How to Improve Reach, Influence and Relationship Management Via Mobile, Social Spaces
You may already know there are 5 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide. Under current trends, mobile phones will surpass PCs as the device most commonly used to access the web. You may be surprised to find out that 200 million people access Facebook through mobile devices. These people are twice as active on Facebook, so it appears that having internet access anytime, anywhere via a mobile device creates twice the engagement.
If you aren't already aggressively pursuing an integrated multichannel marketing strategy across the web, social and mobile channels, you're behind. But think of the good news: You have lots of increased consumer engagement and revenue to gain by getting aggressive now. Combining mobile and social with an existing, well-developed web presence offers three distinct areas of opportunity: reach, influence and relationship management.
The incredible reach offered by both the social and mobile spaces is based on the most fundamental principle of direct marketing: Go where your customers are instead of waiting for them to come to you. For a large number of people, their only online activity is social networking. The sheer volume of people engaging in all forms of social media — ratings and reviews, blogs, comments, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, crowdsourcing, etc. — underscores the opportunity.
Savvy marketers tie traditional websites and web marketing to their social efforts. For example, look at how many emails you receive that have “share to social” links. When email recipients share your email with their friends and followers, they significantly extend the reach of your email. Similarly, the “like” and “recommend” buttons on product detail pages extend the audience to people you otherwise wouldn’t reach.
This viral marketing on a brand’s behalf may lead to people becoming fans and followers through a social network before even visiting your website. And studies show that fans are significantly more likely to recommend a product to their friends.
The rise of smartphones and tablets opened a whole new channel for customer influence. With so many people accessing the web through mobile devices, optimizing your content for smaller screen sizes and mobile browsers and operating systems is a must. Many of the best content management systems include functionality that lets marketers repurpose and optimize web content for mobile devices.
Because app stores and apps have become so popular, many online retailers and brand sites are creating specific apps to optimize the user experience from mobile devices. These also become marketing vehicles unto themselves, as they increase awareness through placement on the mobile device home screen and with well-placed links to important pages in the app content itself.
Targeted messaging and promotions can be served to users while navigating these apps as well. The interconnectivity of mobile users to one another through texting, email and other engagement ensures deep influence of your target market through the viral activities of your customers.
Influence through social media is just as important and comes in many varieties, including flash sales. Many companies run flash sales that involve significant discounts. Brands require that a certain number of people like or otherwise engage with a promotion before it becomes activated. What's more, reviews — either through social networks or web pages — have a significant influence on a brand’s customers and prospects. Recent studies have shown that a very high percentage of purchases have a social influence driving them to some degree.
Relationship management is another opportunity for marketers to integrate social and mobile channels with existing websites. The most common form of this is a feedback loop — i.e., allowing comments on web pages and social walls. The tendency of many brands is to want to control and sanitize these conversations. Unfortunately, given the broadcast nature of social media, the conversation will happen with or without the participation and cooperation of the brand itself.
Instead of fighting the stampede of social commentary, embrace it. A great example is Best Buy’s Twelpforce on Twitter. Through Twelpforce, Best Buy enables its employees to answer questions posed by customers. The collective technical and product knowledge of Best Buy's workforce is huge. By unlocking this knowledge based in social media, Best Buy creates a responsive and deep customer relationship. By combining traditional online customer relationship management tools such as email and the new tools offered by social media, brands can best serve the needs of their customers.
Over a decade ago, the ability to add a website to traditional marketing channels represented a huge opportunity. Some of the early experiments missed the mark. But over time, marketers learned how to harness the web and generated amazing results. I’m convinced that the impact of these emerging channels will be as great as that of the web over the past 15 years.