At the Pardot Open House on July 28, I was able to chat with CRM guru Michael Thomas, and shared his thoughts on customer relationships in the age of social media. He was kind enough to share some information on the topic. Michael refers to customers as “social customers,” who, as a result of businesses evolving with technology, are different than customers were just a few years ago. Social customers are in the driver’s seat, and companies will have to engage with these saavy consumers on their own terms.

Michael shared three ways companies should be using Social CRM practices to engage their audience:

Marketing - Adding a social channel to your marketing efforts may be as easy as setting up a Twitter account or Facebook group to start out with but the key is to have activity around your brand and optimize your efforts for search so that people can find you. You should also make it easy for your customers to engage with you by including links on your website, blog and newsletter. Once you’ve started your social media campaigns, the ability to monitor what is being said about your brand and track effectiveness is important. To get started, try a simple setup such as using Google Alerts to monitor your company name and keywords. This will help you engage customers or diffuse negative feedback in a timely manner.

Marketing Automation Tip: Try driving to landing pages, tracked files or unique URLS (tracked through the Google Analytics connector) to measure clicks on materials you post through Twitter, Facebook or other social channels.

Sales - Once your company and products are found how are you engaging with the prospect to make sure strategies are in place to route to the proper sales person? Do you know the right behavior, web clicks and actions to keep their interests to entice them to buy? This could be as simple as tracking what they are looking at and if there is an area on your site where people can comment and rate your product. Taking the time to monitor this behavior will assist in integrating the action into your lead generation processes. Is your sales team on board with interacting with their prospects with social media tools?

Service – This is one of the key areas to address with social media because customers are known for expressing their opinions and frustrations over the web. Having a method to address their concerns early will prevent bad information from spreading quickly. Monitoring Twitter mentions and engaging with customers on updates, solutions, new features and other pertinent information will keep them in the loop and give them the confidence that you are aware of what is being discussed.

Marketing Automation Tip: For both sales and services, being able to track a prospect and their interactions with your website gives you a great advantage when trying to connect with them. Coupling their social media interaction with traditional tracked data such as page views and downloads gives sales a leg-up in the process. If someone has a problem or complaint, their browsing history may give you some insight into how to better alleviate their concerns. Marketing automation can help bring together traditional CRM practices with the new social media techniques forming social CRM.

Michael leaves us with a final thought:

Your relationship with customers is now on their terms, so go out and greet them, engage, listen and respond appropriately and effectively.

Michael Thomas is the National President of the CRM Association and Director of Social CRM Strategy for New Fire Social Media.

Laura Horton

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