As technology advances, the distance between a brand and its customers has grown. Face-to-face transactions are replaced with digital transactions that require less -- or no -- human interaction. This "great divide" makes it increasingly difficult to win the hearts and minds of new customers and to keep loyal customers.
The default approach for many brands when initiating social media is to broadcast. Limited time or resources have them talking at audiences as masses instead of investing in building relationships, one by one.
Anatomy of a Successful Campaign
TD Canada Trust recently infused some of the most powerful elements of human interaction into a campaign -- demonstrating, with social media, how powerful the human-to-human connection can be.
The #TDThanksYou video tells the story of how in one moment, representatives returned the human element to the customer equation.
If you have not yet seen the video, I encourage you to watch it now.
What Can Brands Learn From This Campaign?
What happens when a brand bridges the great divide that technology and automation have created? The results can be quite profound. It is important to note that social media was used to tell the story, rather than serving as the vehicle for connecting with customers. The artful incorporation of real people makes this campaign more powerful than any scenario that could have been scripted and produced.
There are several key ingredients that make this social media campaign so incredibly effective.
1. The Element of Surprise
One of the most powerful aspects of this campaign is the element of surprise. Surprise amplifies the impact of the gesture.
A recent study summarized: "Positively surprising the customer is one way to exceed their expectations, resulting in customer delight."
Other studies also validate the power of surprise.
Do we really need a study to validate the element of surprise? Probably not. Some of life's most memorable moments are products of surprise: a surprise birthday party, marriage proposal, promotion, bonus or an unexpected gift. However, surprise is rarely strategically planned into marketing campaigns. But there are many ways for brands to use the element of surprise and social media to promote "customer delight," build the brand and grow market share.
This campaign was intensely personal. The focus on the particulars of each gift were unique to each customer in this video. Because banking itself is not a social transaction, a distinct effort had to be made to identify meaningful opportunities to make a difference in the lives of the intended recipients. The personal engagement of employees in executing the campaign was vital to the authenticity of the campaign. One does not feel as though any of the interactions were forced or manipulated. You really do feel as though you are witnessing genuine emotion.
Personal Connections Pay Off
Customers engaged with personalized, emotional messaging are up to 20 percent more likely to purchase at any stage of the purchase decision, according to a study published by the CEB Marketing Leadership Council in partnership with Google.
A personal engagement requires human-to-human contact. It may be tempting to automate various aspects in the management of a relationship. However, a true connection cannot be automated or simulated. A real bond must be established.
3. Social Media Increases Purchase Probability
Note the significantly higher probability of purchase from customers who engaged with video and social media in the graphic above. Campaigns that evoke emotion, personalize and promote social interaction amplify the power of good deeds -- and sales.
In light of this data, the #TDThanksYou campaign can be expected to reinforce relationships with existing customers, possibly attracting disgruntled customers of competing banks.
This entire campaign is built upon gratitude. While the ATM, or Automated Thanking Machine, addressed long-time customers by name and thanked them for their loyalty with very personal gifts, an additional 20,000 bank employees distributed $20 bills in green envelopes to customers at exactly 2 p.m. on July 25 in more than 1,100 TD branches across Canada.
Scientific studies on gratitude suggest that employee participation in the gratitude campaign promotes positive feelings and well-being, an added benefit for TD Canada. The campaign appears to have been as much a hit with employees as it was with customers.
It is no coincidence that the sentiment of this successful campaign came from the top, as illustrated a selfie tweeted out by Ted Hockey, President and CEO of TD Canada Trust, with a customer of 60 years. The socially engaged CEO is an asset to any brand in today's social landscape.
5. Brand Consistency
One successful campaign rarely makes or breaks a brand. In the case of TD Canada Trust, focus on customer delight has earned the bank top honors in the Best Banking awards for Customer Service Excellence over the past nine consecutive years -- revealing a deliberate focus on building customer relationships based on positive customer experiences.
In a highly transparent world, empty promises and promotional stunts can do more harm than good. Yet, brands dedicated to winning and maintaining customer satisfaction (and delight) over time will always win.
Will surprise, gratitude and/or personalization be part of your next campaign?
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