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Brand Engagement

3 Ways Brands Can Increase Customer Engagement

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In a helpful article in Fast Company, Seth Priebatsch provides his insights on how brands can use game dynamics to forge new levels of engagement with customers. He cites three robust principles:

1. The power of we. Brand marketers talk a lot about individualizing these days, but Priebatsch reminds us that people also find huge reassurance in being part of groups and that creating and motivating such groups can be a game-changer. The dynamics of a customer base change, he suggests, when people see themselves within a group setting rather than just the context of one-to-one. There’s more than group-think at play here. The reason this works, I think, is because communities themselves combine bonding with form and mass which in turn adds the all-important elements of momentum and endorsement. So perhaps a more accurate way of describing this is Seth Godin’s concept of tribalism.

2. Visible progress. Everyone loves to think they’re getting ahead, and as Priebatsch reminds us, the many progression metrics that brands use – points, status, benchmarks, levels, progress bars – “all help users visualize and keep track of successes in small increments”. In my mind, progression strategies parallel the ‘upgrade culture’ because they’re all about short-term incremental gains. They’re immediate and they give people small but valued things to work towards. Priebatsch’s advice: “Businesses should constantly strive to devise new and creative ways to allow their customers to visualize and track their success. Hitting goals and making progress is fun.”

There is a downside of course – and that is that consumers who don’t make the progress they feel they deserve (or would simply like) can feel let down or even abandoned. I remember when I was downgraded on my airline loyalty program that the drop seemed an awfully long way down. In fact, in some ways, not having them, turned me off flying even more.

3. Tell me when. I don’t necessarily agree with the examples that Priebatsch gives for his third dynamic, but I absolutely agree with the principle. Priebatsch suggests that having happy hour every Thursday at 5 p.m. is a great example of the appointment dynamic because it “provides reason and immediacy, two ingredients that the customer needs in order to change their behavior.” To me that’s an example of a limited place-and-time offer at work. But the other opportunity here is to establish a habit that people link inextricably with your brand and that may, or may not, be tied to an offer. Starbucks’ third place is a classic example of this type of appointment dynamic because it provides people with a regular thing they can do at a regular time of their day. Coke, too, makes great use of the appointment dynamic, implying that the brand should be included any time that people get together and want to have fun.

Learning 1: Give people something to belong to that enhances their sense of identity. (Association)

Learning 2: Provide carrots. (Incentives)

Learning 3: Look for simple ways to get into and stay in your customers’ diaries. (Priority)

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2 Comments

Erin on May 08th, 2014 said

Interesting article Mark. Thanks for the enjoyable link to Seth’s article as well. Great insights on how brands can engage with customers, but the core purposes of brand engagement is lost to many marketers. Standout messaging, attention grabbing and value are the essence of brand engagement. I read a similar article on why brands require engagement, posted here for the benefit of other readers. http://blog.xerago.com/2013/09/brands-meet-your-customers/

Keep those excellent insights coming in.

team-abr on July 14th, 2014 said

I think the power of ‘we’ is the single most important factor that differentiates brands from product names. Many of the successful brands of today had created an exceptional customer perceived value and they compete for emotion as it stays connected with the customers’ heart instead of the head.

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