There are numerous consumer engagement strategies that brands can use to improve sales, though some are more effective in the CPG sector than in others. The key is to encourage the consumer to interact with your brand or product in a way that piques their interest. This strategy can urge consumers to interact with products physically or boost brand recognition with branded content. In either case, the more engaged a consumer is, the more likely they’ll be to purchase a product.
Consumer engagement can have an additional benefit for brands by allowing them to leverage consumers as micro-influencers. When a brand offers an interactive opportunity, those consumers will likely want to share their experience with their friends. Consumers often do so through social media, or other online platforms. This allows brands to increase awareness and affinity, which is the first step to creating an ongoing sales relationship with consumers. Here, we explore several consumer engagement strategies which brands can use to improve their sales both online and in stores.
#1: Offer Free Digital Samples
While free samples are a very traditional form of marketing, they can also be expensive and difficult to scale. A more effective and cost-efficient way to satisfy consumer trial needs is through the use of virtual samples. To do so, brands can leverage an augmented reality marketing strategy to assist consumers in making decisions about products.
Target’s Beauty Studio provides an excellent example of this, as the retailer took a category of products that are often sampled first by consumers and made that sampling process digital. Using Target’s web-based app, consumers can try on different types and shades of makeup virtually. Target also offers this feature on kiosks in ten of its retail stores—with plans to expand to more locations. This strategy allows both in-store and online advertising and eliminates the high cost of stocking samples. There are many benefits to using this innovative strategy, including the following.
Digitizing Customer Service
In the past, customers in the cosmetics section of a store would seek out the help of a sales associate, which often meant they would have to wait for one to become available. Through digital kiosks, customers can easily receive advice and information on cosmetics without the need to locate an in-store associate.
The final, and arguably best benefit of digital samples is their scalability. Brands can deliver virtual samples to 100 customers as quickly as they can to 100,000. This scalability makes this free, digital sample tactic much more cost effective for brands and retailers alike.
As soon as a product has been opened, it shouldn’t be sold. This safety concern is particularly prevalent in cosmetics as many consumers want to try out products, but not all stores will have a dedicated sample. This often leads to broken seals, contaminated products, and wasted inventory.
Additionally, stores that do offer makeup samples must continuously clean to ensure these areas stay hygienic and appealing to consumers. With digital samples, cleanup is minimal, as is waste from used samples.
#2: Create Consistency With Integrated Marketing
Integrated marketing is an excellent way to connect with consumers by creating a consistent digital presence. Through this strategy, brands create a tone for their content which is seamless across multiple platforms, whether they’re sharing video content on YouTube or sending direct messages on Twitter to new sales leads.
Red Bull provides a great example of creating a consistent presence even across the brand’s extensive digital portfolio. The brand’s overall tone is exciting, young, and high-energy—which works very well when selling an energy drink. Red Bull sponsors many extreme sports events and partners with a variety of sports figures like Swedish skier Jennie Lee Burmansson and US base-jumper Luke Aikins. Through online communications, the brand maintains its familiar high-energy tone by sharing information with hashtags like #epic, #inspirational, and #esports. There are several components of Red Bull’s strategy which other brands should consider implementing to their own events to increase consumer engagement, including the following.
Use Diverse Spokespeople
While Red Bull typically targets athletes, the spectrum of individuals that they use to advertise is diverse and extensive. They choose individuals from many different countries, age groups, demographics, and backgrounds to promote their marketing messages.
Prominently Display Logos
In every sponsored video, piece of content, or event, the Red Bull logo is noticeable without being intrusive. A prominent display of logos ensures a consistent branded experience and provides ongoing brand recognition.
Choose Proper Product Placement
When Red Bull sponsors a sporting event, the brand doesn’t rely solely on posted banners or logos on uniforms. The brand also uses product placement by simply displaying images of people holding Red Bull cans or drinking from them.
#3: Provide Rewarded Video
Rewarded video incentivizes consumers to watch through advertisements in exchange for digital goods—usually in the form of shopping rewards. Rewarded video works because it takes the invasiveness out of the advertising experience. In most cases, advertisements interrupt consumers when they’re either trying to watch a video, play a game, or view other content. By first getting their permission to play advertisements, brands eliminate the interruption, which reduces the frustrations that consumers may feel with ads.
In one study, consumers preferred rewarded content over non-rewarded content at a ratio of four-to-one. While this feature is most popular in gaming apps, it’s also one which works in shopping apps. By incentivizing videos, brands can build affinity and engage consumers on a deeper level.
#4: Host Digital Scavenger Hunts
Digital scavenger hunts offer brands a way to encourage individuals to seek out their products in the store. This is a strategy Shopkick leverages by allowing users to gain kicks (rewards points) with or without purchase. Shoppers can get rewards by merely seeking out a product, picking it up, and scanning the UPC.
By encouraging the consumer to pick up the product, they become familiar with its physical feel and features, making them much more likely to make the purchase. Mobile apps like Shopkick can act as a map to drive sales, guiding consumers to specific products and incentivizing them to interact with and ultimately purchase them. Shopkick also offers an additional reward for purchase which further incentivizes sales.
#5: Build Social Media Events
Creating a social media event is an excellent new product marketing strategy which can be used to roll out a new release or pump some enthusiasm into an old one. By connecting with consumers online and hosting interactive events, brands can increase engagement and expand their audiences. This strategy has been leveraged by Bacardi several times, and has allowed them to build awareness of products by encouraging the contribution of user-generated content.
Very recently, Bacardi decided to test out the new IGTV feature on the popular social media platform, Instagram. In doing so, they created significant buzz for their brand. On June 29, 2018, Bacardi held a major marketing event featuring two Instagram influencers, Les Twins, who have 970,000 followers on the site. The event centered on a music video which fans helped to direct by voting on features like locations, choreography, lighting, camera angles, colors, and more. The interactive event gained a lot of attention while also boosting engagement. Bacardi saw such great success with this event by utilizing the following strategies.
The Les Twins are very active on Instagram and were also winners in the World of Dance competition. Through their mass following, Bacardi was able to gain considerable attention for the event.
Encouraging Audience Participation
By allowing the audience to vote on the event, the brand was able to draw greater attention and boost interaction. Consumers felt a connection to the content because they helped create it, further strengthening brand affinity.
Bacardi rolled the program out on IGTV but also shared it via Instagram story, as well as on YouTube. This strategy allowed Bacardi to continue gaining views and participation even after the event ended.
#6: Focus on Local Markets
While online shopping is a popular option, brick-and-mortar locations offer something which online sales cannot; the ability to localize search results. According to Google, searches which include the term “near me” have tripled in the past two years. Also, 80% of individuals who want items in a hurry will go to the store to get them, even if there is expedited shipping available.
For brands, it is necessary to find a way to adjust search results based on the most active local markets. When a consumer is looking for a product in a specific category of goods, clarifying that this product is available in their local area is imperative. This could include an option that allows consumers to check a brand’s website to find local stores that carry specific products. Brands can also consider leveraging mobile apps with location-based messaging. When using a proximity marketing or location-based app, search results are automatically adjusted based on the consumer’s area. Location-based marketing allows brands to take advantage of local markets where their products may perform particularly well.
#7: Remarket to Former Customers and Browsers
Remarketing provides compelling opportunities for conversion as these ads are directed towards individuals who’ve already shown an interest in a specific product. As these individuals have already searched for a particular product before, they’re very likely to make the purchase.
Remarketing programs often come from third-party options, like Google’s AdWords. While they are typically pay-per-click campaigns, they offer a benefit of only targeting high-potential prospects with ads. This targeting ensures that brands are marketing to the best potential audiences for their products. Remarketing works as follows.
The brand codes their website in a way which allows them to collect cookies or browsing information from visitors.
The brand then organizes that data into a manageable database depending on the remarketing priority. For example, a consumer who placed items in a cart would take priority over browsers.
The brand determines the timing of the data collection and decides how long they’ll contact the individual after the visit to their site.
The brand selects keywords and phrases which will trigger the remarketing ad and sets bids to target these ads to those specific audience members.
The consumer searches for the selected phrases and receives ads from the site they’ve visited in the past. They may also visit a website and see ads in the sidebar from those companies.
Using Mobile Apps in Consumer Engagement Strategies
All of the engagement strategies listed above can be implemented via mobile apps. Mobile apps are not only engaging marketing strategies, but platforms from which to try thousands of different approaches. Also, mobile apps can travel with consumers as they’re in the shopping aisle, offering brands a more significant opportunity to connect with consumers in the moment.
Consumer engagement strategies aren’t just about advertising to consumers. They’re about connecting with them in a meaningful way, whether they’re purchasing a product for the first time or the thousandth. These strategies work by incentivizing sales, personalizing brands, and creating buzz that builds rapport. Through mobile apps, brands can use these strategies to connect with consumers in a way that both generates affinity and increases sales.