Social Customers Come In Stages

Six to be exact, according to Maria Ogneva.

Don’t get discouraged if your social media efforts have not yielded any solid sales. Customers are out there, and are ready to engage, but only when they are ready. When your social customers are ready, it is important to be listening and available with answers.

Here are the six stages of a social customer’s purchase process:

  1. Problem Identification
    The first step in any solution is realization and acceptance of a problem. Once the customer realizes they have a problem, step one is complete.
  2. Research
    Make sure you are advertising and marketing yourself appropriately, or simply put, customers won’t find you. Combine traditional advertising with online marketing through search engines and various social media outlets.
  3. Validation
    The customer has found you and has inquired. Now you have to respond with a personalized response. Communicate the product or service in terms that are specific to his or her needs.
  4. Selection
    If you were successful (compared to competitors), the customer has selected your company. Fully understanding your customer’s needs at this point is crucial. Make sure you know exactly what they want and need in the way of a solution.
  5. Post-purchase
    You closed the sale and delivered the product or service. Make sure you continue to nurture the relationship (the customer), because so many sales are based on relationships.
  6. Advocacy
    Pleased customers make enthusiastic advocates and word-of-mouth is still the most effective form of marketing out there. Make certain you have a satisfied customer.

At The Whelan Group, we have recently begun rolling out procedures to ensure a continual form of communication throughout each stage of the purchase process – from introduction to advocacy.

Are you doing the same?

Read the full article: The Six Stages of Social Customers.

Becoming More Than Facebook Friends

Imagine yourself getting ready for a blind ‘e-date’. If you could choose between Facebook and your school’s website, who would you click with?

While many college websites have a lot going for them, your Facebook page probably knows much more about you (your friends, your “likes”, the embarrassing pictures you take on the weekend – you get the idea). The Facebook interface is designed to enhance consumer experience with every click.

Can you say the same about your school’s web presence?

The University of Phoenix is beginning to vocalize its matchmaking ambitions. The school is developing a “Learning Genome Project” to better acquaint itself with every student who steps foot onto the ‘e-campus’.

By tracking activity in online classrooms, Phoenix plans to gain insight into students’ “learning modality preferences” (preferences for written versus visually-presented information, for example). If customized learning proves to be successful, Phoenix will break the “one-size-fits-all” mold of the typical online education.

What are you doing to stay ahead of the times? Schools who are comfortable watching from the backseat will end up there – behind Facebook and University of Phoenix – as the undesired third-wheel. To better your school, you must first better your student relationships. If you don’t know how, follow Facebook’s lead (they’re obviously doing something right if your students spend time in-class socializing on the popular social network).

Source: Steve Kolowich, Inside Higher Ed

The Gender Gap In Email

If they’ll all (ideally) end up at the same college, young men and women should just be sent one mass email with all of the information they need…right?

Actually, recent studies have shown that this might not be the case. ClickZ recommends what issues need to be acknowledged when conquering the gender gap:

  • Usage differences: A study done by Pew Internet American Life confirmed that men and women use the Internet for very different reasons. Men are most likely to be found gathering information on subjects like weather, news and sports (to name a few), while women generally use the Internet for communication purposes and personal issues including, but not limited to, health or religion.
  • Design preferences: According to a recent British study, women, in general, prefer content with vivid colors and typeface; men, on the other hand, respond well to dark colors and horizontal lines.
  • Spam perception: The 2010 Messaging Anti Abuse Working Group (MAAWG) reports that men are more likely to open spam mail and click-through its links (and sometimes even respond!). Women are more skeptical and tend to pay attention to the sender, not the content, to determine legitimacy.
  • Opting out: Results have shown that women are more likely than men to opt-out of emails or complain about overwhelming inbox traffic.

So, while you don’t have to use pink or blue to delineate male- and female-targeted messages, things like subject lines and email design can truly make a difference in your response rates.

If you’re not fully convinced about the need for gender-specific marketing solutions, check out what Stephanie Miller has to say.

A “Harvard” Reputation

If your school was a person, who would be in its proud circle of friends? If you couldn’t count students or alumni in, you may have some re-branding to do.

No one likes a nuisance with a bad personality, or lack thereof – the same goes for a brand. Successful brands establish vivid personalities widely recognized by the public and (ideally) embody characteristics similar to the target group of their marketing efforts.

One of the most popular illustrations of effective “brand personality”, for example, is Apple. Tech-savvy consumers are highly familiar with their “I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC” ad campaign that literally personifies how a typical Mac user might look, behave, etc. The consistent “cool” expressed through the brand’s advertising, in-store experience and products themselves have made Apple one of the strongest brands in the world.

“So what if my school doesn’t have touch screen phones and 27-inch, high retina desktops to give away? Then what?” stumped recruiters may ask. Schools must steer away from generic taglines and aim to “create a brand that becomes a desirable addition to the personal brand of every student and alumnus,” Roger Dooley says.

Although “every school can’t be Harvard”, countless options exist when choosing the direction of your school’s branding strategy. The most important thing? Make sure your marketing truly reflects your school and the experience that comes along with being a student there. From direct mail campaigns to on-campus recruitment tours, students should recognize a similar look and feel throughout each interaction.

If your communication efforts are truly consistent and compelling, prospects shouldn’t have to trek to campus and visit before knowing they belong there.

In need of some fresh, creative branding? Contact us.