Aug 27, 2013

Take a Stand

Value Relevance

Well-developed values stand out.
Mary, a children's dentist, is a member of the local school board. She believes effective childhood education is essential for sustainable happy communities. Because she values children's health, and education, Mary finds scientific findings linking nutrition to learning highly relevant.

People engage more with propositions that are related to their values., that is, related to issues that define who they are, or the groups they identify with. In the example above, the report interests Mary, because it concerns children and education.

Value-relevant issues are similar to personal interests, only deeper-seated, and more persistent. Values, Interests, and Identity are bound to each other.

American Republican party emphasizes shared values.

Political campaigns play the value relevance card when they emphasize shared values in their quest for donations.

The most effective shared values for building engagement are clearly defined and differentiating. Generic or imprecise statements of value serve little purpose. For example, compare the value statement of Microsoft with that of Ubuntu (an alternative software operating system):
"At Microsoft, our mission and values are to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential." (Microsoft)
"Our work is driven by a belief that software should be free and accessible to all." (Ubuntu)
Ubuntu offers a value people can identify with and become passionate about. Microsoft’s value statement is too generic to sustain identity or passion. Clearly, Ubuntu's values are more engaging than than Microsoft's.

Perhaps Microsoft avoids a strong value statement because it does not want to alienate anyone. But a weak value statement is insipid ...and even nauseating. If you don’t have clearly-defined and differentiated values, it's better to talk about something else.

Bottom line

Relevance is key to building Customer Lifetime Value because it drives recurring transactions. Propositions are relevant to your customer either because they align with personal interests, or because they carry value, impression, or outcome relevance. To appeal to your customer's values, keep in mind that:
  • The most enduring customer relationships are based on shared values.
  • Strong, differentiated values lead to strong customer relationships; imprecise or generic values serve no purpose.
  • Don’t be afraid of a polarizing proposition. Nobody values insipid.


Join me in the fight against insipid propositions! Take a stand by leaving a comment below. Please engage.

This post is part of a series on Design for Customer Engagement.

Aug 20, 2013

Interesting Facts

Personal Interest

bank run
Personal interests are categories or topics your customer finds inherently interesting: Formula 1 Racing, Healthy Cooking, or Reggae Music, for example. People are predisposed to consider propositions related to their topics. That's what having an interest means.

Propositions placed where people who might be interested in them will see them, are more likely to be accepted. That's the straightforward insight behind contextual ad targeting offered by Google AdWords and other online ad networks.

Through placement, it's also possible to manufacture an association of your proposition with customers interests. Citibank, for example, sponsors sports events in order to develop an association of their financial propositions with customer personal interests. This cultivates a feeling in the customer that Citibank is relevant to their personal life, making them more receptive to propositions from the bank.

Citibank sponsors sports that interest potential customers.

Events and opportunities are more interesting when they are nearby. A kitchen fire feels more personally relevant when the house is next door; less so when it is on the next block, and perhaps not at all if it is in another city. Wikipedia's Nearby feature makes its articles more relevant by delivering articles related to customers’ current location. Peoples’ interests are usually related to where and what they are doing.

Wikipedia Nearby shows
articles on topics near you.


Location-based reminders add value by delivering the reminder when (i.e., where) the information is most relevant. Part of the promise of location-based-marketing, in which consumers receive offers from shops when they are nearby, is that consumers will receive propositions that are relevant to their current activity. (Another part of the promise is that nearby propositions require less effort to consume. See the related post in this series.)

iOS location-based reminders pop up when they are of most interest.
In addition to location, other factors shaping your customer’s interests include gender and age, time of day, occupation, and current activity. This is what makes search-term-based advertising so powerful. Search terms expose people’s current interests.

Bottom line

Relevance is key to building Customer Lifetime Value because it drives recurring transactions. Propositions are relevant to your customer either because they align with personal interests, or because they carry value, impression, or outcome relevance. To appeal to your customer's personal interest:

  • The goal of your design should be to relate to your customer's interests, more than to create interest in itself.
  • Connect your proposition to your customer’s personal interests.
  • Demographic segmentations such as age, gender, occupation, are most powerful when they help to identify your customer’s personal interests.
  • Physical location and current activity also indicate your customer’s current personal interests.


Is this relevant to you? I'm interested to know. Leave a comment below. Please engage.


This post is part of a series on Design for Customer Engagement.

If your interests extend to theory and philosophy, please check out my other blog.

Aug 13, 2013

Quirky, Rare, and Limited

Scarcity

Thirty-five thousand dollar penny
How would you feel if you lost $100 in the stock market? How about if you gained $100 in the stock market? Most people are twice as motivated to avoid a $5 surcharge than they are to gain a $5 discount. Losing $100 moves our emotional dial in the negative direction twice as much as winning $100 moves it in the positive direction (Kahneman 2011). So, when making a decision, people weigh losses about twice as much as gains. People are loss averse. We are much more likely to take action to avoid a potential loss than to seek potential gain. This is why appeals to Scarcity – the idea that if you don’t act, you will miss out – are powerful.

Amazon alerts customers to limited stock

The most familiar forms of appeal to Scarcity are probably limited-time offers, or limited stock availability. In order to establish scarcity, the proposition (the offer) must in some way be unique, making it difficult for your customers to find an alternative or substitute. Differentiators such as special prices, exclusive features, private access, distinctive styling, new-to-market functionality make the proposition unique.
Travel24 uses countdown timer and stock counter to
frame the proposition in terms of potential loss

Appeals to scarcity focus on the proposition’s differentiator, framing the offer to emphasize the potential loss the customer will suffer if they fail to accept the proposition. For example, when Amazon shows customers that stock of an item is limited, it implies that, it may not be available later if they don’t purchase now. Remember, customers are twice as likely to act to avoid a loss as to secure a gain. Stock counters encourage customers to think of the offer in terms of losing a chance to buy the item, which is twice as powerful a motivation to purchase than simply gaining the item.

The holiday booking site Travel24 uses countdown timers as well as stock counters to frame the proposition in terms of lost opportunity. Customers are encouraged to think of the holiday they will lose out on if they don’t purchase now. To the customer, the actual purchase of the holiday feels like a loss averted, which is twice as satisfying than a simple purchase. Either way, let’s hope it doesn’t rain.

Bottom line

  • Emphasize the unique elements of your proposition. 
  • Frame your proposition to emphasize what your audience stands to lose if they don’t accept your offer.
  • Stock or time limits can serve as differentiators of your proposition. Exclusive features, private access, distinctive styling, or new-to-market functionality, can also be effective. Low price as a differentiator should be the last resort.


This post is part of a series on Design for Engagement. Persuasion is the second phase of Customer Engagement. Attention is a limited and precious resource, so humans have evolved a system of shortcuts to lead us to choices most likely to be reasonable and reliable decisions. The system works automatically, based on 6 types of cue: Reciprocation, Consistency, Social, Liking, Authority, and Scarcity (Cialdini 2009). These are the cues
that lead people to act. 

Got something to say? Don't let your valuable opinion vanish without trace. Leave a comment below. Please engage.

If your interests extend to theory and philosophy, please check out my other blog.

Aug 6, 2013

Trust Me, I'm a Doctor of Philosophy


This post is part of a series on Design for Engagement.

Engagement Persuasiveness>

Authority

Trust us, we look like scientists.
(Clinique cosmetic consultants)
You see the guy you just cut off in your rearview mirror, gesturing for you to pull over. You don’t. He puts a flashing light on his dashboard. Now you pull over, because Authority is persuasive.

The Entertainment Software Ratings Board
tells you what content is appropriate.
Authority is the sense that the source of the proposition has some power over you, perhaps as a result of official mandate (police, for example), expertise in the subject at hand ( “9 out of 10 dentists recommend toothpaste n”), or possibly just an overbearing attitude (“just do it”).

Epson invokes the PC Magazine Editor's Choice
stamp of approval
Examples of appeal to authority on the web include the use of stamps of approval such as PCMag’s Editor’s Choice, or content ratings like the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB). These certifications signal the approval of authority, increasing the chance people will be persuaded to say yes to your proposition.

Bottom line


  • Show the basis of your authority, including expertise and recognised accomplishments.
  • Where possible, show stamps of approval or certifications from recognized impartial authorities.


Did I mention I'm a doctor (of Philosophy)?  Please leave your questions in the comments field below. Please engage.


This post is part of a series on building customer engagement.

If your interests extend to theory and philosophy, please check out my other blog.