Marketers Get Invites to the Social Networking Party

Social networks aren't just for secret admirers sending "Happy Valentine's Day" wishes. As virtual social gatherings become increasingly popular, many email marketers are now looking to play Cupid, shooting their arrows directly into the hearts (and wallets) of potential customers in order to gain valuable information. Recognizing email marketers' absolute need to have direct integration with customer data, Loyalty Labs yesterday released version 3.0 of its integrated marketing platform. The updated edition features a standalone email product that offers integrated targeting, segmentation, and CRM capabilities. Additionally, the release also contains new tools for marketers to quickly create dialogues with consumers while recording all questions, comments, and responses. Not surprisingly, Mark Goldstein, Loyalty Lab's chief executive officer, says that he sees the 3.0 release of his company's offering as more than just a nice-to-have product for today's email marketer. "After four years of development, we've been able to offer a sharply priced email solution for even the most sophisticated brands that leverages our deep CRM experience to deliver a far more robust solution," he explains. "We're seeing sophisticated email marketers break ties with their existing providers as the benefits of direct integration with their customer data is a no-brainer." According to the company, the new standalone email marketing product features data integration options with Loyalty Labs' so-called Ready-Aim-Engage platform, enabling marketers to link email to a wide variety of activities -- including nontransactional behaviors -- so messaging can be relevant to social networks and branded environments. The suite opens the path for marketers to learn from campaigns and tailor their messaging based on success. Marketers can also track responses wherever customers purchase or interact, providing what the company calls "a more accurate view of response rates and performance." The new release also records customer activities that go beyond simple transactional behavior, including:
  • interacting with social media applications;
  • recording important dates;
  • reading or posting to blogs; and
  • referring friends.
Brian Haven, a senior analyst at Forrester Research, explains that merely analyzing customers who buy a particular product fails to provide a sufficiently comprehensive view for truly effective campaign management. "The most valuable customer isn't necessarily someone who buys a lot," he says. "In this socially charged era in which peers influence each other as much as companies do, good customers can't be identified solely by their purchases. Companies also need to track individuals who influence
others to buy -- tracking only transactions and loyalty at the end of the funnel misses this significant element." According to Goldstein, the Ready-Aim-Engage platform falls in line with Haven's conclusions. While Goldstein says he cannot speak to the future importance of marketers' use of social networking, he believes that opening up that world to marketers in a new way is essential right now. "It's really important now to our clients that are targeting younger customers, because [those customers] are spending all their time on Facebook and MySpace," he says. "Marketers have no choice: Figuring out how to reach customers where they are is really important today." Successfully accomplishing that is enough to set any marketer's heart a-flutter.

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