How Social Marketing Automation Can Find Customers Who Want You to Find Them
According to a recent McKinsey Global Institute report, The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies, there are 1.5 billion social network users around the globe. Eighty percent of these online users interact with social networks regularly — one in five hours is spent on social networks, increasingly on mobile devices. Social users present an enormous opportunity for marketers to identify prospects and learn about their preferences by capturing and storing their publicly available social profiles and preferences (e.g., brand "Likes") and their specific social activities such as posts, shares and retweets. For the first time in the history of marketing, brands have the potential to not only identify but target new prospects at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising means by using profile and activity information.
Flip the traditional marketing funnel on its head: Enter the social marketing and sales funnel
Traditionally, marketing departments have focused on generating prospects and leads so they push down the sales and marketing funnel and convert into customers. This process starts with top-of-the-funnel activities designed to bring, for example, new site visitors to a brand's websites. Traditional top-of-the-funnel tactics include advertising (online and offline) and list purchases — a disruptive "push" model that's no longer working.
With only 14 percent of consumers saying they trust advertising messages, marketers need a new way to think about building awareness and interest in their offerings — one that's value-based, open and collaborative with the millions of prospects now choosing to spend their time on social networks. Enter the social marketing and sales funnel.
The social marketing and sales funnel is a framework designed to help marketers manage prospects to drive business results in the new age of social marketing. Using the principles of marketing automation, defined as the business processes and supporting technology that help companies segment and target prospects, marketers can now use social marketing automation to tap into the growing social user base.
Social marketing automation at work
Step No. 1: Social profiling. The first step in social marketing automation is identifying new prospects from the social web. To do that, listen for people, not just mentions. Then, monitor for specific keywords, mentions of competitive brands, and specific expressions that designate need or purchase intent. Lastly, capture not just the mentions, but who mentions you. For example, if Southwest Airlines wants to take business away from JetBlue, its marketing team can listen for disgruntled JetBlue customers. Brendon Small, musician, actor, and producer, with over 11,300 Twitter followers and 3,500 Facebook fans, is a case in point. On Sept. 8, Brendon posted the following (click on image of tweet on page 2):
Step No. 2: Social scoring. Now if you're Southwest's marketing team, rather than simply responding to Brendon and offering him a deal, you may want to think about the value of Brendon's potential to your business. Using the principles of good marketing automation, Southwest's team should know that not all prospects are the same, need the same or have the same value. The company should apply its own scoring rules to this social prospect to prioritize him for personalized, meaningful and value-based campaigns.
Step No. 3: Social engagement. Equipped with unique insights from its own social scoring exercise, Southwest may determine that Brendon isn't just a potential customer, but an influencer who can affect the future purchase decisions of thousands of people. It may rightfully decide to invite him to fly on Southwest for free, then have him share his experience with his fans. If Brendon agrees, Southwest's marketing team should listen for posts and comments from Brendon's fans, capture their profiles, score their relevance to Southwest's business, and engage them with meaningful content and offers over time.
By flipping the traditional marketing and sales funnel on its head as well as practicing social marketing automation, brands can gain new customers and increase sales and market share at an unprecedented rate. Just think for a second about the potential of finding 10 or 20 or 1,000 people like Brendon Small and engaging them in a meaningful dialog. Suffice to say, you won't have to worry about proving social marketing return on investment.