What can consumer-facing companies, like Google, Amazon, and Netflix, teach us about marketing to our existing customers? They have all figured out that providing highly relevant information to customers keeps them customers.
In the same way that these companies have proven that various degrees of personalized information and recommendations correlate to higher levels of customer stickiness, your organization can use this customer marketing approach to increase customer retention and additional sales opportunities.
Where Do Online Customer Communities Fit In?
Increasingly, companies and membership organizations are putting business-grade online communities at the center of their customer marketing mix. These enterprise social networks for customers enable companies to provide information, discussions, and access to experts that can make their customers more successful, as well as allow companies to track and use customer demographic and behavioral data more effectively.
Since social business software has emerged over the past few years, many companies are left with questions about how they can use that online community data to measurably improve customer marketing performance.
Here are 5 tactical approaches to improving customer marketing by providing more relevant information:
#1) Member/Customer Segmentation
Business online community software enables organizations to segment customers in the online community according to demographics and relationship with the organization (i.e. product or member type).
Tip: Behavioral targeting is also important in providing more relevant information. Wouldn't you treat a customer or member who is highly active in your online community differently than you would a customer who visits only 4 times a year?
#2) Content Alerts
Train your customers or members on the tools in your online community software that allow them to select a group or topic about which they would like to receive email alerts when new information is added to the community.
Tip: Customers can also set up "Google alert-type" notifications to receive an email when a discussion, document, or other resource is added to the online community that includes a specific keyword or phrase.
#3) Favorites Settings
Members and customers can set favorites in your organization's online community to provide quick access to updates on relevant information or sections of the private social network.
Tip: Organizations can also pre-set favorites for specific segments of the online community so that relevant information is easily accessible by default based on the user's profile.
#4) Targeted Email
Use the email engine built into your online community platform to send email with news from the community that is relevant to each customer segment. For instance, you can send two monthly newsletters. One can be designed for executives and the other can be gear toward your general customer population.
Tip: You can also fine tune your customer marketing by segmenting email communication based on a customer's behavioral profile (Example: You can send additional information to all customers who read or commented on your company's most recent product announcement).
#5) Blog Content
Create personas for the different audience-types that you want to reach. Depending on the size of your customer base and amount of staff resources that you have available, you can create one blog with tags (or categories) for each persona or create separate blogs relevant to each group (example: customers vs. partners).
Of course, the #1 way to impact your customer marketing results is to make your online community a must-have for your target audience. Your community should not add to your customer's workload. Understand your customer's most important challenges and shape your strategy, online community features, and content around those problems.