April 30, 2017

How Marketers Are Using Social Media For Customer Acquisition

I received an invite to CrowdFactory’s "Driving Social Media & Customer Acquisition Throughout the Customer Lifecycle" webinar yesterday with Jeremiah Owyang from Altimeter Group and  Sanjay Dholakia, CEO of CrowdFactory and decided to liveblog it.

Customer Hourglass Framework Altimeter Group

Jeremiah has pioneered a lot of the social media thinking found in progressive companies today and his blog, Web Strategist, is known to senior business and agency marketing executives world-wide. I’ve been reading it for many years. This webinar addressed several key issues from a social engagement and commerce perspective and promised to share how marketers are using social media to engage customers and prospects across the entire lifecycle.

Customer acquisition isn’t a just a linear path through a sales funnel any more. Social engagement and sharing opportunities exist wherever content is published, interactions and brand/consumer communications occur. Realizing how to incorporate social elements to facilitate engagement and sharing helps brands extend their reach and enlist customers to advocate for them.

Sanjay opened things up stating that driving engagement is essential throughout the customer experience, not just at the top of the funnel. Crowd Factory provides software that facilitates social promotion and engagement of all marketing content.

Jeremiah shared that when marketers come to the table, they often apply social media efforts in a piecemeal way. It’s important to involve the entire customer lifecycle and to think about the entire customer journey.

Altimeter asked 140 social strategists: What 3 go to marketing social strategy objectives will you focus on most in 2011? Responses were led by Website Integration (46.7%), followed by Ongoing Dialog with Customers (43.4%) and Listening/Learning About Customers (37.7%)

social media tactics

Source: Altimeter Group

The Customer Hourglass Framework

The challenge is that companies continue to build tactics in solios. Public Relations, Branding, Ecommerce and other groups might be building different social experiences for the same brand. These individual efforts result in an incomplete customer experience.

The traditional purchase funnel is outdated. Think about how we can use that funnel to be more effective, ala "Flip the Funnel" (Joseph Jaffe). The Customer Hourglass is a model for this alternative thinking and looks at the entire customer experience: Awareness, Consideration, Intent, Purchase, Support, Loyalty, Advocacy. Jeremiah’s presentation explores each of these brand and customer experiences as it relates to social media.

Awareness: Customers & prospects may not know who you are, so the goal is to become top of mind. A great example: AmEx OPEN Forum surfaces small business owner discussions and networking opportunities. This community enables small business owners to connect with each other and gain insights and expertise from thought leader contributed content.

Awareness Key Take Aways:

  • Expect paid media such as advertising to fuel the Awareness phase
  • Often rely on content about lifestyle and pain points of customers

Consideration: It’s about letting customers advocate for you. Leverage your customer’s content. Example: Epson has included customer reviews. Visitors who interacted with reviews were 67% more likely to convert. They also had a 25% higher average order value. The downside of other people’s content is you lose control.

Consideration Take Aways:

  • Repurpose your product inventory information an apply it to the real world
  • Aggregate 3rd party reviews to your corporate website
  • Repurpose your reviews on your corporate website to 3rd party websites and blogs: extend and repurpose

Intent: Customer interactions with ecommerce content provides opportunities to share their intent with relevant networks.  Example: Levi’s incorporates the "Like" button. Shoppers can "Like" and post comments about produccts straight to their Facebook wall. Customers see an instant shopping cart based on previous friend’s "Likes". The caveat is that the data isn’t always correct, but is improving. Levi’s isn’t sharing performance numbers but they’re continuing this activity, so something is happening for them to warrant continued investment.

Intent Takeaways:

  • While still emerging, social features are fueling sales efforts by adding richer context to the customer experience
  • Expect next gen apps to re-poullate wish lists and shoppint carts

Purchase – Tapping into friends at POP (point of purchase). This is where to connect with customers at the point of decision in the ecommerce experience. An example is Facebook launching group buying deals.  Another is Sony using group buying incentives to promote an album launch (Britney Spears). If a visitor got 5 friends to pre-order they all get 20% off.  Sony reports a 50% traffic bump at launch.

Purchase Takeaways:

  • Social features allow friends to share point of purchase with others
  • WOM (word of mouth) can be measured and attributed to individuals
  • Expect in the future that virtual currency or virtual goods will offer consumers discounts or exclusive deals

Support: Using these technologies to encouragte customers to have a great experience. Example: Wells Fargo – @askwellsfargo is used to listen to customers and offer assistance. In the regulated space there are important concerns around privacy, so conversations are often taken to private chat or channels. Q/A tools, forums and similar applications can be used to encourage customers to support each other.

Support Takeaways:

  • Reduce support costs by giving information to consumers on hand
  • Use a tiered approach" load up FAQ first. Follow up providing the ability for them to conduct peer to peer support. Provide them with direct to company support when the first 2 avenues have been exhausted

Loyalty: The social application to this phase extends to multiple areas. Example: Hilton develped a mobile application "Top Guests", which is basically a whitelabel version of Foursquare for the hospitality industry. HHonors members can give a Facebook friend 25% off Doubletree B&B reservation once they check in.

Loyalty Takeawyas:

  • Loyalty programs of the past are based on long term commitment and total potential spending value
  • In the future, companies will factor in game mechanics, badging

Advocacy: Another phase that extends to multiple areas, involves enabling customers to serve as brand ambassadors.  Example: TurboTax Inner Circul uses a community management tool.

Turbo Tax Inner Circle

Another Advocacy example is Microsoft MVP – Most Valuable Professional. Every year 4,000 MVPs are nominated by peers, employees, and other MVPs then selected by an internal panel. Term of service is 1 year. It gets customers to do the work of evangelizing the brand.

Advocacy Takeaway:

  • The holy grail of marketing, this is the lowest cost of acquisition, most effective marketing

Summary: Remember that customers are behaving in new ways, in new places and have new expectations. Think beyond the silos.

Sanjay asks:  Where do customers spend their time?

customer online destinations

There are a number of social applications and tactics social media marketers use to engage customers online including:

  • Sweepstakes
  • Special Offers
  • Social Shopping
  • Viral Video
  • Media Boost
  • Share Stories
  • Wishlists
  • Ratings & Reviews
  • Badging

Channels used to deploy these applications and tactics include: Website, Facebook, Display Ads, Mobile, Landing, Email. These tactics and channels extend across the customer lifecycle.

Marketers can create the ability during the ecommerce experience, to engage with social network friends (Facebook) for opinions. An example is the Rachel Ray website where customers can tap into their Facebook network during the purchase experience for advice.

Rachel Ray Facebook Integration

Tips on engaging customers throughout the lifecycle:

  • Fuel the top of the funnel (awareness) with paid media
  • Identify intent through social action
  • Offer the option to share your purchase event on the ecommerce thank you page – give them an incentive
  • When customers rate your content, encourage them to share that activity with their social networks
  • Drive loyalty with earned prizes and status
  • Call to arms – encourage fans to come together to reach a particular goal – game, recognition
  • Drive advocacy through story telling – encourage customers to tell & share their stories

Social data across the lifecycle is critical to success. Think about social as an "Add-in" or extension to what you are already doing at each stage – not a separate thing. (I would recommend SEO and Social Media Optimization in the same way).

Use the right social engagement for the right touch point – all from a single place so you have a common set of data about your customers. Use analytics and real-time feedback to determine what works and what doesn’t.

Check out TopRank Online Marketing Blog for more articles by Lee Odden


About Lee Odden 41 Articles
Lee Odden is the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, a provider of innovative Internet marketing consulting for progressive B2B companies ranging from Marketo to PRWeb to McKesson. Odden has been recognized for his expertise with enterprise social media, SEO and content marketing strategies by The Economist, Advertising Age and Mashable. He writes a monthly column called Social Media Smarts for ClickZ and his blog at TopRankBlog.com has an active community with over 46,000 subscribers, 12,000 Facebook Fans and has been rated the #1 Content Marketing blog 3 times by Junta42. He is also the Author of "Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media and Content Marketing" published by Wiley.

7 Comments on How Marketers Are Using Social Media For Customer Acquisition

  1. This was a great read as too many times I’ve asked new clients if they plan to use social media or even have a twitter account etc.. most actually say no or yes they have a few social accounts but only to reserve their company name or keywords.

    This article should indeed help those that are new to social media advertising to have a better understanding of how it should work. For those who’s businesses are already established I’ve found that they are reluctant to change and continue to stick to what works.

    To me, those that don’t change or modify their techniques are seriously missing the boat.

    Have a great 4th of July weekend!

    Follow me on Twitter!

  2. Interesting examples and data. A lot of our SEO and SEM clients are building out their business social network pages to engage customers and prospects — and enhance their search rankings. Thanks.

  3. Essentially love the graphical construct and agree with much of the content. The anchor to much of this, though, is branding.

    Good branding means higher levels of search and conversion. Good branding means recognition and endorsement in social media engagement.

  4. At our call center we use social media to respond to our client’s customers as they wish. Beyond phone calls, emails and live chat, we also allow customers to post to social media and respond to them. This lets the customer chose their most comfortable way to communicate, which may change depending on where they are.

  5. many social sites are primarily geared towards real interaction to people to make any business relevant to their customers and stay as loyal customers. people are inherently social which means they like to have some interactions in any form possible and any business capitalizing on that will have a higher chance of gaining more customers.

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