Customer relationship management (CRM) has been around the block with every new customer data point to emerge over the past few decades, so it was inevitable it would fix its eye on the data opportunities offered by marketing’s new darling, social media.
Some CRM experts are gaga over the relationship marketing possibilities of this union. Let’s take a brief look at previous dalliances in the CRM evolution.
The evolution of CRM
Technology has enabled marketers to take CRM from mass communication to targeted segmentation to the ideal of one-to-one communication. It has focused on important areas such as:
- Customer Service and its emphasis on retention
- Contact Management and its emphasis on lead management and sales force automation
- Loyalty Marketing with its emphasis on brand preference and customer lifetime value
- Voice of Customer research designed to reveal preferences in product/media channels
One thing these all have in common is managing customer interactions based on their transaction behaviors. They have given us ever more sophisticated ways to analyze, profile and understand customer groups.
With the element of engagement, social media offers a new layer of customer behavior data we can add to the equation. CRM experts have already begun to define a new social CRM, or SCRM. One approach to this is the Value TRInity, which integrates Transactional, Relationship and Influence analytics.
- Transactional data is based on traditional customer metrics around purchase behavior.
- Relationship data is a measure of sharing activity that relates to brand preference.
- Influence data is a score based on customer social media activity.
This article has some excellent case studies showing how this approach is being applied. Social media adds the relationship and influence factors into CRM.
How will SCRM impact customer relationships?
I think social media will force marketers to rethink the “M” in CRM. The word “management” suggests interaction FROM organizations TO the audience. Social media has consumed the interactive space. We must adapt to interaction WITH the audience.
Technology makes it easy to communicate when you wish and disengage at will
Much of the discussion about SCRM is now focused on data capture and establishing business rules for automated categorization and modeling customer groups into enterprise systems. The data is important, but we also need to think of customers as being more than personas or digital avatars. We need to put a heartbeat to the data.
The need for meaningful engagement
Tabulating Likes, +1’s, Follows and Shares offers a tremendous opportunity to measure audience engagement and behavior toward our brand. But we should be mindful of what social media engagement really is to our audience and how it might differ from making connections.
Technology has given consumers massive access to – and control of – the conversation. Sociologist and author Sherry Turkle has noted it “makes it easy to communicate when you wish and disengage at will.”
The degree of engagement we have now is overwhelming. Facebook, SMS texting, Tweets and the remaining myriad of social media are often cluttered with meaningless exchanges. We’re hyper-connected but not necessarily making connections. Relevance is even more important now to succeed at building brand relationships with social media.
Understanding that, marketers need to focus social CRM on meaningful engagement driven by customer experience that generates word-of-mouth brand ambassadors and ultimately motivates buying behavior.
One way to approach this is to give your audience a reason to follow. This idea comes from Simon Sinek. In a recent TED Talk on leadership that inspires action he spoke on the power of asking “why.” He said to lead a movement of people, they need to know why you’re here, why you do what you do. Communicate a vision and message with a compelling reason why, and you connect with devoted followers and influencers to the cause.
SOUND OFF: Tell me what you think. How do you see social media impacting your relationship marketing strategy? What engagement metrics are you following now?
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Over the last few years there has been increasing discussion about the unique needs around creating content best suited to inbound marketing in digital media. It’s not promotion-heavy product copy. Not corporate-spun PR. Not even advertorials. In these circles, the focus has turned to a journalism-based approach David Meerman Scott has coined brand journalism.
Inbound marketing success: think like a publisher
In many ways, organizations are still adapting to the dramatic transformation in how to interact with the marketplace in emergent online channels. The transition from outbound, monologue-marketing to inbound marketing is a challenge for professionals coming from Advertising, PR, direct and classical marketing disciplines.
The internet has changed the game. Audiences on the web are seeking information that informs and edifies. Content creators need to think like a publisher first, weaving in brand messages through dynamic storytelling.
If you need to think like a publisher, why not add a journalist to your content team? Not the Ron Burgundy broadcast news-reader type, but the writer-researcher newsroom type. Think embedded corporate journalist.
Looking at typical job descriptions for online marketers, you’ll notice the thinking is not quite there yet. There is still a primary focus on experience in digital media and marketing. Both are important roles on the content team. But there are at least four good reasons to get a journalist on your team as well.
Four content marketing skills you get from an experienced journalist
- Writing approach. Journalists are trained storytellers experienced in writing compelling headlines and lead-in copy and crafting a strong voice. This transfers perfectly to the need for attracting inbound traffic online.
- Focusing on what the reader wants. New and renewed subscriptions. Newsstand sales. Letters to the Editor. These measures of reader engagement are critical to publishing success. Without interested readers the publication fails. Without engaged online visitors, your content marketing is destined for the same fate.
- Objectivity. Journalists have a natural inclination toward skepticism. They are trained to take an objective view toward content for public consumption. This is a perfect antidote to impulses to overhype, oversell and over-fluff your online content. They will view stories and events from different angles and help to find unique ways to present information valued by your audience.
- Editorial planning. In the publishing world, journalists have gained real-world experience in creating an editorial plan – based on wants of the audience – setting a schedule and meeting deadlines to deliver content. This hands-on experience is of tremendous value inside the corporation.
These skills are not a substitute for a solid strategy. That’s a topic for another post. But they are critical to the successful execution of your content marketing strategy. And most of the time you won’t find people with these skills by looking exclusively within the marketing industry.
SOUND OFF: Tell me what you think. Are there other benefits to a journalist-content creator you would add? What is your approach to content marketing and building your team?
Related article: 3 Lessons to help content marketers stop thinking like publishers
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