5 Tips For Using Engagement Marketing In Sales Promotions

Jul 28, 2021

Engagement marketing encourages your customer or prospect to become involved – or engaged – in the brand experience by generating meaningful interactions with them. It helps you acquire new customers and increase brand loyalty by nurturing an emotional connection with your brand.

In contrast to traditional push marketing methods like discount promotions, engagement marketing pulls people in by telling stories, driving conversations, and addressing customer needs and interests. As clinical professor of marketing Mohan Sawhney explains, “The motto for engagement marketing is, ‘Ask not how you can sell, but how you can help.’”

74% of customers are more likely to buy a product
promoted via engagement marketing

One study found 74% of customers are more likely to buy a product promoted via engagement marketing. Perhaps that’s why companies who improve engagement can increase cross-sell revenue by 22%, up-sell revenue by 38%, and order size by up to 85%

So, how can you use engagement marketing in your sales promotions? Here are five tips.

1. Encourage active engagement using the ‘Ikea effect’

The ‘Ikea effect’ – so-called because products from the Swedish manufacturer often require assembly – is the theory that “labour alone can be sufficient to induce greater liking for the fruits of one’s labour.” It emerged from an experiment where participants were asked to fold origami animals, then bid to buy creations by both themselves and experts. They placed disproportionate value on their own creations, showing that active involvement increases the perceived value of a purchase.

When it comes to sales promotions, the Ikea effect suggests the secret to success is encouraging active engagement from your customers. Rather than running a standard discount promotion, think about boosting customers’ desire for – or sense of ownership over – your product by making them ‘earn’ it in some way. For example, you could ask for feedback, get them to take part in a task, or request they refer your brand to a friend.

2. Build community engagement by delivering social currency

“A key part of engagement marketing is giving customers an opportunity for a dialogue – not only with your brand, but with each other,” says Sawhney. Build community around your brand by facilitating communication and collaboration between users who share the same challenges, goals, and values.

One way to encourage peer-to-peer engagement is by generating social currency that offers value to your customer, while incidentally encouraging them to promote your brand along the way. You could ask for opinions and insights, weigh in on interesting trends, or bring customers together in online social-sharing communities.

For brands running sales promotions, this method of engagement marketing is a double-win. Not only do you create meaningful interactions with customers, you also prompt amplified word-of-mouth marketing.

How Maserati actively engaged their customers and built community engagement

“RIX collaborates with Maserati to create a ‘Taste Drive’, where prospects receive a special “Italian surprise” in the form of a free restaurant meal as a reward for test-driving one of their cars to a specific location in town.

With the “Taste Drive” customers must generally pick one of three envelopes containing a driving route and a voucher for breakfast, lunch or dinner, which encourages active engagement and gives them a sense of ownership over their experience. This, plus a second ‘task’ of sharing their experience on social media, encourages customers to become emotionally invested in the car brand.

The activation prompts community engagement and generates amplified word-of-mouth marketing via social shares. By offering customers a form of social currency – in this case a photo of themselves with a car, which is a status symbol for many – they are more likely to want to share their experience.”

Martino Picotti, RIX Director

3. Provide entertainment value with gamification

Another opportunity to engage customers is by entertaining them in some way – for example, by introducing gamification to your sales promotions. That means applying game mechanics – such as point scoring, competition and rules of play – to engage and motivate people to achieve certain goals.

Gamification is an effective marketing technique because the expectation of a reward powerfully influences emotional reactions and memories. Plus, it taps into the brain’s reward system to encourage us to behave in a similar way again. Of course, rewards play a big part – so choosing the right one is key.

4. Generate emotional engagement by offering real value

HubSpot’s Pauld Greenberg defines customer engagement as “the ongoing interactions between company and customer, offered by the company, chosen by the customer.” So, how do you offer engagements your customers actually choose?

According to Uberflip’s VP of Strategic Partnerships Sam Brennand, three key principles of engagement marketing are: a relentless focus on building trust; an exchange of value; and a relationship focus. “It’s advertising as a service, as opposed to advertising as interruption,” agrees Sawhney. “Essentially, you’re offering customers value in exchange for their attention.”

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and ask, “What’s in it for me?” Take a customer-centric approach to your sales promotions by studying your customer personas and basing your creative campaign on their wants and needs. By offering real value, you’ll prove you care about your customers – rather than just what they can do for you – and incite emotional engagement with your brand.

5. Inspire consumers by activating your brand ethos

“People value useful information and convenience,” says Sawhney, “but they also want to be inspired!” Since engagement marketing emphasizes the importance of long-term relationships based on shared goals and values, activating your brand ethos is an effective way to engage and inspire consumers. How can you immerse consumers in your brand vision, involve them in your brand mission, or live out your brand values together?

What’s meaningful for one brand’s sales promotion might not be for another. Though it might be tempting when you’re short on time to come up with creative campaign ideas, avoid copying another brand’s engagement marketing strategy – you’ll only undermine your differentiation leadership and leave your brand vulnerable to price comparison. Finding new ways to create meaningful interactions with your audience will help you stand out.


Unlike discounts, creative rewards are fully customizable. Collaborating with RIX allows you to incorporate all these tips for a meaningful sales promotion that not only increases sales and market share in the short term, but also boosts long-term engagement with your brand.

Get in touch for a free consultation.

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