It used to be a lot simpler. Customers entered your site, filled out their information and purchased their item. It looked a bit like a funnel. With the onslaught of social media, however, the funnel is looking a little bit more like a big circle, or a few circles. Social CRM, as defined by Paul Greenberg, is “the company’s response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation.” That’s right. It’s no longer about you.
There are several ways to use social CRM tools in the new consumer experience. Here is a high-level overview of the ways to utilize social CRM that are aligned with the goals we find most valuable:
Finding customers is the first step to any marketing initiative. Finding out where they are interacting online is the first step, as your brand needs to be there. Social CRM tools provide a great opportunity to solicit new customers according to their interests and comments (ie: social listening). This is all about market research + development, which is not often associated with social. We’re here to tell you that not only are the two akin, but merging them is the future.
Using social CRM tools can provide a lot of data about your existing customers. The ability to optimize messaging to those customers who are in market for your product is one very valuable tool in your marketing arsenal. Another is to target your ideal audiences to their ideal products, creating a more personalized experience online. Incidentally, this is also a great way to increase engagement with your brand and sales.
Here is something new that digital marketing is moving toward: collaboration with the customer. They will often tell you what they want; all you have to do is ask–and listen. Collaboration gives your brand the unique opportunity to not only solicit feedback and gather intel about how customers view your products or services (and how you can improve them), but connect your customers to one another. Creating a community around your brand by facilitating conversation among your followers is a great way to learn more about your customers, which can lead to an increased understanding of what they want and how to market to them.
With all of the data you are able to collect from the practices above, you can then aggregate and analyze this data. Once you have done this, you are able to make data-driven decisions about your business: product improvements or changes, customer service developments, technology expansions, etc. Having feedback from customers, in addition to information about their purchasing habits, is invaluable when creating opportunities for your business.
If you are only using Social CRM in one way (likely the first or second way), you’re doing it wrong. You should be using it at every phase of client contact because consumer journeys are not like a funnel anymore due in large part to social media. Their online experiences are continuous, and therefore, so should be your brand’s interaction with them. Are there ways in which you use Social CRM that were not mentioned here? Share them with us in the comments!
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[This article was syndicated with permission from Asking Smarter Questions.]