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Digital Marketing Evolves the Definition of a "Customer"

Posted by Jason Tabeling on October 12th, 2012 at 1:17 pm

When sitting around the conference room talking about how your business treats its customers have you considered what the definition really means, and is it accurate? For most businesses you are referring to the consumers who have purchased a product you offer. That is a very common definition; however, what a customer really indicates is you have a relationship with that consumer. After a consumer makes a purchase you can now engage with them via cross-sell, and up sell programs given the information you have about their purchase history. This is really where the definition of a customer has shifted. Technology and digital media has allowed businesses to engage in a relationship with a consumer who has never made a purchase, or even visited your website.

The biggest evidence of this shift comes via the power of social media. Consumers are providing information about themselves, and indicating which brands they ‘like,’ or ‘follow’ via Twitter and Facebook. These new sets of consumers are opting into your brands communication stream. This is an opportunity to engage in a whole new way. The information shared here can demonstrate how your brand feels about protecting the environment, share pictures about your customer’s use of your product in the daily life, or information about your latest offer. This opportunity has given rise to social CRM. Brands like Jet Blue, Best Buy, Comcast, and others have grown there businesses significantly by adapting this new definition of a customer.

best buy social crm

Social media isn’t the only way that the definition of a customer has shifted. Take a look at what Google calls ‘communication extensions.’ This is an example where a consumer can provide their e-mail address without ever clicking through to your landing page. In this example you know the consumer is searching for your products, and is open to receiving ongoing communication from your brand.

create and barrel communication extentsions

Another example is what Gillette did via their ad campaign on the Map My Run mobile app. This campaign provided users of the app the ability to receive a free training guide. In order to receive the training guide the user needed to provide their e-mail address. This is a great example of a brand providing value to a consumer in exchange for the ability to engage in an ongoing relationship. This is something that not possible previously, and a key way the definition of a customer has shifted.

Gillette training program

As brands start to absorb the shift in what it means to be treated as a “customer” they will find it easier to create engaging strategies. The focus can no longer be on forcing someone to buy something before they get to enjoy the brand experience, and promise. Your brands ability to connect more personally for customers creates a deeper and lasting connection that is quickly becoming the expectation.

One Response to “Digital Marketing Evolves the Definition of a "Customer"”

  1. Daniel Kim says:

    Thanks for the insight, Jason!
    With the importance of social media only increasing, a business must integrate and utilize it to suit their needs as well as the needs of customers. These crucial lines of communication previously unavailable, provide a way to creating lasting relationships between the customer and business. Furthermore, with the simplicity of cloud based CRM solutions like GreenRope, there is no longer an excuse for companies to ignore social media and CRM. Social CRM takes social media to another level of use, allowing data collected from these social sites to be communicated across all levels of your business. This level of integration can only be accomplished if the business as a whole, integrates and utilizes CRM. Adoption is a major hurdle to social CRM integration and to combat the stagnation that could occur, every employee must enter data for efficient communication. Social CRM has given business an opportunity to not only engage with customers and build relationships, it has also allowed smaller companies to expand their brand domestically and internationally.

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