By adaptive - July 29th, 2014

Personalisation has been radically altered in the age of social media and businesses need to adapt

The age of social media has dramatically changed the way brands interact with their customers. Social networks offer rich resources of information that can be used to make conversations with consumers personal and attuned to their preferences.

Social media is awash with the passions, loves, hates, moods and preferences of a billion lives and corporations are in a unique position to use this data to create personalised customer interactions and create a lifetime of customer advocacy.

The major social networks of LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube hold a combined user base of over two billion people. That’s the needs, desires, choices and buying decisions of two billion customers sitting within the folds of these social giants. It’s like the gold rush of the 19th Century as brands gallop towards this data, trying to find the best possible tools to mine it, woo it and make it their own.

In the infographic provided by My Optimid, it shows some of the most successful strategies for capturing the consumer as well as some pretty impressive statistics including:

  • Posts longer than 1500 words receive more tweets and likes than their shorter counterparts.
  • Infographics are still winning, growing traffic an average of 12% more for those who use them versus those who don’t.
  • Videos can increase conversions by 86%, keep customers on the site up to two minutes longer and websites with video are 50 times more likely to be ranked on Google’s first page.
  • Email marketing is a surprisingly strong contender with better click-through rates of 14% if personalised.

Social Personalisation

It’s personal. It’s business

Consumers are bombarded with information every day, on every platform. Email, Internet, mobile, television, radio – each of these is blaring a message and asking them to pay attention. Your corporation needs to make this communication feel personal so that the consumer doesn’t feel like they are another box to tick or cog in the machine.

“Social media itself is consumer centric,” says Jason Perelson, head of social media at Boomtown. “The brand that recognises this from the outset will achieve far greater results than those who purely use the digital space for direct marketing and brand messaging, as if it were a traditional media space.”

The first step is for the corporation to commit to a strategy that engages with the consumer on a regular basis and to ensure that response times are swift, and messaging is clear.

Consumers know when a complaint or message is generated by a machine or an internal codex and don’t respond well to it, regardless of the situation. If your business wants to develop personalised interactions on the service desk with social media, then it needs to place human beings behind those desks, people who can communicate with the consumer and build relationships.

Research undertaken by Genesys, Greenfield Online and Datamonitor/Ovum found that enterprises in the United States lose around $83 billion annually from poor customer service and that 71% of consumers have ended a relationship for the exact same reason. On the flip side, 78% of consumers labelled their most satisfying experience as one that resulted from competent customer service. So how does this relate to improved customer interactions?

The most common problems that had consumers labelling an experience as poor service included:

  1. Being trapped in automated self-service.
  2. Representatives don’t know history and value.

“Generating personalised customer interactions comes down to hard work and technology,” says Fran Muiños, Social Media Manager at STD-Multiopción. “Technology will help you filter through customer responses and listen to what’s important and you can use these insights to generate personalised interactions. Clear training on social communications is essential for success.”

If a failure to respond via social channels leads to a 15% increase in customer churn then the second step towards improved customer interaction is to have a proper social system and staff.

“I think it helps to take a personalised approach to the organisation and staff,” says Estelle Nagel, Head or PR for Gumtree in South Africa. “At Gumtree, everyone has a voice at the boardroom table. We have great business minds with great emotional IQs and because the staff doesn’t feel like a number, customers don’t either. It gets passed down.”

Digital Marketing Statistics

Customer value

There are plenty of examples of how a company has undervalued social and placed a junior member of staff onto social media management. Interactions reflect this immaturity and don’t lend themselves towards customer loyalty. Comcast are a great example of doing social really well by giving their staff their own social media identities. Now consumers know they are talking to a real person who will talk to them as if they are real people.

“The ability to generate personalised customer interactions also depends on the scale of the business,” says Emma Lovell, Director of Lovellly Communications and Digital Media Manager at TLC Publicity. “A company like Coca-Cola is going to struggle to have personal communication, however, their name on the bottle campaign was an excellent way to speak to people individually.”

The third step is to examine how customers interact on social media and to use this insight to create personalised experiences. Trends in customer patters and set behaviours allow for more precise analysis and understanding.

“Customers who have only ever used online channels such as web chat are unlikely to respond well to a phone call, and those who have only ever called are unlikely to deal with you over the Internet,” says Dave Ogden, Customer Engagement Consultant at Aspect Software. “It’s about spotting customer behaviour and acting accordingly. Tesco and Amazon have been very clever with their customer analysis and really could be considered leaders in the field in buying behaviours and the propensity to take additional products and services based on customer history.”

The bleached bones of businesses that failed to engage with their customers and adapt to trends litter the timelines: Woolworths didn’t get online fast enough and Blockbusters were trampled by the superior services of Netflix.

According to JiWire, 80% of mobile internet users would prefer adverts that are relevant to them locally and 62% of adults are willing to share their location in order to receive more relevant content. Consumers are fairly welcoming of brand conversations as long as they talk to them.

Finally, for corporations to develop personalised interactions they need to deploy tools that capture, analyse and then map the personal data of individuals that are interesting and relevant.

“Once you understand who you need to talk to, understand what it is what they want to hear and are clear about whether or not you know these individuals, it is easier to sell to them,” says Alan Smith, Head of Customer Engagement, DIGIVIZER. “You can create communication packages for them and you become more relevant and credible. What’s valuable is real-time analysis of the conversations and what sits behind these.”

Personalisation has to walk alongside value. Customers will provide you with the information you need to create better communication, but they need to see the value to them. Demonstrate this and you can gain access to this gold mine and, to extend the metaphor, step away from panning for a few nuggets of information and into the shaft where the motherload lies.

“It is important for brands to move away from thinking and acting like brands that are desperate to sell their products to the space of being a trusted opinion leader and content creator that fulfils the needs of the customer,” says Veli Ngubane, Creative Director at Avatar.

Use the information your corporation has gathered to measure the results of future campaigns and ensure that what you are saying remains relevant to your customers. Adapt communications to swiftly changing trends and provide bridges between the customer, your brand and the product so they become engaged in the process. Amazon allows for endless customisation and personalisation by both the company and the product and as a result remains a market leader in customer loyalty and brand identity.

In the third and final part of this series we will be asking the experts how to create customer interaction experiences across all marketing channels and what mistakes to avoid.


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