Kevin Roberts, the CEO of Satchi & Satchi, one of the worlds largest ad agencies in a recent e broadcast interview said that “traditional media has no clue as to how to adjust to our new always connected world”. His description of our e devices is that they are personalized extensions of ourselves, and that we are now “screenagers” constantly searching a variety of different screens on our cell phones, notebooks, laptops and HD TVs.
The cell phone has become another part of our daily attire and many of us even take it to bed, or have it close by on our night stand.
Likewise, rapidly shrinking lap top computers and notebooks are also becoming an appendage of our everyday lives. We are a nation of blinking, beeping and texting consumers electronically accessible 24/7.
Simultaneously, social networks have patched many of us together into “tribes” so that those with similar interests can be almost perpetually updated on issues they care about.
With all of this connectivity it is easier than ever to keep in touch with customers and to work with them 1-to-1 on customizing your offerings to their specific requirements, and alerting others to any new developments or product enhancements on the go.
Gartner Research reports that consumers are now shopping directly from their cell phones after getting an instant update from their social network. They are also using their cell phones to buy plane tickets and book hotel rooms while in transit.
Shop-by-phone customers can pick up their mobile purchases in stores or have them shipped home or to their hotel without logging on to a computer or interacting with salespeople.
The question is – how are you participating in all of these wonderful e CRM opportunities?
Let’s review some of the easiest things you can do. Your most fundamental activity to get started is to collect all of your customers e addresses and sort them by customer type. You may say “how obvious”, but I have visited with CEOs who don’t have this basic information? Next is customers cell phone numbers. What?
If you want to transition to e marketing this information is essential. Of course there may be some customers who refuse to give you this “personal” information. But, this is information, too!
Basics to Start
I have found that periodic “e blasts” and “e newsletters” are the best way to get started internally. E blasts are a sort of electronic “infomercials” that can take a variety of formats. Some of the more common are to announce sales e.g. my local ACE hardware store electronically alerts me to their monthly seasonal sales items and also sends me e coupons, and a local restaurant alerts me to their weekly specials and holiday meal promotions, when new employees have joined the firm, and about new recipes.
E newletters are also effective and can be monthly, but are better and easier to administer quarterly. I like the following format: an update from the CEO, a recent application/success story, industry news, and product development information. It is also good to use the newsletter for a Q&A opportunity to get customers more involved. Maybe by having an “ask the experts” query.
Another very effective e tool that I have used are “e blasts” managed by one of your industry publications. This is a relatively inexpensive form of electronic promotion that can be targeted very effectively to specific types of customers. Most industry publications can segment their readers by job titles, by company, by industry, or location – city, state or zip code. The costs are usually calculated based on the number of e addresses and frequency.
We also now have mobile marketing targeted to cell phones, which is an entire strategy unto itself and the future of e commerce. See some of my prior column pieces on Mobile Marketing.
Lastly, is the social media best captured under the popular “blogging” category. Here the most effective e commerce blogs are called “Industry Expert Blogs”. Obviously, if someone in your company can qualify as an industry expert this can be a very effective tactic. If you can develop this kind of a relationship in conjunction with one of your major industry publications it’s even better.
As Kevin Roberts, the CEO of Satchi & Satchi said e commerce is “making the world a better place for everyone”.
In conclusion, Lee Eisenberg, author of “Shoptimism” states that “the convergence of information technology is forcing every company to consider utilizing social media as their mobile marketing platform”.
If you need help getting started with your own e marketing strategy let’s start a dialogue – e me!
Bob Donnelly, is CEO of VAAS Americas, the U.S. unit of the Chennai, India based maker and distributor of industrial valves. A coach, educator, and advisor to founders/CEOs of growing firms, he is a serial entrepreneur, having started, grown and sold several technology based businesses. Earlier in his career he held senior management positions with IBM, Pfizer, and Exxon.
He has developed an online MBA program in Entrepreneurship for Rushmore University with managers from global firms enrolled in the program. Since 1998 he has served as a venture mentor at New York University’s Stern School of Business Berkeley Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, where he advises start-ups on business plan development, marketing strategy, and presentation skills.
He writes the online Entrepreneurial CEO column for Chief Executive.