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It take a community to raise brand advoates.pdf


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It take a community to raise brand advoates.pdf

  1. 1. White Paper August 2009 It Takes a Community to Raise Brand Advocates: Integrating E-mail and Social Media to Create a Better Customer Communication Strategy TABLE OF CONTENTS: The Straw that Stirs the Marketing Mix.................................... 3 Brand Advocating and the Social Bubble.................................. 4 From First-Time Buyer to Brand Advocate................................ 5 Nurturing the Individual and the Community............................ 7 Recommendations from e-Dialog............................................. 8 © 2009 e-Dialog, Inc. All Rights Reserved. ED313 Page 1
  2. 2. Executive Summary According to Forrester Research, Inc., by the end of 2009 more than 85% of online consumers will be reading or viewing social content1. The day that social networking reaches near-ubiquitous adoption is fast approaching, and the pace will only quicken as brands move beyond experimenting with social networking and begin focusing on business impact. If you are like many e-mail marketers today, you have been tasked with understanding how to leverage social networking and make it profitable. And why not – after all, you did such a great job transforming e-mail into the company’s most profitable marketing channel! But there’s another, even better reason why you might just be the right person for the job. When you think of social media, most likely it is applications like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube that immediately come to mind. And there are hundreds of other examples, with new tools being introduced every day. E-mail is probably not at the forefront of that list, yet it is an example of social media that simply pre-dates the terminology. And because of its maturity and widespread adoption, e-mail is uniquely positioned to help you tap into the new breed of social media. In this paper you will learn why, despite the explosive growth of social media, e-mail remains at the center of most brands’ marketing communications strategies. You will also gain insight into the unique strategic relationship between e-mail and social media. We will explain why integrating these two channels provides your brand with a better customer communication strategy, one that allows you to nurture the individual customer and the social community. Recommended Reading: Enabling, Listening, and Leveraging: Best Practices for Integrating E-mail and Social Media Channels, published by e-Dialog, Inc. August 2009 1 Top Social Computing Predictions for 2009 January 27, 2009 © Forrester Research, Inc.© 2009 e-Dialog, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Page 2
  3. 3. The Straw that Stirs the Marketing Mix While social networking has enjoyed monumental growth over the last two years, e-mail has continued to move towards the core of most brands’ marketing communications strategies. Several key factors are motivating this shift towards e-mail centered customer communications: Ubiquitousness: According to Forrester Research, 90% of the US population uses e-mail, with the number expected to grow from 145 million in 2009 to 153 million in 20142. That puts e-mail virtually on par with television, radio, and direct mail with regards to consumer access. Cost-effectiveness: The impressive return on investment of e-mail is well documented – in 2008, the Direct Marketing Association calculated it to be $45.06 for every dollar sent. Although 2009 projects it to be $43.52, the second year in a row in which e-mail ROI has experienced a slight decline, it is still vastly superior to the ROI of any other marketing channel. The decrease can be at least partially attributed to the increase in investment in e-mail marketing year over year.Want to learn more about Expectation of the channel: According to a survey recently conducted by e-Dialog International3,our 2009 European E-mail only 2% of respondents between the ages of 18 and 24 prefer to be contacted about new products viaAttitudes survey? Contact social networks. This compares with 66% who prefer to be contacted via e-mail. Furthermore, in thean e-Dialog International same age group, 62% said they are more likely to make a purchase online after receiving a promotionrepresentative at e-mail, compared with only 24% if the same communication was made via social media. This shows that for social networks, the emphasis is on social interaction. E-mail is strongly recognized as the appropriate channel for commercial communication. Measurability: E-mail trumps the traditional marketing channels like television and radio based on its ability to produce compelling metrics based on real data. As an e-mail marketer you can clearly illustrate how each e-mail sent converts to sales and provide an accurate measurement of each campaign’s return on investment. Television, radio, and even social media are relied on primarily for building brand awareness; at least until a reliable social media metric is identified. One-to-one communication: E-mail truly separates itself from television, radio, direct mail, and all other channels based on its ability to target messages to customer needs and preferences. This is also why e-mail is the only channel ideally engineered for customer retention. E-mail is perfectly suited for the job of moving consumers along the customer lifecycle, from first-time buyer to loyal customer to brand advocate. In fact, by 2014 nearly three-fourths of the $2 billion spent on e-mail marketing is expected to specifically address customer retention4. It is in this area – the task of moving consumers along the customer lifecycle – that e-mail and social media share a unique strategic relationship among all other channels. Although e-mail and social media are powerful channels that work differently, they do share a common goal: convert customers into brand advocates and provide them with the means to advocate on your behalf. 2 US Email Marketing Forecast, 2009 To 2014 June 12, 2009 © Forrester Research, Inc. 3 2009 European E-mail Attitudes Survey © e-Dialog, Inc. 4 US Email Marketing Forecast, 2009 To 2014 June 12, 2009 © Forrester Research, Inc. © 2009 e-Dialog, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Page 3
  4. 4. Brand Advocating and the Social Bubble Your company’s social network is not just an average everyday community of consumers. Rather, it is a highly engaged community that is made up of your company’s best customers. Social media users remain very selective as to who they engage in their community, and spend considerably less time engaged in social media created by and about brands (see figure 1). Which means if a user chooses to connect with your brand, it is safe to assume that he or she think highly of your products and services; enough to warrant a connection normally reserved for personal relationships. It is in your brand’s best interests to treat these users as best customers. Figure 1: Time Spent on Branded versus Personal Social NetworksIf blogs are the foundation of Furthermore, customers connected with your brand in social networks have already expressed asocial media, what does that willingness to advocate on your brand’s behalf. By being inside what we refer to as the “socialmake e-mail? Author and veteran bubble” (see figure 2) your best customers are actively posting in blogs, sharing information viatechnology journalist Paul Gillin Facebook and MySpace, tweeting thoughts and opinions, posting videos to YouTube, and more. Theshares his opinion on page 6. most active users fancy themselves to be authorities on the topics they love. They want to be heard and they want something to talk about – so how do you get them talking about your brand? Figure 2: The Social Bubble When customers are connected with your brand in social networks, they are inside what we refer to as the “social bubble.” CREATOR By virtue of being inside the bubble, these POSTS LINKEDIN customers have expressed a willing- CRITIC TWITTER ness to advocate on behalf of your brand PROMOTIONS COLLECTOR using any number of social media tools. FACEBOOK JOINER The rings within the bubble illustrate the BLOGGING different degrees of customer involvement BEBO SPECTATOR in social activities, from inactive users YOUTUBE INACTIVE REVIEWS to spectators (e.g., customers who read blogs or frequent YouTube) to creators MYSPACE PLAXO COUPONS of social content (e.g., customers who EVENTS FRIENDSTER write online reviews or manage a personal blog). This idea was popularized by Forrester Research’s “Groundwell” concept.6 5 Social Brand Strategy December 17, 2008 © Forrester Research, Inc. 6 Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff © 2008 Forrester Research, Inc. Published by Harvard Business Press © 2009 e-Dialog, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Page 4
  5. 5. From First-time Buyer to Brand Advocate Earlier in the paper we talked about e-mail being the channel that is ideally engineered for customer retention, perfectly suited for the job of moving consumers along the customer lifecycle. E-mail is able to leverage multi-faceted customer information – demographics, online and offline behavior, preferences, and more – in order to segment audiences and intelligently target the individual customer’s needs at a given point in time. These meaningful interactions become touch points along the customer lifecycle, effectively moving customers through the important stages: from first-time buyer to repeat purchaser, loyal customer, and eventually, brand advocate. This is one way in which e-mail is an enabler of your brand’s social networking success – it is the channel that most effectively creates your brand advocates. E-mail moves customers along the lifecycle and eventually” pushes” them into the social bubble, eliciting the desire to promote and providing tools with which your best customers can advocate on your brand’s behalf (see figure 3). Figure 3: E-mail Pushes Brand Advocates into the Social Bubble LOYAL BRAND REPEAT CUSTOMER AVOCATE PURCHASER FIRST-TIME BUYER The e-mail channel has the key responsibility of orchestrating the customer lifecycle: ideally moving your customer from a first-time buyer to repeat purchaser, loyal customer, and eventually, brand advocate. In this way e-mail is an enabler of your social networking success, as it helps to create the brand advocates who will become active within the social bubble. At the same time, e-mail invites customers to participate in social networking activities, and encourages them to create share-worthy content that can be used to further promote your brand and its products. In other words, e-mail provides a “push-pull” effect that significantly boosts your social networking strategy. Consider the impact of the call to action in these “social” e-mail campaigns:Want to learn more about • Write an online review for a recently purchased product or completed serviceintegrating e-mail and social • Share the link to an entertaining video or online game with friends and familymedia? Request our best practices • Join a community of users who actively blog about your products and servicespaper: • Sign up to receive tweets from a personality closely associated with your brand • Embed applications that enable easy sharing across multiple social networks As you can see, the push-pull effect isn’t just about moving brand advocates into the social bubble. It’s also about filling the social bubble with content that is share-worthy. Remember, with e-mail you are managing a highly individualized and captive audience. It only makes sense to engage them in opportunities to be active in your social networks: writing reviews, distributing promotions, sharing viral content, and more. Word-of-mouth and advocacy marketing begins with your best customers, and e-mail is the most direct channel available for you to reach them. © 2009 e-Dialog, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Page 5
  6. 6. Opinion Is E-mail the Foundation of Your Social Media Program? by Paul Gillin, Principal of Gillin Communications I like to think of blogs as the cinderblocks of social media. That isn’t an insult; blogs are the founda- tion of nearly everything that people do in the so-called Web 2.0 world. If blogs are the cinderblocks, then e-mail is the mortar. You simply can’t have an effective social media program without an e-mail component, but you must treat this tool differently than any other media. Consider these factors: Paul Gillin, a veteran technology Most people live in their inboxes. For business professionals and adult consumers alike, the inbox journalist, was the founding remains the springboard into all online activities. That isn’t going to change anytime soon. editor-in-chief of TechTarget and was the editor-in-chief and executive editor of ComputerWorld E-mail is the most personal of all digital media. Social networks, blogs and Twitter are great at for 15 years. Since 2005, he has delivering a message to many people, but when you want to get down and personal, you write an advised marketers and business e-mail. executives on strategies to optimize their use of social media and online channels to reach buyers cost- E-mail is a contract. When someone grants you the right to interrupt them occasionally with a effectively. He is a popular speaker message, it’s an acknowledgment that there is value in what you say. An opt in e-mail list is the and author of two books: The New foundation for an ongoing two-way conversation between a business and its constituents. Treasure it. Influencers: A Marketer’s Guide to the New Social Media and Secrets E-mail demands special treatment. Social media permits us to share our thoughts and experiences of Social Media Marketing: How with the knowledge that people who don’t care won’t pay attention. to Use Online Conversations and Customer Communities to Turbo- Charge Your Business. E-mail is more invasive, and that means it must be used more carefully. When people give you permission to send them e-mail, they’re granting you the right to a relationship, no matter how tenuous. You must take special care never to abuse that privilege. Use it as an opportunity to engage in a mutually rewarding conversation in which every interaction has value for the recipient. I love social media, but my most intimate relationships invariably have an e-mail component. As you construct your social media marketing strategy, remember the importance of good mortar to a solid foundation.© 2009 e-Dialog, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Page 6
  7. 7. Nurturing the Individual and the Community It’s true that social networks have significantly altered the landscape of advocacy marketing by enhancing the voice of the customer. In fact, most experts believe the balance of power has shifted once and for all from the marketer to the customer community. But brands must not overlook the importance of marketing to the individual. As e-mail marketers we have helped condition customers to expect relevant messages, and that expectation is not going to change. That brings us back to an earlier discussion: the expectation of the channel. When a customer chooses to join your brand’s social network, her desire is to interact with other fans of your products or services; not necessarily with your brand. Remember, with social networks the emphasis is on social. E-mail is the channel of choice for commercial communication, and the channel through whiche-Dialog has developed the the customer expects to manage her relationship with your brand.Relevance Trajectory methodologyto help clients understand how E-mail is also the channel that is best-suited for you to manage the relationship with the individualto develop relevant, one-to-one customer. For example, let’s say you are a fashion retailer and your customer Sarah Jones is acommunications. Click here to frequent buyer enrolled in your e-mail program. Sarah also happens to be a member of your Facebookrequest the white paper. community. Through Facebook you know that Sarah is a fan of your products, and you know when Sarah shares her opinion of your products with friends and family. When you market to this social network, you are able to connect with Sarah and her community at a broad level. On the other hand, e-mail gives you the ability to capture and apply an abundance of customer data in order to market to Sarah one on one. Facebook knows Sarah is a fan of your products. E-mail knows Sarah’s most recent purchases, favorite store location, preferred product categories, even her clothing sizes. Facebook knows a fan named Sarah Jones; e-mail knows Sarah Jones. Now consider the advantage e-mail provides in the context of the social bubble. Once a customer enters the bubble and becomes a brand advocate, it’s important that you continue to nurture the individual relationship and strengthen his advocacy – in other words move the customer closer to the center of the bubble, say from a spectator to a critic or a creator. Nurturing through e-mail ensures that the customer remains in the center of the bubble where advocating on behalf of your brand is going to be at its strongest and most valuable (see figure 4). Figure 4: E-mail Nurtures the Individual within the Social Bubble Social networking is about communities rather than the individual. Which is why when your customer enters the social bubble, it is important that you continue to use e-mail as a means to nurture the individual relationship with your brand and strengthen the customer’s advocacy. As e-mail advances the relationship, it can E-MAIL move the customer closer to the center of the bubble, where he or she becomes a creator of social content rather than just a spectator. The closer your customer is to the center of the bubble, the more valuable his or her advocacy will be. © 2009 e-Dialog, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Page 7
  8. 8. You are familiar with the adage, “It takes a village to raise a child?” In much the same way it takes a community to raise brand advocates. And as an e-mail marketer you should explore the opportunities to lean on social networks and use them to cultivate your community of best customers. But the relationship between the individual customer and your brand is the one that matters most, and it remains a responsibility that only e-mail can fulfill to its fullest potential. Integrating E-mail and Social Media Recommendations from e-Dialog There are many opportunities to integrate e-mail and social media; the key is to understand where they intersect and how one channel can leverage the other’s strengths (and perhaps shore up some weaknesses, as well). Following are some recommendations to help you get started. Marketers must focus on a social networking strategy first. Believe it or not, most companies are still in the asset-building phase of social networking. You should recognize this as the critical first step, not going to market. Pushing customers to a Facebook page or Twitter account that delivers no value only leads to disappointment, even among your most loyal brand advocates. Marketers must enable customers to share content via e-mail. At the most fundamental level, your e-mail campaigns should leverage share-with-your-network (SWYN) to encourage sharing across social networks. However, SWYN should never be the only call to action. Offer value. Marketers should use e-mail to listen to customers and gather feedback. Engage your customers to participate in product reviews and satisfaction surveys and use the results to fuel word of mouth. Remember, customer reviews are the number one aid to a purchasing decision. Marketers must leverage social content by bringing it to customers’ inboxes. By sharing customer reviews, blog posts, and viral marketing programs (e.g., YouTube videos) in an e-mail, you can accelerate not only the consumption of social content, but also the customer’s willingness to cross the social media bubble and start advocating for your brand. As a follow-up e-Dialog has compiled best practices and case examples advising e-mail marketers on how to implement these recommendations and published them in our white paper: Enabling, Listening, and Leveraging: Best Practices for Integrating E-mail and Social Media Channels. Contact an e-Dialog representative if you would like to receive a copy of this paper. About e-Dialog With more than 10 years of e-mail marketing experience and many experts on our To learn more about e-Dialog’s leading staff, e-Dialog provides software-as-a-service and strategic services to world-class technology, services, and solutions, marketers in retail, entertainment, travel, media, business-to-business, and more. visit our Web site at We understand what it takes for our clients to be successful, which is why e-Dialog is one of the only e-mail service providers consistently recognized by top analyst North America International firms for both outstanding service and first-class technology. e-Dialog is a wholly 888-256-7687 +44 (0) 20 3219 6200 owned subsidiary of GSI Commerce, Inc. (Nasdaq: GSIC).© 2009 e-Dialog, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Page 8