Building a strong and valuable relationship with your customer base is more important than ever. According to thesocialskinny.com, 36% of social media users post brand-related content and 50% of people follow brands in social media. 

In November 2012, SuperOffice conducted a survey among 150 organizations across Europe. SuperOffice wanted to find out what challenges and issues businesses have when it comes to building relationships with their customers.

Image

The research showed that there were three distinct challenges:

A) Finding the right social activities. Tracking the social activities and making sure they were targeted at the right customer was a challenge for almost half (48%) of respondents.

B) Keeping track of relevant customer information. More than one third (38%) of respondents found it difficult to maintain the knowledge of customers’ preferences in order to target relevant products and services.

C) Communicating in a personal way. 42% of respondents faced challenges communicating with their customers in a personalized way, even if they did have relevant information about the customer.

It seems clear that “being social” is something that many companies are struggling with – across business types and markets. By implementing a social CRM strategy, brands can leverage social media marketing and customer relationship management data to grow their business.

The State of Social Marketing 2012 report found that only 16% of respondents are using a social CRM system, while 17% do not know what social CRM is. Surprisingly, 46% simply said they didn’t use social CRM.

 Social CRM survey

Social CRM is the process of converting content into conversations and meaningful relationships, and is achieved through the integration of web analytics, social media and CRM software.

Social CRM is part process, part people and part technology

  • Sales teams can be equipped with significantly more relevant information about their customers through online conversations and existing CRM activity history.
  • Marketing teams can now meet prospects at their point of need, connecting with them much earlier in the buying process with real-time listening and monitoring online conversations.
  • Product development teams can engage and collaborate directly with customers throughout the development phase from idea, design, proto-typing and testing, which builds brand advocacy and positive word of mouth.
  • Customer service teams can provide responses to where the customer is, equipped with their entire interaction, engagement and conversation history across all communication channels.

In order to effectively communicate with your customer base and overcome the challenges organizations face, here are five ways to successfully implement a social CRM strategy.

1. Social CRM is low cost

Companies can take advantage of social networking at little or no cost. Social networks are free and it’s easy to create an account. The only investment required is man hours, giving small businesses a greater opportunity when competing with corporations who spend millions of dollars in advertising campaigns. A video that goes viral on the web can result in millions of views, providing excellent exposure at no cost.

2. Social CRM provides instant feedback

Social media networks provide a direct communication channel with their customers, providing valuable insight and feedback in real-time. Customers can share opinions on product releases and suggestions for improvement. Use negative comments to improve your brands reputation; listen and react to the feedback. Positive comments can be used to promote your brand, and be included as customer endorsements.

3. Social CRM helps create a community

Social media is a great avenue to build a community and increase customer engagement around products and services. In an online community, you can keep customers informed on the latest company news, events and create a buzz around a new product release. By having a community, customers will be able to interact with each other and share opinions, which increase your brand identity, brand credibility and will develop long-lasting loyal customers.

4. Social CRM is used by your competition

Your competitors are using social CRM already. Search for your competition on Facebook or Twitter and compare social media strategies to identify strengths and weaknesses that your brand can improve upon to create a better social experience for your customers. Follow your competition in the active social channels to monitor what they think of your brand and use this as leverage for improving your social CRM strategy.

5. Social CRM improves marketing ROI

Social CRM allows companies can better target products to a segment of customers, develop products or services based on customer feedback, improve the customer experience with real time responses and generate interest and brand awareness through word of mouth. Through integration of web analytics and CRM software, brands can now measure social conversations to website traffic, downloads, conversions and sales.

Conclusion

In today’s financial climate, marketers are bound by strict budgets and limited resources. Companies are now exploring new ways of becoming more efficient and improve their CRM process. Whether engaging with fans on Facebook or tweeting on Twitter, social media is proving to be a cost effective solution for improving CRM to help acquire new customers and engage with existing customers.

Has your business implemented a successful Social CRM strategy? Please comment below and share your experience.