Recently, we have been talking a lot about user engagement and building loyalty on this blog. Whether it is by adding a point system, adding gamification, or by just asking your user’s input on important aspects by using polls/surveys. Yesterday, we attended a very cool session at New Media Expo by Dino Dogan who dropped a lot of theoretical principles that go behind building insane loyalty and getting users to be fanatically addicted to you. In this article, we will summarize the concepts he shared in his session, so you an use them on your WordPress site and business to build insane user loyalty.
Dino’s views are fairly similar to what our founder Syed Balkhi believes. Dino started out his talk by saying that the best way to learn how to build insane user loyalty is by studying cults. You can use the same principles and use them in a way that it doesn’t hurt a single life. Syed got his college degree in Anthropology and Religion for this very reason. There are a lot of concepts that you can use, but Dino mentioned three of the following.
You have to take a stand. You have to tap into an existing polarity and run with it. Taking a stand requires a lot of guts, and it is not a social norm. Most folks try to cater toward all type of audiences which is why they often fail to build a fanatically addicted loyal fan base. Polarity can be as simple as Good vs Evil. By choosing a side, you are declaring “war” on the other side. Take Pepsi for an example. They came out with the Pepsi challenge which essentially declared war on Coke.
Dino gave an example of the clothing brand GAP. They tapped into an existing generation gap that said this is not your father’s jeans. This is the jeans for the younger hipper generation. There was a huge generation gap between the World War II generation and the hippie generation. By them taking a stance, they eliminated the entire older generation from their customer base. However, they gained a very loyal user base among the younger hippie generation. They took a stance, and it worked out for them.
One of the most important thing Dino pointed out was that you cannot create polarity. Polarity already exist within your audience. You just have to find it and tap it for your advantage.
Another big example would be the American two-party system (Democrats vs. Republicans). They appeal to their user base. Whether it is the liberal folks or rather conservative folks.
By tapping into the existing polarity, you often create a lot of controversy. But you know what? Controversy sells. Christopher Hitchens tapped an existing polarity. Religion vs non religion in his book GOD is Not Great. He did not create the concept of Atheism. Many other folks had that thought before, but he tapped into that polarity. This also allowed bunch of religious folks to come out with counter products to sell.
Apple, which we geeks so dearly love, is all about polarity. You probably saw those, I m Mac and I am a PC commercial. They force u to pick a side, and it works. People often recommend Mac even when they don’t even own one themselves. It is rather hilarious when you see that happen. Even in the ad, it seems that the Apple guy is younger and cooler vs the PC guy looks boring. It creates strong brand loyalty.
In order to build insane user loyalty, you have to know your customer. You have to understand the mindset of your customers. You need to know their age, gender, socioeconomic background etc. In marketing terms this is called creating a customer avatar. You create few different type of users you want on your website. It is even better to name your ideal customer type.
The best way to know about your customer is being your own customer. This is exactly how we launched WPBeginner. We needed it for our clients. So one type of users for WPBeginner would be developers who recommend their clients here for how-to documentations. We were beginners at once, so we provided things that we wished we had when starting out.
The second best way to understand your customer is by having firsthand experience. This is why Syed travels to a lot of WordCamps every year to meet new users, and see how we can improve WPBeginner. Dino hits the nail when he said that the person behind the vision of the company needs to do have this understanding, not the marketing department.
Another great way to build insane user loyalty is offering status. We as humans are status seeking animals. We are programmed to make snap judgement based on status using cars, clothes etc. If you want people to be loyal to you, then give them a status.
The best industry you can learn this from is the Airlines industry. Airlines are a sucky industry, but they give you status. This inclines folks to keeping on picking the same one. Although a lot of them suck equally. So how do airlines like Delta and others convert you into loyal customers? They give you a status through their Sky miles system. You get Priority boarding, priority upgrades, etc.
Ever thought about what is the cost? Some ropes. But we are suck status seeking animals that we love being on the other side of the rope. Look at the faces of People who board first, and you can tell. How much does it cost to board first? Nothing. You have to board everyone on the plane at one point or another. Airlines created value out of nothing.
We have been conditioned to this rewards and status system since our kindergarten days in school. Some folks get a gold star. Some get a purple star etc. This reward that costs almost nothing gives the kid a status in their own mind. This is a great example that you can use stats instead of stuff and still build user loyalty.
Another example of status would be Mercedes. People buy Mercedes not for its utility rather for it’s status. Would you buy a Mercedes if it didn’t have the Mercedes badge? Probably not. Without the badge, it is just a glorified Hyundai. The utility of the car is the same. They both get you from Point A to Point B.
Now if you an use this status as a catalyst for connection, then you are in for a long haul. An example of a company that does this best would be Harley Davidson. There are riders rally where people meet with like minded folks. Harley Davidson allows you to do that if that is your interest. Be the catalyst for connection between your users.
What are your thoughts on building loyalty using these methods? How will you be implementing these on your site? Are you already doing this? Let us know in the comments below. If you found this summary interesting, you can purchase the virtual ticket for New Media Expo which comes with online access for ALL sessions at NMX.