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Market With an Eye to Engagement. Offer Value (Not Sheer Hype) An offer of something free can spark a relationship-building process with customers. Then continue the dialogue.

By Jonathan Long

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Years ago a business would take out a print ad, release a commercial on radio or TV and send out mailers. The business would deploy its message and hope that it crossed paths with consumers interested in the firm's products or services.

Fast-forward to today, and the internet has given consumers control of what they see. Just as quickly as they can locate what they are searching for online, they can figure out how to avoid what they don't wish to view, including advertisements.

Direct traditional advertising is not completely 6 feet under the ground, but the hole is now being dug. These days it is far too easy for consumers to avoid advertising and they can spot it a mile away. Consumers are much more savvy when it comes to detecting pitches or plugs than their counterparts were years ago.

Marketers can try to combat this by focusing their efforts on engagement with consumers rather than direct advertising.

Related: In the Social Age, Don't Advertise, Engage

Offer something valuable. The engagement process can begin when a marketer provides something of value to the consumer. This doesn't have to be an items that's valuable in a monetary sense, as some individuals will find great merit in information. By giving customers something that they deem to have worth, you are building trust from the beginning and positioning yourself as an authority figure.

For example my company posted on its website a publication that's free for anyone to use, The Complete A-Z Online Marketing Strategy Guide. A relationship is established when the site visitor accesses the free offer.

Ask for something in return. Sometimes a business might want provide something of value to consumers in exchange for their filling out and submitting by email some simple information that can be used to build the company's marketing list. Or the firm can require individuals to perform an action to receive the offer.

This is a great way to accumulate social media followers. Ask for a "like" on Facebook or a "follow" on Twitter and your company wins a chance for future engagement with the customer. If the company's offer is widely well received, garnering lots of esponses from consumers, this can help it quickly build up an email list or social media following.

Continue the engagement. When consumers are presented with something of value, they may tend to view the source as an authority. If consumers keep that perception, this can results in high open rates for the company's email and individuals' active interaction with a company's social media profiles.

A company's blog can provide substantial value to the consumers who visit it. But though many businesses do indeed have blogs, they fall short because two ingredients are missing: quality and value.

A blog isn't going to magically gain traction overnight; that requires a lot of high-quality content and social-media promotion, which can require a lot of time and money on the part of the company.

Related: 6 Tips for Wooing Customers With an Enchanting Business Blog

Blog better. Why do so many company blogs fail? Many companies publish publish material of extremely low quality on their blogs, accepting any guest post thrown its way and littering the site with overly promotional content. This low quality was exactly what Matt Cutts was referring to in his blog post , which triggered many to declare that guest blogging was dead.

But It is far from dead. When visitors land on a business blog, they immediately know which entity is presenting them with content but it doesn't have to be super promotional. Consumers might then view the blog as a source of useful information rather than as an advertisement. The blog can lead to the company's building a connection with people. Consumers are much more inclined to engage with a company online when they don't feel like they are being pitched.

Engagement marketing is a strategy that relies on communication to build the trust and authority of a brand in the minds of consumers. When done correctly, this can result in sales conversions.

Related: Creating Brand Love Through Your Email Newsletter

Jonathan Long

Founder, Uber Brands

Jonathan Long is the founder of Uber Brands, a brand-development agency focusing on ecommerce.

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