Monday, October 29, 2012

How Social Media Engagement Enhances the Overall Customer Experience

We can look at social media first by focusing on traditional methods of communication. Traditional media including radio, television and magazines implemented one-way, static messages ideal for viewing and not responding. Traditional advertising methods required the business to get space in newspapers, magazines or create a television commercial. These were expensive and their impact could not be easily measured.

Web and mobile technology has made it easy for anyone to create online content and distribute it to audiences online for free. This reduces the cost of advertisement as you, as a company, do not have to part with large sums of money to have your ads published. What's more, distribution is almost instant.

Social media comes in many forms: reference sites (Wikipedia), blogs, micro blogs (twitter), social networks (Facebook), discussion forums, social bookmarking and voting sites (Digg), virtual worlds (Second life) and media sharing sites (YouTube), which are vital in enhancing the customer experience. These are visited by millions of people around the world every day and your business is sure to reach many people in a short time. As we speak, it is very probable that your customers and competitors are already using social media.

The first strategy to focus on is monitoring. Customers and competitors are out there on the web talking about your business or products. Giving a response or taking part in the conversation will build a sense of trust and confidence they have in you. Before you respond to any questions or provide information, you need to know what they are talking about, where it is being said, and who is talking about it. Tools abound on the web which search for your name, business name or product. Set up an account on your RSS feeder reader and monitor the feeds daily. Such tools include Technorati search, Google news search and Social Mention just to mention a few. Through this, you will be able to get complaints about your products, get suggestions on how to improve and what they love about your products. You can also find out what people say about your competitor products. This will put you ahead of competition, while providing customers with what they want.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Simple Mobile Customer Relationship Management Strategies

Gone are the days of simply informing your clients of a new product or service, waiting a few days, and having the phone ring with an overflow of orders. Consumers today expect a great deal more from the businesses they interact with, and like to be engaged throughout every level of the marketing process. With that being said, the value and quality of products while still very important, are not the only factors driving consumers to make purchasing decisions. Consumers love to feel as if they are involved in the decision making of a company, have an interactive relationship, or feel like they are the only client of a business. Twenty years ago, engaging a client may have been somewhat of a difficult task, but with current technology, and the strength of the mobile and social infrastructure, client engagement is an absolute necessity in building a successful brand.

Customer Relationship Management encompasses the processing and understanding of customer information, in an effort to effectively engage customers. This form of high communications is essential in a social and media driven world, as consumers now have more information at their fingertips than ever before. The payoffs for creating a CRM model can be huge, considering that heightened brand loyalty will improve revenues and also decrease marketing costs, as campaigns become more targeted. As it relates to mobile marketing, CRM can be implemented cost effectively and simply. Below are a few outlined strategies that will help with Customer Relationship Management, and can help improve overall satisfaction, loyalty, and client advocacy.

Targeted Distribution Lists
The creation and maintenance of an SMS distribution list is essential to any Client Relationship Management campaign. Since SMS distribution lists are highly targeted, and have high response rates (sometimes up to 30%), this is a perfect means of creating personalized offers that fit a client's needs.

The main goal of CRM is to make marketing to prospective and existing clients easier; building targeted SMS lists can effectively accomplish this. Let's say for example your company ran a mobile campaign, in which it placed QR codes in its existing print material, which reads, "Scan here in order to download our free ebook on personal success". Clients that downloaded the ebook are now opted into your SMS list, and can be sent marketing information on purchasing your "success" seminar (for example). While many of these clients may not have initially purchased your service from this first form of contact, your now have a list of individuals, who you know are at least interested in your product, thus future follow up with this population can be very targeted and much more effective in terms of sales conversions. Creating targeted SMS lists for each product niche can be a highly effective way of segmenting potential buyers, which can then each be marketed to using tailored strategies.

Loyalty Programs
Creating brand loyalty is a very powerful means of improving overall profitability. Loyalty programs not only create additional value for clients, but also create overall satisfaction, as clients feel they are part of a family, and share in the success of an organization. These programs reward clients for their repeat business and encourage loyal behavior. Also, loyal customers tend to spend more money on average, be higher promoters of a business, and are less elastic in terms of changes in price.

One very simple, yet effective way to build a mobile loyalty program is through the use of mobile coupons. These coupons are easily redeemable at a point of sale, or online, and can be implemented by simply sending a coupon code to an already existing distribution list. An easy mobile campaign can be set up, which drives clients to opt into an SMS list. Once opted in, the client will receive monthly coupons around the product or service of their choice. These recipients would typically be motivated consumers, as they are shopping for value around the products your company provides. Also, once your list has been established, you now have the ability to cost effectively cross sell to this target population. Another good practice would be to send periodic coupons to your other distribution lists, even if they did not initially opt in knowing they would be receiving this additional value. A coupon could read "Thank you for being a client for 6 months, please show this coupon on your next visit for 50% off!" This will show clients that their business is very meaningful, and will help establish a long-term loyal interaction.

Mobile Polling
One effective means of gathering client feedback is through the use of mobile polling. Client insight is key to building long-term relationships and creates a competitive advantage for companies that are able to process the comments that they receive on their front lines. One example of a simple polling strategy would be a Name That Product contest. A polling text could be sent out to existing clients, which reads, "Help us name our new Product, please respond to this text with the option you choose". Engaging the client in such a decision not only gives them a feeling of self-satisfaction and fulfillment, but also subsequently promotes the product at hand. Additionally, a reward can be given to the participants, in order to encourage them to become purchasers the day the new product launches.

What Soap Can Teach You to Do in Your Business

A couple of weeks ago I trav­eled to Washington, DC, to do some consulting for a group I'm working with to help them focus their marketing efforts. Lorie and I decided to go up a few days early and spend the weekend visiting museums and seeing the sights, which are amazing in our capital.

Sunday morning we decided to go to the Smithsonian Museum of American History. On the way from the Bed and Breakfast ac­commodations we were staying at we walked through Dupont Circle, which was holding its weekend Farmer's Market. We weren't going there to buy fruits and vegetables as we wouldn't be making dinner, but we thought we might be able to get some food there for lunch and we weren't disappointed.

There were vendors selling the usual vegetables, but there were also people there selling crisp fall apples and the most amazing Asian Pears. There were vendors selling all sorts of cheeses, breads and pastries.

In addition, there was a vendor selling soap, not your ordinary deodorant soap, but about 50 dif­ferent scents of soaps. There was French Lavender, Cherry Choco­late Truffle, Honeysuckle, Lem­ongrass and a multitude of other samples lined up in a row that you could sniff and decide which one was your favorite. Once you made your choice of which one you liked, they would cut off a 1-inch wide bar of your selection from a large chunk of soap.

There were a few things that this vendor did exceptionally well that you may want to consider in your own business, even if you don't sell soap.

Help your prospect to inter­act with your product. All of the vendor's soap samples were promi­nently displayed so you could pick them up and hold them in your hand while you breathed in their scent. There were quite a few people in front of the booth, all smelling the soaps and deciding which ones they liked the best.

When I asked the vendor the price, she said the soaps were $6.25 each, but you could get 3 for $17. For some reason 3 for $17 sounded like a really good deal, but when I figured it out later, I only saved 58 cents per bar. Why do you think that is? The answer is that when you add.25 to the $6, it seems more than when you leave it off. You notice they left it off of the $17 so it seemed cheaper.

Now I bet you that even though I didn't ask, I'm sure they had tested various price points. Remember the only way to make more money is to charge more, get your customers to buy more, or get more custom­ers. Take a look at your own pricing structure and see what one works best in your business.

In addition you could join their frequent buying club and get a free bar after you bought 10 bars. Can you do this in your business?

Another nice touch was that they added a few small samples of other scented soap in your bag with your purchase so you could try out some different soaps later.

So what can you learn from them that you can incorporate in our own business? First, people like to interact with a product. They like to look at it, feel it, taste it, or even smell it, as with the soap.

People have five senses: hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste. And different people are more prone to respond with one sense over an­other. That's why it's vitally impor­tant when selling your product or service that you incorporate the five senses into the sales process.

Does your prospect need to see what your product does? Does your prospect need to touch the product to get a feeling of how it works? Does your prospect need to have the benefits and features of the product explained to her? Does the prospect need to smell or taste the product before he buys it?

While at the Farmer's Market, other vendors were doing just that... providing samples of the food that people could try before they bought it. A cheese vendor was giv­ing out samples of different types of cheeses. There was a fruit vendor offering a taste of different types of apples and Asian pears.

Now you may not have a product that can be eaten, but you can offer your prospect a free trial of your product so they can start consum­ing it to see if it's right for them. We sometimes call that a Try Before You Buy offer.