How to bring together a brand and a consumer? What are the engagement marketing tactics to bring people closer to a brand? What is gamification and how does it help with engagement?

 

Crowd engagement Image by  Andrew Fox/Corbis

According to Wikipedia, Engagement marketing is a marketing strategy that directly engages consumers and invites and encourages them to participate in the evolution of a brand or a brand experience. Rather than looking at consumers as passive receivers of messages, engagement marketers believe that consumers should be actively involved in the production and co-creation of marketing programs, developing a relationship with the brand. Gamification is key to this.

Consumer Engagement is when a brand and a consumer connect. According to Brad Nierenberg, experiential marketing is the live, one-on-one interactions that allow consumers to create connections with brands. Consumers will continue to seek and demand one-on-one, shareable interaction with a brand.

How a brand could attract customers

The mechanics of engagement

 

Back in the 90s until early 2000, we had the notion of brand and product engagement. I was then in charge of robotics for Sony Europe and our product(AIBO) needed engagement from people. It cost 2000 Euros/Dollars. At that price it was hard to engage prospects as the robot did fabulous things thanks to Artificial Intelligence but unless you were a robot buff there was nothing very appealing. AIBO could kick its ball, it could recognize you, it could pick up its bone and could charge itself on its own. Today most robots can do twice that and most activities are useful to mankind.

My job was to sell the robot and to get people to engage with it. At that time when Internet was barely starting, we worked a lot on awareness: brand and product awareness. Luckily the product was very popular, as most people had heard of a Sony robot using Artificial Intelligence to function.

Every time I would get a robot out, it would draw crowds. So product placement was important. We had billboards and TV commercials to advertise (especially during the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan where AIBO represented all Sony products) but people did not believe the product was real. They thought we had a computer-designed avatar. We were lacking engagement. Only when the purchase was done did people engaged with the product. We even received letters in our customer support office from people sending back AIBO for repair because it was sick or injured. How engaged could this be?

Since then, Internet has exploded and personalized communication has become the norm. Brand and product engagement make people close to a brand and ensure loyalty and higher conversion rate. If you do not manage to engage people you will lose sales, awareness and customers will switch to another brand that is more appealing.

Before Internet, awareness was an expensive business. You would either place an ad in a newspaper/magazine where you would believe you could find your targeted prospects.  You would pay a lot of money for TV commercial and billboards. It was very hard to realize the success of your campaigns because you would have to wait for the end of the campaigns to see if your sales went up or not. In terms of engagement, people could not engage with an ad. Sometimes when TV commercials were very good (such as our award winning trilogy ads from 2005 to 2007 with the San Francisco balls, the paint commercial and the New York rabbits – colors like.no.other), then people would engage and remember such works of art. Most of the time, it was just another commercial.

Engagement of 2 people talking with a strong interest in digital products

Engagement between people and products/offers

Today engaging prospects and customers, getting them close to a brand, is much easier and is of great benefit to a brand because it allows real time Return On Investment calculation. Anything digital allows great analytics.  You can also calculate offline campaigns. Online campaigns on Youtube and any social networks allow a very personalized message, instantaneous and very efficient. In the past you could not know when a campaign was going well or not. If you wanted to change a campaign, it would take month, as media planning was not very flexible. Today from one second to another, you can change your campaign and thanks to blogs and forums you know immediately how the campaign is going. For a marketer, this is fabulous.

Online campaigns are numerous. You can have banners on any site that fit your criteria for people profile, you can have links to sites that share the same interests or have a population that interests you. You have email campaigns where companies buy email lists and shoot messages to that list.

Personally, I do not like email campaigns. People are tired of receiving messages that they did not ask for. People are not engaged with an email even with pictures or videos. Email campaigns are from the past. We are all so inundated with emails we do not even pay attention to them and most of them will end up in your junk anyway.

Then you have campaigns on social networks platform, free ones and paid ones. The engagement on these platforms is different but it exists. When you are on Facebook and you look at your friend’s and family’s pictures you are more inclined to look at a campaign that Facebook offers. When you are on LinkedIn you look for work related information and when you find it, you will be engaged to that information. In any case, today’s technology allows anyone to promote a brand, a service or a product in an optimized, cost effective and efficient way. Most importantly, today’s technologies engage people and bring together a brand and a consumer.

Several offers that do not reflect one good offer and the engagement to that offer

Marketing engagement

Gamification

Finally I would like to finish this post with a subject very close to my heart: Gamification. Gamification is the use of game mechanics to engage people in a non-gaming activity. If you are a marketer, you will like gamification because gamification is about engagement. We want to put people in a mindset where they will enjoy their environment, they will enjoy interacting with a brand and most importantly they will have a great time with their activity.

We use games to make them enter a world where dopamine will flow (this is the feel good hormone) and all messages they will receive while playing a game will not only be well registered and will also be remembered. In the past, I have seen people spending at least 20 minutes on a brand game and coming out of it with all our messages well anchored. No other marketing technics can make that happen. Gamification is very powerful and you have platforms available like Bunchball or Badgeville that do a fantastic job with campaigns. You can also find rise.global for leaderboards and gamification plus for great employee engagement programs.

Gamification engagement

Gamification exemples

Conclusion

In conclusion, I wanted to share with you the evolution of marketing engagement, from when I started working in marketing in the early 90th until now. We are very fortunate to have great technology allowing us to bring together a brand and a consumer. This is the key to success! On the company side, branding is essential with an angle around engagement. On the other hand, a consumer needs to feel comfortable working, interacting and engaging with that brand. This is all about finding the right balance between an offer and the buyer.  I hope you have enjoyed this post. I am available to answer any questions about this very important subject.

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