“Know your audience.” It’s a simple and obvious mantra for any successful business. What’s not so simple and obvious is exactly how to go about getting to know customers, especially when more and more of them spend their time in social media and messaging apps where they are essentially anonymous to the organization. With consumers spending an average of two hours (and rising) each day on social media, as marketers we all know that these platforms are rich sources of customer data just waiting to be mined for better business insights, leading to more effective marketing campaigns, and in turn allowing us to provide greater value to customers.
Social Media is Rich
While many companies conduct social listening to understand what customers are saying about them online, this information is anonymous and gives marketers only the biggest picture sense of consumer sentiment. Conversely, as marketers we have access to CRM and loyalty databases which provide a very fine-grained view of customer spend, response rates and sales. If marketers could marry the rich data coming out of social media with the fine-grained analytics available in in-house databases, they would have a very powerful combination for greater understanding of customer wants and needs, not to mention a much finer understanding of who responds to which social media marketing efforts.
More specifically, social data illustrates what current customers are saying to each other — and to potential customers — about a business or product, and which social media channel(s) they use to communicate their experiences. While this data offers subjective access to the customers’ mindset, it also takes social media measurability above and beyond traditional vanity metrics such as “Likes” and “Followers”, to a place where audience segmentation can happen in a meaningful way and real ROI can be calculated.
By integrating the two data sources, marketers get the best of both worlds, a wealth of information that can be used to gain valuable consumer insights from existing data. Marketers can discreetly mine customer information to fine tune and improve future marketing campaigns, providing customers with what they truly want and need, surprising and delighting them along the way, driving even more growth for the brand.
How to Link Data Sources
All these benefits can be achieved by linking customers’ social IDs to the corporate customer database. Leading organizations often ‘socialize’ an email that they send to their database of loyal customers, with an embedded social trigger. Once the email is activated on the customer’s preferred social network(s), marketers can encourage participation in a social value exchange which will generate even more targeted data.
Once linked, marketers can go beyond simply listening to social media conversations and follow specific social media actions taken, such as brand-specific hashtags, photos, links, and more that are shared. Brands can also define rules such as geo-fencing, frequency, and influence, to respond automatically and immediately to these actions. Whether automated or moderated, marketers can actively collect previously elusive insights into consumer’s social media habits, engagement and conversion.
What to do with the Data?
While there has been an explosion of vendors supplying ways for marketers to obtain valuable insight data, one piece that has gone unanswered for many marketers is what to do with the data. Leading organizations are pairing their newly connected social media and database efforts to tailor offers specific to their social audiences, using social media automation and engagement loyalty tools to engage at scale.
With the social ID connected, consumers obtain a remote control for marketing conversion. In fact, some forward-thinking marketers are using this connection to further their loyalty programs, rewarding socially active customers for their participation, advocacy and the earned media they create for the brand.
For example, one sporting goods retailer that linked its loyalty database to its customers’ social media IDs has found from its loyalty-based social media marketing program that its connected members buy twice as frequently as non-connected members. And one hotelier who did the same thing found that its connected members spent 75% more than the average member in a given year. They also had 2X more purchases than the average member in the same time period.
By linking social IDs to the loyalty and/or CRM database, once obscure and anonymous social people are now meaningful, identifiable customers that can be understood individually and in aggregate, and responded to at scale. A link between social IDs and the customer database is not optional if a brand wants to truly understand how social media is reaching their audiences, how customer social activity impacts other customers, and to truly quantify social media ROI based on customer engagement, conversion, and ultimately spend. Indeed, as examples from industry leaders has shown, marketers that connect their social, chat, loyalty, and CRM strengthen their customer experiences and benefit from greater loyalty, advocacy and direct impacts to the topline.