Approximately half a century ago the American Marketing Association coined the term the “Four ‘P’s” as a way to describe the essential elements of the marketing mix: product, price, place and promotion. By the 1980s, “Relationship Marketing” was used to describe a new focus on understanding customer segments, delivering ongoing quality service, and achieving high customer satisfaction. The 80’s saw the emergence of database marketing, however, chaotic databases did not provide much insight for businesses at the time.
In the 90’s, companies began to improve on Customer Relationship Management (CRM) by making it more of a two-way street. Instead of simply gathering data for their own use, they began giving back to their customers not only for the obvious goal of improved customer service, but in incentives, gifts, and other perks for customer loyalty. This marks the beginning of frequent flyer programs, bonus points on credit cards, and other resources that are based on tracking of customer activity and spending patterns. CRM was now being used as a way to increase sales passively as well as through active improvement of customer service. The 90’s also saw computer systems become available to support sales and service processes, and by the mid-1990s, “CRM” became the umbrella term as it became clear that multiple departments should share information. By the late 90s, the growth in Internet gave way to e-business applications to manage online customer and partner relationships, often called “e-CRM” and “Partner Relationship Management,” respectively. Similarly, “Multi-channel” systems were becoming available as well to support various channels, while allowing users to use whatever mode of communication they pleased.
With the previous (very brief) history lesson, you can see that social media marketing is part of the natural progression of business. Social media marketing is not a new concept; it is still focused on the traditional principles involving targeting audiences and engaging. However, social media and mobile technology are creating new, and very substantial opportunities for marketers while necessitating an entirely new set of methods to integrate with traditional marketing. With this transition, many businesses are finding gaps in how and where they engage with various consumer segments. These gaps are potential opportunities for tech companies to create better tools to connect with consumers as well as provide metrics.
These new ways to connect with target audiences and customers continue to evolve, and with that comes the responsibility of businesses to evolve as well. Traditional and social strategies should be integrated for an overall effective marketing strategy. Brands should consider the following six concepts:
1. Social media is changing everything. For a many brands, social media will become the primary communication channel to connect with customers. For some, it already is.
2. The customer experience should be seamless across all channels. Meaning, social should be thoughtfully integrated with other customer-facing initiatives.
3. Brands must think like a customer. Instead of asking the reasons a company should engage in social media, ask why a customer would want to interact with your company via social media.
4. Utilize traditional methods to create connections via social. If you want to use social media for customer engagement, you should be creating marketing campaigns in traditional channels like advertising and direct mail to encourage people to your Facebook page, Twitter feed, or other social media sites. This could be done in many ways, such as offering a premium, discount, or a unique experience (this is case specific of course).
5. Make offers redeemable via social. If the goal of your company is to build more social media relationships, you should be creating offers that can be fulfilled by way of your social media platforms. The company webpage and toll free numbers are still important, however Facebook and your other social media platforms should be among your primary response channels.
6. Provide relevant and timely information. Content you provide on Twitter or Facebook should offer value to your consumers, and be integrated with content and information utilized on your other, more traditional channels.
Companies now know significantly more about consumers and must use this insight to talk, engage, and interact with their customers more often and more meaningfully in new and innovative ways. The use of social media platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, and blogs are being used to drive engagement and participation to ultimately create relationships with customers and potential customers. This is an exciting time for marketers with the technology available to manage customer information, data, trends, and relationships as well as the new social environment that creates a one on one marketing opportunity.
It is encouraging to see new companies address gaps between social media marketing initiatives and technology. It illuminates the progression traditional marketing as it makes it way through the ‘social/mobile age’, into a realm of so many possibilities for both the consumer and the marketer. What do you as see the next un-tapped opportunity for marketers made possible by social and mobile?
The views expressed are those of the author, and do not represent those of Southern New Hampshire University unless stated explicitly.