6 Strategies to Cultivate An Engaged Audience
To thrive in today's competitive consumer landscape, building a solid business requires more than simply selling products. Effective marketing now relies on cultivating emotional connections with audiences seeking to establish brand relationships.
With the goal of profitable organic growth at the forefront, more companies are investing significantly to optimize the end-to-end customer experience.
According to a study completed by Motista, consumers who have built an emotional connection to a brand have a 306% higher lifetime value, and emotionally connected customers rate brands higher (71%) than satisfied customers (45%).
With this data in mind, our team has compiled what we think the top six strategies are for cultivating a loyal customer base:
One of the fastest-growing trends across all industries is the implementation of gamification, which is the process of incorporating game-design elements and game mechanics into existing experiences and platforms to drive user engagement, participation, interaction, and productivity. Studies have shown that by triggering these feel-good emotions of competition or completion during the customer experience, audiences feel rewarded, sparking greater loyalty to the brand.
This is being utilized across various industries to achieve positive results from their target audiences. Our recent article, The Rise & Growth of Gamification, discusses the many benefits organizations have experienced by implementing game-designed elements into their strategy.
Several leading publishing companies have implemented gamified elements into their services, achieving phenomenal growth.
The French newspaper company, Le Monde, introduced their app "La Matinale" in 2015, inspired by the dating app, Tinder, to attract younger audiences to subscribe. Designed to present the news in a story-like view, readers would swipe to the articles that interested them, building a reading list within the edition. This app helped Le Monde exceed 400,000 digital subscribers.
Using elements such as competition, actions, rewards, points, and personalization encourages engagement in a traditionally non-game context, and brands can tap into their audience directly to ensure a call-to-action. In a survey, 75% of consumers said they would make a purchase again if they received a reward.
2. Influencer Generated Content
In today's social media environment, we are in the midst of a new entrepreneur era that has changed how we consume, engage and market online. The advent of the Creator Economy has provoked businesses to review their marketing strategies and find ways to sell their products virtually, turning to influencers to reach larger audiences.
Influencers are categorized by the number of social followers they have on platforms such as Instagram or TikTok. Macro-influencers are typically big celebrities, with audiences of 100K+ and affiliates with major brands for top-dollar sponsorships. However, micro-influencers are the ones changing the rules of digital marketing. While their audiences may be smaller (ranging between 10K-100K), they’re able to find the ‘social sweet spot’ of highly engaged, niche communities.
Brands must consider many factors when selecting the type of influencer best suited to their marketing strategy. As macro-influencers reach a larger audience solely through their follower counts, micro-influencers are noticeably starting to receive more paid campaigns due to the relationship and engagement rate they have formulated with their niche audience.
Creators and influencers are experts in understanding their audience's traits, humor and culture. Producing well-thought out and stimulating content specifically customized to connect with their audience is their profession, uniquely positioning them to leverage the trust they have built with their audiences to promote brand products.
With over 60% of marketers seeing consumer preference shift towards influencer-generated content, brands are increasingly shifting budgets to power creator-driven initiatives. Compared to brand-promoted content, creator-driven campaigns see 8x higher engagement on social media, leading to more revenue in the long run.
“My team at Minute Media is focused on the growth of our creator community across the company’s sports and entertainment properties. We are developing new technology to support and amplify the voices of thousands of creators within the Minute Media ecosystem of brands. We believe in the power of the creator economy and plan to continue making advancements that will benefit the creators and brands they work with.” - Noa Speizman, Creators Team Product Manager.
In July 2021, data showed that there are 4.48 billion social media users worldwide, equal to almost 57% of the total global population - so it is understandable why organizations see the vast potential social media holds.
3. Interactive Video
Through the advancement of technology, interactive and immersive videos enable brands to streamline their initiatives through different sources directly to their audience.
One of the most exciting technologies to evolve over the past several years is Augmented Reality (AR) which integrates virtual objects into existing surroundings.
Augmented Reality is highly invested in various industries, such as retail, sports, education, and even food and beverage. Involving consumers in a dynamic and captivating activity around a product takes a campaign from only focusing on visuals to encompassing a unique digital experience, and allows the consumer to exist in a heightened and engaging reality.
An excellent example of a marketing campaign that won the attention of its target audience was from the beverage company 19 Crimes.
The brand partnered with entertainment icon Snoop Dogg and used a ‘Pokemon Go’ type of approach to transform their bottles of wine into collectibles. Through the use of a mobile app customers could interact with the brand’s wine characters (which are featured on their bottles) and hear their unique stories. This motivated customers to collect all 19 bottles of wine by using an AR element in the purchase cycle.
Another example of interactive video is CTV ads, which make up the most comprehensive intersection of digital advertising technology with linear TV. CTV advertising uses targeting capabilities to serve different ads to viewers watching the same show. Advertisers save money because their ads are only shown to their intended audience, and viewers are more satisfied because they are closely tailored to their interests.
Advertisers are taking advantage of innovative CTV ad formats such as shoppable QR-code ads, which allow users to scan QR-codes from their smartphones or tablets and navigate directly to the website. During the 2022 Super Bowl LVI, Bitcoin company Coinbase’s QR code commercial generated a record response with more than 20 million people visiting Coinbase’s landing page over the span of one minute.
The well-thought out 60-second ad featured a bouncing QR code on a black background reminiscent of an old DVD player screensaver.
“Our engineering teams load-tested our site to handle millions of simultaneous hits. The volume we experienced was astounding in comparison to our projections,” Coinbase CMO Kate Rouch announced shortly after their success.
4. Short-Form Videos:
What started as an emerging trend on TikTok has now become a permanent fixture in how people seek entertainment and stay informed. More importantly, it has become a vital staple in brands’ marketing strategies.
Short-form videos are now available on all major social platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and TikTok. According to HubSpot’s recent survey on 2022 marketing trends, short-form video has the highest return on investment of any social media marketing strategy.
Brands are using this form of marketing to connect with their target audiences in a fast, fun, and relevant way that translates into authentic and relatable content. Additionally, short-form videos drive brands to condense their message into snackable, easily digestible videos for their consumers. Short-form videos are attention-grabbing and highly shareable - hit the trend in time, and the algorithm gods will be in your favor.
TikTok is famous for its short-form videos entertaining over 1 billion users each month after its overnight rise during the Covid-19 pandemic. The app is inundated with success stories from savvy entrepreneurs making their business go from zero to over a million followers in just a few posts. Its unique algorithm shares content based on previously shown interests, making it a great opportunity for brands to be highlighted to their target audience.
The cranberry company Ocean Spray recently experienced the magnitude of viral power short form videos can create when they hit the jackpot on TikTok. In the space of one month, a short 23-second video posted by Idaho laborer Nathan Apodaca gained over 15 billion media impressions without doing any advertising campaigns or marketing. With simple and effortless ease, the video demonstrated Nathan’s commute to work while enjoying Ocean Spray's cranberry juice and Fleetwood Mac's famous ‘70s hit "Dreams".
The video quickly exploded gaining over 46 million views on TikTok alone and was shared countlessly across all leading social media platforms, even encouraging Mick Fleetwood to film his own version of the video skateboarding along with an Ocean Spray juice. Short, raw, uncommercialized, and uncomplicated videos are evidently winning the ears, eyes, and attention of users across the world.
5. Build A Community And A Purpose:
Following renowned psychologist Maslow's theory of Hierarchy of Needs, a basic human need is the sense of belonging. When we combine this with marketing, brands can create emotionally compelling approaches that appeal to the specific needs of their customers. Instead of a one-time transaction, cultivating a community around your brand will keep your customers loyal for the long term.
Today’s consumers are focused on more than just a brand’s offering. New Harris Poll research (via RetailTouchPoints) found that “82% of shoppers want a brand’s values to align with their own.” By aligning your company values with your customers, you begin to create a community of people who are emotionally connected to your brand for the long run. Brand-focused community building relies on emotional connections and aligned values to unlock competitive advantages for the business and support a more robust business model. Building these communities takes time and investment, but the ROI is realized every time a customer returns to your brand.
Lego, the classic childhood toy, has kept its legacy over the years due to the strong community the brand has built. Unlike some toys you leave in the past, Lego has established one of the largest brand communities, LEGO Ideas, which has over one million adults actively participating each month.
Via the LEGO Ideas platform, fans submit new concepts for LEGO sets which are then voted on by other fans and reviewed by the LEGO staff. The top proposals have the potential to be turned into real products, and so what started as a way to "celebrate the creativity and talent of their adult fans" has led to the creation of over 28 sets that have come from the fans themselves.
Co-creating products with superfans are something LEGO truly excels at, and as a byproduct, they have leveraged one of the most successful ongoing communities in the world.
6. Setting Emotional Connection As The "True North"
Navigating the road to a thriving business in an already overly-saturated market is increasingly becoming more complex. It is easy to forget the inspiration and motivation that ignited the business amidst all the chaos.
A crucial factor of a successful brand is maintaining its core values and beliefs. Why was the brand created, and what was the incentive and story behind it all?
Storytelling and narratives engage consumers at their subconscious level and create an emotional connection with the brand. Sharing the brand's origin story can be a powerful emotional driver that helps people engage. Merkle and Levo report that 47% of millennial women know their favorite brand’s origin story, 41% know who founded the brand, and 40% follow the founder or someone affiliated with it on social media.
The emotional connection with consumers must remain one of the primary focuses throughout the entire brand journey - the "true north" of the overall goal.
At Minute Media, our core values guide everything we do as a company and help us deliver premium experiences to our customers. By clearly stating our values and sharing our story, we’re able to connect with our customer base and the greater industry on a deeper level.
When we take inspiration from leading organizations like LEGO, TEDx, Apple, Nike, Twitch, and more, we can see the wide variety of techniques used to engage with audiences. However, we must also remember that there are no ‘one-size-fits-all’ tactics, and brands should explore diverse strategies to find the right solutions that best engage with their target audiences.
Although this can be an expensive and time-consuming exercise to improve customer experience, the results can revolutionize a company and set the foundation for longevity. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day.