Wednesday, March 2, 2011

How to Win Advocates and Influence Brands

Relationships and Influence

What is influence and how is it measured? You are not going to find the answer for your brand in your current CRM system. The flaw in current collection and analysis of relationships is the organization that a relationship data is comprised simply of the two end points. What else could it be?

The state of the art of relationship models either classifies relationships as peer-to-peer or parent-child relationships.

A Peer Relationship

A Parent-Child Relationship

Notice there are no measures of influence. These models assume that in peer-to-peer relationships influence is mutually even and in parent-child relationships influence is purely one way. Since neither of these relationship models collect real influence, you can’t analyze it nor contribute to its growth.

Who can claim the relationship between parent and child is only one way? Even at the beginning when the parent may control the location of the child, the child still controls the meal schedule. Also look at the relationship between dictators and their subjects. On the surface it may seem that control is only one way, but even dictators recognize that their subjects can rise up against them if they are not serving the needs of the people. In other words, the populous also has some control. Let’s use another name for control: influence. A parent-child relationship with a measure of influence is better expressed this way:

A Relationship w/ Influence

Where the relationship from the parent to the child shows higher influence then from the child to the parent. Notice there are still two ends to the relationship; however, there is also the measure of influence in each direction. This view allows for breaking free from the static constructs above and recognizing that the labels of relationship types of parent-child or peer-to-peer are simply the extremes of a continuity of possible relationships.

Dictators have more influence then senators, but an electorate also has influence and it is more then subjects. With our best friends, we share evenly. Notice that when influence is even it can be even-and-slight or even-and-strong.

Owners have more influence over their own purchase then they have over the brand in general but can still have some influence over a new prospect for the brand. Especially for marketers, simply having relationships recorded as end points in the CRM system is not enough. The same applies to any CRM end user, e.g. customer service or loyalty programs. The CRM system must also record the influence from each end to the other. But are the ends simply people? No.

Influence and Persona

Recognize that influence is situational dependent. At work my boss has more influence over the work of the other members of the team then I do. However, when we have a team lunch, I have more influence because I have sampled a wider variety of local eating joints. During our free time neither of us has much influence over the other. What does this example show? That influence is between personas. My boss has more influence over my work persona then I have over his. My team fun persona has more influence than his. And our home personas have no influence over each other’s.

Personas and Influence

The CRM system must also measure personas in order to have the right end points for the influence measure. This allows it to maintain multiple relationships between individuals. And it must have the capacity to store influence in both directions for each relationship.

Six Degrees of Influence

What else can you do once you start measuring relationships through influence and personas? Rather then find clusters of relationships and assume common interests, you should be discovering spheres of influence or paths of influence from one to another. These are the sources you should rely on to recruit sources of positive influence for your brand.

So measure influence, but recognize influence is a two way relationship that does not need to be even. Allow more then one relationship between people based on personas. Once you start measuring relationships via influence, then you have the means to determine how to grow the the totality of influence between the members of your brand in order to grow loyalty to the brand and so the brand, overall.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Have you tied Social to CRM?

Social is a culture and environment in which consumers are engaging about products. This engagement occurs with or without the brand’s influence, and the level and sophistication of the consumer’s engagement will increase over time. It should be comforting to know that marketers can influence the social culture and environment with measurably valuable results.

Social CRM will help you create a demonstrably positive culture and environment for your brand. If you don’t engage, you allow others to determine the social culture and environment for you.

Be prepared to expect results in social to grow over time. The starting point should be to listen to the environment and asses the culture. From there create goals for the future. With goals, the brand can step in. Before attempting exert influence, first prove that the brand is a valuable contributor to the environment and respectful to the culture. After this the brand will have the respect and authority to influence their social culture and environment.

In many areas of marketing focus, there are measurable actions that marketers can take in social. Here are some examples:
  • Awareness and Consideration: Empower employees to participate with a bona fide persona in the social environment that is respectful to the culture. Supply trackable links to media assets to these employees. Train the employees to provide illumination with these trackable assets to their contributions.
  • Acquisition / Win-Back: Reward customers in a member-get-member program. Provide an incentive for people to sign up for addressable communications. Provide a tiered incentive to existing customers to use the social environment to get others to respond to the first incentive. Seamlessly provide tracking links to the customers. Design the cookie to link both to the customer and the member signing up. Count the customer’s signups to determine the reward. Celebrate the awards within the environment.
  • Retention: Organize a calendar of exclusive, culturally respectful events to the social customers. Measure participation. Curate content derived from these events and repurpose this content in other campaigns. Measure the response to the new content.
  • Cross Sell / Product Launch: Recruit customers to participate in an exclusive pre-launch sample of a product and create content around their experience. Curate content derived from these experiences and repurpose this content during the launch. Measure the response to the new content.
In all cases, the trackable links need to share a common cookie in order to maintain a history of each customer’s interactions with the brand. Whenever possible, especially in addressable media campaigns and on conversion pages, tie the cookie to individuals in the CRM database to maximize insights and measure ROI.

“Don’t worry, be happy.” A voice in social is louder than on the street. It takes a brand’s participation to ensure the preponderance of voices are speaking positively. Using the measurement and participation guidelines above, brand marketers can ensure that their participation is positive for the culture, environment, and bottom line of their products.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Capturing Facebook Email Addresses

Geene Rees, Follow Geene Reese on Twitter , was Director of Social Media Consulting at Lyris Technologies in Emeryville, Ca., she now is an independent Social Media Consultant.

If I was a marketing director for a consumer brand, one of my primary objectives for 2011 would be to capture the email addresses of my Facebook fans and bring that data into my customer database. Believe it or not, Facebook is in a prime position to mediate your customer data and customer relationships.

During the last two years, brands have driven their customers to “Fan" or "Like” their Facebook pages. They measure success through metrics such as: percent growth of Facebook fans, number of comments, posts, shares, etc. Some companies have even ventured to understand the value of a fan.

However, as Tim Berners-Lee argued in a recent Scientific American article, "Large social-networking sites are walling off information posted by their users from the rest of the Web", and he warned that, "If we, the Web's users, allow these and other trends to proceed unchecked, the Web could be broken into fragmented islands."

In other words, social networks such as Facebook have collected a tremendous amount of consumer data that is only accessible within their walled garden. This begs the question: What if Facebook decides to monetize its massive collection of data? Who owns the data on Facebook? While Berners-Lee's statement was directed at Web users in general, marketers specifically need to consider the impact if Facebook restricts the use of fan data.

How many marketers with a Facebook page have created a link between their customer email lists and their fan base? Not many. How many marketers know the match rate between their Facebook fans and their email database? Match rates can vary, but based on work I did earlier this year, the match is usually around 30 to 50 percent.

A New Year’s resolution for marketers should be to connect their Facebook fans to their customer database. Tactics may include expanding email preference centers to include social preferences such as Facebook email address and "I am a Fan on Facebook", or creating social applications that encourage fans to add their email addresses.

Facebook contests require fans to enter an email address in order to qualify or submit entries. The Nike Women’s "Get Fit" tab on Facebook is a more elegant approach to acquiring email addresses. “Ask Marie Your Fitness Questions” encourages fans to input questions about training, and the trainer will reply to those questions. In order to submit a question, a fan must input an email address; however the answer to the question is posted on Facebook.

It’s not clear whether Nike uses the email addresses collected for marketing purposes - I submitted a question and never received an email from Nike, nor did they disclose the purpose of collecting my address.

However, marketers must always be transparent about the purpose of collecting personal data. A Facebook “Like” is not exempt from CAN-SPAM regulations if the address acquired is to be used for future commercial email communications. It's simply not worth the risk of high spam complaints, being blocked by internet service providers (ISPs), and potentially damaging your online reputation.

Acquiring the email addresses of your Facebook fans is a critical component to the future of one-to-one marketing. Marketers would be wise to begin laying the groundwork to acquire all email addresses of their Facebook fans, before Facebook decides to monetize its rich data and charge for interactions with your fans. An email marketing goal in 2011 should be to match the Facebook member ID or Facebook email address to the email address and enrich your data with social attributes.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Loyalty Personas

Reward loyalty by badges, not points.
- or -
Points are only one measure of loyalty.

The main problem with points is that they eliminate the ability to view and therefore engage different types of people different ways. Points can only be plotted on a single dimension, a line. Marketing personas allow for a multi-dimensional analysis to resolve into distinct clusters and each cluster may have different defining types of data. Why not also have a multi-dimensional view of loyalty: Loyalty Personas?

New data types are being added to CRM databases. Beyond social behavior there are also conversational and relationship data. These new data types should be presented with their unique analytics types, not reduced to only points. A conversational view of an individual should look different then a behavioral view. Reducing each one of these to points wipes out the ability for customer service to understand that the person they are helping is willing to post a negative review, their ability to take the review viral, and reduces the effect of the question, "if you are now satisfied will you make a post about this experience?"

A more sophisticated system would use a badges rather then points. Badges provide both a means to measure to the brand and an opportunity to provide appropriate goals to the customer. Loyalty Personas would be created from clusters of badges.

The goals of a brand are many and varied. Obviously there would be a badge for the top buyers of a brand’s products. There could also be badges for the top viral distributors of brand content, top contributors to charities supported by the brand, and top participants in new product creation. There could be bronze, silver, and gold levels for each badge. Platinum would not just be the top buyer, but also the most effective brand advocates.

Rather then attempting to reduce all data into a single type with a single measurement, badges allow for compiled measurement of data types and analytics techniques. If the buying cycle is no longer a funnel, then neither should be the loyalty program. People can be in various states and moving in various directions. Badges allow for analysis of this to be conducted from the original data rather then from an abstraction with reduced meaning.

The goal of Loyalty Pesonas is to recognize great customers whether they buy a lot or not. When a customer needs help or earns a reward, they would be recognized by their Loyalty Persona and served appropriately. Great customers would be recognized as those with the highest badge levels rather then simply to top point earner. Brands would have reasons to sustain contact with the customer. Customers would have the ability to earn recognition through more means then only their raw spending power.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Nature and Nurture

Everyone has nature and engages in nurturing.

Traditional CRM attempts to crunch all data into the form of individual characteristics, i.e.translating all data into a descriptions of individual nature. Effectively, this meant behaviors, e.g. purchase and web analytics, were converted to attributes.

With social networking coming to the fore, there are two new types of data available: relationships and conversations. CRM practitioners should resist the temptation to crunch these new types of data into individual characteristics. Rather, they should find the means to analyze these sources in their native forms. Use conversations to predict conversations to recruit the right conversationalists into the brand’s fold. Use relationships to predict relationships to establish new relationships with the brand.

Similarily, start analyzing behaviors using behavioral analytics.

An object in motion stays in motion. A change in characteristics implies influence by another. Beyond using native techniques for each type of data to analyze that data type, CRM practitioners should also be analyzing data in each type to infer data in the other types. A change in behavior may imply a conversation occurred.

Everyone has nature and engages in nurturing. Social CRM practitioners should embrace analyzing nurturing data in its native form and should be analyzing all data sources to derive nurturing data from other types. This way, they will optimize their opportunities to sustain the relationship between people and their brand.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Venn and the Art of Persona Management

People measure the value of a product they acquire over their life with that product. Service after the sale is one way a brand maintains a relationship with the customer during this whole time, but this only occurs on initiation by the customer. Social also gives a brand an opportunity to maintain a relationship during this whole time by providing a means for the brand to monitor and initiate a conversation.. For a brand to respectfully initiate a conversion, it needs information that people would not normally provide to marketers.

Social media, customer service, and other sources are making more information available to CRM databases. Additonally and through newer technology, data is being added to CRM databases based on analysis of unstructured text sources. Should all this data become immediately available to the marketing team?

A history of negative exploitation of personal data has created a social phenomenon resolving into a concern for privacy. This is especially true in marketing where there are laws against invasive marketing tactics e.g. CAN_SPAM and Article 29. The practice of permission marketing has long attempted to provide a means for people to control what information is available to marketers and what means of communications are acceptable. With social, this is evolving into trust-based marketing.

When a person reveals a portion of their totality to another, they are revealing a persona. A great way to perceive an individual’s set of personas is through Venn diagrams. I have a working persona and a family persona. My skill as a chef applies mostly to my family persona, but occasionally to my work persona when we have pot-lucks. I may share with customer service that they have terrible zippers on a new jacket, but I can live with that until the jacket wears out and before considering buying a replacement, I would want to know that the new zipper is better. I would not want marketing to immediately start peppering me with ads for a new coat.

(side bar: interesting use of Venn and persona)

The current practice of CRM database marketing is to exploit all available information on a person and to make this information available to all groups. Customer service, sales, marketing product development, and loyalty all have a need for some of the data, but all desire all of the data, but only some have earned permission or trust to use the data. If a company allows access to all this data to every group within the company, they may violate the norms of permission and trust-based marketing. Marketers need to earn not just permission but also trust in order to utilize additional information about their customers. The more someone trusts another, the more information they will share. Customers will be quicker to trust a brand if every contact with the brand follows sustainable marketing techniques. A cross functional team comprised of the groups above is the ideal mechanism to ensure sustainable social interactions based on gaining trust of their customers. By participating in this team, Marketers will also earn this trust.

Information is information. The CRM analyst should be free to invent new ways to analyze the information using all sources but not be the decision maker of its use. The goal of persona management within CRM should be to only reveal internally the information the customer would want revealed. The arbiter of use should be a cross functional team that manages social for the company. The tool to visualize these choices is Venn.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Social as the Catalyst for Sustainable Marketing

I would like to use this marquee post of this blog to describe the concept behind the blog title.

As demonstrated with our use of the soil, the ocean, and other natural resources, mankind’s exploitation of a resource takes the form of mining where a resource is harvested at a rate and to a level where economic pressures cause the mines to fail. One of the planks of the green platform is to move into a sustainable model of using natural resources where a resource is harvested at a rate by which the environment naturally replenishes the use so there is always an economically viable level.

The same concept can be applied to marketing to your customers. Do not treat your CRM database as resource to be mined. Rather, treat your customers with respect over the life of their interaction with your brand so when time comes to replace a product they come back to your brand. Customer Life Cycle management should not refer to the buying cycle, but rather to the life of the customer's interaction with your product.

The role of social media in this paradigm is to be the catalyst to...
  • Transition a customer after the purchase into a sustainable recognition of the value of the product and to
  • Transition a customer towards the end of life of the product into interest in buying again from the brand.
The result of acquisition strategies would then be to build the overall customer base rather than to replenish losses caused by non-socially-respectful engagement tactics.

There are additional uses of social media, but one should not be as an additional channel to mine the CRM database. It is time to look at the CRM database as a sustainable resource from which to realize long term ROI rather than a resource to exploit to the level of exhaustion.