The internet allows marketers to involve customers in ways that traditional promotion cannot. With the advent of web2.0 technologies like Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube marketers can interact with customers and customers can interact with each other improving the customer experience. This interaction and involvement of the customer improves the chances that companies will acquire new customers and convert customers into lifelong, brand loyal customers. There are other benefits to involving customers in promotional activities such as getting information about the customer and getting feedback from the customer. It also allows customers to add value to the promotion and the product.
Getting customers involved with internet promotions allows a marketer to follow their movements and get much more information on the customer. This allows marketers to tailor promotion for each customer. This information also allows the marketer to gauge the effectiveness of the promotion by seeing how much response is received with each promotional activity. But involving the customer in promotion also allows the marketer to get feedback from the customer which can be used to perfect the promotion, the product, and the entire purchase process.
“After collecting information from its customers, a firm can then identify the various actions that it needs to take and assign business units to improve its business processes (e.g. improve quality as defined by customers, improve customer service, shorten delivery cycle) to meet customer expectations” (Sussan, 2012). Customers can offer feedback about a company’s customer service or a challenge they experience when placing an order. Customers can also offer feedback on the product itself allowing the company to make improvements and develop a product that customers want. This feedback is also useful in tailoring promotion because marketers can get more insight into the customer and what drives them.
Involving customers using social networking such as Facebook or Twitter keeps customers involved over long periods of time. By continuously adding content customers are motivated to return to the company’s page an see added content. By adding new content to a Facebook page you keep the customer engaged and that will get them to keep coming back for more (Komando, 2012). Customers want to see a company’s response to their comments, check for freebies or coupons, and see other customer’s comments. Customers also find interaction with the company or other customers enjoyable (Sussan, 2012). This positive experience will keep customers thinking about the company and keep the company in good standing with customers. Finally, social networking sites offer the marketer to respond to customer’s questions or ask questions to the customer. It allows the marketer to directly engage each customer. There is also the network effect that can acquire more customers. Facebook has a sharing feature and also allows friends to see the pages or postings that a person has liked. As customers share or like posts, their friends see those actions. Basically a snowball effect is created as friends of fans see their involvement with the company and follow suit.
Involving customers can also be accomplished through allowing product reviews. Amazon does a great job of this by allowing anyone to leave a review for each product. Sometimes the best sales tool is a someone’s review of a product. eWOM is any positive or negative statement made about a company that is available to the masses via the internet.
“By reading the information provided by fellow consumers in eWOM, consumers reduce their risks and time spent before making a purchase decision” (Sussan, 2012). Customers can assure other customers of the features, quality, or even defects in the product. This sets expectations for a product, good or bad, and will improve the satisfaction of the customer. In addition to that, reviews also add quality to the promotion at no cost. Promoters can get actual testimonials from customers to use to promote the product to other customers to improve the product to meet the expectations of the customers. Good user reviews add real value to the product and also improve sales of new products (Sussan, 2012). Reviews add confidence to the customer before the purchase and also allow the customer to interact with other customers by leaving a review for others to see. People may increase their brand loyalty as they become an authority on the brand by leaving reviews on different products.
Companies can now engage customers before and after a purchase in new ways given the popularity of the internet. Involving the customer in promotion adds more value to the product and creates lifelong customers by improving the customer experience. Companies can also learn much more about their customers and potential customers which can make promotion much more effective. Customer feedback can also help a company get insight into improvements they can make or new products they can develop. Involving the customer is thus critical to the success of any company in today’s web based market.
Komando, K. (2012, June 7). Secrets of Facebook marketing. USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/tech/columnist/kimkomando/story/2012-06-08/facebook-marketing-tips/55444700/1
Sussan, F. (2012). Consumer interaction as intellectual capital. Journal of Intellectual Capital, 13(1), 81-105. doi: 10.1108/14691931211196222