When developing marketing strategies and evaluating your businesses branding, it is often easy to treat the customer as a ‘target’. The finish line at the end of elaborate marketing/sales campaigns, simply there to absorb information and purchase your product. Falling into this approach in the age of social media squanders what is now one of your greatest ongoing marketing opportunities, an engaged, happy customer.
Word of mouth has always been critical to marketing, as it is reported that 83% of people trust the recommendations of friends and family and that unhappy customers are twice as likely to share their experience. In the past, potential word of mouth networks were considerably smaller – limited to a small catalogue of friends, family and colleagues. This is no longer the case, social media generates enormous, uncapped word of mouth potential, as this communication now takes place on globally visible platforms.
Social media has given rise to what is effectively a new global democracy, every phone is now a potential mouthpiece for an individual to instantly share their feelings and opinions with the rest of the world. As more and more businesses adopt social media, it is becoming increasingly common for customers to take to social media to express their satisfaction (or more often, dissatisfaction) with their experience, engaging the business directly in the process. The breadth of exposure baked into social media has enormous potential for both success and failure in marketing campaigns and strategies. The comments of a single customer may resonate across the world, shared, liked and favourited.
In addition to the scope and power of social media, the average customer is savvier than ever, able to sniff out the faintest hint of a targeted marketing campaign, and preferring to rely on word of mouth and social proof instead of being ‘sold to’ in a society of general marketing fatigue. This means that every single happy customer is a potential brand ambassador, creating a natural form of dynamic marketing as they share their positive experiences.
Keeping customers happy
The potential reach of social media can seem intimidating, however, it simply means that businesses should be focused on creating happy customers by delivering the best possible product and experience. This can be achieved in a number of ways:
- Social media presence – businesses should be active on social media, engaging with and validating the voices of customers.
- Prioritising the customer experience equally with your product.
- Clear, effective and immediately available channels of customer service and ongoing support, including forms of direct contact (website, phone, email) in addition to social media.
- Effective internal coordination – businesses should not think of themselves as divided departments but a cohesive whole focused on the customer.
In the fast-paced world of social media, the potential reach of a happy customer is enormous. If done right, a happy customer can verify independently to the world that your business delivers an effective product and experience.