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Participation Marketing

As the internet is getting bigger every day and brands are competing fiercely to generate the most attention, technology has made it easier for companies to reach their audiences in multiple ways. However, these marketing strategies lack the connection and interaction that makes a lasting impression on customers.

Nowadays consumers are more exposed to advertising than ever before, therefore creating engagement is increasingly more complicated and sophisticated these days. With some many tools and channel, audiences are being saturated with ads and commercials. One out five online users have some sort of ad blocking software installed in their browser, and 89% of advertising goes unnoticed. Consumer’s, brands and advertising are facing strong changes, customer capture seems to be on the verge of a major challenge.

participation marketing statistics

As brands, social platforms and traditional media are all competing for the attention of audiences, generating customer engagement in the over-saturated advertising world has become a tough challenge. The rising of influencers seem to have become things for brands, a new pot of gold for affordable and engaging marketing. What has made marketers think why customers are avoiding and dislike traditional forms of advertising but are happy to let them into their lives more than ever. Instagrammers, YouTubers are endorsing and promoting brands.

Participation and experiential marketing have proved to be very effective

What is participation marketing and why is it so trendy?

Participation marketing aims to build more attractive campaigns, those ones which allow customers to interact with brands. The ultimate goal of participation marketing is to create a relationship between consumers and brands - sometimes referred to as engagement marketing, event or experiential marketing - it tries to raise consumer’s interest and reduce indifference.

Millennials who soon will account for 33% per cent of the total retail sales valued more experiences than material possessions. And the intolerable amounts of advertising they are exposed on a daily basis has made them completely apathetic to traditional promotions. Therefore participation marketing is helping companies generate more attention from them by getting them involved in attractive and original and personal events or activities.

Participation Marketing: more effective than traditional and digital

Participation marketing gives companies to show more fun and human side. With customer taking part in activities, it helps create brand awareness more effectively than any other channel

Customers don't like to be sold but they love buying

I believe there is still a great thing about that old saying: no one wants to be sold but everyone loves buying. Customers are still open to advertising. And that is one of the main reasons why experiential marketing works so well and why marketers are nowadays trying to build more engaging experiences and getting closer to customers without being excessively present everywhere. Brands like Tesla, Apple are great examples of this approach and consequently are outperforming their competitor's advertising goals but by innovating in the way they are interacting with customers, by

participation marketing statistics

Customer involvement and identity with the brand

Participation much like experiential marketing is powerful at building brand awareness and recommendation as well as customer engagement. What does customer involvement have to do with brand identity? Customer involvement and participation means more brand awareness. I believe that the power of related identification will bring lots of engagement and defeat apathy.

Participation marketing is not limited to events

Participation marketing takes many different forms, from the more traditional sponsored brand events and sampling and testing to social media shares and like. But like many other marketing forms, an effective promotional campaign always involves creativity and originality. It involves a form of interaction that audiences take and relates to a particular brand. These can take place when a customer reads a brand’s guide or informative blog post. If we would look at social media, customers many time post pictures of brand merchandise. The most successful participation marketing campaign is the Ice Bucket Challenge that reached worldwide and expanded to multiple languages. Participation marketing examples:

  1. Social media influencers
  2. Engaging Video content
  3. Testing experiences
  4. Contest
  5. Challenges
  6. Events
  7. Quizzes, polls, calculators...

The main characters of a successful participation campaign:

  1. Unique
  2. It cant be a copycat of another campaign. It does not mean that it would not work but it will definitely be less engaging if customers are familiar with such events.
  3. Relevant
  4. For a campaign to be effective, it must be very relevant and its content should be as interactive to the targeted audience.
  5. Fun
  6. Gamification, contest and collaborative challenges are the ones that generate more attention and interest.
  7. Personal
  8. It must speak personally to each consumer, it does not mean the campaign is tailored to each individual. But its motive must feel unique or allow the customer to deliver its own results, such a redesigning logo contest...

Involvement increases recommendation

Marketers have discovered that involvement increases recommendation and have been looking for a way to propel these tactics more regularly. 77% of marketers use participation marketing as one of the most important parts of a brand’s strategies.

#70% of users become customers after an engagement marketing event

The most successful examples of participation marketing


The ice bucket challenge became viral back in 2017 and dragged celebrities to participate in the experiences of dropping an entire bucket full of ice over their bodies. It quickly spread and became viral in less than a month. It managed to raise over $115 million for the ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis also known as Lou Gherig’s disease and took all the internet by storm. One of the main reasons why it worked so well, it is because it helps develop similarity bonds among its participant, and all.

Share a coke

In 2015, Coke launched what it would be one of the most successful marketing campaigns of all time and probably the most cost-effective one. Share a coke was all about brand identity and individuality. The soda giant just distributed millions of cans with regular people’s names. Its success was huge and almost instant. For millennials who personalization is a big thing, this campaign gave them the feeling of being more unique and it was perceived as a sign of self-expression. Coca-cola consumption went up by 7% and the Facebook website grew by 39% in terms of fans.

Starbucks’ White Cup Challenge

starbucks cup promotion

In 2014, Starbucks launched its White Cup Contest. They encourage the customer to decorate the classic white plain paper cup and submit a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #whitecupcontest. The winner will get its design printed on a Starbucks cup. The main purpose of this campaign was to build a personal connection and promote brand identification among their clients.

Participation and experiential marketing. The next big thing?

Participation marketing campaigns aim to build a closer relationship with audiences by being involved in the process of marketing, for examples, share a coke, Movember or Christmas jumper are all participation marketing campaigns.

Close to participation marketing is the experiential marketing campaign where customers are not actively engaging with the product or the environment but the environment is actively influencing customers, customer experiences have become a day-to-day practice for many brands. The most typical example of customers experiences is restaurant environments which create a stimulating ambience, making clients feel like a relaxing or pleasant environment.

I believe that the power of customer identification with brands will trend up in the future and become one of the most crucial marketing strategies for innovative brands, the fact of developing loyal fans who queue outside shops for hours to get a feel of the newest products.

03. About Author

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I am a marketing consultant and passionate about all the marketing fields and possibilities, I love helping small and medium companies make the most of their marketing budget and my main aim to support them to increase their revenue.

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