Facebook’s Potential for One-To-One Marketing and Social Commerce

One-to-one marketing has long been the dream of many marketers. In fact two amazing authors, Don Peppers and Martha Rogers wrote several books about it, The One to One Future – Building Relationships One Customer at a Time, and The Fieldbook for Implementing a 1 To 1 Marketing Program. The theory was that with competition for customers fiercer than ever, with products and services only a mouse click away, with so many choices, and with many products becoming commodities, customers’ loyalty changed. As a result, the way a brand could attract and keep customers would be to personalize how they marketed and sold to a customer. That field of endeavor became known as one-to-one marketing.
While most brands bragged about how customer-centric they were, in reality many were at a loss for identifying and attracting a loyal and profitable customer base. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems back in the late 1990’s were supposed to provide the infrastructure necessary to support one-to-one marketing. There was a lot marketing hype around the features, functions and benefits of CRM software.
The issue with CRM systems then was that they were more like a CTM, or customer transaction management systems. They kept track of the transactions a customer did with a company. Those transaction might be things lke receive a marketing message via say email, buy something as well as call in for service. They didn’t have all the business intelligence that marketers could readily use to provide personalized relationship marketing and certainly not enough of the personalized, one-to-one marketing data.
Why? Because most companies implemented operational CRM, meaning they had a database of contact information and transactional data about their customers. And that information definitely helped with marketing. But most companies didn’t deploy analytical CRM, meaning the type of CRM that would provide the analytical wisdom about your customers to enable one to one marketing and sales. Out of the frustration for the lack of that data, the field of business intelligence or BI was created. Separate BI point vendors began to specialize in gathering and mining data about customers to be used to drive customers through the marketing funnel.
An industry that is successful at this are Las Vegas casinos. Many of the casinos developed loyalty programs that could measure marketing the offers sent to customers and subsequent behaviors in the casinos, including what they bought and how many times they came back. Studying these patterns allowed marketers to direct their one to one marketing efforts very effectively and obtain high return on investments (ROI). But most industries failed to excel in one to one marketing.
Fast forward to today, where we now have Web 2.0 type technologies that allow interactions between brands and customers. With the enhanced Facebook Open Graph API and supporting tools that Facebook announced in April 2010, Facebook can be seen as a social CRM system. This is especially true if you define CRM as the opportunity to do personalized, one to one, marketing, sales and service. What has been missing in CRM is the relationship between the customer, their likes, dislikes and the friends and family in the context in a location where their reactions and comments are honest, authentic, and updated daily. And what had been missing in Facebook is the ability to drive direct sales and take care of customer service issues. F-commerce and other apps now make this all possible.
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