We’ve just published a new report titled Marketing’s New Key Metric: Engagement.

The link is here. [UPDATE 8/13, 2pm (Eastern): This link redirects to a page on the Forrester Web site which includes the executive summary. The full report is accessible to Forrester clients.]

The premise behind the report is that the center of the marketing funnel (consideration and preference) is more complex than many like to believe. This complexity is largely influenced by people’s changing behaviors online, fueled by social computing.

As a result, marketers need to focus on engagement. In the report, we define engagement as:

Engagement is the level of involvement, interaction, intimacy, and influence an individual has with a brand over time.

The four components of engagement are:

Involvement—Includes web analytics like site traffic, page views, time spent, etc. This essentially is the component that measures if a person is present.

Interaction—This component addresses the more robust actions people take, such as buying a product, requesting a catalog, signing up for an email, posting a comment on a blog, uploading a photo or video, etc. These metrics come from e-commerce or social media platforms.

Intimacy—The sentiment or affinity that a person exhibits in the things they say or the actions they take, such as the meaning behind a blog post or comment, a product review, etc. Services such as brand monitoring help track these types of conversations.

Influence—Addresses the likelihood that a person will recommend your product or service to someone else. It can manifest itself through brand loyalty or through recommendations to friends, family, or acquaintances. These metrics mostly come from surveys (both qualitative and quantitative).

Our argument is that companies need to start tying these metrics together to make sense of how engaged their customers actually are—and then make product and marketing decisions based on that knowledge.

Now, there’s no clean and beautiful equation like e = mc2. But as we continue this research on the topic and gather feedback (we’ve already seen some extremely polarizing reviews of the report), we’d love to get your take on the matter.

What is engagement to you? How do you measure it? What obstacles do your typically encounter? If you’re a vendor of analytics services or technology, how do you help clients measure this complexity? And what should the next Engagement report be about?