Tag Archives: CRM

Businesses and Social Media Expectations #realtalk

12 Jun

Recently SugarCRM recognized Epicom for its marketing efforts. A large part of Epicom’s marketing strategy includes using social media as an outlet for communication and promotion. Social media is my passion/addiction. However, it has occurred to me that many businesses aren’t seeing the value in social media while others expect far too much from it.

What is Social Media Marketing?
Countless times I have heard professionals speak about social media marketing as a branding and marketing cure all. “It’s a promotion strategy!” FALSE. Social media itself is not a “strategy.” Rather, platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and the like offer an outlet for communication, making them powerful tools for strategic planning. The impact of the plan comes from having something to communicate.

Before delving into the social mediasphere, you need to answer a few questions.

-What is the voice of my business? (Think Barbara Walters or John Stewart?)
-Who is my audience? (Stay at home moms or professionals on-the-go?)
-What am I trying to say? (“This is what I had for lunch today,” or trending topics in tech?)

The Voice
Did you watch this season? So good. Anyway, the new generation craves a connection with everything. They don’t want to just buy a sweater. They want to buy a sweater from a label that they identify with. Social media allows for that identity connection. When it comes to corporate tweeting, it’s important to figure out how you want your company to present itself on the web. While your online presence is young, you have time to play around with this.

Warning: sales tweets lose followers. Sales tweets are just like spam. “I love reading SPAM mail,” said no one ever.  All business, all the time is boring. No one is trolling your twitter to read about your ROI. Social media allows your audience to see that your company is made of real people. I’m not saying tweet office gossip, but don’t be afraid to tweet about office outings or give a shout out on an employee’s birthday. Consumers want to know they are doing business with actual humans.

Even a B2B business needs to engage its audience. This includes RT (Retweeting), responding to Tweets, contributing bloggers from various departments, and overall interaction with the audience. Businesses, like people, love being noticed, mentioned and praised. Flattery will get you far in the world of social media.

An Audience of Who?
It may prove to be more useful to figure out who you are trying to preach to before you stand up to the podium. If you’re marketing for a tech company, chances are retweeting stay at home mommy bloggers isn’t improving credibility (unless you work for Diaper Genie). Figure out your market and who is making the decisions. Chances are, that’s who you are trying to reach.

Tell Me Something Good
Nothing is more annoying than a pointless text.
Sender: “Hey, what’s up?”
Recipient: “Nothing”
Sender: “Cool”

If you don’t have anything to say, you’ll flat line. It’s meaningless and over all, obnoxious. This is where companies can fail in terms of social media. “No one is clicking through to our blog!” Are you putting out meaningful content? Not all the content has to be earth shaking, but it should have a reason. Don’t overlook the power of repurposing content, as well. Maybe a blogpost from a few months ago deserves some updates for reuse. Regardless, content should have a reason: to inform, to educate, to entertain, to promote etc.

Additionally, if your lag time between blog posts is longer than Jessica Simpson’s pregnancy, don’t expect many returning readers. Readers not only want fresh content, they want frequency. During a scholarly survey I took of seven friends via gchat, 100% said they spend the first hour of work reading  industry related blogs and newsletters. If you don’t update regularly, people forget about you and stop frequenting your site.

If you walk away with one beacon of knowledge, remember this: social media is not a “strategy” on its own. For an effective strategic effort with social media, know who you’re talking to, what you want to say, and how it needs to be perceived.

Rolling in the Tweets

19 Mar

I’m not sure if you noticed but about two weeks ago the clouds parted and a bright beacon of hope shined down upon the world. I got a job/internship doing exactly what I’ve always wanted to do: Online/Social Media Marketing. The job description was so perfectly tailored to my career goals and interests that I was waiting for my alarm to wake me up at any moment.

First assignment: “So SXSW is this weekend. Can you start interacting with other companies involved in the event on Twitter? Follow them and make us seem, like, fun?” Done. Did I mention we were hosting a skeeball party? Yeah. My second assignment was to live tweet during the entire party. I was planning on doing that anyway, so why not?

But what does Twitter have to do with CRM?  Social media is no longer “emerging” into the business world. It’s here. It is the fastest source of news sharing and Twitter is the most common B2B social media platform, making it perfectly sensible for a CRM firm to have a presence there. Twitter allows businesses to have a personality and connect with current and potential customers and clients. It is a free tool that, when used properly, can increase sales, product awareness, customer interaction, and brand identity. You can just be a CRM firm, or you can be the CRM firm that is looked to for Tech news updates, company consulting, software services, market leading, and the like. Twitter is a powerful tool that should not be overlooked or taken for granted.

I am very excited about the upcoming projects I will be working on. Not only will I be learning a lot but the expectations of me are higher than I anticipated which is a great feeling (I have a problem where I want to always be needed and relevant so this really motivates me).

Oh, and by the end of my live tweeting during the skeeball party, the Chicago Skeeball League started following us on Twitter. Potential CRM customer? I think so. Obviously my job here in done and a corner office with my name on it is in the near future.

Top Tech Applications, Websites and Tools I Will Use After Epicom

26 Aug

These are in no particular order, but they are on here because they provide me the most use. I can’t wait to take the skills I gained from these great applications, websites, and tools with me in my career.

Pardot: www.pardot.com

Knowing how to use Pardot and learning about marketing automation is something that is going to get me other jobs. I am figuring how I can stay up-to-date with marketing automation software for when I leave Epicom. Pardot is the most hands-on and practical software I have ever used. It enables user to expand their marketing efforts, then gives important data to revise and continue communicating with more and more leads.

SugarCRM: www.sugarcrm.com

I mentioned this in my last post but I could run a business using only Sugar. It is easy to use. It showed me ways I never thought of to organize things. It also made everything simple with account-centric organization. Plus, Sugar give great insight into a business, which makes spotting strengths and weaknesses in a business plan easier, faster, and before it hurts the company.

Basecamp by 37 Signals: www.basecamphq.com

I’ve already signed up for a free account with Basecamp’s sister version Ta-Da for my next internship. I am looking for an Android app as I write this. Basically, it is the cleanest user interface I have ever used–uncomplicated. I like it because I can go into a meeting and add to-do items as they are being discussed so nothing gets lost in conversation. I can give my to-dos dates, and filter based on the due-dates I assigned.

Klout: www.klout.com

Klout is more of a “for now” tool. Klout connects different social media accounts and measures the user’s influence. I say “for now,” because it needs some improvement and is in a start-up stage. I am waiting to see what happens to Klout, but it is excellent at directing social media efforts towards communicating more.

Tweet-later: www.SocialOomph.com

SocialOomph is a tweet-later service. Facebook and Twitter can be set up under once account, and tweets and status updates can be made from the platform. It is really great for content generation, and allows me to not be plugged into Twitter all day. I can set up out tweets for the week, and with the Professional version I could set up a tweet schedule. It is a really great tool to get out content. However, it doesn’t replace interacting on Twitter and Facebook, because that is why people are on the sites.

Meet Up: www.meetup.com

I am disappointed about being college graduate. I don’t miss taking tests or writing (some) papers, but I do miss learning and discussing new ideas. I will continue to use Meet Up to find other people interested in the same things I am, and more importantly, find groups for new topics I am interested in learning about.

That wraps up the best tools I discovered at Epicom. Hope you find them just as useful.

How to Use Google+ for Marketing

28 Jul

I have been thinking about SocialCRM a lot. I wrote earlier this week about Google+ vs. LinkedIn. As I was writing that entry, I started to think about Google+ circles as a lead nurturing platform. These are pretty basic thoughts. It is a little difficult to dive deep in since Google+ doesn’t have a base as large or active as Facebook yet.

Okay lets do this.

Consumers are increasingly tapping into their networks to make purchasing decisions and communicate. You know this. So, if Google+ succeeds in establishing an active community, here is how circles can be used.

B2B:

This is how SugarCRM has Opportunities set up, so I figured I would follow the same model my company already uses. Also, if you work in B2C but you have a longer sales cycle and/or you sell high price items following a B2B model might be better for you. Like I said, this is the model my company uses so create your Google+ marketing circles around your current sales model. The key to B2B working is adding CEO, CIO, COO and other decision makers to your Google+ circles and hopefully they will add your company back–just make sure they have shown interest in your products.

B2C:

Like above, if you have a current model that is successful, then try out those categories as you marketing circles. If you own a small business, it might be difficult to figure out who is a suspect or a customer. If you have a CRM system, then try looking them up—by email or name. Every business should know their repeat customers. This circle can be broke down even further if you have a groups of customers that all buy the same goods. The key to B2C is paying attention to how your followers interact with the brand and what they post to know what category to put them in.

All of the B2C pictures need to be in both B2B and B2C marketing strategy circles. The B2B is more focused on lead nurturing, but what works for you is the most important.

Customers that repost, media/bloggers/voice, company partners and company rivals are important people to follow and send target messages to. Voice means anybody that has a large following or interacts more than the average person. People that are a Voice might not be a customer that reposts, (and that is the nice thing about Google+ circles, people can go in multiple groups) but they are important to getting your message out.

The key to getting this to work is to repurpose materials for each group. All sales and marketing representatives know that not all customers need the same information. You can even make tailored specials based on products groups might want or need.

If I can easily select which groups hear my message, then I can avoid over stimulating my audiences. This is something that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn lack. I am sure all of you here have blocked a user for over posting. This allows better messages and less shotgun-effect in online communities.

Once your circles are defined and set up, here are some great marketing papers on targeting audiences, social media and campaigns.(Disclaimer: HubSpot is a partner of ours, but they have some of the best marketing resources)

Hubspot Main Marketing Page

Hubspot’s Ultimate How to Marketing Guide

Prospect to Evangelist with Social Media

StartUp Marketing Plan Blueprint

If you have any other ideas please share them so Google+ can be a more effective place for consumers and businesses to make decisions.

Social Media Database, SocialCRM & Planning for a Better Business

22 Jul

I signed on to work with Epicom fresh out of college because I knew CRM was something bigger than anything I learned about in school. I stand by that statement too.

The last internship I finished was with a full-service advertisement and public relations agency. In my transition from agency to Epicom, I made it my goal to hang out with the agency’s interactive and social media department.

With the interactive team, I learned about different tools to use, different communities outside of Facebook, and above all the importance of being a part of the conversation and how to easily be in the conversation without devoting too much time.

As soon as I started researching for my interview with Epicom, I SumbledUpon SocialCRM. When I think about my lessons from the agency about tailoring messages for each medium, being a part of the conversation and above all evolving from what people are saying and compare it to customer relationship management, I get really excited for my future as a consumer and in business.

The biggest flaw I see with SocialCRM is the inability to easily browse everything people are saying or have said about a brand/service/experience. Even with Google Alerts, HootDeck, Facebook pages, hashtags and other applications, it is near impossible to go back to something that could have been valuable for relationship planning.

Once all the kinks are figured out, which is happening every day, the ability to collaborate to improve business based on what the customer wants will become instant. Right now, there is a lot of focus on customer service in CRM and social media. Customer service is normally after the problem such as an apology on Twitter for a bad bagel or a mistake from an employee. SocialCRM needs to continue on the path of making the customer relationship stronger, but a lot of what is said exposes valuable flaws in business.

The next big step for CRM is the ability to log social media comments based specific characteristics, and then be able to shape a better business around the aggregated comments. Sure most companies are listening but are they retaining?

The fundamental problem with social media is that everything is permanent but it is quickly forgotten.

A better business experience can be found. SocialCRM needs to aggregate conversations for the long-term customer relationship, not the here-and-now discussion. Smart businesses are already doing this but SocialCRM needs to step up and make it easier.

Doing More with HTML

30 Jun

I played with Pardot a lot last Friday. At Epicom, we are doing some AB testing. This internship allows me to do a lot of the marketing techniques I learned in school, which is great. Currently, we are testing the open rate for times that newsletters go out. This type of AB testing is pretty easy to implement and to track.

Another way to test different variables of email campaigns is by using different templates. However, creating different templates is definitely one of the hard types of AB testing. As I was experimenting with creating a new design, I realized my HTML skills are not as good as I would like them to be. On top of that, my photoshop skills were rusty. Between creating new images and coding my email’s layout, it was taking too long.

This caused me to realize a fundamental problem with myself . I am sure many business owners without a design department face the same problem. Online marketing initiatives are not as effective because of low levels of design and technical (html/coding) knowledge. I am by no means saying no knowledge. I have created many websites but that didn’t prepare me to make a really great email template.

There is a difference between companies that deliver above and beyond customer service/products AND companies that deliver above and beyond but also have an email campaign that visually communicates the above and beyond. My goal is to learn more about web design, because it isn’t just about websites. Knowing code is about being able to communicate visually over the internet. I never thought about code past websites and blog posts. There is a lot I can achieve.

Now, I am going to find a web design class.

Hope you are having a happy Social Media Day.

Using CRM for the Customers

23 Jun

A key theme about CRM that I constantly read is focus on the customer. One of the key failures I read about CRM is a focus on more sales. CRM is about improving sales through focusing on the customer.

I want to share a great experience I had with customer service.

I went shopping with my mom a few months ago. As a graduate gift, she took me to buy new work clothes. I needed nice shoes, badly.

For those of you not familiar with Texas State, I can tell my grandchildren, “I walked to school in the rain, up hill both ways.” Meaning, I owned no heels and all the rest of my shoes we slowly breaking in the sole.

So back to shopping with my mom, we went to Aldo, which is a very small shoe store. Aldo is always packed with people, and crowd navigation skills are needed.

In Aldo, the sales person not only helped me try on shoes, she suggested the most comfortable size for the shoe (who knew women’s shoes were more comfortable a size up or down), and went to the back to get my actual size and her suggested size for every pair I tried on. When they didn’t have the color I wanted, she brought me the other color and informed me about free shipping.

When it came time to check out, the sales girl walk us to the register (in the tiny, crowded store), re-packaged the shoes, rung up my order, and asked me if I wanted to buy traction adhesives to apply to the bottom of the shoes since they were smooth on the soke. I said, “yes.” I didn’t even know things like that existed, I was excited to make my  shoe life easier.

She did all of this in five-inch heels.

My experience at Aldo should be how companies are using CRM; to make sure the customer has what he or she wants when they need it–even the little things they might not have known could make their life better easier and more efficient.

Your company will have something to sell, but do your customers feel like the only customer in your database?

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