Let’s talk about sales. Customers don’t care about our online brand conversations.
The desire for customers to have personal relationships with brands remains the greatest myth pushed by today’s online marketers.
Then there’s the assertion that increased engagement will lead to stronger relationships.
Mmmm, not necessarily. Chatty versus cheap toothpaste, who wins the deal?
Social engagement can lead to customer loyalty or a win in an apples to apples situation (up to 15% of customers, says Gartner). But ultimately, if there’s a significant value difference between competitive offerings, the conversation won’t carry day.
More important than our conversation is the word of mouth generated from the satisfied customer and the true brand loyalist, both on and offline.
Trust comes from peers, not brand owned conversations. In fact, 63% of customers need to hear something about a company three times before they believe its true. So much for that all important brand created conversation.
Social and Sales Relevancy
There are four primary tracks for social media in a marketing organization identified by McKinsey & Company’s Demystifying Social Media Report (pictured above).
The final track, Lead, is where sales occurs. Sales comes down to relevancy.
When someone needs something, a product or a service, suddenly your brand becomes relevant and has an opportunity. Outside of the one or two percent of customers that are blood loyal brand evangelists (generally speaking, some companies have more), brands need a comprehensive integrated marketing experience to win.
It’s not that social media validation isn’t important. It is. But only when the would-be customer starts investigating your wares.
The prospective customer may find you through a wide variety of means, including social, search, content, traditional media, email, word of mouth, etc.
If you have a high dollar or B2B sale, you can expect prospective buyers to examine your online presence over a significant period of time, weeks or even months (this would make for an interesting research study). Low dollar consumer purchases have a much shorter sales cycle.
In conjunction with other decision factors like peer reviews, price points, feature sets, etc., the brand conversation may play a role in that final decision.
After the Sale
After the purchase, that conversational role may continue.
Customers may want to chat, perhaps with us (the marketing or customer service team), perhaps with other customers to learn more about the product, and maybe share some good will. After all, people like to feel good about how they spent their money.
If we’re really lucky, a new customer might join your community of brand evangelists, developing further word of mouth.
But don’t kid yourself. Most will lose interest. Their need for our particular product and service is fulfilled. They stop caring.
For the customer, it’s on to the next purchase and social conversation.
And for us, well, the marketing job continues with the next prospect. Let’s hope the overall social media effort amplifies interest and increases demand so that many more potential customers consider our products, services or causes.