Designing Micro Experiences

Mel Rainsberger
Aug 25, 2015 · 7 min read
Designing Micro Experiences

If you’ve ever tried to sell something online, or get someone to pay attention to you, you know it can be really, really hard.

First of all, throw out all your marketing-guru talk. You can’t put your customers into a mold and squeeze them out to a homogenized paste. And the more you try to do that, the more your customers will rebel against your image of them.

Sales Funnels Suck

If you think your customer is “everyone”, you will need to go back to the drawing board and come up with five or more profiles for your ideal customer.

Stop Dumping on Your Customers

Customers aren’t sitting around waiting for an ad, a new feature, or your product to hit the market. Saying “I’m on Twitter” isn’t enough. Who are you on Twitter? Who talks back to you? Who shares? Who retweets?

Fact: Your customers do stuff. They are people.

Your customers are out in the world, doing things. They go hiking, or read the New Yorker, or dabble in beer making. They make and do something without any input from you. They are in, in fact, people.

Compliment your customers

A product’s goal is to be the thing they always needed and never knew about. It should fit in with their lifestyle and image of themselve. Is your customer an astronaut? Give them a better jetpack.

The simplest way to think about how to stand out, is to imagine how someone might tell others about your product or ad. How would they sum it up? What is the one thing that they will always remember? Is it the awesome rock and roll music? Is it the goofy dad character? Does it have an extra button that solves every problem? Whatever it is, make sure your customer can say that your product is “that one with the thing.”

Sales funnels are terrible, but turn it on it’s side, and it becomes a conversational tool for you and your customers. Not only should you send messages/ideas/products out into the world, but you should listen to your customers and respond.

I’ve coined the term “ergonomic advertising” to describe the concept of making marketing that fits the customer instead of trying to generalize about their habits. But it’s not about fitting them into a mold — an ergonomic keyboard might be physically better for most people, but thumb-operated keyboards are probably the standard.

What is their comfort space? Do they love playing video games? Or maybe they like hate-reading about celebrities? You’ve got to hang out in their spaces, and start a dialog related to that.

What is ergonomic advertising?

Instead of thinking of your message as something that’s filtered, processed, and dumped on the customer — think of it like a bubble. How small can you make your message? How effortless can you make the delivery? Focus on making the experience small and delightful.

What are micro campaigns?

Any useful product or service will be complex. The challenge is to make it seem simple and easy to use. Using smaller pieces, it’s easier to deliver a concept, but it can be hard to track the effectiveness if your target or message isn’t well chosen.

How do you track something small?

Goals, collections of small messages, and tracking over time will help you see the effectiveness of your micro campaign.

One vs. the Many

What does a micro video campaign look like?

For Worcester Polytechnic Institute, we started with a singular video. This video failed. It was too long, the message was buried at the end, and any college could have made a similar ad by swapping mascots. We were able to convince them to re-think their Gompei the Goat puppet ads, and we made six micro videos with much greater success. We focused on delivering one idea and having a clear call to action, rather than trying to hit a range of alumni.

The standout in the campaign: Mars

The video that was the standout in the campaign was a video referencing Mars. WPI alumni had worked on the Curiousity Rover mission. This connection made the topic of Mars particularly popular with all alumni.

There are times when you can be generic

The Amazon holiday video was a great example of a generic storyline that works. The story is simple: a grandmother gets a gift she doesn’t want and sells it on Amazon. The technique we chose was use to replicate old mix-media Christmas cards. The look and feel of this video helps it stand out from other holiday videos that use traditional motion and infographic techniques.

How to do micro emails

For the last couple months, we’ve been sending out a campaign called “15 Second Demos.” Instead of trying to get potential clients to watch a video, we’re trying to get them to remember one of our strengths or skills: speed, animation, special effects, infographics, etc. Video plays have been low, but we combine key words and GIFs to drive home the simple concepts we deliver each week. This week’s concept was “fast.” We started this company from a 48 Hour Film Project team, and it the ability to achieve a lot in a short amount of time has always been one of our strengths.

Breaking down a video into smaller and smaller samples

The smaller the piece of media, the easier it is for the audience to accept. A two minute video is a lot of time, but a 15 second video is much easier.

We start with asking for just 2 seconds of time to read an email header. If they click, they get another 3 seconds of media in the form of a GIF, plus a small explanation that can take 5–10 seconds to read. If they click the GIF, they get a 15 second video. Overall, they might be engaged for 15 seconds to 2 minutes, but we’ve made it easier to get the concept at the beginning of the process instead of the end.

Engagement rates are important

It’s not enough for someone to watch a video, they have to be engaged. Wistia is a great service that tracks not just how many people watch a video, but for how long.

Don’t be afraid of making something “bad”

It can be hard to start. Advertising is expensive, and doing it wrong can feel like you’ve wasted precious time/dollars. Don’t be afraid to make something “bad.” Start making media, and learn along the way. Whatever you make now will always feel inferior to products you make later. As you grow and learn you will improve.

Keep it simple!
1. Discover who your client is
2. What is your client doing?
3. Start a conversation
Marketing: a game not dissimilar to mad libs

Next, I’m going to give you some prompts to make your micro campaign more specific. These aren’t everything and anything you can include, but hopefully it gets your mind thinking about all the possible options.

Pick 5
Pick 3
Pick 1/3/1
Final thoughts
Follow me on Twitter!

Mel Rainsberger

Written by

I know too much about video, animation, and web design. Most importantly, I also have some pretty good ideas about snack foods.

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