By Varsha Chawla
We do it every day: click on a site, read a blog, scroll through an article, and of course, browse product pages. If you’re a marketer, you treasure the digital data these actions generate. But sometimes they trigger tricky dilemmas.
Say you’re a hotelier. An existing client visits your site and looks at five-star, all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica. Logically, you deduce they’re planning a trip. What do you do next? E-mail some suggestions? What if they don’t click on the email? Do you automatically put this customer in your “do not contact” segment? Do you dare send another email? Saying what?
While analytics aren’t a crystal ball they help marketers answer these critical questions. Here are four tips to help you figure out how to handle similar scenarios:
Segment according to activity and engagement levels
Rather than grouping by demographics, look at what they do. Which customers are your most active? Semi-active? Are they early or late adopters or even dormant? Trends over time are key. Why? They help you tailor your campaigns according to their behavior. A very engaged customer will likely react a lot better to frequent offers than one who is still trying to decide. Your goal with each interaction is to be sure that clicks, engagement, and purchases lead to more revenue. Ensuring that you’re only sending emails or communications that yield engagement ups ROI.
Honor opt-outs and unsubscribes
No one likes opt-outs and unsubscribes. But you must honor them. Chances are that their decision to disconnect has more to do with the relevance and frequency of communications than lack of interest. Why not ask them what they want? A few quick survey questions how they prefer to be contacted and their product, service, or brand preferences are. Be careful to limit these questions to just a few, or you’ll lose your audience in the critical stage of trying to connect. In the end, honoring the unsubscribe or opt-out immediately will let your customers know you are listening to their needs.
Be responsive to social media conversations and inquiries
I recently asked one of my favorite brands a product question via Twitter. I was not expecting an immediate answer, but two days later, I still had no response. Guess what I’ll do the next time I have a question? Well, I certainly won’t use Twitter. I might not ask it at all. They get a “1” for my engagement score with the brand.
Social media analytics can help brands engage with consumers by monitoring and archiving conversations from just about any social network. The main benefit to organizations is a better sense of how they’re doing online in terms of brand recognition. Advanced social media analytics can also help marketers measure sentiment, highlight social trends and phrases, and get a solid profile of those that engage a brand. This in turns helps organizations determine how best to contact those interested or vocal about the brand.
Just as knowing contact preferences are a must, timely social media engagement is as well. If you’ve chosen to participate, you need to respond. Even if you don’t have a Twitter account dedicated to customer service, you can’t get away with ignoring your customers and prospects. While timeliness adds to the challenge, it’s an enormous opportunity when achieved.
Watch for influencers
Once you have properly segmented your customers and factored in your unsubscribes, you should know who your top customers – the transaction loggers – are. Take things one step further by figuring out who your influencers are. Advanced analytical tools make this task doable. Higher engagement levels with these people can lead to a wider network of prospects and some “free” marketing for your brand.
Analytics not only help reveal influencers, they can provide insight into when and how to communicate. For example, monitoring tweets during a crisis, the holiday season, right after a news announcement, or even during a competitor’s announcement can be similar to watching stock prices in real-time: It gives you a fairly good indication of how others perceive your brand. In addition, you can find out who really cares about your brand, and exactly what they have to say about it. The latter opens the door for a conversation or at least a response to your influencers.
A recent example on Twitter is a harsh reminder of how powerful influencers can be. Remember the disgruntled British Airways customer who purchased a promoted tweet just to slam the brand? Influence can now be purchased. Yet another reason to keep track of engagement levels, and watch out for those who are likely to really help or really hurt your brand.
Advanced analytics can help you predict even the trickiest customer’s needs. Through segmenting properly, honoring contact preferences, responding through all channels, identifying influencers, and surveying at the right times, a much clearer picture of customer behavior can emerge. You’ll never be able to reading minds. But with the right tools, it almost feels like it’s possible.
Varsha Chawla is a senior solutions architect on the SAS Customer Intelligence Global Enablement team.