REELING THEM IN – the path to customer activation through social media

BDRC presented a paper that addressed the tricky issue of how brands today should acquire new customers when so many of the traditional channels to customer activation have been closed.

For example, telesales has traditionally been used by financial services companies to find new wealth management customers, but this is becoming less effective as a means of ‘opening doors’ to new customers. BDRC commented that legislation itself sometimes prevents companies from contacting consumers (e.g. ‘do not call’ registries), and the overall cost of lead generation is increasing. In the case of private banking – the example given in the paper – the cost of acquiring a high-net-worth customer can be in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Many organisations are seeking to streamline and scale their client acquisition through social media. Chatbots are now being used to engage in ‘intelligent conversations’ with potential customers. But BDRC argued that using social media to engage with customers is only effective if the client has a proper understanding of the consumer, and this is only achieved through research.

BDRC actually has a clever way of researching more wealthy audiences via their partnership with one of the global distribution service providers, the technology firms that issue travel itineraries to the hundreds of thousands of people who book air travel through online travel agents each week.

By inserting an advert for a travel-related survey, BDRC is able to access air travellers, and by natural incidence picks up more frequent travellers, but also more wealthy individuals who would be the target for wealth management companies.

While the participation rate in these surveys is very small, by virtue of the sheer number of travel itineraries issued, BDRC has been able to generate large samples of wealthy consumers globally.

In their presentation BDRC showcased a ‘global persona’ survey that categorises people into segments using well-known personality segmentations – for example, the Five-Factor Personality Model (OCEAN).

By understanding personas, as well as their lifestyle, attitudes, and interests, brands are better equipped to implement social media campaigns to engage with consumers and ultimately convert them into customers. An example was given of how a life insurance company in South Africa used chatbots and a type of ‘gamification’ to engage customers according to their risk appetite.

The conclusion was that social media would actually break down the traditional barriers to sales, allowing brands to become more global, while at the same time reducing the cost of customer acquisition.