Driving loyalty and generating engagement has always been a challenge for for any brand. The preverbal ‘shelf space’/’share of pocket’ is limited and as customers get more price savvy brands and their marketers are looking for new ways to engage and keep customers loyal. We have seen an increase in both the very public CSR policies and also special offers and price sensitive promotions. However, this is not the only way to grow engagement and drive loyalty. Below, I have outlined 10 ways that are relevant for any company large or small and can be implemented almost immediately. These 10 points will hopefully make you think differently about how you communicate with your customers across channels and across products.
Remember, people are people and not just numbers.
- Always provide a clear call to action and never rely in user to interact of their own accord. Relying on users to interact without expressly asking them to is like ‘fishing without bait’ and will be unpredictable at best. You should try to influence the potential outcomes for every interaction you offer or at least measure the effects at each stage.
- Run multiple engagement programmes across all of your channels simultaneously. Provide users with multiple ways to engage for each campaign and category. Then give them ample reward for participation. This will increase the time they spend with you and get them coming back for more rewards and getting their friends to also participate. Some examples of these rewards could be:
- Giving them something relevant to their purchase or interest that is regularly updated. This could be some digital content, a review or ‘money off’ voucher.
- Allow them to ask you a question, create and update their profile, or subscribe for more information
- Deliver company information highlighting your company values and positive practices that they may align with
- Link to your social media hubs where they can interact with you and find out more about the products and interact with others who are either at a similar point in the cycle or who have completed the cycle and are leaving positive feedback. (Pinterest pages are a great and unobtrusive way to do this.)
- Extend your communities cross channel and cross category. Don’t forget to cross promote and also to keep trying to engage your customers at different ‘landing points’. By bringing customers into your eco-system at different points and also cross promoting product categories you can maintain interest and test new ways of communicating with them. A sportswear brand may find that they get higher referrals to their ecommerce site by recruiting participants via SMS and then asking them if they would prefer email communications. This shows that you care and are giving them a choice, it might not seem like much but the freedom of choosing is more powerful than one way forced communications.
- Try to stay real-time. There are many real world and timely influencing factors that should be considered when designing these journeys. One of the most powerful is trend hopping; a recent example was the 2012 London Olympic Games. With the heavy sports coverage and national pride at stake TV sales increased due to people wanting to have the best possible experience of the games. Granted that Olympics licencing rules do not allow use of the logo, name or other assets without permission. Nevertheless this was a massively influential factor that created huge purchase intent.
- Keep your groups small, mix up campaign types and create new offers based accurate targeting. Some marketing campaigns naturally inspire customers to participate and to share their interactions and experiences. Research by social app creation company Wildfire has shown that campaigns that have heavy user entries do not perform in the same way as campaigns which are heavily shared. It is better to promote to a smaller base of advocates and give them the tools to participate and share their activity rather than running competitions where customers might be hesitant to broadcast the fact that they just entered.
- Use image, video and testimonials as much as possible. Users want to see, feel and experience the product before deciding to make a purchase leveraging their passions and taking them across the journey of Dream, Locate, Explore means you can influence how they purchase and the factors that contribute to them coming back for more.
In summary you should stay relevant. It is ok to cross promote products and even to put promotions or in your communications but keep to the point with your main message. If you have categorised a person as an influential decision maker and they are interested in buying your product then make sure that they can do the majority of their research with you. You have to talk to as many groups as possible and remain relevant to the personas in each location.