Women's apparel marketer Chico's FAS is quite happy using social media to come into the middle of the conversation. With the women-over-40 demographic — among Chico's core audience — booming on Facebook, the company is happy to observe what they are saying about fashion trends, product lines and floor sets.
Barb Buettin, Chico's director of CRM and enterprise information management, hasn't lost sight of the need to put hard numbers with these online conversations, however.
“The ROI will come when marketers are able to tie their customers' profiles to their Facebook URLs,” she says. “As of right now, we don't know if [someone who posts] is a customer. She may just be someone who is blogging.”
Buettin sees a future in which a customer's online comments can be brought into play when that customer visits a store. “We are a specialty retailer,” Buettin says. “We need sales associates to understand what the customer wants, so [the associate] can speak to her as a girlfriend.”
That future isn't so far off. “The channels, in terms of online and in the stores, are much more in concert than they have been before,” Buettin says.
So has CRM become the exclusive property of the online channels? Not by a long shot. “We are doing more personalized communication in both direct mail and email,” Buettin says. “We are directing [customers] to the nearest store, and we are looking at purchase behavior.”
Chico's is even using the telephone for some of its efforts. The company is conducting what Buettin calls a “clienteling” campaign, in which high-value customers who haven't shopped with the company are reached out to on an individual basis.
Using the telephone for VIP-focused efforts is nothing new, Buettin says — customers are occasionally invited to special events by their sales associates — but of late Chico's has expanded the program and is now using ever-more-targeted messages that are fueled by customer data.
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