All month, we’ve discussed how to grow and engage online communities. But how can companies use social data analytics to move beyond listening and engaging with customers to drive business and create advocates? We spoke with the folks at SDL to learn more about the future of social analytics.

Follow the Customer Journey

David Clark, vice president of marketing at SDL says that by leveraging social data, companies can help turn regular customers into loyal, brand advocates. But social data isn’t always easily understood nor acted upon correctly. To be successful, marketers need to monitor scores and key performance indicators (KPIs) and match them to the appropriate experiences. From there, it’s important to segment audiences so that you can personalize messages appropriately.

With SDL’s Customer Commitment Framework, companies are given the specific insights and tools needed to foster loyalty and commitment among their customer base. The framework is built upon a structured approach to social intelligence that not only shows the journey path your customers are on, but also their likely next steps -- all by using a curated subset that’s completely user-generated, global and continuously updating.

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Engage in the Process of Understanding

But data isn’t the only thing continuously updating. The way that customers interact online is continuously evolving. As behaviors change, companies should focus on measuring and managing three things: how they shop, how they share, and how they advocate.

Learning Opportunities

Studying consumer behaviors can help you predict future ones, But how can companies go from merely listening to truly leveraging social data as a source of actionable intelligence that proactively creates customers and advocates? Furthermore, how can marketers go from unstructured conversations to identifying customer behaviors, to fully leverage the customer journey?

Mr. Clark says if your company is global and you care about your brand, you’re probably already aware of the experiences that make up the customer journey, but you must continue to engage in the process of understanding. By understanding the key drivers of the customer journey, companies can start to turn social data into actionable results.

If done correctly, Clark says organizations should be able to better answer questions such as:

  • If a customer is becoming interested in buying something from you, how can you optimize that customer’s journey such that they buy from you again and again?
  • How do you uncover and remove the barriers in the buying journey?
  • If your customer seems to be on the road to becoming an advocate or evangelist, how do you assist and enable them?
  • What content, programs or information should you provide to help them to become your advocate?
  • In which channels should you engage them?
  • What are the key moments of opportunity and what are the key drivers of engagement?
  • What should you do to build relevant relationships with your customers so that they will engage with you, and share your content to organically amplify your message?

A Never Ending (Customer) Journey

Just because you can answer these questions today, doesn't mean they won't change tomorrow. The customer journey doesn't end, so it's imperative that your engagement strategies are ongoing, as well as focused on engaging the customer before, during and after their purchase.