In today’s digital, on-demand economy, consumers have access to more information on products, brands and services. As a result, they have come to trust digital advertising less — specifically only 33% of the time, according to Nielsen. On the other hand, consumers trust genuine brand advocates 92% of the time.
With these loyal fans and followers holding more weight than ever before, retailers are hunting for ways to identify these advocates and build valuable, long-term relationships with them.
But the amount of noise users generate across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networks makes it a challenge for retailers to better understand customers and foster brand advocates.
“Identifying our most loyal consumers and engaging them to spread praise and advice on our brand’s behalf is fundamental to a social selling strategy,” said David Stover, Global Head of Business-to-Consumer Omnichannel Solution Management for hybris and SAP. “Clarity and coherence is a must-have in terms of filtering the noise into actionable intelligence.”
Social CRM can help brands and retailers optimize customer relationships, helping to create a more engaged social following that’s eager and willing to market on a brand’s behalf. Under the social CRM umbrella includes myriad of social media services, techniques and technologies that allow retailers to track and respond to feedback in a timely fashion.
“It’s easy to set up a branded profile for your store, maybe get a few hundred followers and share an update once in a while,” noted Aleksandr Peterson, a technology analyst at TechnologyAdvice. “But that doesn’t impact specific customerrelationships, which is the true value of Social CRM software. The modern customer is online, on social,and expects to be engaged by brands in a meaningful way.”
Taking Customer Relationships To The Next Level
To create these more meaningful interactions, retailers need to show their appreciation and support.
“At the most basic level, communicate back to them to say thank you,” said Laura Davis-Taylor, EVP of Customer Experience at MaxMedia. “Go a step further and give them a little gift or incentive to strengthen the relationship and advocacy behaviors. Another step further, give them a voice as a brand ambassador to help shape future products or services. A final step would be to turn on a really great discount or more permanent incentive program that truly rewards them.”
As businesses grow, social CRM is designed to help with the heavy lifting by automating tasks such as tracking mentions, comments, re-tweets and other metrics, Peterson explained. Sentiment analysis also uncovers deep insights into how customers feel, “capturing not only what they’re saying about your brand, but what it means,” he said. “That insight can help retailers quickly spot points-of-need and step in with timely, relevant offers.”
However, retailers shouldn’t limit “offers” to merely coupons and sales, according to Peterson. Instead, they should focus on using social to drive value to the everyday lives’ of consumers. In addition to promotional plays such as coupons, discounts and special deals, retailers can educate and engage shoppers by posting content, responding to mentions and recognizing and meeting needs based on social posts. Another important tactic is to use social to track and solve problems, whether they’re customer service issues or order inquiries.
After all social media analytics can provide “pure” intelligence into whether consumers truly care about a specific brand or product.
“Social analytics should be used to monitor what people are saying and doing, but also as a test, learn and respond platform,” Davis-Taylor said. “I’ve always believed that the most important role social plays is in showing us what people really care about.”