A Complete Guide to Engaged vs Passive Customers

/ 12 May 2021

Personal or professional, engagement is the cornerstone of any successful relationship. All relationships thrive on engagement and when it comes to attracting customers, boosting sales, and improving retention. And the latter has never been more relevant. At 3radical, our goal is to help organizations connect with their customers in the most effective way possible. And you can bet that engagement is at the heart of everything we do. 

Not all customers are created equal, and this can have a big impact on your bottom line. At a high level there’s two general types of customers – engaged vs passive. It’s hugely important to understand the difference between the two, and how the discrepancy can affect your organization. To help you get to grips with the concept, we’ve put together a guide on how to improve your customer brand engagement ratio between engaged and passive customers. 

Key facts about engaged customers 

  • If it isn’t two-way, it isn’t engagement

The most important element of customer engagement is that it’s a two-way street. If the relationship isn’t symbiotic, it’s not engagement. This means you should always be looking for new ways to listen to your customers and offer them value. 

  • Fair value exchange is essential

Engaged customers must always be offered a fair exchange of value. For example, asking your customers to sign up for your newsletter and rewarding them with a discount code is a fair exchange of value. Refer-a-friend campaigns are another solid example of a fair exchange of value between a brand and its customers. 

  • Engaged customers are loyal

Loyalty is one of the most valuable traits an engaged customer can exhibit. Not only are loyal customers more likely to return, they’re also an incredibly valuable marketing medium as they tend to share their positive experiences with others. When engaged customers start to advocate for your brand, your retention levels will soar. Advocacy can include social sharing, referral of friends and family, positive reviews and word-of-mouth advertising. 

Understanding the power of earned data

One of the key goals of customer engagement is to earn data. The ‘earned’ element is key as it describes a type of particularly valuable data that can only be acquired in a certain way. At 3radical we believe the richest data an organization can acquire is self-reported, fully-consented and gained via a genuine exchange of value between a customer and a brand. We call this ‘Earned Data’ and use our Voco audience engagement platform to help organizations tap into this goldmine. 

Leveraging gamification 

From international tourism campaigns to blue-chip banks, we use gamification to engage customers of all shapes and sizes. Nothing encourages a customer to hand over high-value Earned Data more than fun, interactive and meaningful exchanges of value. Our Voco audience engagement platform leverages the power of game mechanics to encourage desirable behaviors, increase loyalty and ultimately, transform passive customers into engaged customers. 

“Today’s consumers are hungry for status, competition, reward and self-expression and are prepared to engage with brands that provide these opportunities. Gamification uses techniques and strategies from game design to prompt specific consumer behavior.” 

– 3radical Little Book of Gamification 

The digital board game we created for Zizzi Restaurants is a powerful example of how gamification can be used to increase brand engagement, obtain valuable behavior and preference data and unlock additional marketing opportunities by asking customers to refer friends and family. 

The traits of passive customers

Now we know a little more about engaged customers, let’s take a look at their counterparts. Here are a few traits that define passive customers:

  • No brand loyalty

Unlike engaged customers, passive customers do not feel any loyalty towards your organization and are happy to switch brands or products as soon as a better option comes along. Airlines are a great example of where loyalty and brand engagement matters. It’s not unusual for travelers to fly exclusively with their favorite airline, regardless of whether another airline offers a faster itinerary or a lower price. Rewards programs, a good example of gamification, are a huge driver of this loyal behavior. Engaged passengers are also influenced by branding, in-flight customer service and most importantly, a collective feeling that the airline understands their unique needs and values. 

  • Highly price sensitive

As explored above, engaged customers are not necessarily price driven as their decisions are influenced by other, more important factors. In comparison, passive customers have no underlying loyalties or partialities towards a brand, making price a key variable. This means that if your customers are passive and you’re not offering the lowest prices, your retention levels are going to suffer. 

  • No pride or enthusiasm

While passive customers don’t necessarily feel any negativity towards your brand, they are unlikely to share their experiences with others. Word-of-mouth marketing is incredibly valuable and can only be leveraged when customers experience brand engagement and feel a sense of pride, enthusiasm and involvement. 

Converting passive customers    

Passive customers often make up a large portion of an organization’s customer base. This makes them an exciting opportunity for your organization to learn and grow. At 3radical, we specialize in empowering organizations with the knowledge and tools to convert passive customers. Gamification is a key part of the customer engagement process, with our highly skilled team using techniques to acquire and retain new customers, increase loyalty, and encourage advocacy. 

Increasing customer engagement 

Want to know more about how to increase customer engagement and leverage the power of gamification? To find out more about our customer engagement steps, don’t hesitate to contact our team or request a demo of our unique Voco platform.

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