The Key Ingredient to Successful Engagement Campaigns


Quick Bite:

Engagement marketing campaigns are by their very nature consumer-initiated, but too often this sort of campaign lacks results. In years past, dozens of vendors and platforms addressed the need for engagement by offering tools to structure a campaign, market to an audience, and measure results.

Campaigns like video upload contests fell short, however, with brands receiving a few dozen responses out of thousands or millions of people “reached” on publisher sites or Facebook.

Those results typified the lack of engagement at scale that campaigns received. No matter how “cool” these experiences were built to be, they lacked the right audience – one that matched both the demographic profile of a brand’s customers AND the engagement profile (i.e. an audience likely to engage rather than view, watch, read, but never make the bigger commitment to interact).

We believe the second wave of engagement marketing is quickly arriving today, one where we’ll see engagement campaigns receive participants at scale.

Below, we’ll break down the challenge facing marketers and use an example of how to overcome this challenge using a campaign run by Dailybreak and a major auto brand.

Main Course:

Engagement campaigns are receiving more and more budgets from marketers, but the level of engagement has been disappointing industry-wide. On publisher sites, ads linking to interactive brand experiences continue to receive poor response rates (a stellar campaign, after careful planning and tons of budget, still receives a fraction of a percent click-through-rate).

On Facebook, less than 1 percent of those who Like a brand actually return to the page again (AllFacebook, 2011), meaning costly campaigns built with third-party tools sit idly, collecting just a handful of photos, videos, and leads from hundreds of thousands of Likes.

As the potential of engagement campaigns continues to outstrip the actual results, smarter audience targeting needs to appear, one that includes the current (and critical) approach to demographics and Internet-wide behavior but that extends to a user’s likelihood of being ACTIVE and engaging for minutes on end.

Why the low engagement rates online?

“Engagement” is quite simply a moment when someone decides to become involved. The problem, according to online usability thought leader Jakob Nielsen, is the “90-9-1” rule, which explores activity rates in the digital landscape. The rule states, “In most communities, 90 percent of users are lurkers who never contribute, 9 percent of users contribute a little, and 1 percent of users account for almost all the action.”

For brands who create engagement campaigns and focus them against a typical audience, that’s a problem. When a branded experience appears on a publisher site, or to a group of Facebook followers in their feed, only 1 percent are likely to engage, contribute content, share with friends, and take any sort of action. Layer on the fact that online users in general have just a nine second attention span, according to the BBC, and it’s a monumental challenge: capture the tiniest of audiences who each have the same attention span as a goldfish (seriously!).

However, our big bet is that marketers will see huge engagement rates if they could bring their interactive campaigns to the right audience – that powerfully engaged 1 percent – on neutral turf. The analogy here is to pluck every power user that submits content to Facebook-based branded campaigns (every photo, every video, every comment) and bring them all to a place where that exact type of content exists every single day.

How to overcome this challenge – a test.

Let’s look at an example from a past Dailybreak campaign for a client we’ll simply call Big Auto. We’ll compare two sets of targeted users that saw the campaign:

  1. Big Auto’s Facebook fans
  2. A targeted group of’s users

The challenge was to position stick-shift as hip and modern again and ask users to complete three actions to drive home this message:

  1. Play a 30-second game
  2. Record a user-generated video
  3. Complete a lead form

First, the conventional approach to engagement campaigns: embed on a Facebook page.

Big Auto embedded the campaign on their Facebook page and posted on Facebook about the campaign, with a link to engage. On Facebook, that means users who said “I like Big Auto on Facebook” were eligible to see and join the campaign.

About 500 total users opted to join and engage over the span of one month, or 0.1 percent. Every fan of the brand on Facebook had the choice of absorbing tons of content, from friends’ photos to status updates to Big Auto’s campaign, and 0.1 percent decided to lean forward and interact.

Simultaneously, the campaign was released using both demographic info and campaign interaction history.

Over the same time frame, a whopping 26 percent of Dailybreak users who were presented with the campaign chose to opt-in and engage.

So how were Dailybreak’s opt-in rates 260 times greater despite the campaign appearing on a neutral (i.e. not owned by the brand) page? We removed the lurkers.

Whereas on most sites, there’s tremendous marketing waste in order to sift through lurkers and locate that 1 percent of engaged users, just removes any and all activities lurkers enjoy. Like the example mentioned above, it’d be like skimming every engaged user off Facebook and bringing them to one place to deliver the content they so enjoy. That’s when scalable engagement becomes a reality.

For lurkers, there’s nothing attractive about a branded experience at all. You will not sway them across any site, according to Nielsen.

The engaged user, however, raises his or her hand and says, “I like that kind of content – I’m in.”

What does this mean for the industry?

As marketers ourselves, this test excited the team because it proved once and for all that better tools aren’t the answer – a combination of great tools and a better audience is the answer.

We continue our look at power users and generating social action at scale in your campaigns in the white paper, “User-Generated Content: 3 Ways to Earn More (And How It Generates Loyalty).” Download the white paper free here.


  1. Jen, great question. Incentives can be super productive, but they’re unfortunately very easy to abuse. You see campaigns on Facebook or microsites like ePrize incent users to take actions, but the problem is, the same users would GLADLY go through any other route to enter/claim the prize. They don’t care about the PROCESS – the actual engagement where they consume a marketing message, distribute it, create content around it, etc.

    Basically, as long as incentives don’t become a chore but you can still make the process enjoyable for consumers, rewards are great. That’s what we’re focused on – can we get that entire flow of a campaign to produce 100s of seconds of engagement time, plus results.

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