The practice of profiling the different needs and preferences of customers in a market, in order to decide which groups to focus on and how best to serve them, is a well established one in marketing. The process may be broadly divided in three steps, namely:
Moira Clark, Paul Fennemore and myself set out to investigate the potential of social media for each of these stages. We interviewed senior marketing managers in 19 organisations deemed by their peers and the specialist press to be leading the use of social media in their respective industries. Our interviewees came from industries as diverse as financial services, consumer goods, utility services and, even, central government.
Our research unearthed a broad range of approaches to, and level of investment in, social media. Organisations were more likely to invest strategically on social media when they had large numbers of customers and volume of transactions, and when they were focused on customer insight.
These are the key benefits that social media may bring to target marketing.
Stage 1. Identifying and profiling customers
- Allow for better and more meaningful insight into what customers think and feel about products, as well as into how marketing actions impact on behaviour.
- Deliver timely information, including the real-time observation of customers’ behaviour and their interactions with other social media users.
- Provide insight into areas not covered by other data sources, bringing organisations closer to a complete view of their customers.
Stage 2. Evaluating segment attractiveness
- Offer the opportunity to collect granular data on particular targets.
- Allow customers to self-segment by joining particular online communities of interest.
- Increase the ability to identify and engage with influencers because it enables organisations to deliver very personalised messages in real-time and with minimal geographical limits, and to engage with large numbers of receivers.
Stage 3. Positioning the company’s offer
- Enable delivery of highly differentiate propositions.
- Create deeper customer engagement through highly responsive and interactive exchanges
The results of our research have just been published on the Journal of Strategic Marketing. For a limited time, only, you can download the article for free here.