Thursday, August 23, 2007

Marketers start to use social networks for CRM instead of ads

An ADAGE article on Marketers start to use social networks for CRM instead of ads strengthens my understanding on the uses of social media as a tool catering to customer engagement, loyalty and satisfaction. The key objectives of CRM, at the end of the day are Customer Aquisition and Retention, and social media has offered tools to cater to each of these objectives by strengthening relationships, building networks and starting a two way communication process with the customers.

While the ad age article traces how first time product users can connect with experienced ones on these networks, creating a rich customer experience sharing platform, my article on how Corporate Blogs can make organisations customer centric had focussed on how auto giant General Motors had used its blog to maintain and nurture its relationships with its customers. By allowing companies to build product brands, create a customer-centric image, and by giving people a contact point by attaching a face or name they can interact with, corporate blogs serve as for a for consumer redressal and help build intrinsic relationships between the company and it's customers.

Social media and it's contribution to CRM maybe a subject of discussion today...but will definitely provide companies with a competitive edge, in the long term!!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The 5th P of marketing-Participation

After Product, Price, Place and Promotion, Mario Sundar aptly talks about Participation being the 5th element of the marketing-mix.

"If you were wondering where does Social Media Marketing fit into the classic “4 Ps of Marketing” model, check this out. Traditional 4 Ps of Marketing encompass Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Social Media as well as social networking sites enable the Promotion aspect, especially the Word of Mouth part of it. (Related question I posed on LinkedIn Answers — 44 answers). Subsequently, the Word-of-Mouth component enables the 5th P of Marketing - Participation."

As the Web 2.0 mantra-
Create, Publish, Share, Connect, Influence and Collaborate, focusses intrinsically on Participation, the same is fast emerging as a tool for marketers to promote products, build brand equity, engage customers, and track customer satisfaction.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Consumer Reviews and the brand.

Effect of Consumer generated reviews on web site metrics, for a few selected companies , as per a Social commerce report, 2007, from e-consultancy and bazaarvoice, reiterates my earlier post on 'Peer reviews and consumer behaviour'.Consumer generated reviews are becoming an important source of consumer product adoption process.

As per the report, surveying retailers in the U.S., the U.K. and Europe, the findings were as follows-

77% reported site traffic increases
56% reported improved conversion rates
42% reported higher average order values

At least 73% respondents felt that these reviews resulted in Improved customer retention and loyalty, while Improved site conversion rates and Better search engine optimisation stood out as the other benefits accrued with these reviews.

Social media is decidely fast emerging as a tool for organisations to gain competitive advantage over others.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Product reviews and the collaborative web

As customer/consumer reviews gain importance,and become an intrinsic component of the product adoption process, by influencing consumer behaviour, a google trend graph on these key terms looks like this-

Customer Review is denoted in Blue while Consumer Review in Red and Product Review in Yellow. The regions included in this trend chart are U.S.A, U.K., India, Australia and Canada.

For market intelligence to collect and disseminate information across the organisation, finding relevant information on products strengths and weaknesses can be undertaken through the following ways-

Independent customer goods and reviews,,,

Distributor or sales agent feedback

Combo-sites offering customer reviews and expert opinions-
The advantage of this type of review site lies in the fact that a product supplier can compare opinions from the experts with those from consumers.A search for the 'iphone' yielded 1015 resources while the 'Apple iphone' yielded 655 results!!!

Customer-complaint sites-

Putting Customer-reviews on company websites-As per a social commerce report,2007,published by e-consultancy and Bazaarvoice, surveying retailers in the U.S., the U.K. and Europe, the findings were as follows-
77% reported site traffic increases
56% reported improved conversion rates
42% reported higher average order values

Consumer Generated media and it's impact on Brand visibility, product purchase and increasing customer-share is a foregone conclusion.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Brand Monitoring Solutions and Corporates

Following my post on Building Brand Equity through Social Media my feedburner stats showed an incoming link from a Brand Monitoring Tool from Unilever.

As Consumer generated media, thanx to the interactive and engaging web, raises issues with respect to brand vulnerability, it is increasingly important for organisations to have mechanisms to manage their brands and respond to consumer dialogues. If companies fail to do so, others will, and in the process also create oppotunities for brand damage.

A case in point here is 'Activestandards', an automated brand monitoring tool, created by Magus, for Unilever to manage it's brand standards across it's global web presence.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Building Brand Equity through Social Media

Paul Legutko's discussion at Customerthink
"......, but simply the fact that someone is staring at your company logo and creative for a certain period of time. This has an inherent branding value, and "branding" is something both marketers and management understand......high-volume sites can have significant brand-equity."
and Jim Sterne's response regarding brand impact, awareness and brand character attribution, can further be applied to the way major corporates are using the power of social media to garner brand dividends.

Coke, Hindustan Unilever Limited, Proctor and Gamble, Nike, Nissan, Pepsi are part of a trend where a large number of corporates are creating online communities and social networking sites, taking advantage of the interactivity that the internet as a digital medium provides, to capitalise on the huge number of cybersurfers.

With humongous volumes of visitors on these sites, organisations have successfully mingled customer engagement with increasing brand familiarity and distinction and focussing on solution importance, to try and create customer loyalty.

Hindustan Unilever's( India's biggest consumer goods company) brainchild Sunsilk Gang of Girls, promoting the shampoo brand Sunsilk, has a total of 579899 members in 34122 gangs. This has evolved into a huge medium where people participate, give their views and are really bonding with the brand. By discussing commonplace issues like hair care, shampooing and conditioning, hair tips, hair biology and hosting hair gurus by tying up with hairstylists like Javed, Sunsilk GOG has struck a chord with the readers. By tying up with leading magazines like NewWoman and Cosmopolitan,and Marjorrie Orr at, Sunsilk GOG has been able to delve into areas of interest for women ranging from beauty tips to love quizzes to astrology and with to cater to their career aspirations. Typically catering to the youth interests of today, members can even watch funky music videos, download wallpapers and screensavers and participate in exciting contests, Sudoku and word search games.

With a traffic rank of 25,500 the Proctor and Gamble brainchild Beinggirl aims at engaging the female segment for P&G's products targetted for the female community. By giving females an opportunity to discuss issues close to their hearts, without giving up their identities, P&G has been able to provide a medium for interaction and developing relationships with its customers thereby facilitating brand loyalty. About 62% of the clientele of beinggirl is from China and 14% from the U.S.

Most of these sites, especially those catering to niche audiences, use the skills of online community managers to nudge the conversation, seed chat forums with threads, recruit others to take a lead in various topics, and monitor the dialogue

Nike's for football lovers, Coke's and Pepsi's pepsizone for young adventurers out to network, share photographs,videos,music and have fun, Nissan's community for car lovers discussing car models and their features......the list is endless......

Agreed that there are no ways to quantify brand loyalty as a result of such ventures, but as Paul said, as long as larger number of visitors can identify brands , logos and products, garnering brand dividends as a result of such ventures is a foregone conclusion.