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How Customer Habits Play into Your Social CRM Strategy

In order to create a successful CRM strategy, you need to know that habits of your customers. Many businesses have been merely reacting to the phenomenon of customers gaining control of the marketplace and media, learning as they go, but they were missing an understanding of the evolving social customer. Here are some questions that might have remained unanswered for these businesses, including yours:

  • Who are these people, demographically speaking?

  • What interests these customers most?

  • When does this social customer engage online?

  • Where are your customers?

  • How are consumers engaging with one another in new media?

Look at customers’ buying patterns

Marketers have long thought that consumers gathered several brands for consideration and then went through a narrowing-down process until one brand remained for actual purchase.

However, a consumer’s decision-making and buying process includes far more than a bucket of options to buy. Today, consumers don’t just narrow down their buying options. They add and eliminate brands during a longer period of consideration.

After they make a purchase, customers’ brand loyalty depends on their experience with the product and the company they purchased from or that made the product. Customers are comfortable terminating their relationship with a brand at any time. Also, throughout this process, consumers share their experiences with their social networks online.

Understand how customers use mobile devices

It takes just a few seconds to post to Facebook, Twitter, or any other social network. With the growing number of mobile devices and smartphones, consumers have an enormous amount of data at their fingertips.

Meeting social customers where they interact claims a crucial element of social CRM, and more and more, they’re using mobile devices for those interactions, as follows:

  • Consumers post, tweet, pin, blog, e-mail, and text from wherever they happen to be at that moment.

  • Consumers rely on their mobile devices to make educated buying decisions on the fly, often instead of asking a live salesperson for help. According to a study from Google, conducted by independent market research firm Ipsos OTX, 79 percent of those with a smartphone use their mobile device to help with shopping, and 70 percent use the smartphone for help while in the store.

Having all this information constantly available in real time empowers today’s consumers. Here’s a quick list of a few ways that social customers use mobile devices in the buying process:

  • Connect to their social network for recommendations.

  • Find store information.

  • Obtain and redeem coupon offers.

  • Compare prices.

  • Check for item availability.

  • Read store and product reviews.

Mobile consumers use their devices to locate stores, restaurants, movies, and other services nearby. According the same Google study mentioned previously, 9 out of 10 smartphone users took action based on a mobile search.

Think about your business, and how consumers are likely to use their phones in relation to your product or service. How can you improve on that experience? The answer may be an app, a mobile-enhanced website, or a more aggressive presence on existing apps like Yelp, Foursquare, and so on. Conduct market research to see what consumers are already doing, and find out where there’s a hole you can fill.

Understand the change in advertising

Individuals, not businesses, control much of the way advertising is consumed today. TV watchers can fast-forward through recorded advertisements when watching recorded shows. Today’s empowered consumers demand that ads offer attention-grabbing content, creativity, and innovation.

Traditional ads often prompt the social consumer to conduct mobile searches or connect to their online social network for information. Advertising is very different from what it was even a few years ago. A print ad is no longer a single entity. It’s tied to your digital and mobile presence as well.

Permission-based advertising grows as consumers become fed up with intrusive ads. E-mail marketing laws have led the way for opt-in advertising. The good news is that this shift to consumer-empowered advertising offers more targeted messaging opportunities. Advertisers can segment audiences and hyper-focus ads to cater to individuals’ preferred methods of receiving marketing messaging.

As technologies evolve and change, advertisers have to adjust quickly to stay in front of the right audiences. Channels like YouTube and Facebook empower DIY-style advertising for low budgets and high creativity. Advertisers need to tailor ads to be more personal and highly innovative to capture today’s social customer.

On social networks, customers provide a wealth of information. They willingly volunteer information about their interests, relationship, workplace, and more. All this data is available for your brand to use — you just need to put it into action.

Recognize how customers use social media

At the heart of social media is being social. The social customer accesses social media to connect with family and friends, seek out old friends, and make new relationships.

Often, a need for entertainment motivates social users to get online or open an app on their mobile device. Mostly, their attention is focused on the social network they’re interacting with. They’re alone and looking for something to grab their attention. If you plan carefully, that something may be your content, but keep in mind that a customer’s primary goal isn’t to view your ad.

Social customers are looking, first and foremost, for human, social connections, tapping into their established networks for advice, suggestions, and recommendations. They also vent, rant, and share honest opinions through multiple channels. They may also seek product reviews and customer feedback, or offer up their own opinions. All these actions are social in nature, even if they involve your brand.

When your brand provides value in this social context, social media offers a place for your business. Consumers search social media for tangible value, such as coupons, discounts, and so on.

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