Building great relationships with your customers means keeping them on their toes. When they’ve seen the same type of messages over and over again, it’s time to delight them with something new and creative. Humor is a powerful way to communicate with your users. It’s humanizing and gives your brand an opportunity to connect on a more intimate level.
Humor can elicit immediate reactions that amplify the fun, social conversation around your brand. But like a standup comedian who goes on stage for the first time to test out his punch lines, a humor strategy also has serious dangers. Will your audience burst into laughter—or boo you off the stage? Humor can become a minefield if done without finesse, so gauging your audience’s reaction is crucial. Fortunately, that’s where mobile marketing automation comes in.
For 8tracks, Laughter is a Serious Business
Today, we’re spotlighting 8tracks, an internet radio company that uses Kahuna. By using Kahuna, 8tracks has reduced user churn by 8 percentage points and increased user engagement by 23%! For its latest mobile marketing campaigns, 8tracks decided to take a page from its social media playbook. 8tracks had already been using pithy, clever copy on Twitter and wanted to try engaging its mobile users with humorous push notifications as well. Here are four lessons 8tracks learned from sending out humorous push campaigns with Kahuna:
Lesson #1: Run a pilot before heading onto the stage.
These were the types of fun, flowery tweets that tickled the fancy of 8tracks’ fans on Twitter and garnered 8tracks over 65K followers. Building on the success of its social media savvy, 8tracks decided to start a playful relationship with its users on mobile as well—but not without some forethought. Mobile is a different environment from social media. It’s a more intimate experience and can be more disruptive. 8tracks’ social media fans fell in love with its romantic tweets, but would 8tracks see the same fanfare on mobile?
To gauge its audience’s reaction, 8tracks tested various humorous campaigns against more typical campaigns that didn’t use humor. Below is an example of one of those campaigns, testing a playful, funny message (C) against two non-humorous messages (A and B).
As you can see from the data, the humorous message (C) inspired more action than any of the other messages, getting a 16.39% engagement rate and a 17.88% uplift over the control group. Initial tests like this one gave 8tracks the confidence to go all out and pursue the hearts of its mobile users with humor.
Lesson #2: Talk to the audience on a personal level.
How do you create a real relationship with your fans? Talk to them like a person, not a faceless app install, especially when you’re trying to convince them to re-engage. When customers are bombarded with marketing messages all day, having a unique approach will win a little more of their increasingly divided attention. 8tracks continued to get personal with its fans by treating them like a loving partner. To dormant users, they sent the push, “Come back, we miss you. We can change.”
As a result, 8tracks saw engagement rates jump to 15.58 % vs. 14.33% for the highest performing generic push. One user was so enamored by the push that she took the conversation to Twitter.
Nothing’s better than a re-engaged user and a little free buzz on social media. Getting personal helped 8tracks create that excitement worthy of a conversation.
Lesson #3: Find the right audience.
Humor can make a bigger impact on different segments of your user base. Depending on how customers are feeling about your app and what you’re asking them to do, funny, pithy messages may not be the best way to engage certain users. While 8tracks’ dormant users were delighted by humorous messages asking them to re-engage with the app, the company found that the same types of messages didn’t always resound with already engaged users. In the following campaign example, 8tracks wanted to see a specific action from already engaged users: checking out a playlist. 8tracks used a variety of humorous and personal messages but discovered that these types of messages actually ended up performing worse than the control group.
While this strategy had worked with dormant users, for engaged users, the results were not as promising. Highly engaged users are already your best customers—people who have your app in mind and have made it a part of their day. These users may not need a light-hearted reminder to draw them back to the app—you may end up reminding them of something they already know. Before using humor as a strategy, think deeply about which segments you are targeting and how they already feel about your app. Are they already engaged in a comfortable relationship with your brand or is it necessary to get their attention with something clever? Sometimes, you don’t need to try so hard.
Lesson #4: Humor is a double-edged sword.
Humor is a potent strategy. It’s audacious and becomes more of a gamble if taken to the extreme. The more adventurous your message, the more likely it will provoke people to react. But for every user you delight with a funny and daring message, you’ll run the risk of striking the wrong chord with another. To reactivate dormant users, 8tracks experimented with a coyish “Hey there ;)” push campaign, mimicking a flirty message you might get from someone special. The push definitely worked to provoke action—it boosted engagement and opt-outs at the same time.
You can’t win with everyone. By taking humor for a test run, you’ll have to decide whether it’s worth a few opt-outs to earn the love of a more devoted fan base.
Using humor in your editorial voice is a risky endeavor, but one that’s often super effective for getting people to adore your brand and start a conversation around it. A humorous editorial voice is commonly seen on Twitter and Facebook, but mobile is a different beast to tackle. Because it’s an intimate, quieter environment, there’s a bigger chance your brand will provoke more extreme reactions—delight and annoyance. More than ever, it’s important to understand what messages are working, who is reacting positively, and whether humor is the right approach in the context of your objectives. Don’t let the potential downsides deter you. The risk can bring spectacular results. As 8tracks saw from its humorous push campaigns, a little romancing goes a long way.