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Database marketing: How marketing struggles with social (and what to do about it)

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Database marketing: How marketing struggles with social (and what to do about it)

Marketing’s landscape is changing. The advance of digital media – social channels especially – has dramatically altered the ways prime prospects expect to be approached. Yet marketers can struggle to understand social. A key factor is adaptation difficulties; social requires people who are used to traditional database marketing, to follow unfamiliar strategies and deal with complex results in radically different formats.

But with vast potential to reach unique consumers with more relevant messages, an understanding of how to use the range of social capabilities as part of their marketing arsenal is crucial.

The problem: Why marketers struggle with social.

Marketers, while still pushing hard to master modern multi-channel marketing, at least had some maturity from the CRM space; tools and techniques they could largely trust. An individual’s multi-channel contact information and other related demographic, behavioural and lifestyle data could be brought together, to be understood before re-engaging the consumer in, ideally, a meaningful dialogue.

But social doesn’t work like that; it’s not as centralised, mature or predictable because:

  • Social is a patchwork of ever-changing, sprawling, independent networks.
  • Each social channel has a unique communications structure, rules and target audience.
  • It can be hard to address individuals directly unless they choose to follow you/ engage/ be a fan. Targeting an individual is often not possible.
  • Because of this, connecting with prospects requires much more manual work and time; automating social posting is rarely an option as it leads to more error than good, and is normally quite obvious.
  • There are organisational questions to resolve, such as do customer service or marketing own social, when 95% of the traffic are customer service related queries?
  • Consumers interact differently, they expect more dialogue.

Why do marketers need to use social?

Despite the differences and challenges social networking presents, data from social campaigns has the potential to:

  • Enhance understanding of unique consumers and segments.
  • Build a deeper brand relationship often through smart content and customer experience marketing.
  • Consider responding to insights from sentiment analysis (e.g. from solutions such as Aditive)
  • Maintain loyalty and trust.
  • Provide better, faster customer service.
  • Allow the adaptation of communications and product to accurately suit consumer interests.
  • Rapidly generate powerful customer feedback that can make significant differences to product development, production, pricing and the like.

There is more to an effective social campaign than basic activity however. The data generated through social is sprawling and complex, so continual reference to campaign aims must be made throughout planning and analysis. Goals avoid deviation – and there will be a lot of data to deviate into.

Marketers’ key goals should be to find, understand and engage the customers and prospects that are interested in them, so social campaigns – and social content – must be relevant, engaging and targeted to those prospects.

The solution: Understanding audiences for enhanced campaigns and targeting

Being relevant, engaging and targeted to the perfect audience is easily said, but how do marketers know who their interested social prospects are, and what those prospects want to learn or receive from them?

Using data, interests must be defined and audiences understood to get the message right:

  • Look at individuals’ profiles as starting points to establish good social campaign data on interest.
  • Monitor social media to establish existing followers and assess their interests.
  • Consult data sources other than social for a comprehensive picture. Customer databases and profile data from sample individuals will give an outline for ideal target audiences and their preferences.
  • Refine campaigns by establishing the networks that ideal prospects frequent and the subjects they speak about.
  • Understand audiences to know which social channels to prioritise. Key prospect preferences and habits should inform social network choice and activity.

Additional information on unique consumer preferences can be gained by matching email lists to Twitter and Facebook (two of the most openly accessible networks), and by using Klout to see how influential followers are/ where influencer’s common interests lie.

Interests may not follow as expected, so should be checked. If prospects follow a lot of travel accounts or particular technologies for example, these can be taken as interests and should be reflected in content marketing strategies when possible and relevant to brand message.

Get the message heard

Even with perfectly targeted content and interest-influenced messaging, marketers can still find social targeting a challenge.

Social sharing expands marketing reach but, while good messages encourage social sharing, encouraging the right people to share is tough. It’s easy to become lost in a sea of social profile data. To get the message heard:

  • Encourage the right people. Focus on influencers identified in customer databases to share targeted messages. Use integrated offline channels to contact existing customers who are socially active, but unaware of a particular social presence.
  • Connect to profiles aligned with brand message across networks; choose thought leaders, publications, journalists, and socially active individuals.
  • Use paid-for social ads to better segment and reach. Facebook Custom Audience works similarly to conventional database targeting, directing ads to chosen demographics and allowing uploaded email lists, phone numbers or Facebook ID’s. to match with the Facebook database. Recently, Facebook has worked to match real offline buying data, purchased from data providers, to evaluate the effectiveness of its ads.

Taking a step further, using data from data providers such as Acxiom allows even greater granular insight of audiences than Facebook segmentation alone, so can result in more effective ad click through and enhanced ad targeting. This is particularly powerful with direct 1:1 match marketing, where Acxiom securely and safely matches a brand’s consumers with those of a social network, combining the data collaboratively, to deliver significantly higher performance.

Take a considered view

Marketers who understand audiences, send messages at the right time, and adhere to good social practice will present a trusted, consumer-focused and available business demeanour. Yet there’s more to targeting than just social.

If you consider that large percentages of socially active consumers say nothing (and that perfect prospects may not even be online), it’s clear that social data alone cannot be relied on to dictate all decisions.

Ultimately, successful marketing campaigns will be the ones that know this, combining social data with information from other sources to inform targeting. A comprehensive, integrated view of customers and prospects must always be considered to consistently recognise the multichannel consumer’s preferences. No matter the channels, this will not change.


About The Author

This article was written by Jed Mole, European Marketing Director at Acxiom a data analytics and software-as-a-service company.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley, former CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), is Founder and CTO of Crucial Point LLC, a technology research and advisory firm providing fact based technology reviews in support of venture capital, private equity and emerging technology firms. He has extensive industry experience in intelligence and security and was awarded an intelligence community meritorious achievement award by AFCEA in 2008, and has also been recognized as an Infoworld Top 25 CTO and as one of the most fascinating communicators in Government IT by GovFresh.