We first started to wonder about our relationship marketing efforts a year ago, when a proactive group of mommy bloggers contacted our social media agency. They figured out that we had a relationship with a major retailer and a number of brands in the apparel and consumer-packaged goods space — brands that they were loyal to, brands that they loved.
They wanted something more than even the most relationship-focused social media program had to offer — special previews and trials of new products, invites to a blogger camp or sponsorship at BlogHer, giveaway contests for readers. These mommy bloggers were organizing as a group of friends, with common interests, and wanted the brand to understand their specific needs and respond accordingly. They wanted their social gatherings to be sponsored, online and offline. They wanted to be treated as a pack.
Is this an emerging trend for your customers? If so, here are three things you can do to understand how moms and other customers are organizing, and how to respond:
- Participate and Observe: You can observe this swarming behavior by just hanging out and using social media for your own purpose. For example, BSM Media CEO Maria Baily noticed a similar trend that she shared with eMarketer. After experiencing a problem with Comcast service, she complained on Twitter. "Within a minute, I must have had 20 moms tweet me back to say, ‘You need to tweet @comcastcares and make sure they know about it.' I took their advice and within one hour I had someone from Comcast at my front door, and within 30 minutes I had a phone call." While the experience was powerful and effective for Bailey, the key shift in consumer behavior occurs before the brand even gets involved, as moms step in to guide their social media follower/friend to the best outcome.
- Create Opportunities to Enable Peer-Peer Exchange: This emerging trend is already a viable business opportunity, with new companies offering group-buying services online. Groupon.com, Home Run, and You Swoop are examples of services that enable a steal-of-a-deal for a daily promotion. How do you create a group-buying experience for your brand, in a manner and method that connects to how people want to be engaged? Brands such as Pepsi, CBS, and Kia have all organized mommy-blogger tweetups. In our work with brands like Nestlé, Saucony, New York magazine, and Target, we've created group events online, like book clubs and listening forums, and offline, like sponsoring mommy circles, organizing scavenger hunts and creating office league sports championships.
- Recalibrate Your Metrics: If the focus of the relationship is shifting, you may want to reconsider your key performance indicators. Professor Kumar and his colleagues undertook a study to measure the interplay between Customer Lifetime Value and Net Promoter Score. They discovered that the most loyal consumers do not necessarily like to vocally advocate on behalf of the brand, and they also learned that not all intenders (who give high NPS scores) actually follow through and refer. They recommend measuring Customer Referral Value (CRV), a formula that takes into account past referral behavior, factors out people who would have become customers anyway and estimates future referrals driven by marketing efforts — essentially assigning a value to each referral.
One additional attribute of the pack to consider involves purchase decisions. It is a well-known fact that advice from friends and family is the most common resource consumers seek when making decisions on homes, entertainment systems, vacations and other purchases. Within the pack, the dynamic changes, and decisions are made within a group conversation that extends both on- and offline. In this environment, active peer pressure becomes the most powerful force motivating purchase decisions, and the ability for brands to speak to the pack, converse and negotiate with the pack, becomes a critical factor for success.
How does this translate for our mommy bloggers? The group of moms we spoke with may not show up in a customer value study as a highly loyal, profitable group of consumers at an individual level. But taken as a group of women who proactively seek ways to engage their favorite brands, these mommies deserve to be acknowledged for their power and proactivity as a pack.
About the Authors
Jennifer van der Meer (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a strategist, teacher, and speaker focused on developing sustainable relationships between people, products and brands. At Drillteam, van der Meer provides brand strategy, engagement plans research, product design consulting, and technology marketing strategy for brands such as Saucony, Neiman Marcus, and Target.
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For the rest of the June 2010 issue of CRM magazine — our second annual Social Media Issue, this year focused on communities — please click here.