5 Winning Behaviours for Lasting Brand Engagement

/ 1 February 2018

The following series of blog posts distils key content of each presentation from the “Winning in the Engagement Economy” event. 

Winning Behaviours for Lasting Brand Engagement

(Presentation key content by Alastair Cole, Chief Innovation Officer of Engine Group)

Winning customer engagement consistently is a matter of behaviours: underlying ways of acting that help shape brands to the customer’s eyes, hands and mind – not campaigns, tactics, or methods.

Brands have to demonstrate the right behaviours consistently over and over again in order to survive, grow, and thrive.

Product mistakes are not the end of the world: the Edsel was a turkey, but Ford is still here. New Coke did a big dull thud but old Coke is doing just fine. What stop brands from growing or being wiped off the board completely is when they abandon the five behaviours that generate lasting engagement.

Conversely, brands that want to grow fast need to identify how to build these behaviours into everything they do:

1: Be quick

2: Be captivating

3: Be helpful

4: Be authentic

5: Be personal

Let’s look at how brands have implemented these behaviours, starting with 1 – Be quick.

1: Be quick with a Progressive Web App

Today’s hyper-connected customers expect a brand’s services to be ready, responsive, and engage them on channels they deem relevant.

Opportunities open and close in a blink of an eye: Site load speed is more vital than ever before. Your customers will visit your competitors’ website more often if your website loads 250 milliseconds slower than theirs. Users begin to get impatient when a site takes just 400 milliseconds to load – less than half a second.

Making your visitors less likely to convert.

Page abandonment graph from hobo-web.co.uk

(Source: https://www.hobo-web.co.uk/your-website-design-should-load-in-4-seconds/)

To achieve the load speeds users demand, brands need to be thinking about progressive web apps.

Progressive web apps are effectively responsive websites on steroids. Google describes them as ‘experiences that combine the best of the web and apps.’

Progressive Web App definition from developers.google.com

(Source: https://developers.google.com/web/fundamentals/codelabs/your-first-pwapp/)

PWA are lightning quick experiences built with data caching technologies. It functions in a browser tab, with no need to be installed or updated, and given search listing preference by Google. PWA are fantastic for engaging and acquiring potential customers.

To see the difference in size, take a look at the Twitter Lite app that’s just one megabyte: super light and super fast, a major bonus for a mobile-first world.

Twitter Lite screen-capture from lite.twitter.com

(Source: https://lite.twitter.com/content/lite-twitter/en.html)

Alibaba recorded a 76% conversion rate after implementing progressive web app back in 2017:

Alibaba progressive web app image from developers.google.com

(Source: https://developers.google.com/web/showcase/2016/alibaba)

Alibaba progressive web app results, from developers.google.com

(Source: https://developers.google.com/web/showcase/2016/alibaba)

E-commerce platform Magento announced in July 2017 that they would be offering PWA support to 26% of the Internet’s shops. At the same time, Starbucks started beta testing their PWA to replace their payment app, which ended up being 233KB, 99.84% smaller than the 148MB size of the iOS mobile app, according to Formidable.

The message is clear: You need a PWA if you want to be quick.

2: Be captivating with great, innovative content

Expectations are sky-high: 84% of customers expect brands to be innovative and generate outstanding content.

content infographic from Meaningful Brands

(Source: Meaningful Brands)

That’s great news if you can be brilliant because 86% of customers would pay more for better customer experience.

It gets worse when you don’t deliver: one in four British people delete apps the same day they’re installed. A classic engagement failure.

Under Armor created a unique collaboration between grime artist Kano and Heavyweight World Champion Anthony Joshua, a video tribute that would underscore the message of grit and endurance that’s central to Joshua’s recovery and victory. Under Armor shot a celebratory victory video against the odds for their man and only release it if he had won.


The audience response was impressive: Just one version of the video had been seen over a million times.

Under Armor, Anthony Joshua video metrics screen capture, from YouTube.com

(Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qMWXhm8nrg)

According to Alastair, the video tribute recorded 11 million views in 4 days, 70% of which was organic. The US team requested for the tribute to be re-cut for broadcast on television networks.

That gamble paid off for Under Armor, leaving them with the kind of compelling content that we know our audiences demand and that we all wish we could produce.

However, it looks like we cannot innovate and create captivating content just by playing it safe.

3: Be helpful by understanding what customers want

It is essential that brands create frictionless interactions. 67% of consumers cite bad digital experiences as the reason for churning.

Teams need to run omni-channel testing and measure customer experience responses. Interfaces need to be task-oriented, with crystal clear calls-to-action.

Trov in partnership with AXA are launching a new UK insurance service as simple as Tinder for British millennials.

Trov AXA UK insurance app, from blog.proto.io

(Source: https://blog.proto.io/4-fundamental-mobile-ux-principles-you-should-know-by-now/)

Customers will be able to turn on and off insurance for individual items just by swiping left or right, tapping into the growing preference for temporary cover and micropayments.

Trov’s on-demand insurance platform presents a modern alternative to the arcane practices of a 300 year-old industry, and the UK’s tech-forward customers are already starting to articulate their interest in this new departure.

Single-item protection is just the beginning. Think of Cuvva, which offers car insurance and rental on an hourly basis.

Cuvva car insurance app screenshots, from techfruit.com

(Source: https://techfruit.com/2016/06/30/sharing-economy-cuvva-offers-car-rental-insurance-hour/)

Breaking down a traditional large payment into micro-duration rather than multiple micro-transactions is another way to make brands and interactions really helpful for customers.

4: Be authentic: let consumers see who you are as a brand

It has never been more important for brands to be genuine and transparent. Consumers want to know who you are and where you’re coming from. Provenance is pivotal.

Staff at UK challenger bank Monzo wrote in a 2016 blog post that they aim to ‘default to transparency.’

Brand authenticity traits image, from monzo.com

(Source: https://monzo.com/blog/2017/03/10/transparent-by-default/)

Monzo customers can now watch their spending in real-time: transactions sync immediately and notifications are sent straight to their mobile.

Monzo has gone one step further ahead to build trust with its customers by making its product roadmap transparent and publicly available on a dashboard.

Monzo product roadmap, from trello.com

(Source: https://trello.com/b/9tcaMB4w/monzo-transparent-product-roadmap)

Monzo is inspired by other companies like Buffer and Trello who are sharing their product roadmaps transparently.  Monzo believes it will do better by keeping its users in the loop and gathering feedback as it builds the product.

Alastair says, ‘Monzo has about a third of a million customers, and about a hundred million pounds worth of transactions go through their business each month. Monzo is signing up about twenty-five thousand new members a month onto a waiting list, and they’re opening more accounts than any other type of bank in the UK at the moment.’

5: Be Personal -like Stitch Fix

Stitch Fix is a company that lives and dies on the quality of its personal recommendations. It is a personal styling company that combines technology, AI, and the human touch of three thousand seasoned stylists to create scalable personalization.

Stitch Fix website screen-capture

Stitch Fix customers fill out style surveys, body measurements, Pinterest boards, and personal notes.  All this unstructured information is fed to Machine learning algorithms and is communicated to the company fashion stylists.

These stylists then select five items from a variety of brands and post them out to the customer. Customers keep what they like and return anything that doesn’t suit them and that feedback loop about what they don’t like is fed back into the algorithm.

Stitch Fix 'How It Works' screen-capture

In addition, Stitch Fix is developing a brand new range of what they call ‘Frankensteinstyles.’

These are fashions born entirely from data created from a genetic algorithm, modelled after the process of natural selection in biological evolution. The algorithm starts with existing styles, and randomly modifies them over the course of a series of simulated ‘generations’. Attributes, styles, and forms change, morph and pass around. A colour or pattern from a sleeve of a garment may evolve into a whole new item.

This is a fascinating new product created using customer preferences, offered to likely takers. It’s a new way to leverage the company’s customer information and existing AI chops. Stitch Fix has $370 million annual revenue, 50% up on last year, so they’re already doing something right. What could be more personal than automatically designing new clothes based on what you like, and on the fly?

How Krispy Kreme nailed all five: A story of successful engagement behaviours

Krispy Kreme is one of the best-known and most successful brands on the planet. Their story starts with a single, young entrepreneur: Vernon Rudolph. Vernon was born in Kentucky in 1915, meaning he was just the right age to catch the full weight of the Great Depression, when jobs and farmland alike dried up and blew away across the USA.

His family was already business-minded – his great uncle bought a New Orleans donut shop, yeast donut recipe, along with the brand name Krispy Kreme, from a French Chef. The family opened a few stores across the South in 1937 – the depth of the depression, and not a great time to be selling snacks when many people were struggling to buy subsistence foodstuffs.

Vernon wasn’t sufficiently impressed with his family’s business plan to put his weight behind it. He set out to find another better way for Krispy Kreme with just $200.

Legend has it that as budget ran low, he happened to glance at his cigarette pack and noted that they’d been manufactured in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He figured it would be good enough for Krispy Kreme if it was good enough for Camel.

In a development that startups are still familiar with, budget was running low. With just $25 remaining, Vernon spent it all on premises and took equipment and ingredients on credit.

Be quick.
Vernon’s new premises weren’t a store, but a bakery. Baking started early at midnight through to 4AM in anticipation of the morning rush. The smell of fresh donuts baking lingered at the bakery, and passerbys would slow and stop in response. Some even came in off the street asking to buy a donut.

Most folks would look for a nearby sales location or build a store into the bakery. Vernon’s solution was better, he knocked a hole in the wall. Now Vernon can simply sell donuts whenever people walked past the bakery.

Without so much as a telephone line, Vernon had created engagement, pull and loyalty, and put sales opportunities in front of consumers right in the moment when they were considering purchase.

Be captivating
Vernon’s efforts didn’t stop with the smell of fresh donuts. Driven to make his donuts as irresistible as possible, Vernon created three new business units: the mix department, the equipment department, and the laboratory.

Equipment was optimized to the exact specifications on how Vernon wanted donuts to be made and manufutured. Known to history as the Ring King Junior, it took just less than two years for most Krispy Kreme locations to drive costs down and quality up by using mechanical automation, just like how businesses today use electronic automation.

Marketing has always been part of the Krispy Kremes arsenal as well. Ideas like the Day of the Dozen ‘buy 12 donuts, get 12 free’ are part of the company’s history as well as its ongoing marketing strategy.

Krispy Kreme 'Day of the Dozen' marketing

Kripy Kreme generate advocacy and engagement at the same time just by giving away free product at carefully selected venues, such as Harrods in the UK. Krispy Kreme also made cameo appearances in Sex in the City, as well as The Sopranos.

Be helpful
Krispy Kreme supports charities and fundraising efforts by allowing individuals and organizations to buy Krispy Kreme’s donut ingredients at cost price, as long as profits from the sale goes to a good cause. Krispy Kreme help their customers,  and help themselves by creating Krispy Kreme brand advocates among the people poised to become the next generation of consistent customers.

Be authentic
Krispy Kreme’s use of machines make a part of their store’s front window. The sight of the machine is an inducement to enter and purchase, a reminder of what you’re buying and a Pavlovian cue to remember the pleasure of a freshly-made donut. But it’s also authenticity in action, the kitchen is right in front of you. Nothing’s hidden, everything is out in the open.

Be personal
The commitment to quality that Vernon brought to his work is a part of all of the Krispy Kreme’s 1,000+ locations. Since the 1930s, the logo has barely changed, the product is the same, and  so is the commitment to meeting customers in their own, self-defined purchase moment.

Krispy Kreme created the Hot Light notification when they developed a mobile app:

Krispy Kreme app 'Hot Light' notification

Letting users know when the ‘hot light’ was showing in their nearest Krispy Kreme location and the donuts were fresh. That’s personal.


Now we’ve looked over the five behaviours that brands need to be successful. Remember, it’s not enough to be quick sometimes, a little bit of authenticity, captivating occasionally. These are behaviours, not tactics. They need to become a part of everything your company does.

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