Even the biggest entertainment franchises must work hard to keep their fan bases involved and excited. Technology that helps marketing teams build content and engage with devotees can create big and measurable impact.
Take Marvel Entertainment, for example. It is among the most successful entertainment franchises in history, with roots dating back more than 80 years to the comic book adventures The Human Torch, Sub-Mariner and Captain America. In the ensuing decades, the films of Marvel superstars Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, Wolverine, and others have transformed into massive box office hits.
Such success clearly offers great benefits. There are, for example, an estimated 7,000 Marvel characters, including hundreds of superheroes, for marketers to include in campaigns and promotions. And there is also a ready-made fan base of millions of people, ranging from children to seniors, eager and willing to participate in those campaigns.
But this treasure trove of loyal fans can pose challenges, as well. How, for example, can Marvel sustain that momentum? How can it keep fans engaged with their favorite characters across a wide array of movies, comics, TV shows and other content? How can it expand its already huge audience? How can it help fans who may be knowledgeable about one or two superheroes track the many intersecting storylines that connect them with others in the universe?
The Marvel Insider loyalty program launched in 2016 to address those challenges. Susan Friday, director of marketing for Marvel Entertainment, explained that the company's first priority has been to connect directly with its customers. Some fans have followed their favorite stories for decades and remained fervent comic book readers, while a younger cohort was introduced via the Iron Man movies or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series.
Marvel's use of Oracle CrowdTwist Loyalty and Engagement helps Friday's team create surveys and other content that enable them to interact with fans to inspire them to explore characters and storylines beyond their initial favorites. The group utilizes Oracle CrowdTwist to manage marketing activities and to award points and participation rewards to fans who become Marvel Insiders. Oracle CrowdTwist's survey, quiz and poll tools enable the team to ask its loyalty members to identify their favorite superhero or villain and create long-running interactions between the fans and the brand. A recent poll, for example, asked which superhero wedding fans would most want to attend. Spoiler alert: Mary Jane and Spider-Man topped the poll.
Marvel Insiders garner points by participating in the polls, surveys and quizzes. Points also flow to those who play games, read emails, redeem comic codes, view trailers and interviews, or read articles on key superheroes and/or villains. As fans engage with content and earn points within the program, they can unlock new loyalty tiers, such as Insider, Agent, Elite and, ultimately, True Believer. Points can be used on merchandise, digital wallpapers and tickets to events. For example, a Marvel Insider with 50,000 points can access exclusive live virtual events like Beyond Amazing: 60 Years of Spider-Man Live Virtual Event.
The efforts are working—with more than 2 million Marvel Insiders aboard to date. The idea is to keep growing that number while also increasing fan interactions with Insider content. One of the most popular campaigns was the 2021 Marvel Insider Drawn Into X-Men Hellfire Gala Sweepstakes. Marvel Insiders were eligible to enter the sweepstakes for a chance to attend the Hellfire Gala by being literally drawn into a special issue of X-Men.
See how to deepen customer relationships, drive loyalty, and make conversions with Oracle CrowdTwist Loyalty and Engagement.
A major benefit of the Marvel Insider loyalty program is that it helps members explore parts of the Marvel Universe they don't already know. With so many characters, plot points and relationships, it can certainly get confusing—especially as some characters can change shapes at the drop of a hat. Marvel Insider content enables fans to keep up. The Marvel Insider loyalty program, said Friday, enables fans to "dive into the comics to really understand how the important storylines of today evolved."
Insiders who entered the Marvel world via TV and movies can get historical context for characters and a way to explore related narratives they may not know about. Thus, Marvel Insider lets even the most fervent fans know that there's more to the Marvel world than meets the eye. "Marvel fans are a passionate and loyal base," said Friday, "but they're coming at Marvel from a variety of sources, and we want to make them all feel part of the Marvel Universe."
Also, want to get to know Oracle CrowdTwist Loyalty and Engagement better? Find out the role it played with how:
Oracle's Advertising and CX Content Marketing team aligns content strategy, creation, and amplification across global Advertising and CX marketing and collaborators.