The customer journey on social media can be simplified like this -- brands spend countless hours engaging an audience, working hard toward that elusive moment when a Facebook or Twitter user converts into a customer. The idea is that repeated engagement eventually leads to a sale.
Cyber Monday presents an opportunity for marketers to reverse that journey. With customers flocking to online sales, the opportunity to turn customers into an engaged audience -- and even more ambitiously, turn them into marketers -- is ripe for brands looking past the holiday shopping season. On no other day is there this much opportunity to leverage online sales to build a loyal social following and a strong base of social influencers.
The job of the marketer on Cyber Monday changes dramatically. Instead of working hard to generate sales and gain customers, marketers will be handed thousands of new customers. What they do with them will most likely deeply impact their marketing success in the future.
On Cyber Monday, the sale -- that elusive endpoint of the customer journey -- can become the starting point for a re-imagination of the customer journey that uses customers as the brand ambassadors that complete the "one-to-one-to-many" marketing loop.
According to comScore, more than $1.7 billion was spent online on Cyber Monday last year, an 18% increase over 2012. Here are five ways to make sure those new customers that come flooding into your online stores on the biggest online shopping day of the year have an even bigger impact on your long-term marketing strategy:
1. Focus on an exceptional customer experience
This seems basic and intuitive. But you are never going to capture a customer as repeat business or as a marketer for your brand if his or her purchasing experience is difficult or if the shipping or product quality is lacking. Marketers should also keep in mind the tradeoffs between gathering consumer data and maximizing the customer experience when creating surveys or data-collection processes. Endless pop-up windows asking for survey entries or repeated email or feedback forms are going to turn customers off to your brand, and will ruin your relationship with your customer just as it is getting started. Keep forms as simple and painless as possible. Don't be too intrusive with data collection or surveys. Balance your need for consumer insights with your dedication to the customer experience.
2. Offer incentives
Reward the customers who do provide email addresses and survey information with incentives. Your customer's time and data are valuable.
3. Collect data carefully
Remember that customers don't want to give you all the data you want. And asking for everything all at once can burn your bridge with a customer before you have the chance to build a relationship. Consider starting small with the most basic information -- an email address. This opens up the relationship and allows you to build trust and ask for more interaction and more data down the road. Or create multiple levels of data collection and multiple levels of incentives that give customers a choice in how much information they want to give you. These customer insights are highly valuable to your business, but the relationship with the customer is even more valuable. Don't lose a customer in the attempt to gather too much data.
4. Deliver value on social media
Once you have turned your customer into a social media connection or an email newsletter subscriber, remember that you have to maintain that connection. Customers can easily unfollow you or unlike you at any time. Don't spam them with overt social media sales campaigns. Give them content that is interesting, engaging and useful. Just like you work hard to make the customer experience as seamless as possible, make sure that each interaction with your customer through social media or email continues to build your brand. Build that relationship and offer them value through exclusive content, unique email offers and creative campaigns. This is an opportunity to boost the virality of your posts as well by delivering shareable content that is relevant not only to your consumers, but also to their circle of social media friends.
5. Be authentic
Social media users want authentic interactions. As Facebook's algorithm has changed and more ads populate the network, it is important to break through the clutter by delivering high-quality content to customers. Quality will ultimately win out as social media users value and maintain connections with the brands that are authentic, creative and valuable to them on social media.
Your quality content will travel further through the social sphere, your brand will attract more likes and your social presence will deliver more ROI if you are authentic with your customers.