Let’s steal from Spotify Wrapped

Spotify Wrapped is one of the biggest marketing success stories in recent history. For a few weeks every year, Spotify’s marketing team grows by tens of millions. 

There are hundreds of posts about how Spotify Wrapped has nailed personalization. But, at Velocity HQ, we see it as a perfect case for the value of data-generative content. 

In a post-cookie world, brands are looking for new ways to learn more about their customers. First-party data is the answer. 

Third-party data is collected — or more realistically, bought — but Spotify earns first-party data (i.e. information collected from their subscribers when they interact with the app). And users, like me, are only too happy to volunteer it. Why? Because we’re completely engaged with what Spotify offers.

But the challenge for B2B brands is: you aren’t Spotify. You haven’t got millions of people voluntarily opening the app on the tube every morning to check what their Daylist says about them. 

That means:

  1. People aren’t already voluntarily engaging with your brand: The value exchange for Spotify users is incredibly obvious. You give up your data but you get to listen to the music you love whenever and wherever you want.
  2. You may not have any real user data to start working with: If you capture any utilization data at all, it’s hard to draw playful personality-quiz conclusions from the way customers use your billing software.

So, what do you have to offer? And what can B2B marketers like you steal from Spotify Wrapped? 

Let’s get into it.

Earning the data you want 

Users are only going to volunteer their data if there’s a clear benefit in doing so. To earn their data, you need to offer them something they want.

Alex Bodman, vice president and global executive creative director at Spotify, reveals what makes Spotify Wrapped feel valuable. He says: “We weren’t just talking about ourselves. We were giving people an interesting way to talk about themselves.”

Comparing yourself to peers is a deeply ingrained human instinct. Spotify Wrapped taps into this instinct and frames it around self-expression and social capital.

The good news is B2B companies deal in something way more tangible: actual capital. You might not have the brand pull of Spotify, but your customers would be fascinated to learn how they’re performing relative to their peers (and crucially, what they could do to improve). 

The thing B2B companies can steal from Spotify Wrapped is to build an experience that triggers the same social comparison instinct, but leverages it towards a commercial outcome.

We regularly build experiences like that for clients. We call them graders. 

Let’s take a look at one up close.

Why graders are a killer value exchange

A grader is a short survey that asks users 8-12 questions about their performance or behaviors in a certain area.

They earn fantastic first-party data for clients because they represent a very compelling value exchange for users:

  • Users get a dynamic report that scores their performance – both on its own terms and against industry benchmarks – as well as tailored advice and follow-up recommendations
  • Clients get a variety of insights (tied to a real prospect) far richer than the traditional demographic information of a form (or anonymized third-party cookies)

We recently made a grader for a client that sells automation software to independent healthcare providers. It’s a noisy market, and many prospects have already been burned by clunky, practice management solutions that overpromise and underdeliver. 

The client wanted to cut through the noise with an experience that demonstrated a provable link between practice automation and overall efficiency and performance. 

It’s an interesting idea by itself — but to really dial up the FOMO (and activate the social comparison instinct) we paired it with a competitive benchmark. 

We sent a sample survey to a few hundred respondents and built up a bank of lookalike data to provide users with a mechanism to compare their performance against the market.

Suddenly the whole thing looks like a party in motion — users are far more likely to answer 10 questions about themselves if there’s the promise of some competitive insight at the other end.

(There’s an obvious drawback with this approach: it costs money to build up quality benchmark data. But earning data should cost you something – if it doesn’t, it’s probably a good sign the value exchange isn’t real).

Say hello to data generative content 

For years marketers have treated personal data as the cost of entry for content and experiences that users are (at best) passingly interested in.

Graders are different. Instead of treating personal data as a commodity, they treat it as a source of information, and promise to enlighten users with new insights about themselves.

When the value exchange is self-evident, the marketing defense barriers fall. You can smuggle one or two carefully worded questions into the survey to capture sales insights that would set off deafening alarm bells in a traditional form. 

Things like:

  • What are your top priorities this year?
  • What’s your software budget?
  • How far through your upgrade cycle are you?
  • Who’s involved in technology buying decisions in your team?

The best graders are data generative — instead of giving Sales a list of “MQLs” (i.e. people who begrudgingly parted with their email address to access an underwhelming ebook), you can pass them a list of piping hot leads with tailored talking points sent straight to the CRM (and disqualify the people who aren’t a good fit).

Some parting advice

The last few years have spawned dozens of Spotify Wrapped copycats (from companies like YouTube, Apple, Reddit and Steam). 

And none of them succeed in the same way — because they’ve stolen the format (i.e. a utilization report) instead of the substance (here’s why that makes you unique). 

Spotify Wrapped succeeds because it’s not about Spotify. It’s about users. And if there’s anything for B2B marketers to steal, maybe it’s that in a post-cookie world, the only way you’ll learn anything about your customers is through experiences that directly serve them.

That’s what data generative experiences like graders are designed to do: create a path to first-party data that earns the information it asks for (and delivers much richer insights as a result).

Want to introduce more data generative data experiences in your brand? Get in touch.

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