There are over seven and a half billion people living in the world today. It’s impossible to grasp. Overwhelming actually. And so, in our way of bringing order from chaos we mine trends, likenesses and similarities in order to group this massive population into digestible markets of targetable consumers. We create profiles and socioeconomic classifications. And we deliver unique products, services and campaigns, customized for an audience of millions. Millions who are all asking for the same thing: recognize me as an individual; make it easy; make it relevant; make it personal; make it fun and delight me. And if you really want to excite me, make me part of it!
Experiences shape our lives. Those moments when we feel connected to something beyond us. Something that takes us out of our daily routine for a moment, affects us, engages us and makes us smile. Consumers know what they want. They have articulated it clearly: it’s the experience that matters most. It’s what they live for and it’s why they buy.
Marketers know this well. We’ve been talking brand experience and one-to-one since the dawn of the century. Yet, The Loyalty Report 2019, the world’s largest study of loyalty, engagement and known-customer experience, produced annually by Bond Brand Loyalty, tells us that even though personalization has long been considered an important part of the experience, only 2 in 10 are very satisfied.
“There’s a clear business case for engaging consumers with personalized experiences,” says Maria Pallante, Bond’s Vice President, Loyalty & Experience Marketing. “By turning moments into a collection of personal experiences, brands can increase loyalty in a very real way, driving say, stay and spend metrics. While the equation is simple, brands often struggle with creating these experiences.”
Design Thinking and Customer Engagement
We have long seen the benefits of design thinking when it comes to crafting product design and service delivery. Quite simply, when applied well, design thinking turns a commodity experience into an engagement experience that drives brand loyalty, endorsement and increased spend. Applying this same approach to everyday business transactions opens up an exciting new world for marketers to connect with customers in profound ways.
Leveraging design thinking provides unlimited potential for brands to engage customers and employees at a dramatically deeper level. Money transfers, disbursements, promotions, rewards, recognition, onboarding and outreach are but a few examples of opportunities for creating engaging experiences that retain, delight and motivate action.
“When customer engagement is done right, it moves the needle in a big way for Brands,” states Sean Claessen, Bond’s Executive Vice President, Strategy & Innovation. “What drives businesses are the bonds they build with their customers, and the experiences are what create those bonds.”
Experience Dynamics and the Lift Multiplier Effect
According to Bond, “Experience continues to rise and accounts for almost ¾ of what drives member engagement.” It’s the experience that matters most and brands can get more out of their strategy when they reimagine the traditional reward experience.
To enhance customer experiences, brands should be looking at adding a variety of features to standard transactions. This includes dynamic enhancements such as personalization, interactive customization and game mechanics.
The key to personalization is communicating with customers in ways that interact with them on their terms — through the channels that they prefer, at the right place and moment, and with the right message. Alone, these targets deliver a significant lift to personalization. Combined, they are a powerful force for delighting engaged customers and building connected relationships and loyalty. Employed well, these tactics will deliver a substantial lift multiplier effect to a customer’s satisfaction and level of engagement.
It’s easy to dismiss game mechanics as a whimsical gimmick. The truth is, adding a challenge dimension to customer engagement dramatically enhances the value of the experience, engaging the customer by making them a fundamental part of the experience itself. The Loyalty Report reinforces the importance of Game Mechanics as a key driver for member satisfaction, “In our study, “enjoys participating” is the number-two driver of Member Satisfaction, and gamification emerges as a powerful way to level-up enjoyment.”
The real game changer in this case is thinking beyond the obvious when adding a game element to everyday brand experiences. Done right, gamification is a sophisticated approach. Creatively applying elements of game design to non-game contexts can deliver a variety of immersive strategies, significantly enhancing engagement and a program’s success. According to Bond, status and tiers, levelling-up and unlocks, missions and challenges, goal setting, progress feedback, and more makes the experience both highly enjoyable and engaging — the outcome we are all driving for.
We Need an Engagement Platform Built for the Real World
Every brand wants to increase sales by driving engagement. The rationale is clear. The key to success is being able to create meaningful experiences while facing an onslaught of constantly evolving competition, technologies and customer expectations. For today’s consumer, the extraordinary quickly becomes ordinary and the appetite for more and better is never ending. Meeting these demands requires creativity and vision — absolutely! But that alone will not deliver success. It has to be viable within tight timeframes, resources and budgets, all of which are stretched across competing opportunities.
We need an engagement platform that will enable us to deliver brand experiences within real business constraints. “The business case for turning transactions into personalized experiences has been proven and everyone wants in,” says Rob Balahura, CEO of engagement platform developer, Vouchr. “The creativity is there in spades and marketers know what they want to do. The issue is implementation. Make it viable and the vision can become reality.”
So far we have seen very few brands giving personalized engagement a real shot. Often spending significant budgets on custom coding, these large multinationals are gambling on programs that only hit the market months or even a year later. They are making a bet that their big idea will work, while the world around them is changing in real time. It makes one anxious just to consider it. 20 years ago, this approach might have worked and was acceptable. Today, we are living through the reality of a hyper-dynamic market. By the time the big idea is ready, it’s irrelevant. Sinking huge sums of money into a concept that hasn’t been properly vetted just doesn’t work anymore. We need an agile process that can test 10 concepts tomorrow — not in a lab, but in the real world of consumer engagement. Only then can learn what’s going to stick and where to amplify our efforts. Only then can we adjust at the speed of change and realize success. The process itself needs to be engineered to make the vision viable.
One solution that is showing strong potential in solving the implementation challenge is Vouchr. Combining the worlds of mobile, social, and gaming, Vouchr has created an out of the box engagement platform purpose built for implementation that has shown impressive results.
“Combing our backgrounds in mobile tech, social and gaming, we focused on enabling engagement through rapid implementation,” reflects Vouchr COO, Suresh Bhat. “By leveraging new technology being used in other arenas, marketers can use Vouchr to go from vision to reality within incredibly short timeframes and existing resources.”
Through Vouchr’s engagement platform brands can implement personalized immersive experiences in as little as two weeks. Don’t be put off by the short development time. These are sophisticated and robust programs combining a full array of rich media content and mobile technology, including geo-tracking, game mechanics and augmented reality. Brands can now fully implement, test and manage sophisticated immersive experiences on the fly and learn from real time data detailing engagement performance and usage. Personalized engagement has become a realistic strategy, with creativity being unleashed, as brands adopt this new approach.
When you find yourself dreaming up new engagement opportunities, don’t shelve the idea as a pipe-dream that won’t get done. Unlocking a reward using points scored in an interactive challenge. Delivering promotions using mobile enabled geo-tracking. Or simply enabling gift giving that’s wrapped in an immersive personal experience. These are all now viable concepts. The technology and platforms now exist to make our engagement dreams a reality.
As Matt Ridley inspired us in his Ted Talk “When Ideas Have Sex”, mating various ideas and technologies in innovative ways transforms concepts that were purely theoretical only a few years ago into rich experiences to be realized today.
Vouchr’s engagement platform is trusted by the world’s largest companies to transform existing transactions and digital marketing programs into engaging personalized experiences that delight customers and drive deeper customer loyalty. For more information and to learn how Vouchr is empowering marketers to apply design-thinking, personalization and game mechanics to the digital experience contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.vouc.hr.