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What Content Marketers Can Learn From Easter Eggs

While you may be too old for a good old-fashioned Easter egg hunt (or if you’re still going, no judgment here), Easter eggs are always fun to find on the internet. Some companies, such as Pixar, are notorious for Easter eggs.  Other companies make them truly a surprise, using them rarely or only once. While using Easter eggs on your website may help your overall marketing efforts, there are some eggs-cellent (sorry) content marketing takeaways to pay attention to as well.

Image via Flickr by jamieanne

Gamification Works

Gamifying can boost marketing, intriguing potential customers and increasing your sales. For example, on an episode of “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” that aired in April 2016, the host stepped in to help a small New Jersey newspaper with only 100 subscribers by gamifying the subscriptions, offering lottery tickets with a subscription. Since her involvement, subscriptions have quadrupled.

Gamification in online Easter eggs is common. For example, Google’s “Unable to connect to the Internet” error page features a mini-game with the T-Rex symbol so many users are used to when landing on that page unexpectedly.

Gamifying your content isn’t difficult. Instead of posting a blog post or a static infographic every time, shake things up. Add an interactive quiz or turn that static infographic into an interactive one, adding a fun game to help your reader take a little time out from their day.

You Can Bring Back Inactive Users

Have you ever been MIA from a website you are registered to? Would learning about an interesting Easter egg bring you back to check it out? Many people have answered yes to that question. LinkedIn used this tactic in 2011, adding a holiday card that appeared after you checked out an interesting person who viewed your profile, Snow E. Mann. If you hear about something like this, you’re likely to log in to your LinkedIn account, even if it’s been a while, to check it out.

The takeaway from this is that using something new or surprising to pique the interests of inactive or idles users is a useful way to increase engagement. This is especially helpful if you’ve got something to show them they probably haven’t seen before, such as a new product or design. Plus, it’s more profitable to keep current customers than to acquire new ones.

People Love to Be in on the Inside Joke

If you’ve ever seen some friends share an inside joke and you have no clue what they’re talking about, you know how excluding it can feel to not be in on the secret. On the flip side, if you’ve shared an inside joke with someone, you know it can feel special and inclusive. This is a large draw of internet Easter eggs. People want to feel like they’re in on the joke, they know about something not everyone else does. It creates a sense of importance. People feel part of the collective.

Creating a sense of unity with your content marketing by using an ongoing joke or theme will keep your audience more connected. They’ll want to come back for more because they want to feel like they aren’t missing anything. They love that they “get” the joke and feel connected to you as a brand and to the other people in on the joke. Sharing a fun secret is one of the simple pleasures in life. It’s exciting. Give that to your audience and they’ll appreciate you for it.

Creativity Means a Lot to People

Creativity is a crucial component to Easter eggs. Without it, they’re just not as fun. When you can think of something that other people can look at and say “Ha! That’s so clever,” you’ve got them. That’s because not everyone has creative chops. The more creative, the more likely the Easter egg is to pick up steam and get in front of eyes across the net.

Thinking outside of the box is something all content marketers should consider. Using the same run-of-the-mill content about the same topics can get stale. Taking risks, even small ones, can have big pay off. Users are bombarded with information from their social media feeds, RSS feeds, email accounts, etc. You have to stand out if you want to make an impression.

Splashy topics are eye-catching. Of course these aren’t always appropriate for every business, but if you or your clients are open to something out of the norm, it’s worth pitching something audiences don’t typically see from you or them.

Rewards Are Rewarding

As obvious as that sounds, even a small pay-off from a simple task is a reward. Easter egg creators know this. The notion is simple and effective. Getting rewarded for doing something is a huge motivating factor for people. If a user typed the Konami code when they got to Buzzfeed’s homepage, they were rewarded with images of the internet’s favorite animals, sloths.  It may be a simple reward, but it was a reward nonetheless.

You can reward your audience in many ways. You can provide them an answer to a question they’ve been dying to know. You can tell them how they can gain access to something. You can enable discounts. You can offer something for free. You can enter them into a sweepstakes. This is related to gamification, as doing something for a reward gets people to subscribe, stick around, or keep reading.

Because people like how they feel when they’re rewarded something, it keeps them hooked when there’s something on the line, even if that something is relatively insignificant, such as a like or share on a social media post.

Easter eggs are some of the internet’s best kept, or not-so-best, kept secrets. They bring the vast expanse of the internet together as a community. Take a few pointers from what makes them successful and apply them to your content marketing campaign, and you’ll be hoppy you did (sorry).

About the author

Courtni Casanova