Tactics and Tools: Building Customer Loyalty While Mining The Social Web
Social media is, without a doubt, the most exciting avenue today in the busy world of online marketing. Participant numbers are roaring into the stratosphere, driving hundreds of millions of people to explore new ways to connect with each other and interact richly with your company and brand. For many businesses, recognizing the power of social media has led to dual understandings: that the frictionless and authentic customer relationship rules all, and that with the right tools and tactics, those same venues can be a wealth of useful market intelligence and consumer behavioral trends.
Appropriately balancing intelligence gathering with authentic relationship management can often require a subtle, delicate touch. As your company considers the best approach to take with your social media strategy, we at Lounge Lizard recommend that you bear in mind the following tips.
When selecting your CRM tool platform, don’t sacrifice data quality for data quantity – or speed. In today’s world of technological sophistication, businesses have a tremendous variety of CRM software platforms to choose from, all sporting unique feature sets and standing ready to produce reams of statistical intelligence traffic for your review. But how much of that information is actually practical, actionable intelligence? Scrutinize specifications, and identify the features that will truly advance your business. Don’t overinvest in a mass of marginally useful reports, delivered with record speed: the single highly insightful fact is worth a million off-target guesses.
Keep the full customer life cycle in mind. Many businesses make the mistake of lumping their targets into two groups: consumers and prospects, post-sale and pre-sale. In reality, even a sold customer remains a prospect that ultimately will have to be resold as their market demands change. As you develop a plan for gathering intelligence from your CRM database, social media efforts and other digital relationship programs, focusing primarily on the sales closing process is like your doctor attempting to gauge your overall health by looking only at your right foot. While you may find useful data along the way, you’ll also end up missing the bigger picture entirely.
Instead, root your relationship management strategy in the full customer lifecycle, starting from the moment they first encounter your brand and extending through the important phases of fulfillment, support, enrichment and growth. Don’t abridge your data mining strategies to include only a fragment of your customers’ behaviors – only in the full lifecycle can you place any of that data in truly useful context.
Don’t allow historic behaviors to inaccurately predict the future. Often when businesses initiate a data mining expedition, particularly from within their social media programs, they fail to realize an extremely important truth about CRM: generally, it only charts historic behaviors, which themselves are rarely accurate predictors of future behaviors and events. This is another situation where larger amounts of less useful data points can be detrimental to your marketing programs. An extended mass of historical behavior data can create dangerous illusions that can lead your business merrily down the wrong strategic road.
So what’s the alternative? Focusing on behavioral nexus points rather than historic patterns. Dig deeper into the data and ask yourself: what underlying human motivation is driving this pattern? What market counterforces exist that could shift the winds and create new opportunities for your company? While historic patterns are important, understanding the human truths behind them is vital. Be sure to include a strategy that enables you to transform the stories of the past into the great epics of your future.
Don’t be heavy handed with your data mining. Particularly in the realm of social media, overt and heavy handed data mining can quickly backfire in a tumult of privacy concerns, negative publicity, and simple lost relationship opportunities. Staying on target with quality intelligence also means not running roughshod over the people who have lent you their trust online. Develop effective social media strategies that preserve their privacy, safeguard their trust, and don’t leave them feeling like mere data points on a sales chart.
Value the long term relationship above all else. In the rush to find the new opportunity, conquer the latest emerging market and reach today’s most profitable market segments, it’s all too easy to allow a form of CRM myopia to settle over your market strategies. Focusing only on the apparent opportunities uncovered in your data mining efforts, if you aren’t careful, will lead your business to making the greatest mistake of all: neglecting the authentic, long term customer relationships that form the lifeblood of your company.
At each step of your social media outreach process, be prepared to ask: what are we willing to sacrifice, in order to maintain and deepen our most important customer relationships? How can we use today’s most sophisticated data management tools and tactics to not simply convert customers, but to win the true loyalty of hearts and minds? The rich long term relationship is at the center of every effective marketing plan, be it in social media or any other venue. Cultivating that success should always be your highest priority.
Is your business ready to design an effective social media strategy that will not only deliver rich market intelligence, but will also cement your brand as one that places the loyalty of satisfied customers in the front and center? With the right insights and the willingness to balance tools with tactics – and business strategies with the authentic values that drive your customers – your company can leverage social media power to build scalable, highly profitable, perpetually enriching consumer experiences.