When a platform is free, you might assume everyone will want to take advantage of it. However, if a customer isn’t spending their hard-earned money on that tool or app, it can also be just as easy for them to forget about it.
It can be difficult to encourage repeat engagement in the era of app overload, but there are a number of ways you can get users to engage with your business’s free platform. Below, 11 members of Rolling Stone Culture Council shared the techniques that have worked for them. Follow their recommendations to build a loyal base of repeat users.
Empower Your Early Adopters
Empower your early adopters and turn them into your business crusaders. People trust their circle, so keep in mind that when a group of people have a good experience with your free product, they also have a full network of friends and family who are just like them and need a product just like yours. Create an incentive program that will encourage your early adopters to go above and beyond in helping you get the word out. – Matt Tuffuor, Toasted Life
Show the Impact to Their Life
The best way to get people to engage with such platforms is through targeted communications that show the impact or change they can bring to someone’s personal or professional life. We strive to use platforms that add value to our clients and empower them to talk about their stories and successes. – Victoria Kennedy, Victorious PR
Create Incentives and Rewards for Engagement
Creating social sharing incentives and simple rewards to garner engagement is a great way to encourage usership. It empowers current users to become ambassadors for your brand and rewards them for sharing with friends. Not only does this increase raw user engagement, but it also does so in a personalized way that will ideally increase retention by creating immediate trust in your brand. – Carlos Aybar, Mishu Music
Build In Loyalty and Sharing
With any consumer-facing product we create, we always make sure to build in two things: digital loyalty and a seamless way to share with your friends. These two things foster retention for current users and help the product go viral. – Vanessa Gabriel, Drop Delivery
Give It Some Appealing Bells and Whistles
Make it fun, easy-to-use and perhaps designed with some cool bells and whistles. Snapchat filters come to mind. Kids went crazy, and the adults followed. – Larry Dvoskin, Miracle Music Inc.
Showcase Real Users
Let people know why this free app, tool or product will make their life better, easier or faster. Show them the type of people who are already using this freebie and how it has enhanced their lives. If this method was unsuccessful, there would be no influencers demonstrating products in their bedrooms, bathrooms, cars or offices. – Bonnie Comley, BroadwayHD
The Rolling Stone Culture Council is an invitation-only community for Influencers, Innovators and Creatives. Do I qualify?
Help Them Tie Your Brand to Their Identity
Engagement with a free platform, or any platform, increases when a user ties an “identity” to what they’re doing, and ultimately your brand. It makes them feel special, unique and like they belong. For example, our community is Contrarian Cashflow, and members identify as “Cashflowians.” It’s an identity, like a cape, that they can rally behind. – Codie Sanchez, Contrarian Thinking
When promoting a free platform, you need to clearly communicate what the platform offers and its essential value. That’s an ongoing process. Of greater importance is to maximize feedback from your early adopters. Addressing negative feedback is crucial, but even more essential is to publicly and loudly share the positive feedback you earn. Let your users be your marketing voice. – Neil Moore, Simply Music
Build Relationships With a Supplementary Newsletter
I have been able to grow a following and create one-on-one relationships by offering a newsletter that is valuable to my readers. The newsletter has helped me own my audience and keep them coming back to the website. Even though it is a monthly newsletter, many look forward to it and appreciate the work that goes into it, thus creating a true connection with my readers. – Matt Campbell, My Wedding Songs
Ensure You’re Solving a Problem
Given the multitude of apps and services available, it matters less these days if a product is free or paid; cost takes a backseat to the product being useful. Ultimately, you need to make sure that the app is solving a problem (business or boredom) in a way that’s engaging. – Tommy Stalknecht, Single Music
Prioritize User Experience
Let’s be honest, the last thing most people want is another platform or app to manage — the exception being if the app, tool, product, etc. adds value. If tools are published with the publisher’s agenda taking priority while perks, conveniences and user experience takes a backseat, engagement will always be an uphill battle. Start with user experience taking priority and engagement will follow. – Matt Blackburn, ORDER
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