An Introduction to Conquesting
Conquesting: Targeting consumers who already use a competitor’s service, but have displayed a negative attitude toward it.
In my last post I touched on the toxic customers that I got the privilege of meeting while working the customer support lines for Sprint. I would imagine that everyone has on at least one occasion vowed to throw their phone in the river and switch carriers without a second thought. It may have been brought on by a bad service area you encountered while on an important call, or even a bill that was higher than expected.
Sprint has a special division called customer retention that addresses these off the cuff fits, and most of the time people are completely happy with their service a few days later. The grass isn’t always greener anyway, but emotion is a powerful thing and if given the opportunity or a little incentive in the window of time that your blood is boiling, it’s safe to say you’re at least a little more likely than normal to go through the motions of switching service carriers.
In another recent article I touched on a company called Local Response that responded to customer check-ins so advertisers had the chance to send contextual ads, discounts, or messages to customers who had recently mentioned their brand or turned up in an area that triggered an alert. I had enough information to make form a positive opinion when I wrote the post, but sparking a conversation about the product led me to investigate Local Response further.
I stumbled upon the Local Response Tumblr page which had linked to my article, as well as other blog posts and reviews of their business. One of the more recent posts was an interview with Nihal Mehta by Chris Brogan that quieted Brogan’s concerns about the service. The more I read and heard about Local Response, the more I felt vindicated by my early assumptions.
On average Local Response campaigns enjoy approximately a 30 percent click through rate. The high rate of conversion can be attributed to the targeted nature of the responses as well as the control individual companies wield over the context of those messages.
In a recent campaign for Verizon Wireless, Local Response returned a 140 percent click through rate. How is that even possible? What if the deal was good enough that the recipients all shared it with their friends, and they passed it on to theirs? Ok, so how can you get such a wonderful return from tech based marketing which has a notoriously low conversion rate? You play on people’s emotion.
Local Response allows businesses who subscribe to their service respond to mentions about their company, but they will also allow you to use a technique called conquesting in which you respond to negative mentions regarding your competition. In the case of Verizon wireless, they responded to any publicly available status update, tweet or check in that was along the lines of “I hate AT&T” with a coupon worth 100$ off the initiation of service with Verizon.
Since my days working for Sprint I’ve known that disdain for a company is a powerful motivator for consumers. You can’t discount positive perceptions, but I think the Verizon campaign’s results speak for itself. Before you condemn Verizon for shady business practices, remember that only users who displayed a negative attitude toward AT&T were targeted with the coupons.
Some considerations before you go off developing your own conquesting regime; customers that leave a competitor on a whim are much more likely to leave your company just as quickly. They represent the girlfriend that cheats, so unless your product is much better at keeping their perceptions positive, targeting them in the first place will only provide short term rewards. Secondly, consumers have an inherent distrust of wireless service providers to begin with. This is a special case, and not all industries can lure customers away from their competitors this easy. That is why you sign a long term contract when you sign up. Even with those contracts, Verizon still had great success playing to the emotions of distraught consumers.
These types of campaigns may work even better during the increasingly more common PR disasters that we’ve all watched unfold lately. If Blockbuster had responded to every single mention of Netflix in August and September with an offer identical to the company’s former service rates, we may have been talking about Blockbuster’s genius marketing acumen instead of the piss poor listening skills of Netflix.
If Peer Index or Kred had targeted negative tweets about Klout after they changed their algorithm, the dissenters may have become proponents for their service instead of condemning influence scores all together. Like every form of marketing there are prime opportunities for using a conquest campaign.
Going after the clientele of competitors isn’t a new idea, but I have to give Nihal and the crew at Local Response huge props for tailoring the theory to new technologies in a way that has produced unheard of results. This is the type of innovation that will keep mobile and social media marketing viable and keep some sort of Internet marketing bubble from popping on all of us.