E-commerce Link: Banking on Social
At the recent Target Marketing webinar, "The Secrets of Social Media Lead Generation," some listeners asked questions like, "I don't know how to start dialog with potential customers on Facebook and need to turn friends and 'likes' into leads and sales ... can you tell me how?" If you're asking similar questions, you're not alone.
In September 2010, I profiled AnchorBank's "function before form" approach to online lead generation—where the bank caters to customers using helpful advice like an industrial designer uses ergonomics. In a nutshell, what sets AnchorBank apart from other banks is its systematic approach to content marketing. The bank focuses on solving customers' problems and prioritizes how, when, and where helpful tips and tricks get distributed to customers.
Yes, AnchorBank's content is relevant to solving typical financial problems that customers experience, but success lies in a system that prompts customers to express need—then nurtures it and captures sales. That's the key. But what happens when processes aren't planned so well?
Chase +1 Campaign
Acquiring new accounts was Chase's focus with its Chase +1 Facebook campaign aimed at students. But students actually needing Chase's card weren't given an opportunity to move toward it. In its first foray, Chase failed to give students answers—such as tools that improved their ability to manage finances. As a result, Chase didn't gain new, first-time credit card customers using Facebook.
Chase created awareness for its Facebook campaign by investing in banner ads that invited students to join a Facebook group page. The group was designed for students who wanted to learn about the new Chase +1 credit card product.
Chase also offered group members the chance to earn redeemable points for spreading the word about the Chase +1 card. In the end, points could be "cashed-in" for DVDs and other merchandise. About 34,000 students participated in the initial campaign.
Unfortunately, Chase's Facebook group had no means to prompt, or capture information on, students' actual state of need. For instance, did the students Chase attracted need a card? If so, what credit line and services did they expect? When might they need one? The bank communicated with Chase +1 group members about once a month and used Facebook to deliver announcements about the product. Essentially, the bank advertised rather than educate students on getting the most from credit cards.
Use Social for More
Think about Chase's problem in "social" terms: The bank failed to leverage what mattered most to students, making it nearly impossible to prompt them to apply for its card in a social environment. For instance, the bank didn't design a system that hooked and followed up with students. In effect, Chase didn't generate applications on leads that could be pursued and closed. It simply got exposure for the new card.
At the time, this campaign was heralded as a win based on the number of fans generated and the involvement of several hundred student "ambassadors" who weighed in. These students gave feedback on how the Facebook program was designed, but this kind of listening merely amounts to a digital focus group—market research. It wasn't part of a sales-focused process.
Paul Adams, Facebook's global brand experience manager, puts it very bluntly when he says, "We're still seeing the fans and followers arms race—businesses trying to gather as many fans as possible. But I think that's fundamentally wrong."
When asked if there is too much focus on the total number of Twitter followers, friends or Facebook "likes," he is equally blunt.
"Many brands run competitions on social media platforms. You have to 'like' or 'follow' that business to enter. So the question is whether they are making connections with advocates of their brands or with people who simply love competitions," says Adams in an interview with O'Reilly Radar.
Net Leads by Solving Customers' Problems
Using behavior to make sales takes planning and the proper tool set. For instance, prompting students to give insight on their needs and level of credit savvy would have allowed Chase to actively market the Chase +1 card to students more effectively. Doing so would have allowed the bank to take follow-up actions and move students toward applications. And that's not a new idea; it's elementary direct response marketing.
As another example, Chase provided CDs and other prizes students crave as an incentive to spread the word. But what if Chase provided students with useful information on first-time home buying, small business loans, maximizing credit, or avoiding the debt trap? What if the incentive to take action was useful information (similar to AnchorBank) that students really needed, rather than everyday trinkets? What if Chase designed its Facebook campaign much like it designs its traditional marketing programs?
Chase should have designed its Chase +1 Facebook campaign in a way that discovered specific needs of individual (or groups of) students. The bank could have set up a lead nurturing email or direct mail marketing routine for students who expressed need in 12 months or more. To accomplish this, the bank's team could have made use of known behavior patterns of students based on typical needs.
Students often use Facebook to share tidbits about their lives, but they use it to share useful information, too. A simple budgeting tool (application) has tremendous usefulness for most students, as would a widget providing daily tips on saving money or managing credit. By providing these kinds of tools within Facebook, Chase could have created reasons to interact directly with students who needed the Chase +1 credit card.
Starting dialog with prospects and turning friends and "likes" into leads and sales demand marketers give customers a tool that helps them solve important problems—like managing finances—in ways that ultimately prompt trials, applications, subscriptions and sales. It's a matter of earning customers' questions to which your products ultimately provide answers. This is precisely the formula you can use to generate leads and sales, starting tomorrow.
Jeff Molander is author of "Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell" and adjunct professor of digital marketing at Loyola University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and blogs at www.jeffmolander.com/blog and www.makesocialsell.com/blog