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Rethinking the ROI of Your Launch Part II: Unlock Revenue by Improving Fan Sentiment and Connection

June 26, 2024
Mitchell Holder
Head of Marketing

Psst: Did you miss part 1? Check it out here.

When we calculate ROI, all too often, we leave out a crucial piece of the equation — the human element. Just because it’s hard to calculate doesn’t mean that this isn’t an important — and substantial — component of ROI. Let’s dig into three ways that brands can invest directly in connecting with their fans, and how they pay off in short- and long-term ways.

#1: Only engaging with fans who buy leaves money on the table

The biggest bummer to a fan is feeling invisible. But sadly, that’s exactly what most brands’ followers are. That’s because, particularly within the high-heat commerce space where demand consistently outpaces supply, data learnings are capped by the number of units sold.

No matter how hard a fan might want a product or try to buy, no matter how many times they refresh a website or how long they sit in a queue, if they’re not successful, that retailer won’t even know they ever existed. This leads to the eCommerce equivalent of being picked last in gym class — not a great place to start a relationship.

This part is easy to solve by simply implementing a tool that connects you to everyone who wants to buy, not just those that do. EQL accomplishes this by requiring advance entries to launches. This allows us to analyze and validate all entries to remove bots and bad actors from the running, but it also delivers insight into every person with intent to purchase (more on that, and what brands can do with it in part three - coming soon).

By understanding who fans are and what they want, retailers can better serve their needs: a win-win.

#2: Showing you care improves LTV (naturally)

All relationships must start with an introduction. Now that you know who your fans are (all of them), the next step is to gain, or build upon, their goodwill. According to Boston Retail Partners, 63% of consumers say that all it takes is one unsatisfactory shopping experience to lose their business — so the pressure is on to get it right every time.

When it comes to keeping fans satisfied, their desires are clear: they want ease and respect. They want to know that brands care about them, make things easier, and protect their passions.

However, consumer cynicism is at an all-time high. Fans feel less seen and cared for than ever before; they face significant financial costs and go through Herculean efforts to buy the hottest products from their favorite brands. If brands truly cared they'd eliminate the need for fans to time their purchases down to the second, endure long queues, and battle bots just to buy.

We need to turn this trend around. Here’s how.

Show you care by keeping it fair

Commit to fairness in your launches. Fans know the odds they’re up against when they throw their hat in the ring for a high-heat drop, so it’s not missing out that gets people so upset. It’s missing out to people who clearly aren’t fans, those who use shady methods to tilt the scales in their favor. 

Can you blame them? When fans come across these scenarios again and again, they feel exploited.

When launches keep things equitable and require everyone to play by the same rules, fans can take the L in stride. That’s why brands that use EQL have seen significant increases in fan sentiment. 

The chart below shows the decrease in negative sentiment and increase in positive comments on one of our partner’s Instagram accounts before and after they began using EQL in March of 2024. Negative sentiment decreased by 45%, with positive comments up 23%. 

Take a step back - then take the power back ( 🎵 IYKYK)

Focusing on each individual launch is missing the forest for the trees. Brands will benefit from zooming out their focus and understanding the power they wield over fandom and culture on a macro level. Because when individual launches consistently suck for fans, the fun starts to get sucked out of it. And over time, this turns into a death spiral for fandoms.

It’s on brands to speak openly and transparently about the problems we all see happening in fandoms (difficulty purchasing products, toxicity, and gatekeeping in fanbases) and what they’re doing to change things. Take a page from the easel of beloved artist Chuck Sperry, who adopted EQL to address his fans’ frustrations at botter-plagued print drops. 

“I hope the whole community of platform collectors dealing with their artists using this and botting becomes a thing of the past,” Sperry told EQL in a recent interview. 

By speaking out — and more importantly, taking action — Chuck didn’t only increase his own revenue but made a positive impact on his entire fanbase and the art world as a whole.

#3: Your best fans spend more. It’s just facts.

This brings us to the final piece of the fan-driven revenue trifecta. You know your fans, you’ve got an informed strategy to engage with them, and you’ve earned their love and respect by demonstrating your commitment to their experience. Now, how do you keep them around long term?

In fandom, as with any relationship, there’s no happily ever after without continued effort. That’s why it’s just as important to put effort and investment into continually nurturing the fan experience. It’s simple psychology: reward the behaviors you want to see, and you’ll get more of those behaviors.

A simple version of this is built into EQL’s basic functionality with the EQLizer algorithm. The EQLizer rewards loyalty and persistence by upweighting fans who have previously entered launches and been unsuccessful. By rewarding persistence, you’re building long-term loyalty.

But we can do even more.

Reward the right audiences

EQL allows brands to control how product is allocated between subsets of their fanbase. This enables brands to customize their launch experience, how they want fans to participate, or reward based on loyalty or location. By using these tools, brands can turn their launches into strategic moments that can benefit their business.

We've seen examples of brands in the art world focused on getting products to new fans or using a launch to ensure long-time supporters are up-weighted. We've also seen invite-only launches in luxury and streetwear, where loyal fans get first or exclusive access. Most commonly, we see targeting of location or geography,  rewarding fans close to stores or attendees of in-person events.

Increase lifetime fan value

In addition to earning greater appreciation from fans, smartly wielding reward tactics can significantly increase the lifetime value of your fanbase. The math is pretty simple: happy fans will stick around, and people who are incentivized to buy more will… buy more. 

What we’re doing is really creating a positive feedback loop. The fandom and culture become more fun and rewarding for fans, which in turn pays off for brands in the form of more revenue. By continuing to reinvest strategically in the fan experience, brands gain more valuable customers — who are also more likely to spread the word to bring other valuable fans on board.

It’s important to remember that there are always ripple effects at play. 95% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase, so whatever your buyers’ experience looks like will influence the next round of interested customers. Pleased or pissed off, fans will take to social media or review sites to share their experiences, either earning you more interest for your next launch or turning off potential buyers.

Get more fan-driven ROI with EQL

If there’s anything I want you to take away from this article, it’s this: brands stand to gain so much simply by doing the right thing. Make people happy, and they’ll repay you with their loyalty, future purchases, and positive word of mouth. Keep things fair, and you’ll sell your product to more real people with real emotional connections to your brand — who offer exponentially more lifetime value than simply clearing out inventory to bots who are programmed by profit-driven resellers.

That’s my favorite thing about EQL. We help brands treat their fans right, and everyone benefits. 

Interested in seeing what the return might look like for your brand to invest in its fans? Get in touch with our team. We’ll show you how our platform can improve your connection with fans and increase revenue.
Mitchell Holder
Head of Marketing

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