Getting started with social CRM

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Michael Della Penna
Michael Della Penna

Social CRM is causing quite a stir in the marketing world. Marketers are anxiously looking for help with combining e-mail and social activity with existing customer data and profiles to create a single view of the customer. However, most big companies are still hampered by silos and disparate databases that significantly limit their ability to derive actionable customer insights that enable them to achieve their corporate objectives. Yet, there are a few key principles that can help marketers achieve success.

1. Listen: To build an engaging experience, first listen and understand what your customers are saying about your brand. Think less about your brand and products and more about building a connection with consumers through a shared passion (e.g., travel, sports, music, etc.). This will strengthen the customer bond over time.

2. Learn: Take a snapshot of your current customer data. Audit data collection points and pull the data. If you're missing essential data, conduct a survey and overlay social technographic data to better understand your customers' online activities. Next, analyze and build a segmentation strategy with realistic personas that allow you to refine the customer experience across critical touchpoints. By sharing “real” customer insights with critical internal audiences, it's less about individual or department agendas and all about improving the customer experience and driving results. 

3. Engage: Once you have gained an understanding of your key customers and influencers, build a unique experience for them, leveraging all touchpoints: website, e-mail, customer service and social networks. Build a life cycle communication program for each segment and pay attention to community management and customer feedback. Rethink your loyalty programs to properly reward your best customers, whether for community contributions, social network activity or brand advocacy. 

4. Influence: Leverage social tools to facilitate and encourage sharing and brand advocacy. Flag and thank active customers, and reward them properly. If you continually add value, this will fuel growth through recognition and build advocacy for your brand over time.

Finally, track activity and leverage tools that allow you to take action on those insights. By focusing on your best customers, you can better manage and execute based off the data. Amazing things begin to emerge when you not only know who your best customers are, what segment they're in and what products they use, but also their e-mail activity, loyalty/purchase activity and social activity — all in a single view. 

By leveraging this data, brands can build algorithms that drive lifetime value and improve campaign performance across channels. Social CRM is a reality, but to be successful, you must remember to align your program to corporate objectives and customer needs. If you start small and find a partner with a proven approach and track record, and you'll soon be able to create more memorable, differentiated experiences for your customers.

Michael Della Penna is EVP of ThreadMarketing, which was recently acquired by StrongMail.

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