Tag Archives: social media

Implementing Social Customer Relationship Management in Retail

One of the most important goals for retailers is to maintain long-term and profitable relationships with their customers. The construct Customer Relationship Management (CRM) started when retailers moved the orientation of their business from their companies to their customers. However, the advent of the internet, Web 2.0, and online social networks have disrupted the traditional way that retailers communicated with their customers.  Hence, Social Customer Relationship Management (SCRM) came to the fore because of the emergence of a “social customer”.

Social customers comprise the 2.8 billion* active social media users (Dr Dave Chaffey *, Smart Insights, 27 Apr, 2017). With these billions of social media users, retailers are no longer in control of customer relationships. Instead, customers and their highly influential virtual networks are now driving the conversation, which can trump a retailer’s marketing, sales and service efforts with their unprecedented immediacy and reach 1. However, social media needn’t to be a threat for retailers. Indeed, retailers that learn how to use social media technology to their advantage can gain valuable insights about the demographics and buying behaviour of their customers.

The use of technology for successful Social Customer Relationship Management

Social networks offer retailers practicing Social Customer Relationship Management masses of customers who group themselves around a brand 2. It is here, in these networks, that retailers can study the community’s behavior toward a brand or firm beyond purchase. The data originate from motivational drivers such as word-of-mouth activity, recommendations, customer-to-customer interactions, blogging, and the writing of reviews 3.

But retailers haven’t yet realized the opportunities of using their own data resources for Social Customer Relationship Management. Sandra Gittlen, mentioned  the following recently in CIO: “In an age where most companies have a social media presence on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Instagram, it’s somewhat surprising that many still haven’t figured out how to turn the data gathered from company-owned properties and broader social media listening tools into automated and actionable intelligence”.

Trainor, Andzulis, Rapp and Agnihotri, (2014) 4 identified four functional blocks enabled by social media technology that are particularly relevant in a CRM context:

  1. Sharing – refers to technologies that support how users exchange, distribute, and receive digital content (e.g., coupons, texts, videos, images, “pins” on Pinterest, etc.). This is similar to the concept of information reciprocity – the activities and processes that encourage customers to interact and share information – which has been shown to positively influence a firm’s ability to manage relationships.
  2. Conversations – represents technologies that facilitate a firm’s interactive dialog with and between customers (e.g., blogs, status updates on Facebook and Twitter, discussion forums, etc.) and capture the information from these dialog.
  3. Relationships – represents the set of technologies that enables customers (and businesses) to build networks of associations with other users (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Ning, Yammer, etc.) and allows organizations to utilize this network information.
  4. Groups – represents the set of technologies that support the development of online user communities centered on specific topics, brands, or products. Examples include SalesForce.com’s Ideaforce and Igloo’s Customer Community application software.

Integrating your Social Customer Relationship Management program with your marketing automation

SCRM deals with the strategies, processes and technologies that retailers can use to link the social web with their CRM strategy. According to Reinhold and Alt, (2012) 5, SCRM poses a challenge for large firms with numerous employees, market offerings and offices. Consequently, they need to discover the relevant conversation threads, synchronize information flows, initiate the appropriate actions and communicate at an individual level within millions of social web conversations.

However integrating SCRM with marketing automation is not impossible – you only need to start right. Malinda Wilkinson (DestinationCRM.com) advises that it’s important that your technology should always follow your process, not precede it. “Without this integration, it is difficult to create a consistent experience for your prospects and customers. And on top of that, too much time and too many resources will be drained trying to coordinate activities to ensure leads don’t fall through the cracks”, concludes Malinda.

Fitting your Social Customer Relationship Management program with your business philosophy

The success of an effective CRM system depends on the background marketing methods and business philosophy 2 of retailers. Therefore customer centricity should become the new strategic goal, where retailers build their brand and image together with their customers.

Linda Shea in AdAge.com proposes the following to become and remain a customer centric company:

  • Executives need direct interaction with customers. The key to executive buy-in, commitment and active support is first-hand knowledge and understanding of what is delivered to the customer, relative to their needs and desires.
  • All employees need to embody the intended customer experience. A narrative must be cascaded down to every single individual in the organization. Your employees must clearly understand their role in delivering the promise the narrative makes to the end customer.
  • Just say “no” to off-strategy ideas. Excitement abounds in most organizations with ideas and fresh thinking that may lead to new revenue streams. However, it is imperative to recognize that customer-centricity is not a destination but rather a multi-faceted, multi-year journey that will require laser-sharp focus, commitment and investment.

Concluding

Retailers that are not with their customers on the social networks will soon run out of customers. The Social Customer Relationship Management construct is customer centric by definition, giving retailers the opportunity, with the aid of marketing automation, to be part of the social media cloud.

Further reading:

  1. Finding Customers in the Vastness of the Internet
  2. Predictive Analytics helps Retailers to make sense of Big Data
  3. Demise of Loyal Retail Customers in the Digital Age

Notes:

1 Heller Baird, C. and Parasnis, G. 2011. From social media to social customer relationship management, Strategy & Leadership, 39(5):30-37.

2 Bagó, P. and Voros, P. 2011. Social customer relationship management, Global Journal of Enterprise Information System, 3(3):35-46.

3 Yoon, K. and Sims, J.D. 2014. Integrating Social Media and Traditional CRM: Toward a Conceptual Framework for Social CRM Practices, Harnessing the Power of Social Media and Web Analytics, IGI Global, Chapter 5:103-131.

4 Trainor, K.J., Andzulis, J.M., Rapp, A. and Agnihotri, R. 2014. Social media technology usage and customer relationship performance: A capabilities-based examination of social CRM, Journal of Business Research, 67(6):1201-1208.

5 Reinhold, O. and Alt, R. 2012. Social Customer Relationship Management: State of the Art and Learnings from Current Projects. In Bled eConference, 155-169.

Image:

Flickr.com

 

Selling to the Young Ones, Generation Z

The teens and tweens of today are a cohort of kids that doesn’t have a definitive name yet, however some have dubbed it Generation Z. Generation Z, the largest demographic cohort comprises 25% of the US population (Wikipedia, 2015).  They will start working by 2020 and earning lots of money that need spending. Therefore Generation Z should be taken seriously by retailers who need to know who they are and what their needs, wants and preferences are.

The characteristics of Generation Z

Generation Z was born after 1994 and is the newest generation. The generation has grown up surrounded by technology and are known to be highly connected with each other 1. A highlight of this generation is their ‘color-blindness’, their sensitivity to diverse cultures and personal differences 2. They are willing to embrace diversity to an unprecedented degree and are globally accepting. Although the Z Generation is go-getters and trendsetters, they guard their privacy fiercely. Rayan Scott contributing in Forbes underlines four characteristics that are critical to know about Generation Z:

  1. Technology – Generation Z has never known a world without smartphones and social media. They gobble up information quickly and are ready to move on to the next thing in an eye blink.
  2. Privacy – they are less interested in sharing their lives for the public record. Anonymous social media platforms are more appealing to them than Facebook.
  3. Cultural diversity – Gen Z embraces multiculturalism as a touchstone of who they are, and this also informs their attitudes on social issues.
  4. Pragmatism – growing up in an uncertain world, and being raised by Generation X parents whose own prospects seemed stunted by less exuberant times, this generation is drawn to safety.

How will these distinct characteristics of Generation Z influence their shopping behaviour?

The shopping behaviour of Generation Z

Although most of them do not earn money, Generation Z is influencing almost all of the household purchasing decisions 3.  They are a group that is heavily influenced by friends, bloggers and social media, according to Farla Efros, president of HRC Retail Advisory. Teens are becoming to act more like adults in their everyday life and this also translates into their purchasing decisions. Tweens on the other hand are still too young to make their independent purchasing decisions. Chain Store Age reported the following findings of a recent study by HRC:

  • Gen Z shoppers like malls – 72% of Generation Z respondents (kids 10-17) and millennial parents with kids said they visit a mall or shopping center at least once a month.
  • Gift vouchers are popular – 69% of Generation Z children would rather receive a gift voucher for their birthday, further proving their desire to make their own purchase decisions.
  • Social influences are more important than celebrity endorsements – Gen Z shoppers tend not to be strongly influenced by celebrity endorsements from athletes, actors and singers. However, over 61% of their purchase decisions are most strongly influenced by friends, with 13% being influenced by bloggers.
  • Social media plays a major role in purchasing decisions – approximately 50% of Gen Z shoppers surveyed use social media while they shop. Of time spent social media, most popular is Facebook (61%), followed by YouTube (38%) and Instagram (24 %).

Concluding

A new generation cohort becoming retail customers, such as Generation Z, brings with them a unique perception of life and their norms, values and beliefs. From 2020, Generation Z will make out 40% of the economic active population in the US. Time to get ready for them is quickly running out. Importantly, retailers have about three years to prepare themselves for the ‘Age of Generation Z.’

Read also about the shopping behavior of older people ” Shopping Behavior of The Baby Boomers “. And something in general about generational cohorts “ Demographic Segmentation – Dividing the Market by Generations

Notes

1 Paakkari, A., 2016. Customer Journey of Generation Z in fashion purchases: Case: LMTD.

2 Mathur, M. and Hameed, S. 2016. A Study on Behavioural Competencies of the Z Generation, In International Conference on Management and Information Systems, 23: 24.

3 Cruz, M. 2016. Generation Z: influencers of decision-making process. The influence of WOM and Peer Interaction in the Decision-Making Process, Master’s Thesis, Católica Porto Business School.

Images:

1 Flickr.com

2 Flickr.com

Retail Customers use of Social Media Sites

Social media have created one of the most exciting and efficient opportunities for retailers to reach their customers. It also offer great opportunities for the owners of social media networking sites to get ‘pay per click’ income  when retailers post ads on the sites and visitors click on the ‘buy’ buttons to buy stuff.

That is why all popular social media networking sites such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter recently have added the ‘buy’ button to their sites. They did it to make online shopping easier for their users, and to make some money…

According to Anna Torres writing in the ChannelAdvisor, Twitter is backing off the easy-click purchase strategy. Maybe retail customers don’t like doing shopping on Twitter’s site?

How do retail customers use social media sites?

The customers of retailers visit specific social media sites for the following reasons:

  • Facebook – as of the first quarter of 2016, Facebook had 1.65 billion monthly active users (Statista). So retail customers use Facebook because everyone else is using it.
  • Google Plus – is an interest-based social network that is owned and operated by Google Inc. Similar to Facebook, Google Plus allows customers to add events, invite people, and then share photos and media;
  • Instagram, owned by Facebook  is a free online photo sharing and social network platform. It is a fun and quirky way for people to share their life with friends through a series of pictures.
  • Pinterest was founded by Ben Silbermann, Paul Sciarra and Evan Sharp. It is a visual bookmarking tool that helps customers to discover and save creative ideas.
  • Twitter, founded by Jack Dorsey – is a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent messages. Fifty nine percent of Twitter users turn to the platform to catch up on news.

Retail customers use Twitter  differently compared to what they do with the other social media sites. By mainly reading, listening to and viewing the latest news, they seem to have less appetite for shopping, avoiding Twitter’s buy buttons…

Visit eBizplan for help in developing your online retail business.

How to use LinkedIn as a Marketing Tool

LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking service that is mainly used for professional networking.  LinkedIn has around 400 million acquired users in more than 200 countries and territories. The basic functionality of LinkedIn allows users (workers and employers) to create profiles and “connections” to each other in an online social network. Lasting professional relationships can so be created. Users can invite anyone (whether a site user or not) to become a connection.

According to iMedia Connection, LinkedIn Groups can be used as a marketing tool for connecting and communicating throughout the marketing industry. iMedia Connection suggests a number of ways that marketers can use LinkedIn Groups to their advantage.

Participate consistently with LinkedIn

Like anything else, you wouldn’t just run one ad for your new product or service. If you believe the improved LinkedIn groups are target-rich environments, then you need to focus your efforts to establish yourself as an authority. Make sure you are responding to articles from others and providing strong and objective feedback. Engage with the members and build your reputation within the group.

Networking with LinkedIn

LinkedIn groups can be used as a networking platform. However the groups are not ideal platforms to sell something from. Likewise, the groups are  not the place to pitch or acquire social contacts or email subscribers.

The best way to make use of LinkedIn groups is to use your time by engaging in conversation and building meaningful relationships.

Find great moderators

Marketers can use LinkedIn groups to their advantage by creating highly relevant groups that provide content of value. Active members who are posting interesting and helpful discussions separates a good group from a great group.  The success of a group depends of the how it is facilitated by its moderator.

Create valuable content

The content of group is of more value when it members participate frequently. Therefore, group members should take an active role in making the content on the groups more valuable. Importantly, new members will be attracted to the group and existing members will choose to stay. The members of the groups become more engaged and the content becomes more valuable since discussions aren’t as public.

Grab attention with images

The first question to answer is “What does your LinkedIn profile picture say about you?” A picture is worth a thousand words. It will take a fraction a a second for someone to draw conclusion about you by looking at your photo.

Try to create your own images. Also, grab attention with images as you do on other social streams, attract industry influencers and engage them with mentions, and get direct access to member’s inboxes with “highlight” emails.

Visit eBizplan for more on business plans and marketing plans.

 

Why Retailers Need to Blog

A blog page is a cost effective platform that retailers can use to interact with their customers. As a result, customers are increasingly making their final decision to buy a product by reading reviews. Also, they interact with other on the blog-page to help them with their purchase decision.

Why should a retailer have a blog?

A short answer for the above question is that it is is the space where a retailer’s customers and prospects are.  Further reasons are:

  • It offers the opportunity for retailers to communicate and interact with a large number of people at a relatively low cost.
  • Customers search the web for information about products, and what other people comment about them, also if people endorse or object products. Moreover, retailers who are blogging, can communicate  first-hand information about products to their customers.
  • The comments and reviews customers post may help retailers to identify what their customers need and where retailers can improve their business.
  • Retailers can use their blogging websites for public relations purposes. It is a useful platform for a retailer to talk to its customers and to get feedback from them.

If a retailer’s blog-page is not kept up to date, her customers may look elsewhere to find what they want.  For this reason you need to evaluate your website  and put a strategy in place to manage your blog. Finally, if you do not have a blog, you should start one now…

If you need help with business plans of marketing plans, please visit www.ebizplan.co.za.

 

The Role That Social Media Plays In Driving Online Retail Sales

Social media driven retail sales and referral traffic are rising at a faster pace than all other digital marketing channels.

The link between social media and retail sales

For millions of retail customers the social media has become an important part of their social lives. They use social media applications such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn to generate content by reviewing companies and criticize or recommend products or retailers.

The fast growth in the number of word of mouth content on social media has provided customers with new sources of product information.  This trend is important for online retailers because their customers trust the opinions of peers in the online communities more than retailers advertising their products.

The role of social media in online retail

Cooper Smith in The Business Insider (India) discussed a recent report by BI Intelligence. He notes the following about social media’s role in online retail:

  • Social is driving much bigger increases in retail traffic than any other online channel. Social media increased its share of e-commerce referrals nearly 200% between the first quarters of 2014 and 2015.
  • For retailers to maintain social gains, they will need to pay special attention to mobile device users. Social media users are 35% less likely to share a brand’s or retailer’s social post on a mobile device than they are on desktop computers.
  • Facebook continues to grow its lead as the dominant social commerce platform. Facebook accounts for 50% of total social referrals and 64% of total social revenue. The site’s changing demographics could make older consumers a strong target for retailers leveraging the platform.
  • Pinterest is a major social commerce player despite a relatively small user base. The pinning platform drives 16% of social revenue despite an audience 6.5 times smaller than Twitter. New buy and action buttons on retailer posts should make Pinterest an even stronger referral and revenue engine for brands.
  • Twitter is losing its influence for mass-market merchants, but it could still have a role to play among sporting and events marketers, especially for location-based promotions. Recently, NFL and NBA teams have used Twitter to sell game tickets and merchandise.
  • Instagram doesn’t drive significant sales activity for retailers but high-end companies have been leveraging the platform for branding purposes. New Buy buttons on paid posts, as well as increased targeting capabilities, could make the app a more important direct-response driver.

How should online retailers react to social media?

The social media has empowered the customers of retailers. Many retailers see this empowerment as a threat to their businesses because they lose control and negative online content about their products or brand may hurt their reputation. The traditional marketing approach is not appropriate for retailers trying to communicate with their customers in social media communities.

Visit my website www.ebizplan.co.za if you want assistance with writing a business plan or a marketing plan.

Image: pixabay

Use the Humanity of Facebook to Boost your Retail Sales

Facebook offers a number of opportunities to connect with literally millions of potential users or customers that may increase the number of visitors to your website.

The ‘humanity’ of Facebook

It is hard to comprehend the number of people that are connected to Facebook- 1.4 billion active users as of the first quarter of 2015. However, because we are human beings, the numbers should not surprise us.

The key to the popularity of Facebook may be best described by quoting Atul Gawande: “Human beings are social creatures. We are social not just in the trivial sense that we like company, and not just in the obvious sense that we each depend on others. We are social in a more elemental way: simply to exist as a normal human being requires interaction with other people.”

Your business needs to interact with other people.

Get friends on Facebook

You need friend to spread the message of your business. Use Facebook’s friend-finder app to see who you can invite to become your Facebook friend.

To make sure you get more friend requests and subscribers, be sure to share your personal profile link publicly on your website, blog, forums, and other social profiles.

Invite your personal Facebook friends to like your business page

Once you have established your Facebook friends, you should invite them to ‘like’ your business page.  A visitor that ‘liked’ your business page has an interest in your business and wants to hear more from you. Your friends on can invite their friends to like your page.

Socialize with your friends on Facebook by:

  • Wishing them ‘happy birthdays’;
  • Sending them private messages;
  • Participate in online social groups that your friends are members of;
  • Suggest your page to friends.

If you need assistance with your online business strategy or digital marketing strategies visit eBizplan.

Image: pixabay

It Pays For Retailers To Please Their Customers

Retailers need to be outstanding in order to please their customers.

Overall, retailers succeed to please their customers

The Wise Marketer reports that the overall satisfaction of retail customers has grown 23% over the past six years.  They ascribed this growth to the increasing use of digital technology by Brick and Mortar retailers.

The onset of digital technology and the internet has given retailers the opportunity  they want. Retailers can now satisfy the need of each individual customer in a personalize manner.

Why are retail customers more satisfied?

Retail customers are nowadays more satisfied because:

  • They have more choices how to buy their products – in the store, online or both.
  • They have a larger variety of products to choose from, and can easily compare product prices on the internet.
  • Customers can either visit a retail store to touch, feel and try the product, If they are not sure about a product. However, they can get more information online about the product.
  • They are eager to join social websites such as Facebook and are not afraid to share their experience with a retail store or products with their virtual communities.
  • The outstanding retailers will be complimented and even may even enjoy positive reviews by their satisfied customers on social media sites.

Why should retail customers be satisfied?

Customer satisfaction refers to the degree a customer is happy about a retailer’s products and service.  As customers satisfaction increase, they become more loyal to the retailer and also advocate its brands.

The retailers are making more successful use of the internet and the interactivity that it offers to get more of their customers satisfied and eventually loyal to them…

Image: flickr.com