The Untapped Potential of the Winner Experience (“WX”)

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Written by: By Kerry Bulson and Sheilah Krasnickas

Article takeaways:

  • What the Winner Experience is and why it should not be overlooked
  • The definition of a great Winner Exerience
  • How you can integrate the concept into your own day-to-day through best practice techniques

Consumer Experience (CX) is certainly a buzzword in digital marketing. Finding ways to go beyond the user experience of getting the consumer from point A to point B, entertaining them, engaging them, inspiring or surprising them, attempting to create a relationship that goes beyond the few seconds they’re interacting with the brand. A few months ago, the creative and strategy teams attended a social media conference and heard Ted Rubin (Social Marketing Strategist, Speaker / Author / Provocateur) speak on “Return on Relationship”. He recounted a personal experience in which he interacted with a brand on Twitter, they surprised him with some great swag and he then went back to Twitter to thank them, only to be met with… crickets. As a consumer and a potential advocate with great reach, he was willing to keep the conversation going, but the brand dropped off. What a missed opportunity! To find success in today’s connected world take your digital CX to heart and make it about the positive relationship. Building relationships with consumers will return more for your brand, whether it’s positive sentiment, loyalty or advocacy. Making sure the amazing experience continues into customer service interactions, brick and mortar environments, in essence not messing up the end game. And for us, an area that holds tremendous potential and should never be overlooked is the Winner Experience or “WX”.

In digital sweepstakes or contests, there’s the business of the back-end – the wrap up, the fulfillment. It could be anything, getting a winner to the Super Bowl, coordinating a conversation with a designer for a home makeover or awarding the smallest gift card prize. At this point in the activation, the business KPIs have likely already been met (or not), the media has ended, and your eye is probably set on the next campaign and how to apply learnings. But what about the winners? Aren’t they pretty important?

An engagement with a winner is just as important as traditional customer service. A winner represents a huge potential opportunity for loyalty, advocacy and qualitative feedback. The Winner Experience (“WX”) should be viewed as a heightened, intense moment of truth within the overall customer experience.

Similar to customer service, the winner experience, or “WX”, can greatly affect how winners feel about the brand, either strengthening or straining the relationship between brand and consumer.  Brands activate promotions to get people engaged or talking about their product and company, and when a consumer becomes a winner and has a great experience, they can swiftly turn from happy winner to brand ambassador.  A bad “WX”, i.e., not making good on a prize won, or requiring a winner to wait an extended period of time to receive their prize may not ultimately bode well for the brand. A bad WX can go viral on a brand’s social channels just as easily as a good WX.

What constitutes great WX? Simple question, moderately complex answer. It can be as simple as sending out a low-level prize that the winner wasn’t even aware was coming. A happy surprise, a smile during the winner’s day with a letter thanking them for participating. Not much to muck up with that. Add an Affidavit of Eligibility requiring a winner’s social security number. Ok, now we have a little more interaction and a possible challenge. We’re bringing in emails, a phone call, perhaps a skeptical winner who needs to hear a reassuring, confident, buttoned-up voice. Let’s up the stakes a bit – a trip. For 4. To a major league sporting event. With a Meet-and-Greet. Now we’re talking airports, strange cities, possibly a serious-sounding background check, lots of people involved – ticket agents, limo drivers, sponsor representatives, athlete- handlers – not to mention taxes, the IRS (OMG) and a winner can easily become overwhelmed.  We must remember that while WE have done this hundreds of times, this may the one time in a winner’s life that something like this will ever happen to them. Be excited for them, be understanding and be their advocate. Hold their hand and let them know that you’re there to help them and it’s going to turn out great. Then you make sure it does. After all, their experience is a direct reflection on the brand and a major proving ground for their relationship with it. Find ways to make it personal for the winner. That’s great WX.

We remember a winner who won a trip that meant she’d be traveling with her young daughter, who was terrified to get on a plane. We felt the weight of this moment and found a great article on talking to your child about flying and sent it to the winner. She was incredibly grateful and thanked us for understanding the situation and caring enough to try and help. She and her daughter had a wonderful trip that she said they’d remember forever.

These are the moments that remind us why we love what we do and how important the WX is to the brand and consumer.

On the brand’s journey to create lasting brand relationships and positive reputation, the winner experience is an important and sometimes overlooked area with great potential. It’s not just the winner themselves, it’s everyone else that sees their experience, puts themselves in their shoes, through shared videos, pictures, and stories. Some brands have been harnessing this potential for years. Take Mastercard for example, when they find a winner with a great personal story to tell, they see it as an opportunity to capture content and amplify that Priceless story for the world. It’s often part of the plan from day one.

Great WX always builds positivity for brands. Some best practices for ensuring a great WX:

  • Plan the winner experience early and figure out, what is the winner getting out of it AND what could the brand get out of it? Make sure those expectations are set and ultimately met.
  • Allow for flexibility where possible. Whether it’s modifying the experience to make it easier for the winner to participate in based on their needs or uncovering an unexpected opportunity to amplify their story.
  • Be responsive and have patience. Winners are likely to have many questions, so show empathy and don’t rush them off the phone (even though you’re answering “the-same-old” questions posed by every winner since before time).
  • Provide details on the fulfillment process so they know what to expect, i.e., who will be sending their prize & approximate timing.
  • Ensure your communication, whether it be via email, phone, or mail is flawless. Anticipate some of the questions they may have around the small details. This is where you establish your legitimacy and gain your winner’s trust.
  • Look for the opportunity to make it personal. Make the winner feel like they received something that was just for them. That doesn’t mean an additional prize (although it could if there’s opportunity), that could mean something as simple as the child who was afraid to fly getting the personal attention and flying tips.

Kerry Bulson, Manager, Data Services and Sheilah Krasnickas, Account Manager, Legal Compliance are part of teamDigital, a forward-thinking digital marketing and promotions company, centered on the idea of creating fans of brands. teamDigital has over 25 years of expertise where the focus has been on crafting insight-driven solutions that help immerse consumers in clients’ brands.

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