Given today’s digital landscape, consumers have come to expect a more immersive experience when it comes to the content they consume. Whether on social media, at the gym, or even watching television, consumers have grown so accustomed to personalization that the concept of choice has become table stakes for brands when trying to acquire and retain consumers.
The surge in branded loyalty programs since 2019 is no fluke—it’s a direct response to shifting consumer attitudes in the COVID era and the investment among competitors to shore up their loyalty and conquest efforts. As part of this growth in loyalty programs, many brands now offer consumers more choices in both how they engage with the brand and the benefits that factor into that relationship.
And it’s paying off with 82 percent of Gen Z, 85 percent of millennials, 84 percent of Gen X, and 80 percent of baby boomers saying that loyalty programs have enhanced their experience of brands. In addition, 23 percent of companies reported that their loyalty customers are spending four times or more than non-participants.
But some brands may not have the ability to invest in integrating a full loyalty program into their ecosystem, and they are left wondering if there are options that could help bridge that gap between simple transactions and a full-scale loyalty program. The answer is a custom content hub that emulates the same principals and mechanics of a loyalty program while not requiring the same levels of investment nor tech integration.
Content hubs defined
Content hubs are digital destinations designed to encourage specific types of customer engagement. From purchase to advocacy, a hub offers an incentivized path to get participants to act, often in the form of sweepstakes entries, the chance to win instantly, or the ability to earn currency that is then exchanged for a choice of reward. Usually accessed via a unique microsite URL, consumers register (read: share Identity data) to gain access to the experience and then explore the various hub components.
When it to comes to hub components, there are a myriad of different options. Some of the more popular include polling, surveys, purchase validation, referrals, and watching video content. While these options are a great base for an experience, be mindful that consumers expect more in their experiences with brands, so support those core components with more unique and differentiated ones: Livestream integration, games, photo or video uploading, and interactive trivia. Of course, these components should not just be chosen flippantly based on curb appeal; they should be carefully selected after establishing core KPIs based on a brand’s specific business objectives.
Flexible consumer appeal
One of the main appeals of content hubs is the nonlinear nature of their design. Whereas some promotions lead all participants through the same steps to the same end, content hubs allow participants to choose their own path of engagement, including with which components they wish to interact and the prizes or rewards that most excite them.
Content hubs also give participants a reason to return more than once. Since a hub contains multiple components, participants are encouraged to return to explore further and get closer to a reward or the chance at a prize. Incorporating updated messaging and refreshed creative also increases participation, time spent, and the number of visits. This ongoing, repeat engagement of a hub is a great way to capture valuable (and increasingly rare) first- and zero-party data over time.
Impacting brand objectives
Content hubs can help brands address real challenges and make a significant impact on broader business objectives. Themes of education, exploration, and gamification can be interwoven into the hub’s design, and the flexibility of content lends itself to a very prescriptive strategy when it comes to which components to include.
A brand may wish to better understand shifts in audience attitudes and introduce customers to a new product offering—two distinctly different objectives—both of which a digital content hub can address by integrating a customer survey and a highlighted video about the new product. While separate strategies, both can be organically connected in a hub by the end goal: earning a reward or the chance to win a prize. These very different actions suddenly make sense when shown together as both ladder up to the potential benefit: a reward or prize that makes the customer’s experience with the brand even better.
It’s clear that consumers demand choice and flexibility in their experiences with brands, and while not every brand has the resources to launch a loyalty program, the investment and development of the more financially feasible content hub can help offer a richer brand experience and bridge the gap between transactions. In addition, content hubs can capture valuable data to better understand key behaviors and form insights, both of which can help a brand build a business case for investment in a larger, long-term loyalty program in the future.
See how we helped Royal Caribbean drive engagement and rewards exploration via an interactive ship tour content hub in this case study.