3 Ways to Get Consumers to Emotionally Engage with Your Brand


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Meaningful engagement is key to determining whether shoppers will buy from you once or come back for more. According to Forrester Predictions 2016, “2016 will prove to be the most consequential year for companies adapting to digitally savvy, empowered customers.”

Following are 3 case studies and tips to help you achieve engagement versus transactions;

1. Engage Consumers To Tell Their Story

American Express is empowering both consumers and travel professionals to honor what the company calls “JourneymakersSM — the people who go the extra mile to make trips more memorable. Card members and professionals can share stories in a “Gallery of Recognition.”

The company embarked on a marketing campaign themed around Journeymakers in conjunction with their 100th anniversary, “… For our 100th anniversary, American Express Travel wants to help you give recognition…” Email, social media, advertising in consumer and trade publications were all used to encourage participation and there were even Journeymaker cocktails served in American Express Centurion Lounges.

“We want to bring together everyone—our colleagues in the industry, consumers, anyone who is passionate about travel—to celebrate together the people who make great travel experiences possible,” explained Claire Bennett, executive vice president of American Express Travel.

Key TakeAway:
In the Mintel American Lifestyles 2015 report it was stated “Americans seek input from others.” Fiona O’Donnell, Lifestyles Category Manager at Mintel commented, “In a never-ending quest to buy the ‘best,’ consumers are looking to others, peers and strangers alike, to glean from their opinions and experiences in order to validate the choices they’ve made …”

2. Let Consumers Demonstrate How They Use The Product

For the 2015 holiday season, International Delight coffee creamers is asking consumers to “show us how you share holiday moments” for a chance to win a $5,000 catered holiday brunch.

Consumers are asked to “make a video, take a photo, or tell a story“. Posts are shared on a “Spirit Gallery” with top 10 finalists determined by the most votes/likes in each media format. Avenues such as Social media posts encourage consumers to get involved, “Make sure to ‘like’ your favorite entries and share with your friends!”

Key TakeAway:
Establishing communication channels with, and among consumers, lets them give their peers new ideas for product usage in an authentic and credible way. Additionally, when brands take the time to appreciate participation, it cultivates good will and positive brand attitudes. In an Iconosquare 2015 Instagram study it was reported that “65% of Instagram users feel flattered when a brand likes their post.”

3. Let Consumers Get Behind a Cause

Food Network is jumping on the social responsibility bandwagon by asking consumers to “Bake it Forward” this holiday season.

Bakers can join Food Network and No Kid Hungry to provide 1 million meals to children in need by taking a picture of their baked goods and sharing it on social media using the hashtag #BakeItForward. Participants can then go on to nominate a friend to do the same. Food Network has pledged to donate $1 to No Kid Hungry , which provides 10 meals to those in need, for each photo that’s shared and tagged.

Key TakeAway:
In the 2015 Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study, it was noted that “consumers have a better understanding and are more optimistic overall about their own ability to make a positive impact.” Alison DaSilva, executive vice president, Cone Communication commented “… This is an opportunity to engage consumers more fully in new Corporate Social Responsibility, collaborating to push the boundaries of responsible consumption and lifestyle.”

The creation of authentic and credible engagement opportunities that provide easy vehicles for brand participation are a critical element of BtoB and BtoC strategies for 2016. Be creative, push the envelope and enable consumers to emotionally engage with your brand.

Ernan Roman
Ernan Roman (@ernanroman) is president of ERDM Corp. and author of Voice of the Customer Marketing. He was inducted into the DMA Marketing Hall of Fame due to the results his VoC research-based CX strategies achieve for clients such as IBM, Microsoft, QVC, Gilt and HP. ERDM conducts deep qualitative research to help companies understand how customers articulate their feelings and expectations for high value CX and personalization. Named one of the Top 40 Digital Luminaries and one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing.


  1. Cause-related engagement has been gaining in momentum. A decade ago, the Bono-involved Amex Red Card was one of the first to use this technique. Today, we’re seeing brands like Suburu utilizing philanthropy as a selling and involvement mechanism. Their “Share The Love” campaign supports over 600 local charities.

    Because of social media, and the shift in marketing emphasis to inclusiveness, consumer product use is one technique which has gained a lot of traction. Your story about International Delight is a perfect example of how marketers are using gamification to build involvement, even being able to time-target their campaign. in addition to stimulating interaction between consumers, gamification has other, related benefits. As I wrote in a mid-2014 blog, “The intent, as in most of gamification, is to stimulate and involve the customer. And, at the same time, the vendor develops valuable data and insights about customer interests, setting the stage for future product development, targeted communication, and service decisions. Leveraged well, gamification in engagement and loyalty programs can dramatically enhance the level of customer-vendor bonding behavior.”

  2. Great point Michael.
    The principles of gamification are being used well by some BtoC marketers and should be utilized by BtoB marketers as well.


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