If we could read minds, marketing would be a cinch, says You Mon Tsang, Vocus’ Senior Vice President of Products.
But even those lacking a sixth sense can get a glimpse into customers’ thoughts.
“Instead of us having to read people’s minds, everyone’s living in public,” You Mon said during his January 24th webinar. “They’re showing their intent to buy in public. And that’s a buying signal.”
Social networks broadcast to the world once-private thoughts. Often, these thoughts include buying signals, i.e. clues that someone wants a particular product or service.
Buying signals can come in many forms, including tweets about upcoming weddings, thefts of personal items, requests for information or recommendations, and myriad other ways.
The trouble is monitoring millions of tweets for these buying signals. That is until the Vocus Marketing Suite’s Buying Signals™ feature made it quick and easy to find these people. The Suite scours Twitter and finds tweets that can connect you with the right people, at the right time, with minimal effort.
Though Buying Signals are delivered straight to you, responding to them takes more than a hard sell.
“I would say that as time goes on we’ve become more and more comfortable with (companies responding to us through social media),” You Mon said. “But if you come on strongly or inappropriately people will get annoyed just like they would with emails that flood their mailbox.”
In light of that, here are eight questions inspired by You Mon’s presentation to ask yourself before engaging a prospect who provides a buying signal online:
1. Where are the customers?
Sure it’s important to consider their physical location. (After all a California resident is less likely to buy a boat from a seller in Maine than someone in New England.) But consider where the customer is in the buying cycle. Are they researching, browsing, about to make a purchase, or just venting about some bad luck? Whatever it is, identifying a prospect’s position in the buying cycle helps determine the way to engage them.
FYI: Most customers using social media are early in the buying cycle.
2. How can I help?
Once you identify where the customer is, consider how you can help them. Browsers may want information about a product’s features. Researchers will appreciate access to helpful information and third-party reviews of your product.
Since most customers are in the early stages of the buying cycle, the best engagement on social media often is providing value that is seemingly unrelated to your product.
3. Why do they need the product/service?
Are they looking to replace a product that broke down? Did they step on it or have it stolen? Someone who needs a new product because the other broke down may be more likely to switch to a more-reliable brand and willing to do research to find which that is. Someone replacing a lost or stolen item may want a replacement as quickly as possible.
4. What value do customers place on the product/service?
The monetary and sentimental value of a product influences how people will want retailers to interact with them, says Brendon O’Donovan, Vocus’ Product Marketing manager. Someone looking for lunch won’t mind a hard sell. Someone looking for a car may want to take some time. Likewise, someone who needs office supplies doesn’t have much sentiment tied to the product and will want immediate service and the best deal. Someone who just lost a wedding ring probably won’t want the hard sell on a replacement immediately. “As with any marketing response, it’s best to know your audience and your customer before responding,” Brendon says.
5. Does my product/service fill an immediate need?
Let’s just let Brendon take this one:
“As with any marketing response, it’s best to know your audience and your customer before responding. This means understanding their buying behavior and their purchasing cycle.
“Responding to a tweet that ‘Got a flat tire on the way home from work’ with a 10% off coupon for tire service is pretty straightforward – you know they need a tire and are going to purchase imminently. It’s a relatively low cost item, with high necessity, so the purchasing cycle is short – thus replying with an action tweet is entirely appropriate.
6. What else do I need to provide to get the customer further in the buying cycle?
Again, I defer to Brendon’s expertise:
“If you’re a B2B CRM provider and see a tweet that says ‘Researching CRM systems as a possible replacement for my current system’ it’s usually pertinent to engage the person with some helpful information – such as a blog you or your company has posted containing information on choosing the best solution.
“Work with them to get them further down the sales process by getting them in touch with your sales teams. This is a bigger purchase, one that requires much more research and is not imminent. So as a marketer, you need to point them in the right direction (Your direction!) by helping them obtain information that will help in their decision process.”
7. Are they involved with a competitor?
Buying signals can also come in the form of mentions of a competitor. If someone mentions a competitor, consider having a customer service representative contact them. The mention of a competitor could mean that the prospect is ready to buy. This gives you the opportunity to sell your company.
8. What do I want people to do?
Every piece of content you produce—whether blog post, tweet, or response to a buying signal—should have an end goal. Before creating anything, ask yourself what action you hope the content makes the prospect take.
Of course, you want to make a sale, but consider how to get people to that point. Often the goal will be to establish yourself as an industry expert.
Missed the webinar? Click now to access the on-demand version!