.