Participation marketing, sometimes called “experiential marketing,” “engagement marketing”, “event marketing,” “on-ground marketing,” “live marketing,” or “participation marketing,” is a marketing strategy that directly engages consumers and invites and encourages them to participate in the evolution of a brand.
Research shows that participation can increase customer loyalty even more than word-of-mouth. According to a study by Jack Morton Worldwide, 11 out of 14 consumers reported preferring to learn about new products and services by experiencing them personally or hearing about them from an acquaintance.
The days of push marketing are over and the era of participation marketing has begun. Participation marketing is all about inspiring consumers, and brands that take an active role in this process are seeing amazing results. Many businesses are focused on increasing customers’ positive word of mouth. But emphasizing customer participation may be a more important vehicle for generating valuable repeat business.
Customer word-of-mouth is a hot topic in marketing today. Positive customer-to-customer reviews, whether verbal or written, are powerful marketing tools because they have more credibility with customers than company-generated marketing. In addition, once customers help spread the word about a company’s products, they are more engaged and committed to that company.
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.
Marketers should shift from focusing solely on acquiring new customers, to engaging throughout the customer lifecycle. Companies must continuously engage and interact with their customers to earn their loyalty and become their advocates.
Google has coined the term “Generation C” for this new breed of consumer. They are most interested in forging connections, feeling a sense of community with friends, family, and brands, and creating and curating content they find most rewarding. Which is why participation marketing has become so important in today’s marketing world. Brands simply cannot keep up with the amount of content that is being produced by consumers, and not only that, but they also cannot replicate the authenticity and trustworthiness other people can exude. In fact, according to Ispos MediaCT, UGC is 50% more trusted than all other media. This has shifted how a consumer expects to interact with a brand, and has caused marketers to put an increased emphasis on how they communicate with consumers, and how they encourage consumers to interact with each other.
Why do you need it? Because your consumers demand it. They care more about meaningful interactions with brands than they do about product features. They want to feel inspired. They want to feel empowered. And they want to feel heard. This generation of consumers is all about the emotional connection they can form with brands and products. And it just so happens, emotion and being able to evoke it, is one of the most powerful drivers of conversion. Getting consumers to have feelings towards your brand and products is the first step towards creating a lifelong customer. The next step is getting those same consumers to share those feelings with others.
Customer participation must become a core part of a company’s strategy. Here are the 4 critical steps to building a successful participation marketing strategy.