How do you make your brand stand out from the clutter in a crowded and competitive marketplace? How can you retain existing customers and acquire new ones in a world of rising consumer expectations?
And as your marketing budget comes under pressure, how do you make your rand stretch further while increasing reach, awareness and effectiveness? In 2014, we can expect to see many leading brands look to the social cloud- flexible, powerful software-as-a-service solution for marketers - for answers to these questions.
We know each other - I'm your customer
Customers are demanding service via social media - that's nothing new. For a couple of years, customers have turned to corporate Twitter or Facebook accounts for help with burning queries, especially when they need a quick answer to a question or when they've become exasperated with call centre or email service.
They've seen social media as a place where they can get star treatment and as a way to push a question or complaint to the top of the pile. But now, they're no longer happy to have their queries rerouted from social media to the call centre or to an email address. They now want to have their queries resolved within their social media channel of choice without needing to go back to the call centre agent or a branch office.
The kinds of answers customers will want from your social media channel in the future are:
- "I've sent your latest invoice via direct message on Twitter."
- "Here is the app that will tell you where your nearest branch is."
- "Here's the next lifestyle rewards tier coupon you deserve."
In the background, you will need to integrate social listening and social CRM tools with other enterprise databases and applications - general CRM databases and call centre workflow, for example - so that your customer service teams can quickly resolve questions for customers via social media without needing to send them to other channels.
The 'me' customer
Coca Cola's recent 'Share a Coke' campaign clues us into how leading consumer companies are viewing the evolution of their customers' relationships with their brands. Everyone wants to feel unique. What better way to make someone feel unique than to weave them into the story and iconography of a major international brand they interact with every day?
This campaign highlights how personalised and customised campaigns, products and communications will need to appeal to customers who want to be recognised as unique by the organisations they deal with.
Enterprises need to think about how, when, where and how often they speak to their customers as well as how talking to customers can help to optimise performance and sales. In practice, that's not as easy as it sounds since you need to be able to recognise and track customers across multiple channels to optimise your ROI.
If a customer receives an SMS from you, goes to your mobile website for more info, asks a question on social media and the steps into your brick and mortar store, you need to know that you're talking to the same person so that you can treat them in a personalised and consistent manner across each channel.
This will also allow you to avoid duplication of effort and allow you to create customer journeys that are smoother and more efficient. The ever elusive single view of the customer will, for that reason, remain a hot topic throughout 2014. Marketers are going to want to define, manage and influence customer journeys as consumers move through the sales cycle.
They're going to map customer journeys, define campaign objectives and map digital marketing interactions, such as email, mobile, social and websites, to create personalised customer experiences that evolve based on consumer or customer engagement and ROI.
With this, they're going to deliver optimised content on every channel and for every device. They're also going to create personalised web experiences that combine real-time insights, customer preferences and past purchases to power data-driven product and content recommendations online.
All of these trends mean that we'll see companies start to invest in the cloud-based tools they need to better track, manage and enhance customer sentiment and relationships in a multichannel world that spans from traditional media to social networks.
More than ever, marketing will be about leveraging the right solutions and technologies to monitor and improve customer relationships in near-real time. It will be about using tech to monitor, personalise, and optimise marketing campaigns in a manner that enhances customer relationships and consumer sentiment with a view to improving business performance.