Eureka! Turning social data into golden customer relationships

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Kristin Hambelton
Kristin Hambelton

Customer interaction data that can be drawn from social media channels like Facebook and Twitter is becoming more accessible to marketers. Marketers can now turn a few nuggets of information into a legitimate gold rush of revenue opportunities by applying proven direct marketing techniques to social channels. Instead of searching frantically in hopes of gaining glimmers of insight into customer preferences and behaviors, marketers are now able to convert anonymous fans and followers into personal, sustainable and profitable relationships. This process starts with integrating social data into a central marketing database or CRM system.

On all social networks consumers specify their tastes and preferences in a way that may be considered “weak”—both from the consumer's standpoint, as they have simply clicked the “Like” or “Follow” button, as well as from the brand's point of view. Marketers consider these choices weak because they have typically only been able to count the number of fans or followers, without knowing who these consumers are, and without being able to engage with them in one-to-one dialogues.

To transform these anonymous consumers into identified, qualified and opted-in leads, marketing teams may apply traditional direct marketing tactics, including integrating games, competitions or quizzes into social networks. This technique, which enables marketers to collect an email address or phone number in exchange for consumer participation, is increasingly being used by brands on Facebook.

Marketers can also leverage technological developments introduced by social media sites. Facebook, for example, provides an API for retrieving emails from consumers once their permission has been granted. Twitter proposes to repatriate some data about a brand's followers such as Twitter handle, number of followers, tweets and retweets.

Once newly acquired leads have been entered into a central marketing database or CRM system, marketers may also use social media to enrich those contact profiles and to qualify consumers' areas of interest. Of course, the latter must only be done with proper consent and in compliance with the regulations laid down by the various media.

These multiple acquisition and permission tactics are all the more important for marketing departments as they move to more interactive and sustainable dialogues, across multiple communication channels, and across the customer lifecycle. The contact information and opt-ins collected mean that marketers have a reliable and cost-effective source of contact data and available channels at their disposal. Integrated within the CRM system, social media data can now be used to power more effective email campaigns, or enable call center representatives to enhance the customer experience, improve service, and promote cross-sell or up-sell opportunities. 

Eureka indeed!

Kristin Hambelton is VP of marketing at Neolane. She can be reached on Twitter @KMHambelton.

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