More and more companies today have a strategic imperative to align around the customer. It’s becoming evident that getting to know your customers – and I mean really knowing them – can lead to better decision making and improved business outcomes. I’m not talking about knowing their basic demographics but their preferences, their likes and dislikes, what they think of your plans and ideas – the important stuff.
Think about it: when you understand what your customers want, expect and prefer, and, of course, what they dislike, then you can align your business around the customer. When you’re aligned with the customer, you can create products, experiences, services and even marketing campaigns that you know they’ll love and respond to positively. Sounds great, right? But how do you get to know them on a deeper level?
Having fast, agile access to a group of opted-in, highly engaged and richly profiled of people you care about is vital. An insight community checks all of these boxes and goes far beyond slow, expensive traditional methods and event-based surveys. Insight communities are made up of carefully selected groups of ideal customers who give you their honest opinions and ideas, which shape your business decisions and help you position your company as an expert in your industry.
At the heart of getting valuable insight from an insight community is member engagement. If the community members aren’t engaged, well, they’re not going to respond to your surveys or take the time to answer your questions thoroughly. You’ll be wasting time and resources trying to get insight from members who just don’t care because you haven’t given them a reason to!
NCM understood this reality, and that’s why Doug Pulick, SVP of Strategic Insight and Analytics, and Chris Tesoriero, Custom Research Manager, made engagement of their frequent cinema goers a priority. So they would continue to provide the timely answers they need to support decisions for their own business as well as their advertising and studio partners.
Here are three strategies they’ve implemented that can help you keep your community members more engaged.
1. Share engaging content
At NCM, it’s all about give and take. If you want your audience to give you answers, share their thoughts and offer their opinions then you need to give them something in return to make it worth their while.
While many companies make the mistake of paying individual incentives for these insights, sharing engaging content has, time and time again, shown to boost engagement more effectively than a monetary reward. Reciprocity is key.
Sharing engaging content has, time and time again, shown to boost engagement more effectively than a monetary reward.
As Chris, explains, “We know that our community members are movie fanatics, so we indulge that passion by sharing movie entertainment ’round-up’ emails that showcase new movie trailers and industry news. We keep our tone light and deploy fun, relevant surveys like gamified Oscar and box office prediction surveys where they create a competition and tally scores quarterly.” NCM also share newsletters to members with trailers about upcoming releases, reviews from Rotten Tomatoes and behind the scenes content that members really love to know about but can’t get anywhere else.
While these interactions are designed primarily to engage members, the insight team also takes the opportunity to gain information about members’ theater visits (date, theater, film) to further empower their analytics and digital re-targeting.
2. Make participation fun
Another way the insight team at NCM increases member engagement is to keep interactions fun and lighthearted.
For example, they’ll not only ask members which theaters they prefer or which movies they’ve recently gone to see, but they’ll also ask whether Gandalf or Yoda would win in a fight. The insight team works with PR to come up with fun activities that keep members engaged.
Doug talks about one such survey, “We worked with our PR team to create this really fun survey about never have I ever while at the movies.” The survey was based on the popular “Never Have I Ever” game but was based on going to the movies to make the survey more relevant to members. They asked members “never have I ever” went on a first date, made out with somebody at the movie, gone to second base or snuck in food, for example.
The team even conducted a survey that had members upload photos of themselves. Chris explains, “We did a Halloween survey about have you ever dressed up as a movie character? And people uploaded pictures of their costumes.”
These types of surveys provide additional context on the audience that brings them to life for advertising partners and engages the community at the same time. Doug once opened a presentation with the statistic that 42% of moviegoers think Gandalf could take Yoda in a fight. This got their attention and showed just how much NCM truly knows about its customer base.
3. Share feedback from the results
Members join insight communities to have their voices heard. In fact, a Vision Critical survey found that:
- 86% participate because they want to make a difference
- 87% want to have a say in a company's future
The point is members don’t want to give you their time and share their thoughts and opinions just for the sake of doing it. They want to know their answers are making an impact. If their answers simply go into a black hole, they’ll likely get disengaged.
That’s why NCM’s insight team makes sure to take the time to share feedback from the results they received from surveys they’ve conducted. They’ll also share some of the funny open-ended comments they receive from members to show there are real people behind the community. This ensures the members continue to be emotionally engaged and keep participating.