Carsen is a digital marketer by day and a digital DJ by night. He has a great love for travel and adventure, connecting with new people, and spinning out only the funkiest of beats. No matter if he's marketing or DJing, Carsen has a talent for making people smile.

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4 Little Secrets That Drive BIG Change – Things I Learned at the 2015 Travel Alberta Industry Conference

It’s the Little Things…

I recently attended the Travel Alberta Industry Conference in this tiny little hotel called the “Banff Springs”. It was a great opportunity to connect with like-minded marketers and friends, learn more about the industry, and celebrate as one of our Vovia clients, Chinook Country Tourism Association, took home an Alto Award!

Now that the smoke has settled, I want to share some of the insight that I picked up at the conference with you. Though I sat through many presentations, one session in particular really resonated with me. Today I’m going to talk about “The Loyalty Loop” as presented by Andrew Davis from “Monumental Shift”, and I’m going to show you how Digital can be put to work for you within the loop itself. Full credit to Davis for the following lessons and stories.

4 secrets to building better experiences

Building Better Experiences

Monday morning, 8am. In a room full of Marketers who most definitely were into the wine the night before, Davis was electrifying. The overarching theme of his keynote presentation was to stop telling people that you’re different, and to start showing them.

Search and online consumer behaviour is evolving; the path is ever winding and the touch points are plentiful. How can you influence the path or control the conversation in such an environment? With 50-70% of consumers already knowing what brands they are interested in before moving toward in the moment of purchase, it is important to create loyalty and continuity through demonstrated differentiation. You need to own “The Loyalty Loop”. Leverage the users/visitors that you have to get the users/visitors that you want by providing them with a truly exceptional experience.

4 secrets to help you own your loop:

  1. Get Rich, Target a Niche  – The smaller and more well defined your audience is, the easier it is to serve them with tailored content and unique value offerings.
  2. Harness Consumer Momentum – If you can bridle consumer anticipation within your experience, you can inspire people to do it again and again.
  3. Exploit Content Holes – Find something truly novel and capitalize on it with creative content. People may not even know that they want it until you show them.
  4. Stake Your Claim – What is your thing? If you don’t have one, now’s the time to develop it!

Get Rich, Target A Niche

Davis cited a story about the Missouri Star Quilting Company and its rise to success using relatively simple tactics. The Star had humble beginnings to say the least. It was only open a couple of days, for a couple of hours a week, and was really more of a hobby than a business. That is until one fateful day when the owner, Jenny Doan, decided to start a video blog to teach people advanced quilting techniques. Before long, the Missouri Star was the biggest business in the entire county, bringing in tens of thousands of people to their small town annually and driving several million in revenue!

Why was this video blog so effective? The Missouri Star has an incredibly well defined audience and serves a very small niche. By understanding this market on a deep and intimate level, the company was able to fill a gap and give them something that they needed, but wasn’t being offered by anyone else. The takeaway here is to divide your audience, then subdivide, and then subdivide some more! Quit trying to be everything for everyone, and start being great for a specific group of people.

How can you use Digital for this? – Through sophisticated Analytics measurement and analysis, you can gain an elevated understanding of your audience. Once you understand your audience and have customer archetypes in place, paid digital advertising can be used to amplify your message or content, ultimately executing highly targeted and relevant messaging to your most valuable segments. Then, keep them in the loop with a strong organic content strategy that continuously adds value for your audience. Serve your niche like no one else can or will.

Harnessing Consumer Momentum

There’s a phenomenon know as the “Hedonic Decline”, which basically states that wanting things makes us happier than actually having them. In other words, the anticipation is more psychologically rewarding than the reward itself. If you can control, or even elongate consumer anticipation, they will be inspired to do it again and again (and again). Davis cited the Domino’s Pizza Tracker to help explain how to use this theory to your advantage.

Increase Anticipation

If you’re not familiar, Pizza Tracker visually illustrates the path that your pizza takes from the time that you order, until the time that it reaches your doorstep. With live updates on your pizza’s progress as it reaches each milestone, this system effectively raises anticipation for consumers and essentially pulls them into the production process. With Pizza tracker, Domino’s made ordering pizza an experience and enjoyed nearly immediate ROI; reporting a 103% mobile lift (year-over-year) after implementing this system.

How can you use Digital for this? – Email marketing fits very nicely with this type of activity. With Email, you can set up a drip campaign based on known intervals in your product life cycle to keep people excited as their order/service progresses. Amazon does a good job of this, with constant updates on the progress of your package, but this can be applied to essentially any business. Social Media could also be used to harness anticipation. Encourage people to share their experiences and create an community of excitement around the process of your product or service. Have a new product releasing next month? What about a series of ‘teasers’ on Social to raise that anticipation and get people buzzing?

Exploiting Content Holes

Have you ever wondered where those ‘live’ aquarium channels came from? According to Davis, without the ‘Sci-Fi’ network, there would be no aquarium channels. This case it’s all about identifying a want or need (sometimes by accident) that isn’t being served or fulfilled, and then filling that gap with interesting and creative content.

In the 90s, when the Sci-Fi channel was suppose to launch, they were having licensing issues with key programs such as Star Trek. On ‘go day’, the issues were still not resolved so the channel was essentially going to be airing dead space (just a black screen). 5 minutes before launch, the operators placed the camera in front of a fish tank so at least something would be on air. Fearing the worst, they sat beside the phones for the remainder of the day, expecting angry calls from Star Trek geeks across the country. But what happened next was truly remarkable…

No calls came in. Not one! That is, until the day that the licensing issue was resolved and the Sci-Fi channel started playing its regular scheduled content. On that day, the phone rang off the hook with people complaining about the ‘fish channel’ being taken off the air. This, my friends, is a content hole. A niche topic or market that fulfills a content need or desire that we may not even know that we have.

How can you use Digital for this? – Even in the most saturated market, content opportunities can still exist. Analytics monitoring and reporting can help you understand your audience’s online behaviour, which in turn can help you identify content holes and opportunities. What are they engaging with most on your website? What are they not engaging with? What kind of feedback are you receiving? What are similar folks doing across the internet on similar or related sites? Find a few topics that your most loyal consumers are passionate about, and begin to build experiences and content around these ideas and themes. Once you’ve found your content hole, fill it with unique and valuable material and then amplify it with SEM and Paid Social, using look-alike targeting methods.

Stake Your Claim

Last, but certainly not least, Davis spoke to the importance of ‘staking your claim’. In simple terms, this means that remarkable experiences and programs must have (at least) one thing that truly differentiates them from other places and things. What is it about your product, service, or destination that makes it desirable?

Davis referred to a little town called Greensburg, Kansas to help him draw this point out. Greensburg was a tiny little town with very little to it. Literally in the middle of nowhere with no major attractions to speak of, except perhaps a very large man-made water well. In 2007, a F5 tornado tore through this tiny town leaving virtually nothing behind…

Greensburg , Kansas

This tragedy, however, was not without a silver lining. From the ashes of old Greensburg, grew a new town with a new mission and a new claim. Greensburg, Kansas became the greenest city in North America and they now have the most LEED certified buildings per capita in the entire world!

THIS is how you stake your claim and excite people. Before the tragedy, small town Greensburg was barely a dot on the map. Now, it has that special ‘something’ that draws people in. Every city, and every company, should have a claim to fame. Find your special something, and promote the hell out of it!

How can you use Digital for this? – Digital can’t help you find ‘your thing”, but it can certainly be used to amplify your message and share your value proposition. A fully integrated digital campaign using all available channels (Social, SEM, Email, Video, etc.) can position your company or destination as the ‘go-to’ for something very specific and interesting. The trick is, you’ll have to make sure that you really are the go-to or your marketing becomes disingenuous. The easiest way to destroy your loyalty loop is to operate without integrity.

Caught In a Loop

Building better experiences should always be top of mind for brands and businesses alike. Building loyal advocates inspires repeat business and referrals, but people aren’t going to do this for a mediocre product or service. Want to be more successful? Target a Niche, harness Consumer Anticipation, find and exploit those Content Holes, and Stake Your Claim! If you do all of these things well, your customers will see the value, remain in your loop and you shall inevitably prosper.