Approximately half a century ago the American Marketing Association coined the term the “Four ‘P’s” as a way to describe the essential elements of the marketing mix: product, price, place and promotion. By the 1980s, “Relationship Marketing” was used to describe a new focus on understanding customer segments, delivering ongoing quality service, and achieving high customer satisfaction. The 80’s saw the emergence of database marketing, however, chaotic databases did not provide much insight for businesses at the time.
In the 90’s, companies began to improve on Customer Relationship Management (CRM) by making it more of a two-way street. Instead of simply gathering data for their own use, they began giving back to their customers not only for the obvious goal of improved customer service, but in incentives, gifts, and other perks for customer loyalty. This marks the beginning of frequent flyer programs, bonus points on credit cards, and other resources that are based on tracking of customer activity and spending patterns. CRM was now being used as a way to increase sales passively as well as through active improvement of customer service. The 90’s also saw computer systems become available to support sales and service processes, and by the mid-1990s, “CRM” became the umbrella term as it became clear that multiple departments should share information. By the late 90s, the growth in Internet gave way to e-business applications to manage online customer and partner relationships, often called “e-CRM” and “Partner Relationship Management,” respectively. Similarly, “Multi-channel” systems were becoming available as well to support various channels, while allowing users to use whatever mode of communication they pleased.
With the previous (very brief) history lesson, you can see that social media marketing is part of the natural progression of business. Social media marketing is not a new concept; it is still focused on the traditional principles involving targeting audiences and engaging. However, social media and mobile technology are creating new, and very substantial opportunities for marketers while necessitating an entirely new set of methods to integrate with traditional marketing. With this transition, many businesses are finding gaps in how and where they engage with various consumer segments. These gaps are potential opportunities for tech companies to create better tools to connect with consumers as well as provide metrics.
These new ways to connect with target audiences and customers continue to evolve, and with that comes the responsibility of businesses to evolve as well. Traditional and social strategies should be integrated for an overall effective marketing strategy. Brands should consider the following six concepts:
1. Social media is changing everything. For a many brands, social media will become the primary communication channel to connect with customers. For some, it already is.
2. The customer experience should be seamless across all channels. Meaning, social should be thoughtfully integrated with other customer-facing initiatives.
3. Brands must think like a customer. Instead of asking the reasons a company should engage in social media, ask why a customer would want to interact with your company via social media.
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