The Hierarchy of Engagement
Sarah Tavel
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I think most people are bought into the pyramid and have some idea how to measure it. The magic is in how you cause these behaviors. Knowing what it takes is something you touched on but is where we need to go deep.

For example, to get trial, it is essential you have a clear proposition for the consumer. More importantly you have to communicate it in a way the consumer thinks about it. You have to tap into their brain and emotions with insight and specificity. If you don’t understand your consumer well, you will be left to trial and error with your outbound comm, which growth hackers tend to champion. I’m not a fan. I’d rather take a few mins to study my consumer through efficient groups and surveys to feel the power of their need and study how they talk about it. If you get it closer to right the first time then you will also start to build brand equity with consistent messaging. If you are out there throwing stuff against the wall to figure out what sticks, you will actually start to confuse the marketplace about what you’re really about. That works against you and make your marketing spend more of a waste of money.

To get retention, a few things are important especially if you are a digital product. UX is big here. You have to push yourself to help the consumer get exactly what they want and in the easiest possible way…especially if you have any competition. People may think your product sounds good on paper but they will drop out if the experience is a pain in the butt. You need to do more than look at the stats, you need to ask your consumers regularly what they like and don’t like. Consumers have high expectations. You need to meet them from day 1 or they are gone. This is where many digital founders are lazy. They push a product out that is a little flawed and hope ‘marketing’ will create the activity. Not so. Retention is much less about running marketing retention programs. It’s about servicing your customer. Also keep in mind that nearly every consumer you fail is likely to never come back.

Which brings me to my last point. You will get both retention and ongoing engagement if you satisfy your consumer. To do this you have to ask yourself if you completely understand to a granular, specific level what your consumer wants out of your product. Like, specifically. Then ask yourself if you’re providing it. When I advise startups I break them down over this issue all the time. Again they think marketing can fix it…but it can’t.

The other thing to think about if you are creating a community is to narrow your focus to the smallest point where if you only have 100 users, the platform brings significant value to everyone on it. If you ask people to ‘sign up’ but the platform is useless until half a million people are on it then people will neither sign up nor engage. You’ll spin your tires. Think of Facebook and what it is today. Never would have worked if they started with this broad proposition. It started in a very narrow scope, as a form of ‘hot or not’ in closed campus communities. So, if only 20 college kids signed up and posted their pics for people to view and rate, it works. You grow outwards from there.

I’ll stop there. Again, the ‘what’ I think is understood. Now let’s bring the insights on how to get there!

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