TOOLBOX: Social media, loyalty, CRM, personalization

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What should I consider when using social media to generate leads?

"Social networking is about reaching cold communities of interest with a warm approach," explains Phillip Delong, managing director of Daz Media. "For example, if you sold highly specialized mountain bikes, you could set up a Facebook group or a Twitter feed detailing developments of interest. Only those people who really care about the bikes would subscribe."

Trust is essential with social networking. "The worst thing you could do is just send sales messages such as '10% off this weekend'," Delong continues. "Instead you should use your social networking to demonstrate the passion for the hobby you share with all your customers and potential customers. Saying 'just got back from a 10 mile ride, caked in mud - happy' will endear you, and they become long-term fans."


How do I keep my customers happy and returning?

"Maintaining regular communication with all of your customers is critical to the success of the relationship," says Will Wiegler, director of corporate marketing at BigMachines. "You need to engage with them to provide value far beyond a product or service. One way is to create forums where your customers come together to discuss best practices and share their experiences, while you participate in the discourse. These can be face-to-face meetings, online experiences, or both.

"If you can't meet in person, take advantage of the technology available to you," he adds. "We use CRM tools to track customer interactions and CRM dashboards to track customer success metrics. Online collaboration is now easier than ever. Social networking sites provide many of the tools."


How do you transition conversations into a sales process in social contact relationship management ?

Social media is the opener, but it's not the closer in most cases, says Brent Leary, co-founder and partner of CRM Essentials LLC, a CRM consulting/advisory firm focused on small and midsize enterprises.

"Some feel social media should be a magic bullet, but it's just another avenue to get to know people," Leary says. Traditional CRM is more internally focused to improve operational efficiency and effectiveness. Social CRM is conversational. Social media interactions will hopefully allow for some meaningful exchanges that should help the prospect and the company better know when to transition from a formal sales cycle into more of a social CRM exchange.


What tactic works in today's environment?

An approach that generates higher response and conversion rates is the use of personalized URLs (pURLs). "PURLs are dynamic Web landing pages that are customized to the recipient," says Greg Osenga, managing director of CRM Practice at Hawkeye. "Customized content can be based on the recipient's industry, past purchases and buying role. Content can reference products owned/used and reorder possibilities, and contain customized calculators, data capture forms, etc." PURLs are delivered via e-mail or direct mail and take the form of a call to action.

Response rates can increase as much as 30% — people just have to see what's on their custom Web site — and conversion rates can double.


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