Social media drives advance towards a networked economy
Marketers must react in real-time to both the new sales opportunities offered by social networking sites, and to the threats posed to brands by the viral spread of adverse online comment. Article by Kevin Cochrane, chief marketing officer for Day Software.
Social media is driving brand engagement, innovation, and real-time marketing in two primary ways; firstly, social media establishes a network of relationships between current prospects and those people that are most likely to influence their purchase decision. This data can be mined real-time for online marketers to more effectively target specific promotions, messages, and imagery that are most likely to generate an emotional response and product purchase. Peer recommendations and influence play to the emotional decision to buy.
Online marketers can now identify members of a consumer’s social network and mine this information to help drive the sales cycle. Recent ratings by friends, recent positive posts on Facebook or tweets and just-purchased items – can all be brought to the attention of the online shopper to suggest that they learn more about what their friends like and “be like them” and make a purchase. This real-time marketing response on the online channel delivers new sales through the customer’s network of family, friends, and colleagues.
Second, social media’s ability to influence product purchase decision cuts both ways. A positive brand experience can influence a new sale, while a poor experience can spread virally through networks to dissuade a purchase decision. For marketers, keeping track of negative sentiment in tweet, Facebook post, or online forums where customers are rating or commenting or discussing a product need to be monitored in real-time by marketers to keep track of individual negative comments and – more importantly – trending experiences that require a marketing response.
A few negative comments are an expected outcome of opening up your online channel to leverage the power of social media; however, when a specific, repeated sentiment or compliant emerges, online marketers need to protect the brand with a coordinated response to not only those specific users with a negative sentiment, but also immediately re-connect all audiences with their brand experience via new messages, promotions, and experiences on the Web, Facebook, and other channels (and, in some cases, take the feedback in-house for product enhancement).
Brands’ websites must be able to communicate with customers anytime, any place. In order to do this the brand’s website needs to load quickly and cope with peaks in web traffic. Marketers should not be victims of their own success – viral campaigns should not bring down the site and impact overall brand experience. By embracing the cloud, marketers can access on demand hardware across different geographies, which will enable optimal global brand promotion and experience.
It’s not just all about online though. Brands also need to engage with customers in-store, through applications, by catalogues and across peer-to-peer channels. If companies do not have a presence across all these five areas then they will lose potential customers. Marketing is the thread connecting all of these areas and the CMO needs to ensure that content is targeted and adapted for each channel.
Consumers that are engaged with a brand via multiple channels are more likely to buy, more likely to influence other potential prospects, more likely to make repeat purchase, spend more, and are more profitable. The economies are clear.
Investing in a multi-channel strategy has significant payoffs. And new style CMOs – CMOs that are responsible not only for the brand but also responsible for revenue and driving sales demand, is the person that defines the marketing strategy and crafts the specific campaigns and promotions across all channels to transform individual customer segments into true multi-channel shoppers to boost revenue and profitability. With new tools and technologies powering the online channel, and leveraging creative campaigns from the online channel to drive in-store experiences, CMOs for the first time can take direct responsibility for demand generation and through powerful analytics continuously tune and optimize their brand messaging and promotions to drive ever higher customer revenue and profitability.
The most successful brands of 2010 will be the brands with social voices operating in real-time. If you don’t engage your customer, who will? Your competitors are one-click away via the online channel. Consumers demand a multi-channel experience. The brands that will win will be self-evident. And others will have to follow.