Ambiguous identity is a big problem for digital marketers. (Actually, the real problem is informed consent, but we’ll get there in a minute.)
To generate valid sales leads and create great experiences for existing customers, you need to resolve identity. Is the individual who downloaded a white paper from the corporate website the same person who recently asked a question on the online customer forum, or the one who just complained on Twitter about your company’s tech support?
Shoppers today follow their own buyer’s journey – without engaging potential vendors until late in the process. And they have more information available than ever before about product specifications and pricing, vendor reputations, and the opinions of current customers.
Vendors have no choice but to get smarter about resolving the uncertainty, starting with tools that associate an individual’s business email address with their activities across social networks and public communities. At the very least, you want to avoid snafus like sending promotional emails to someone who’s already bought the product. And resolving identity is important for using account-based management (ABM) sales tools. There are point solutions addressing this pain point (i.e.: Socedo), but for most large organizations this is where social meets customer relationship management (CRM).
Most companies today have standardized on Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics or some other CRM system, often customizing it extensively to automate their industry-specific and company-specific business processes. To drive lead generation and track how prospects convert into customers, CRM systems are typically integrated into a marketing automation platform. Vendors in this area including Adobe, Eloqua (Oracle), Sprinklr, Marketo, and HubSpot, though each has vastly differently business focus, social media capabilities, and use cases.
Regardless of the toolset, integrating a person’s social feeds into your “prospect profile” so you can pitch them more effectively raises the central issue of digital marketing: informed consent.
Uncertainty around informed consent is what bedevils your landing pages: people are wary because they’re not sure exactly what it is they’re signing up for. For social it’s even worse, because social networks are so new that the boundaries are fuzzy. And social listening software is getting very good at separating brand-specific conversations from the background chatter, identifying relevant posts and categorizing them by product, sentiment, or process attributes. Some people are comfortable sharing intimate details of their lives online, but if you leverage that content to increase “engagement” you risk crossing the line from proactive customer service to creepy corporate stalking.
With great power comes great responsibility. The foundation of commerce is trust, and the quickest way to lose it is with bait-and-switch maneuvers where you offer prospects high-quality content but then deliver an endless stream of “nurturing” emails.
Monetizing social marketing isn’t about extracting an email address. Today’s marketing leaders incorporate social as a valuable lens, a new perspective to be integrated with data from websites, communities, mobile apps, call centers, and retail locations to create a richer 360° view of the customer’s concerns. Only then does it become possible to evolve toward real-time optimization of customer experiences at every possible touch-point.