I had the pleasure recently of working with a client that is doing a fundamental platform reboot. During this process, I’ve sat in pitches from the latest and greatest software providers representing Web Content Management,
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Email Marketing systems. One thing all of them talked about is the ability to use a combination of implicit or explicit personalization technologies to categorize, segment, target and serve their users more relevant information via personalization. I have to agree that in theory this sounds cool and I’ve seen case studies of this type of technology improving click-through, time on site, and conversions. In the midst of these software demos, I stumbled across Ford’s new site which offers an alternative method.
As a marketer, you’re always challenged to reach, engage, and connect with your users in more relevant ways. To prevent confusion on this topic I am going to walk through what I think about Ford’s take on Gamification or should I say a better and more frictionless way to achieve true segmentation.
In an effort to drive Ford’s loyalty programs and brand evangelism, Ford created a social community website. Ford Social is all about Ford’s customers – all content on the site is created by its users with the exception of the blog (although some of the blog entries feature stories about Ford’s customers). Users can submit their own photos, videos, and product ideas with Ford and the rest of the community. If inspiration strikes, they can also share their ideas too.
In addition to the flow of user content, Ford allows their users to personalize their profile with a badge that fits their identity. The choices of badges range from basic (Ford Owner, Built Ford Tough), to lifestyles (Athlete, Tech Geek), to occupations (Contractor, Employee), and even user-requested badges. Not only does this allow Ford to segment and customize the site for their community, it allows Ford Social users to express themselves and interact with others that share their interests. It’s a great idea that benefits both parties.
Ford Social has managed to claim the Holy Grail of sales and marketing – segmentation and personalization. The ability to target users based on their likes, lifestyles, and needs is almost impossible to obtain for some businesses, but Ford found a way to cut through all of the mechanics of personalization to achieve a real connection with its users by utilizing the following techniques:
- Brand affinity
- Emotive connection with the brand
- A reinvented sense of customer loyalty
- Social referrals
I love everything about Ford’s take on a socially-driven website. It’s innovative, creative, and fun. I hope to see more sites using this approach in the future.