As we progress into 2010, the rapid growth of social media has allowed more access to information, consumers, communities, and experiences. This new medium has enabled a new way to communicate and share, from B2C to B2B marketers are all trying to figure out an edge. Many brands start to focus on the hybrid approach which I believe will be the next phase of digital and web marketing. The question is what role will it play in the marketing arsenal?
Here are 3 steps to consider when integrating social media to your marketing practices:
Brand Strategy Reassessment
Understand the changing habits of your customers should be the focus of your brand. Use the 80/20 rule to segment your customers and identify the difference between your old customers and new customers. The recession has permanently altered the way people think of value and the concept of trust.
According to Decitica’s new study, “Marketing to the Post-Recession Consumers,”
- The effects of the Great Recession on consumer behavior are so profound that many of the assumptions underpinning consumer segmentation are no longer valid; and
- Marketing strategies that do not fully recognize the diversity of consumers’ recession experiences won’t have the desired potency in the post-recession world.
Business owners should reassess existing brand strategy to gauge the shift in their industry ecosystem. Although the above report focuses on B2C, for B2B marketers, you can expect similar shift in behavior from a high level perspective.
The key is identifying the new trends in how your customers think, feel and act. Your customers may be part of the fastest growing mobile user groups or have adopted new ways to find and share information before they buy. Every person and their sphere of influence were affected by this recession, reevaluate your existing customer segmentation should be a priority. It’s time to make adjustments as to how you view your customers.
Smart companies will always shift their brand strategy to focus on customer retention by maintaining a high level of value perception. Your customers expect you to keep your brand promise and that’s just the beginning, only those that are over delivering will earn the trust over time.
Integrated Marketing and ROI
Social media’s growth is undeniable, it seems like every company has a Facebook fan page and a Twitter account not to mention all the early adopter consumers. For example, according to a report from BabyCenter, “The number of moms who use social media regularly (e.g. Facebook, MySpace, BabyCenter Community) has significantly increased from 11% to 63% since 2006; a change of 46%. 44% use social media for word-of-mouth recommendations on brands and products and 73% feel they find trustworthy information about products and services through online communities focused on their specific interests such as parenting.”
So does this mean if you sell to moms, you must get into all the social networks? Should social media marketing be your priority? Not so fast.
According to a study from MomConnection, The Parenting Group’s nationally representative research panel of 5,000 moms, “the role of social networks in moms’ lives is still largely for entertainment and personal communication; it’s not a channel where most moms are receptive to gathering product information. Only 24% of respondents have used Facebook for product information and buying advice, while 5% have used Myspace for product info, and 3% have used Twitter.”
Social networks is still growing and evolving because it’s mass media, it’s crowdsourcing and it’s here to stay. However, instead of being hype it’s moving towards ubiquity and part of the everyday mix that works alongside email and search marketing. People will continue to search for answers online and offline regardless of B2B or B2C. Every chance you get to optimize your brand’s search ranking is an opportunity to leave a bread crumb for your prospects.
Moving forward, the challenges will be to monitor, measure and manage a fully integrated campaign due to the amount of resources and time it takes to pull together the overall picture. This is precisely the reason why you don’t need to be on all the social networks or even be on it all the time. Some companies use social media as a platform for effective one on one engagement while others utilize it as a PR tool.
Whatever the role social media plays in your organization, you have to really understand how social media is driving your business. If you’re doing social media, do you know how many sales you got out of your social media app? Are you measuring the actual incremental sales from your e-commerce store? Or is social media primarily a driver for your brand value?
Both print and digital advertising costs have come down dramatically, this presents a new opportunity for a dynamic approach to hybrid marketing. You can simultaneously capture your audience via print and web advertising but the key is to identify which channel they come from to rapidly and accurately aggregate customer and prospect data. Perhaps most of your new customers reside on the internet while your existing customers still favors the traditional channel. Regardless of how you integrate your marketing campaign, remember to benchmark them so you can gauge the ROI to improve your sale funnel and lead generation capabilities.
If you goal is to build a customer engagement program, consider incorporating it with existing and new CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools that can be customized for each individual consumer. This helps to improve the ROI with more measurable data against the deliverable.
Here is “2010 Digital Marketing Outlook,” an excellent report from the Society of Digital Agencies (SoDA).
Businesses will emerge from the recession looking to further strengthen engagement and interaction with their customers. But what does “engagement” really mean? How much does it cost? And what will it take to engage a customer? If you have already done the first two steps by reassessing your brand strategy and integrate social media into your marketing campaigns, your next focus should be to develop a social media policy to protect your company and make incremental changes to improve every aspect of your business.
I’m hardly surprise when I read the new consumer poll by CMO Council and InfoPrint, that “consumers today are deluged and overloaded with a plethora of unwanted direct marketing and promotional messages that are blasted out via email, or mass-produced and mailed in vast quantities, ending up choking mail boxes and filling recycling bins. In most cases, recipients ignore, or have become immune, to standardized commercial overtures. And with the advent of the Internet, consumers are seeking product information and affirmation from trusted sources and referral networks online.”
That’s the path social media is on right now.
Instead of email and mass-produced mailers, it’s spam tweets and uninvited LinkedIn notifications. Marketers are forgetting that consumers and prospects are real people like you and me. At the end of the day when we go to the grocery store or eat out at a restaurant we want to be treated like a person not a prey. It’s shocking to me that “staying relevant, valued and connected to customers has become the number one challenge for marketers today” according to the report.
The biggest adjustment brands must realize is that in social media you’re no longer in control of the conversation instead you will turn over the brand experience to the community and let them define it. If you want people’s opinion they’ll give it to you the way they want how they want it. Social media will NOT fix a bad product or negative customer experience. What it will do is to force you to reveal your brand’s true persona, allow additional means for your customer to reach you, and capture relevant analytical data for product and service improvements.
If you read my previous post “The 12 Principles of Brand Strategy,” you’ll know that principle number 2 states that your brand is your business model. Well, if your customer’s behavior is changing, shouldn’t you adjust your business too?
Checkout these challenges to social marketing effectiveness, and you’ll understand why it’s not so simple to integrate social media into your existing marketing practice. Is it worth to invest in obtaining a large number of Facebook fans or Twitter followers? How do you convert them into sales?
There needs to be a transition and I believe hybrid marketing on a single integrated platform will be the next trend to emerge in an attempt to leveling the playing field across all social networks.
I hope you find the information helpful, share your thoughts what do you think? Have you integrated social media into your marketing strategy?