The rise of social media is affecting nearly every aspect of marketing these days, including customer loyalty marketing. Social CRM (customer relationship marketing) is a hot topic, and businesses are increasingly dedicating resources to building social fan bases and winning followers.
But what is the real link between social media and customer loyalty? According to CCG’s President and CEO Sandra Gudat and Senior Vice President Lane Ware, it’s about providing great content that keeps a customer coming back for more — more information, more interaction and, in the end, more transactions.
“We’ve known for decades the impact that value-add content can have on customer loyalty and an organization’s bottom line. But now, thanks to social media and even search engine algorithms that emphasize solid content, it’s becoming perhaps even more important,” Gudat says.
Social Media Users Crave More Than Discounts
Social Media Content
Doing social CRM well starts with a solid strategy. Here are the planning steps CCG’s Gudat and Ware recommend:
- Research your customers’ use of social media. Which channels are they using? How are they using them?
- Use your customer data and analytics to understand how customers’ transaction behaviors are tied to social media use.
- Decide how you will use your social content to drive short-term and long-term behavior (and retention).
- Test to see what works best. Then, keep testing, as preferences are changing
all the time.
- Plan core messages, coordinated content and the channels you will use.
- Develop an effective editorial calendar you are sure you can maintain.
- Track and measure your social media efforts.
- Refine communication channels, usage and content as appropriate.
Recent studies prove the point. A December 2009 MarketingSherpa survey found that consumers, including the most active users of social media, want informative and entertaining content, and a lot of it. In fact, more than 60 percent of those surveyed said they want content beyond specials. They want to learn about new products, features and services from the brands they follow. They want insightful content that matters.
“You may be able to initially attract customers to your social media presence with coupons and straight product announcements, but the real key is to keep them interested over time with relevant content,” Ware says. “When customers begin to connect with that content on a personal and even emotional level, you’re building customer loyalty — and repeat business.”
A Natural Connection to Customer Loyalty
In some ways, social media is a natural extension of your customer loyalty efforts, Gudat says. “Consider a business that builds a substantial fan base on Facebook and Twitter. That brand now has the opportunity to communicate directly to known loyal customers and provide them with expert content that makes their purchase or transaction decisions easier. It’s the old promise of providing something extra to your best customers, only in new channels.”
Ware and Gudat both assert that approaching content for social CRM requires a 360-degree view of the content that’s being generated by a company. Then the hard work of determining what works for which audiences and channels, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, a blog, your website, YouTube or electronic press releases, begins.
Customer loyalty will evolve when customers encounter consistent messaging about your brand across all channels, and the messaging benefits them personally, Ware explains. “That consistency translates into increased customer lifetime value, as well as valuable word-of-mouth recommendations,” Ware says.
Keys to Content That Drives Loyalty
Developing good content is not an easy task, the CCG experts maintain. “You have to continually create new ideas and new ways to benefit your customers,” Ware says.
Here are a few tips from Gudat and Ware:
- Because content is the driver of social CRM success, consider yourself a publisher and distributor of valuable content — rather than a mere social media marketer.
- Identify content opportunities that could affect customer behavior.
- Ask customers what they want.
- Develop a unique content personality that resonates with customers.
- Make content ripe for two-way communication. Ask for your customers’ opinions, respond to their posts and create an ongoing conversation.
- Develop a schedule of content delivery across channels and maintain the “content promise” by keeping the information coming.
- If you don’t have the resources to do social content well and in a timely manner, hire outside content experts to get the job done.
CCG’s strengths have long been associated with value-add content that builds long-term customer loyalty across all channels. We can provide social media and other loyalty-driving content, from tweets, blogs and Facebook posts to e-newsletters and microsites. We can also help you determine the best social media and other customer contact strategies that are right for your business. Contact us or call 800.525.0313.