Showing customers the love and respect they deserve is not just about creating an emotional bond with them. Getting closer to your customers can ultimately improve your products and services and drive your company’s revenue.
Our featured articles this week demonstrate the various ways companies are expressing their love and appreciation for customers. If you’re looking for fresh approaches to embracing customer love, here are four innovative tactics to consider.
- Surprising customers with gifts
Airline company WestJet has pioneered the use of “giftvertising,” a viral marketing approach that involves surprising customers with elaborate gifts, filming their emotional reactions and sharing the video online. The company’s 2013 “Christmas Miracle” video has generated over 40 million YouTube views and is one of the most watched viral videos in the world.
WestJet’s initiative greatly increased brand awareness. The company revealed to the CBC that the video has helped double the traffic to WestJet’s website, increase bookings by 77 percent compared to the same month in 2012, and increase revenue by 86 percent. Since the video has gone viral, other companies, including Air Canada and TD Canada Trust, have followed the company’s lead.
Westjet pioneers use of #giftvertising by showing #customerlove. (CLICK TO TWEET)
- Providing helpful and timely swag
At this year’s SXSW, Airbnb stood out by combining whimsy with utility. The company delighted customers by giving them colorful piñatas as well as swag like branded scarves, mugs and hand fans.
“As a regular user of AirBnB, it made me feel recognized, warm and fuzzy, and made me fall more in love with the brand and their service,” said Marketing Magazine’s Fiona Low. “That’s a great lesson in small gestures going a long way.”
Giving away freebies is an old marketing practice, but Airbnb shows that giving away fun and useful items can help build love with customers.
Airbnb makes SXSW customers feel "warm and fuzzy" by giving away piñatas. (CLICK TO TWEET)
- Using humor with your customers
When Groupon recently posted a picture of a banana bunker, a protective case for bananas, on its Facebook page, the company received many salacious comments—something that the company completely anticipated.
As fans posted clever commentary about the product and its resemblance to a sex toy, the company responded to every single comment as innocently as possible. “The Banana Bunker's plastic does not drastically shrink when cold,” the company’s social media team responded to a playful question about shrinkage. “Bananas don't exactly ‘feel’ like we humans do,” another response reads in reply to a question about whether the bunkers are ribbed.
The Facebook post is “the biggest and most positive post in Groupon’s history,” Bill Roberts, head of global communication for Groupon, told AdWeek.
The product quickly sold out, and the company’s clever response resulted in social media engagement as well as positive press coverage in Forbes, Us Weekly, BuzzFeed, and other publications.
Groupon's clever responses to Facebook comments highlight company's humor. (CLICK TO TWEET)
- Driving product innovation using customer feedback
Canadian Tire, a retailer from Canada, recently launched a marketing campaign that highlights how the company takes customer feedback to heart. According to the National Post, the “Tested for Life in Canada” campaign aims to foster customer loyalty by improving the company’s products and its reputation.
The initiative started when the company called for customers to test new product prototypes in 2013. From 75,000 applications, the company selected 15,000 customers and invited them to an online community, where people can discuss the products they’ve tested and offer more feedback. Through the program, customers have helped the company improve a wide variety of products from drill bits to airbeds.
The initiative helps Canadian Tire build trust with its customers, who feel like they have a stake in the new products that the company is releasing. It also helps attract potential customers. Ken Wong, a professor of marketing at the Queen’s University School of Business, says, “this [approach] has more credibility than reviews of products on a website, because you are talking about multiple people involved in the process.”
Retailer Canadian Tire engages with customers to drive product innovation. (CLICK TO TWEET)
There are many ways brands can show customer love. Where it all comes down to, however, is an understanding of the customer. Whether interacting with customers on social media or surprising them with gifts, knowing what your customers care about makes sure your approach communicates the right message.