NEW YORK — Responsys, a provider of on-demand marketing services, recently announced the launch of a product designed to create, schedule, automate, and track promotions to users of Facebook and Twitter. The Responsys Interact Campaign for Social Networks is intended to help create what the company's chief marketing officer Scott Olrich calls "the new-school marketer."
The release was the highlight of the company's Spring Tour, a half-day conference called Marketing: A New Day in the Life will make subsequent stops in Boston, Minneapolis, Chicago, and Los Angeles. At the New York event, Responsys representatives spent most of the half-day conference hammering home the all-too-familiar notion that marketing has gone social. They explained to the audience at the packed Parker Meridian conference room that marketers need to "move toward a cross channel approach," according to Olrich.
For many in the industry, this type of advice would have been beneficial five years ago; but shockingly, when Responsys vice president of products John Berkley displayed how easy it is with Responsys technology to launch a campaign to a Facebook group, there erupted a spattering of oohs and ahhhs from the spectators. And later, when Heather Blank, vp of strategic services, asked the listeners, "Who isn't doing anything with social or mobile marketing?" At least a dozen brave "old-school" marketers raised their hands.
Olrich demonstrated the effectiveness of cross-channel marketing by detailing Southwest Airline's ascent from the days when "high-heeled stewardesses were walking down the aisles of the plane and the founder was handing out free shots of Grey Goose" to becoming a "marketing powerhouse" that "focuses on interactive channels."
Olrich explained how Southwest used their Click'n'Save program (an email notification of special rates) to capture the permissions of more than 8.5 million subscribers. "They're [Southwest] really excited that they have more than one million followers on Twitter and more than 750,000 on Facebook," he says. "But [beyond that] they've always [looked for] ways to make money off of these social channels."
The emails Southwest sends as part of the Click'N'Save program are also posted to their Twitter and Facebook pages as part of their cross-channel promotion. "Their two highest transaction days [are] when they [send] these emails out," Olrich explains.
One company hoping to reap Southwest-like rewards from Responsys Interact Campaign for Social Networks is Diapers.com. The company reaches out to its 3,000-odd Facebook followers weekly so they can use the information they gather as if "we brought a panel into the office to tell us how we are doing," says Michael Manta, Diapers.com marketing manager.
The Responsys technology has "helped streamline the entire process," Manta says. "Sending out an email and getting that particular email right out on Facebook and Twitter is really efficient." The numbers Diapers.com gathers from Responsys helps the company decide which promotions are working by calculating the number of purchases and by analyzing which promotions received the most traffic.
"We launched the product last Friday," says Jennifer McClelland, ecommerce marketing manager at Title Nine. "It was a smooth integration and we were live within an hour. Before this we weren't very consistent with our campaigns. We hadn't honed in on a strategy and how to move forward with it."
"We have a disparate number of channels," says Forrester vice president & principal analyst Suresh Vittal. "It used to be direct mail; then direct mail and email; then direct mail, email, and call center. Now its direct mail, email, call centers, websites, microsites, landing pages, social channels, facebook, twitter, etc." As a result, Vittal explains, simultaneously creating, scheduling, and automating campaigns across all those channels at once is too difficult. Responsys Interact Campaign for Social Networks can make this happen.
But simply having Responsys tools isn't going to turn every company into Southwest overnight. Vittal stresses that this product and other similar products won't likely help companies reduce advertising spending. "That's what campaign management tools would like you to think." He does recognize this tool will allow an open communication between user and lead in a way that wasn't previously available, thereby improving CRM and ultimately revenue.
All of the Responsys representatives who spoke at the event would have to agree that simply having the product isn't good enough - what companies do with it will ultimately determine how successful they become. And if all else fails they can always wear high heels and supply complimentary Grey Goose to lure customers.
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