The list of concerns keeping marketers up at night is growing rapidly. At a time when stakes are high for brands as they face radical changes in consumer behavior, economic climate, and more, a ton falls on the marketing department to meet new and demanding business outcomes. But you already know this, so let’s skip to the good part and talk about promotions!
Promotions are an incredibly effective way to meet these new demands while having fun with your consumers and building relationships with them. How would I define a promotion? Glad you asked. It’s an incentive-based call to action with a chance to win or guaranteed reward in exchange for a consumer’s registration and participation. Promotions include sweeptakes, instant win games, contests, trivia, personality quizzes, collect and win experiences, and more. While you can utilize different channels and tactics, promotions will always leverage game mechanics to spark emotion and drive behavior. In addition, they can be a stand-alone experience or integrated with existing marketing and loyalty programs.
The best part is that promotions can be utilized at different stages of the customer journey and are tailored to meet your specific goals. To help you get started with creative ideas on meeting your business outcomes this year, I want to share seven business goals and how promotions can help you accomplish them.
1. Enrich data about your customers
Zero- and first-party data is crucial for brands in every industry as we move toward a cookieless future where third-party data is not lawful under new privacy-first regulations. But consumers aren’t going to hand over valuable personal information for free and need some sort of incentive to share it with your brand. It would help to create a collection of promotions across your marketing calendar to acquire and enrich data along the entire consumer journey. Promotions create a strong mutual value exchange so you have something to offer consumers when asking for personal information. Identity signals you can collect include:
- Product or communication preferences
2. Motivate specific consumer behavior
When brainstorming with your team to figure out how to change consumer behavior, promotions should always be a top-of-mind solution. Build a gamified promotion that uses compelling game mechanics to drive desired and specific consumer behavior, motivate brand engagement, and capture consumer attention.
Here are just some of the specific behaviors that gamification can help motivate:
- Purchase extra products, try a new product, upgrade an order
- Choose a different shipping option
- Buy during a specific daypart, visit on a slow day
- Write reviews and testimonials, answer polls, take quizzes, fill out registration fields
- Visit different pages of a website, watch brand videos, read brand articles
3. Give you a reason to talk to your consumer
There are few things more awkward than an unwanted visitor dropping by your home unannounced, and the same goes for brands popping up in an inbox out of the blue. Promotions are a great marketing strategy that give you a reason to talk to consumers and keep your brand top of mind while providing that value we talked about earlier. A simple way to provide a reason for reaching out to consumers is by aligning a promotion with a holiday, real or made up, and create a brand event around it.
Here are some examples:
- Shop ‘Til You Drop Day
- National Cleanup Day
- Cook at Home Month
- Self Care Sunday
4. Educate consumers on your social mission
According to Merkle’s latest consumer trends survey, 76 percent of millennials and 83 percent of Gen Zers feel that brands should take a stance on social issues, making it essential to communicate all the good you do as a brand to your consumers. Sometimes it can be a simple social media post or email, but when it’s part of your core brand values, it calls for much larger scale communication. Promotions can help start a movement with gamified experiences that encourage your community to get involved.
For example, you can gamify challenges (to recycle, to walk, to buy a more responsible product) to help drive consumer behavior that is in line with your mission and what you stand for. You can also create a promotion to reward consumers for learning about your good deeds by offering chances to win for watching videos, reading articles, and visiting your website.
5. Engage employees
With the Great Resignation, millions of employees have quit, businesses are understaffed, and remaining employees are overworked and underpaid. So, how do you retain and engage current employees and attract new talent right now? Our answer would be to reward your employees! You can use chance-to-win promotional experiences to train, retain, and engage employees.
For instance, game plays for the chance to instantly win can be given for hitting certain milestones with consumers or sweepstakes entries can be awarded for referrals, initial onboarding, or completing training throughout the year. These types of strategies give you the opportunity to engage and reward employees as they help your brand achieve its business goals.
6. Allow your brand to be innovative
As we’ve gone over a couple times now, the old school, run-of-the-mill status quo just isn’t cutting it for marketing anymore, so how can your brand do something technologically groundbreaking or innovative if you have limited time and budget? Promotions are a great way to experiement with new technology on a small scale so you can dip your toe in without making a huge commitment. If the promotion proves successful, you have the data you need to justify using a new technology with a larger audience or in future marketing efforts.
A list of technologies you should consider using before they become mainstream consumer expectations are:
- Metaverse experiences
- Augmented reality (AR)
- Virtual reality (VR)
- Artificial intelligence (AI)
- Non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
- QR codes
7. Provide an alternative to discounting
As product prices soar across the country, consumers want to save money any way they can. However, you’re still running a business and don’t want to join the competition’s race to the bottom with coupons and sales. To avoid discounting, try something to give customers more bang for their buck: With a digital approach, you can offer gifts with purchase, rebates, and punchcard programs on whatever device or channel your consumers use. You can meet them when, where, and how they want, while you also collect identity data and stop the cycle of discounting.
To dive deeper into the data behind these promotion strategies and walk away with tangible ideas for your next promotional campaign, download our ebook, 7 Reasons CMOs Care About Promotions. And don’t forget, our team is just a call or email away when you’re ready to jump in.