Amplifying Random Acts of Kindness

CRM has been using Random Acts of Kindness (RAOK) for years to help build brand affinity, loyalty and advocacy. But traditionally it’s always been delivered on a one-to-one level either to reward the most valuable customers or to prevent attrition from high risk defectors.  The best outcome in those days was that the recipient would remain loyal and sing the brand’s praises with a few mates down the pub!  But now that we live in a more connected society there are infinitely more opportunities for these Random Acts of Kindness to reach a far wider audience. Nowadays you can cherry pick a few unsuspecting customers, offer some form of surprise and delight, document it and then amplify this by publishing or seeding this content in various social media platforms.  The net effect is that a mass audience can see that you care about your customers and that the brand has a human side which can only do wonders to your brand equity.

The best example of this I can think of is Coke with their Happiness Vending Machine (see below) but if you want more inspiration then you must read this latest Trendwatching briefing. Not only does it highlight the growing importance of this trend but it also provides some useful and imaginative examples of how different brands have tried to apply it.

10 most popular reasons for ‘unliking’ Branded Facebook Pages

There’s a tendency when setting up a branded Facebook page or Twitter account to view this as simply another advertising channel to broadcast streams of content about the brand, products and latest offers. After all, these social handraisers have actively ‘liked’ your page so they must be receptive to this kind of content, right? Well not entirely. Unlike us, the average customer on the street doesn’t live and breath your brand every day and rarely gives two hoots about that latest press release or product video, let alone those glamorous photos from that launch party they were never invited to.

In fact, a new study by ExactTarget and CoTweet (via webpronews) has identified the 10 most popular reasons why people ‘unlike’ brands on Facebook. The biggest contributory reason is because the company posted too frequently or the content becomes too repetitive and boring. Other highlights from the study include 81% of consumers have either “unliked” or removed a company’s posts from their Facebook news feed and 41% have “unfollowed” a company on Twitter.  No real surprises there but it’s a helpful reminder to all of us that we need to try harder to engage and retain social handraisers than simply broadcasting brand announcements or promotional messaging.

Fanpage attrition rates is probably quite a new concept but it’s something I predict will become increasingly important as brands invest more of their precious marketing budgets on building social databases.  The good news is that it follows exactly the same principles behind any traditional  CRM programme.  So if you send them relevant, timely and engaging content, you can expect the brand relationship to grow.  But as soon as you start focusing on what you want to say rather than what they want to hear, your social handraisers will start to lose faith in this relationship and opt out.

Using iphone apps as a CRM tool

At TMW we’ve just finished developing a new iPhone app for my client Infiniti Europe called Infiniti in Motion. I’m genuinely excited about this app as it’s quite different to a lot of the branded free apps you see on itunes these days.

The challenges

A popular approach (particularly within the automotive market) is to design an app around an advergame and hope this has sufficient appeal to generate awareness and engagement with your brand or product.  For example, Nissan CubeParty,  Audi A4 driving game, Mercedes E Coupe memory game, VW New Polo and VW Golf GTi (another driving game) have all adopted this approach in some shape or form. There’s no denying there’s merit in this approach particularly if it reaches the top of the app charts.

But the slight problem I have with this approach is that it tends to appeal to casual gamers rather than perhaps your core target audience.  Admittedly, if it gains enough popularity you will reach some of your audience by default but it does seem a fairly scattergun approach.  For the VW Golf GTi launch this wasn’t a problem as they identified their target audience over-indexed heavily with online gaming but for most brands this isn’t the case.

The other challenge with these types of branded apps is that they’re rarely used more than once. According to a Pinch Media Survey which analysed 30 million downloads, only 30% of people who buy from Apple’s App Store use the application the day after downloading it. With free applications it’s even worse, with 95% of people using it no more than once.  Hardly a decent return on your investment!

Applying CRM principles

This got me thinking.  If we want an app which has a shelf life longer than a day, then we really need to find a way to engage them on an ongoing basis.   It also occured to me that the great thing about mobile apps is that they allow consumers to proactively engage with branded content without any personal data ever needing to change hands.  That puts mobile apps in a unique position as you can essentially acquire handraisers and build prospect relationships over time to complement your database marketing efforts.

So for Infiniti, the strategic rationale behind this particular app was to extend the prospect nurture programme we already have in place so that enthusiasts, prospects and handraisers could keep in touch with the brand via their handsets.  So in the same way one can keep up to date with news and current affairs via the wonderful Guardian app you can do the same with Infiniti in Motion.

Interactive product demonstrations and shopping tools

As well as receiving regular updates the app showcases the entire range, allowing prospects to fully explore each model, from photography, 360° spins and colour selections to in-depth films, interviews and listening to the sound of their V6 engines.

Having explored the range, they have the option of requesting a brochure or test drive, or finding their nearest Infiniti Centre using the iPhone’s GPS technology.  All enquiries are fully integrated with Infiniti’s lead management and prospect database.


As I see it, it’s all about giving prospects a choice in the way they wish to interact with the brand. Whereas some prospects may be prepared to hand over their contact details to receive online or offline communications, others may prefer the anonymity and convenience of keeping up-to-date via their iPhone.

If you wish to download it for yourself please do – here is the link on itunes.  For the best user experience make sure you have wifi enabled.  If you’re aware of other brands which are using mobile apps as a CRM tool to foster closer relationships with prospects or customers, let us know.

“It’s over – I want a divorce!” said consumer

I rather enjoyed watching this clip as it uses the analogy of a married couple to convey the fact that advertisers need to fundamentally change in order to build and maintain relationships with their consumers. It’s basically taking a swipe at traditional broadcast advertising in favour of more direct communications whether that’s digital or social media.

Special thanks to Martin Harrison, a Social Media Planner for spotting this and for having the misfortune of having to sit oppposite me during the working day! You should check out his new blog too called ‘Lots of Small Fires‘ as he has some interesting musings on social media.

RAF introduces Augmented Reality in Welcome Pack

RAF_Welcome_packAugmented Reality is all the rage these days but it’s easy to get a bit carried away with technology at the expense of building on a particular consumer insight. It’s far better for a creative idea to be built on a strong insight rather than forcing an idea around the latest gizmo.

That said, I like this AR example Tullo Marshall Warren have produced for young people interested in the Royal Air Force as it plays on their inquisitive nature, their passion for the “Red Arrows” and their predisposition to adopt new technology.

The welcome pack forms part of the CRM programme for the The Altitude online club, dedicated to 13 to 18 year-olds in full time education and provides information about life in the RAF.

The pack was made up of outer packaging, a letter with a personalised membership card and a small Augmented Reality card. When recipients go to the URL on the card and hold the card up to a webcam, they can see and interact with a projected 3D model of a Red Arrows aircraft, while watching an exclusive interview with one of the world-famous Red Arrows Pilots.

In addition, the magic symbol in the centre of the card acts as code: anyone who deciphers what it means is entered into a free prize draw to win an Altitude-branded iPod nano and sock.

It’s a great example of how to use direct mail to drive traffic online in order to create a rich and engaging online experience. I’ve no doubt this particular target audience will be fascinated with this kind of  technology and keen to show this to their friends.

If you’re interested to know more about Augmented Reality and how marketers have taken advantage of this technology to good effect, you might want to read my previous post called 6 top marketing applications for Augmented Reality.