It’s almost dinner time and you’ve run out of milk. What do you do? Well, since your neighbors are awkward, you have to run to the store to buy some. You purchase the milk, go home, and that’s it. With many products, the interaction with the brand stops at the store shelf — whether the storefront is digital or physical.
No matter what it is: Your favorite brand of soda or even gadget, creating a brand interaction beyond the purchase point is very important these days.
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We’re overwhelmed, as consumers, with choice of brand for a product, so something of substance needs to hook us in. We’re about 50 years beyond the days of simply trusting a brand because a commercial tells us to.
It’s amazing to see what some brands have done recently to engage their customers to the point of creating a rabid fanbase of evangelists. One corporation to do so is Wacom Technology.
I’ll get my disclaimer out of the way at the gate: I’ve owned a Wacom tablet for a while now, and I love it. Don’t let that fool you though, their accomplishments speak volumes.
The Building Blocks
Wacom approached the digital marketing agency eROI to enhance their online presence. In 2008, they started to build communities to serve as an outlet for their customers — many who depend on a tablet professionally. They saw an opportunity, between a growing product line and the passion expressed by their customers.
Some top brands can get lazy, once they have their big slice of the pie, and that just won’t cut it. Wacom wanted to hold their position as top tablet producer, and they realized that it was hugely important to build mutual respect between the brand and its customers.
With that in mind, they set out to create a community that would maximize engagement on an organic level. Peer interactions and direct conversations with individual members are a great source of constructive feedback, and create that brand loyalty that every corporation shoots for.
This type of community also encourages sharing, crowdsourcing of amazing content and resources, like tips & tricks videos, that they could never dream to create internally alone.
Now, keep in mind these three main goals for almost any brand community:
- Starting a relationship with your customers that can’t be duplicated by the competition, encouraging loyalty and providing value.
- Maximizing customer interaction time with your brand, as well as building mindshare and influence.
- Gathering an advanced level of CRM data informed by user interactions, preferences, interests, etc.
Everything Has a Beginning
Power of the Pens was Wacom’s first foray into creating a community. It was mainly a place for their loyal customers to go to show off work created with their tablet and to connect with other like-minded creative professionals. The campaign kicked off by selecting 12 arists in various fields, providing them with Wacom product, and asking them to create a piece of art that represented their style and skill set. Each artist had a profile to show their progress, and the final artwork was used to create a 12-month calendar. In the final stretch of the campaign, Wacom asked their community to create and display their work for the site for a chance to win prizes.
The campaign was wildly successful — arists shared 2,200 works, it brought 671,000 unique site visitors, increased Wacom’s email list by 2,000 and untimately increased projected sales by 150% that month.
This first step alone revealed the passionate community awaiting futher engagement.
The Pen Collective and Pen Scrappers followed with even more success. The Pen Collective focused on customers using the product in their professional lives, but Pen Scrappers was where Wacom struck gold.
The campaign focused on not professional tablet users, but the more casual user. It encouraged them to show off their work, featured profiles and scrapbooking skills. The campaign really tapped into one of Wacom’s niche communities and has since been used multiple times now, with new contests every month.
With the community sites’ strong presence, Wacom branched out to the main social networks to futher engagement — YouTube, Facebook, Twitter. The main goal here was to help drive sales-ready traffic of course, but they also provided the community with another dimension to share content and stay up to date with company news and product announcements that people really cared about.
Soon, users began submitting their own content, like how-to videos on YouTube, commenting on fan pages, posting fan art, and interacting on Twitter.
The avenues proved to be such an amazing fountain of feedback from users, Wacom gathered suggestions for instructional videos, unboxings, and contests.
The Culmination of Community
From previous campaigns and the overwhelming feedback, the Wacom Community was born. In Spring 2009, Wacom launched the open beta phase of the site to be a hub for Wacom fans to congregate, discuss their work, ask questions, participate in discussions, and share tips and tricks.
There are now over 6,100 members with averages of: 4.32 minute visits, 21 page views, 6 pieces of content created, and 32 comments to other users’ pages. For such a large community, these numbers are encouraging.
But what is even more encouraging is that, to date, very little outbound marketing has been done to promote the community. What can be credited for the growth? Organic traffic from search, social media, and partners — 72% of traffic has been referrall.
Simply by listening, getting to know their community members, and enouraging them to spread their wings, Wacom and eROI have built a strong brand-consumer connection. Due to the success of the community they can now move forward, with a large group of loyal brand evangelists. What more could they want?
More brands should take a page from Wacom’s book — engage your customers, listen to them, encourage them — create community.