Social CRM Starts With Best Customers

If best customers — approximately 20 percent of your customer base — account for 80 percent of sales, then one would think identifying and striving to create a unique experience for those shoppers would be the goal of nearly every marketer on the planet.

I’ve been reading a lot about social CRM recently. Lots of talk about combining data and intelligence from multiple channels, how to merge and understand structured and unstructured data, and the critical role algorithms play in helping brands anticipate a consumer’s next move. But what struck me most while reading through the numerous articles and analyst reports was the apparent lack of focus on identifying and catering to best customers.

If best customers — approximately 20 percent of your customer base — account for 80 percent of sales, then one would think identifying and striving to create a unique experience for those shoppers would be the goal of nearly every marketer on the planet.

While I’m not suggesting brands abandon their efforts to leverage social media to connect, engage and influence all consumers, I am suggesting they think more strategically around identifying best customers and creating unique and special experiences for those customers. So, how should brands approach such efforts? Start with the following basics:

  1. Listen: To build a unique and engaging experience, listen to and understand the kinds of conversations customers are having and, specifically, what they’re saying about your brand. Insights gained through listening can often identify a shared passion (be it travel, sports, music, finances, etc.) that’s essential in engaging best customers in ongoing conversations.

  2. Learn: If your brand has a loyalty program and robust data, you’re already a step ahead. If not, you’ll want to conduct some proprietary research across your best customers to understand how they use the social web, and to inform your segmentation and marketing strategy further. This research will also be critical in developing enhancements to your existing programs and developing new social programs that not only appeal to your segments, but offer value.

  3. Engage: By now you’ve gained a good understanding of your key customers and influencers. The next step is to build a truly unique and special experience for them, leveraging all touchpoints: website, email, customer service desk and presence on social networks. Take the time and effort to build a lifecycle communication program for every segment, paying attention to community management. Rethink your loyalty programs — perhaps shift your focus from promotions to rewarding best customers for participating with your brand — be it their community contributions, social network activity or brand advocacy.

  4. Influence: As you begin to engage your best customers, don’t forget the “social” in social CRM. Leverage social tools to facilitate and encourage sharing and brand advocacy. Flag and thank active customers, and reward them for their advocacy.

Finally, track and anticipate what’s coming next. The greatest benefit of focusing on your best customers is the ability to manage and execute based off the data. Amazing things begin to emerge when you not only know who your best customers are, what segment they fall in, what products they like and how often they use them, but also their email activity, loyalty/purchase activity and social activity.

By analyzing this data, leading brands can build algorithms that drive lifetime value and improve campaign and marketing performance across channels. So for all of your thinking about social CRM, remember that the first group you want socializing their experiences with your brand are your best customers. Make their experiences with your brand memorable, and arm them with incentives and tools that enable them to participate and advocate for your brand.