Let’s Get Phygital: Building Meaningful Connections On and Offline

October 13, 2023by Hiebing

There is no denying we live in a digital world. In the realm of marketing, digital interactions have become a main source for brands to cultivate a community and build a legion of brand loyalists. Creating points of connection relies on highlighting what your target has in common with your brand – and can foster an engagement cycle that makes them feel. But, doing that just online misses the opportunity for those special interactions that you simply can’t get over a screen.  

The reality is that marketing is still about creating an emotional connection between people and brands, and you have to get “Phygital” – combining the personal connection of a physical interaction with the reach of the digital – to fuel that engagement cycle long term.

When engagement cycles are based in target insights, customer engagement is fueled meaningfully and loyalty advances authentically. Here’s how.

Build Up and Reward Superfans

In June, our book club explored how to build a following of fanatical brand loyalists of “Superfans” from author Pat Flynn. The Superfan factor takes brand loyalty to new heights – because a Superfan can act as a brand ambassador. Word of mouth is vital to generating excitement and engagement around your brand – and doing that on social channels and among a connected fanbase is a great way to inspire and move your target.

While the reach available in digital spaces is vast, keeping Superfans engaged requires meaningful interactions that honor their devotion and dedication to their shared identity in your fandom. Returning their loyalty with a “high five” – a thoughtful, personalized interaction that builds a further relationship – makes a difference. When people see others like them succeeding in engaging with your brand, they’re more likely to see themselves and their own potential in a similar light. These interactions online could be fun banter or coupons, and in person, they could be swag giveaways or surprise and delight moments – anything that fosters further engagement. These moments of connection must have both elements of the phygital – digital high fives that can be followed by IRL “everyday moments” that boost a Superfan’s loyalty and offer opportunities for new audiences to interact with your brand.

Foster “Everyday Moment” Connections

Each part of an engagement cycle is a stepping stone to fostering brand loyalty and creating “everyday moments” that matter to your audiences. Why do the everyday moments matter? Because they provide an opportunity for your audience to become heroes of your brand story. Like the framework of any story, we have one called the engagement cycle. This cycle consists of: Listen, Create, Engage, Reward, Repost.

Audiences will tell you about moments in their daily life where your brand is impactful or could improve. By listening to their feedback, you can create content for both digital and physical spaces that engage and reward your fans. Sending care packages like a surprise and delight box for new parents or giving early access to your newest product or service are just a few examples of physical interactions that can fuel that engagement cycle. Whether the interaction is big or small, finding moments of everyday life online and taking those offline to show your appreciation for the Superfan loyalty deepens the relationship built by returning every high five online. And the best part? Superfans will be so excited to be heard and seen that they’ll take these in-person everyday moments of connection back online to share with audiences who might just become Superfans down the line.

Enrich With Brand Advocacy Programs

Tapping into the power of engaged consumers who are eager to spread the word about your brand helps strengthen brand awareness and expands your brand story. The power of advocacy can magnify both digital and physical interactions audiences are having with your brand. Mobilizing Superfans into advocates becomes the ultimate word of mouth. It’s a win for your brand, a win for the advocate who gets exclusive access and a win for the target audience because they get credible, relatable information from unpaid sources who truly believe in what you’re offering.

Here are some considerations when building a brand advocacy program.

  • When establishing brand advocacy programs, ask yourselves what content zones matter most to you, and coach for quality instead of quantity. Remember, these are not paid influencers, so encourage individual or collaborative content. Consider sending them invites to your planned content captures to participate in.
  • Review content with your brand advocates but allow them to be themselves. This is a partnership with your Superfan, so sharing feedback helps you both safeguard the brand you love!

Phygital marketing strategies leverage the best of both worlds, seamlessly blending tangible experiences with the vast opportunities offered by the digital landscape. To engage and captivate audiences in a competitive market, bridging the gap between online and offline is paramount. Finding everyday moments and building coalitions of Superfans provides authentic content that resonates with consumers and feeds your engagement cycles for the long run.


  • Engagement cycles can be big and small. They are the bridge to meaningful online and offline interactions
  • Showcasing and rewarding brand loyalists deepens relationships
  • Strong brand advocacy partnerships help to build a stronger brand story
  • Listening and engagement are essential building blocks to loyalty

Excited to fuel your engagement cycle through Phygital interactions? Email Nate Tredinnick at ntredinnick@hiebing.com to set up a call.

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