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permission

That is… Permission from consumers to market to them.

Recent stories in the news regarding data privacy and social media have added to consumers’ concerns about data privacy and targeting. Facebook recently responded to these concerns by removing functionality available to marketers, including the end of its Partner Categories  program in Facebook (which utilized 3rd party data to enhance targeting) and the overnight throttling back of its Instagram API. These changes in functionality and policy are designed to scale back consumer information available to marketers, creating uncertainty in the future effectiveness of social platforms as marketing tools. Adding to the uncertainty is Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s recent appearance before the US Congress for two days of questioning.

During the Congressional Q & A sessions, some members of Congress suggested the United States adopt legislation similar to the European Union General Data Protection Regulation(GDPR), which goes into effect on May 25, 2018 and replaces the earlier Data Protection Directive. The GDPR will expand the definition of personal data to include location data and IP addresses. Additionally, these rules will strengthen the regulations around permission and consent, requiring organizations have terms and conditions that are easily expressed and understood.Organizations must explain how personal data will be collected, what the data will be used for, and where and how that data may be transferred. Specific consumer consent to collect personal data must be obtained. This regulation is backed up by a healthy fine—up to approximately $24 million (USD) or 4% of the organization’s worldwide revenue (whichever is larger).

While Mr. Zuckerberg seemed agreeable to implementing these controls outside of the European Union, when pressed for more detail he was somewhat vague  as to how far Facebook was willing to go with regards to non-EU markets. The next stop on Mr. Zuckerberg’s world tour is a meeting with the head of the EU’s digital policy. While it is unknown what the result of these hearings and meetings will have on marketing policy and practice in the United States, it does provide an opportunity for marketers to reflect on their current relationship marketing practices and methods. What are responsible marketers to do in this environment of increasing consumer distrust and potential regulation of social platforms?

The best way forward is to embrace permission-based relationship marketing. By doing this, you will be communicating directly with consumers who want to receive your messages and you will deepen the connection between your brand and these consumers.

You need to own the relationship with the consumer, which means the approach to social platforms might change. While social media targeting tools can help identify consumers for acquisition, downstream social media efforts should drive interested consumers to provide permission for additional communications across multiple channels. This will allow you continue to develop the brand-to-consumer relationship in meaningful ways beyond clicks and likes.

When you ask interested consumers for additional contact information, and permission to continue the conversation, you are creating a value exchange with the consumer. The consumers provide personal information on their end of the value exchange. Your end of the value exchange is to use their information and permission responsibly by providing relevant communications and offers while maintaining their trust that you will protect their information.

To accomplish this, you need a consumer data management solution that helps you unify and protect your consumer’s data across all communication channels. The solution should allow you to manage the accurate inflow and outflow of consumer interaction information across marketing channels. While you might outsource the delivery of channel specific communications, you should maintain the records of who you are communicating with, what you are communicating, and when those communications are sent. It is critical to maintain records of consumer permissions across channels, provide accessible methods for consumers to opt out, and immediately act on those requests to opt out. Careful and accurate consumer campaign and response data management will enable you to protect your brand, and more importantly, the trust of your valued consumers.

There are many tools on the market that provide data management solutions (like EnvoyPro) BUT they are not all created equal. As mentioned in a previous post, you can even start with a simple database in Excel. If you decide to use a pre-packaged solution, be cautious and critical in your selection. Ask questions to make sure it captures all the necessary information for your category and the types of communications you envision using. Make sure it is easy to use and doesn’t take a manual or a background in SQL to understand what to do or additional plugins for functionality. It should be simple enough that interns can easily pick it up. And please understand how it captures and maintains different levels of consumer permissions.

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CRM provides a 360-degree view of your customers

Relationship. Direct. Database. CRM. One to One. So many different marketing terms that boil down to one methodology – Start conversations, build relationships and impact your bottom line in a measurable way.

There are five basic steps to get you started in the right direction:

1. Build the Vessel

2. Build the Marketing Tools

3. Amplify

4. Segment

5. Measure and Improve

This may sound overwhelming if this is new to your company and/or to you. Keep in mind, like many things, once the tools are in place, the execution is the fun part and the results are so sweet.

Step 1: Build the Vessel

The old joke is “you can’t have everything – because where would you put it?” The first step in relationship marketing is building the vessel, the database, a place to put all your consumer information.

Every time someone interacts with you make a record of it. Every time you send something to someone record it. If they use a coupon, record that, if they send you an email or call you, record that.

Within the database there are 3 core types of information – Stuff we received from consumers, stuff we sent to consumers and what the consumer looks like now. We call the stuff we received from the consumer Responses. We call the stuff we sent consumers “Campaigns” and we call what we know about each consumer right now their “Profile”.

You can start in Excel or with a simple Database tool (likeEnvoy) that helps to automate the process. We talk more about how to build a database in Excel in a separate post.

Step 2: Build the Marketing Tools

Before designing any marketing programs, make a plan: Define who you want to talk to and what action you want them to take. Who are your customers? Who are your prospects? What messages (and offers) will motivate them? How many times and with what frequency do you need to reach the different targets to motivate them to take action? What are the methods available for you to reach them – website registrations, email, text, direct mail – and what is the right mix?

· Your customers need reinforcement and reminders that you care, such as: Thank you, periodic low cost offers, opportunities for them to share opinions, ask for referrals.

· Your prospects need to be converted to your brand. Get them to try it, repeat purchase(s) and become a regular customer. Welcome then with first purchase or when they register on the website

It takes discipline, like any relationship. Talk with themnot at them.Showing you care and that you are listening goes a long way with consumers.

We talk more about how to build loyalty and conversion programs in a separate post.

Step 3: Amplify

Now you need to reach more prospects and customers!

Develop a promotion, like a product related sweeps, free product, product related premiums, cents off, that you can post on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter as well as with search and banner placement. Promote it on your product and POS. Use traditional media like radio, TV, newspapers and magazines if it makes sense. But make sure there is a strong call to action!

Consumer Interruption involves visiting the prospects where they are likely to be (grocery store, bar programs, events). Get the product or coupons for free product in their hands and do name collection. You can accomplish this with QR or bar codes, paper name generation forms, text message links. Collect information so that you can follow up, thank them and encourage them to purchase the product again. Always take the opportunity to gather the information of folks interested in your category and/or product.

Another method of consumer interruption is to participate in co-op mailings with other similar products. Make sure the products complement each other and that the consumers can participate in the offer easily.

Step 4: Segmentation

Once you have interaction data on your customers you can now attempt to identify which of your customers are the most loyal. We can append data from compiled sources to get a clearer picture of your best customers and then use that data to find additional folks just like them. We can also use that data to segment the types of users we have (heavy users, seasonal or occasional users, loyal, prospects) and then design our programs to give different offers or messaging based on the segment they are in.

Step 5: Measure and Improve

When you start relationship marketing error on the side of impact over efficiency. Always start with the more lucrative offer, the more frequent interaction, the more engagement. If you can get great customer results you can always find ways to be more efficient the next time. If you focus on efficiency first you may never get the funding to see if you can get impact.

Test cells need to be built into every program. Then, even when you get less than desirable results, at least you are learning what works and what doesn’t. It’s just a matter of time until you will hit on the right message, the right offer and the right communication strategy.

The right tools and the right partner can ease the load and overwhelming nature of Relationship Marketing and produce actionable results. At Broadstreet Marketing, we partner with small, medium and large companies to do just that. If you only need a vessel or if you need help developing and/or executing the plan, we’d love to partner with you!