Daniel Burstein

Social Media Marketing: Proactive social touch generates 17.5% more sales for moving company

Hey marketers of 1985 … imagine if you could overhear many of your potential customers’ conversations in an ethical way. Why, if they had an interest in buying a product or service in your category, you could just reach out and start a conversation of your own. This would be way cooler than a hoverboard or flying car (although not quite as cool as the Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor).

Of course, the year is 2012, and we’re now living the dream. On social media, people open up their conversations to the world about what they want to buy, where they want to go, and what they’re trying to crassly self-promote. But how many marketers take advantage of listening combined with proactive social touches to act on these conversations? Here’s a real-life example of how it can work. So I tweeted …

 

 

Most people probably just saw my tweet as a crassly self-promotional attempt to brag about the beautiful March weather here in Jacksonville while trying to poach top marketing talent from frigid northern locations and let them know about the job openings here at MECLABS. (wink, wink)

However, one clever marketer saw an opportunity of a different kind …

 

This led to a virtual interview with Autumnn Darden, Lead Brand Marketing Analyst, ABF U-Pack Moving. Autumnn manages all U-Pack social media accounts, and has been reaching out to individuals on Twitter who mention the need for moving services for the past year and a half. She describes the effort as “very successful.”

Here are a few key points about social media outreach that Autumnn shared …

 

Monitor for mentions

At the most basic level, Autumnn simply monitors for mentions of her company’s brand, and engages in conversation when potential customers are in the consideration phase.

“Many times I will find a tweet where someone is asking their friends which moving company to choose (we’re among their options), and just reaching out to them and saying that we would love to help has often been the clincher in their decision,” she said.

 

Swoop in where competitors fail to service their customers

“I actually have a documented case where a person was considering a competitor of ours and was tweeting them with no response, and I offered to help,” Autumnn said. “We secured her business.”

 

Don’t expect to qualify prospects

If you service only a specific area or product niche, social media can be tricky for qualifying prospects you can actually serve.

“The problem with using Twitter as a lead source, for me, has been distinguishing between their need for a local or long-distance move,” Autumnn remarked. “Because we specialize in moves that are 500 miles or more, it can sometimes open a can of worms to reach out to a potential customer, only to discover they’re just moving down the street.”

She went on to say, “The limited info from a single tweet makes it difficult to discern without just straight up asking. In spite of this, I’ve never had a negative result from asking—just a non-qualified lead and some lost time.”

 

Be hands on … and human

The majority of the moving company’s outreach is manual since discerning the semantics of monitored keywords is near impossible. “For example,” Autumnn said. “The word ‘moving’ in a tweet would have many implications and most often those search/monitoring results do not relate to us.

“We avoid automated replies for this reason as well, not to mention the cold and impersonal tone automation can give.”

Of course, along with being more personal, using Twitter to manually reach customers can be time consuming. “We feel the return is worth it, though!” Autumnn stated emphatically.

 

Answer in real time

By utilizing mobile apps for the team’s monitoring tools (see “related resources” at the bottom of this blog post for more info), Autumnn can reach customers in a timely manner. If social media is a conversation, the goal is to take part in the conversation … not comment on the conversation after it has occurred.

 

Measure … but don’t be too strict

“While we do have tracking in place for revenue generated from social media outreach efforts, we do not consider it the be-all, end-all metric due to the difficulty in putting a price tag on the brand awareness and promotion that it provides—and that’s invaluable,” Autumnn explained.

She went on to say that many times the social lead is not entirely new to the company—they may even have already received a quote already—but the personal connection a social outreach provides gives them a reason to choose ABF U-Pack over a competitor.

So while she doesn’t have a specific ROI number, Autumnn did mention that, when customers are tagged as having a social touch, a lead is 17.5% more likely to close.

 

How to reach out

Here is the specific process Autumnn uses once she has indentified a potential opportunity:

  • When first approaching a potential customer, she confirms that she correctly understood the tweet she is replying to, e.g., “@customer Sounds like you’re planning a big move? …” It eases them into the conversation and gives the opening for them to provide more information.
  • Next, she offers to help or answer questions, but avoids aggression. “You wouldn’t commandeer the personal conversation between two people on the street, so tread lightly,” Autumnn advised.
  • When reaching out to someone that’s also tweeting with a competitor, she refrains from bashing the other service — bad form resonates on Twitter.
  • Overall, she listens to the needs they express and offers options for what her company can provide that fits those needs.

 

Keep up the conversation once the sale has closed

“It’s important to recognize the significant role social media plays in reputation control,” Autumnn said. “Twitter has not only provided a medium for us to create lead sources, but also to address customer concerns before the issue goes viral. Don’t focus on just the bottom-line revenue when deciding on a social strategy — social outreach wears many hats.”

After all, by gaining customers through social media outreach, it encourages them to voice any complaints they may have afterward using social media for all to see. “Again, we still welcome this because it gives us the opportunity to correct any mistakes and show others who may be listening that we take customer experience very seriously,” Autumnn stated.

As if to emphasize that point, Autumnn had an example of that Twitter-driven customer service from the very day I interviewed her. A few weeks prior, a potential customer had been tweeting about the competition, and then mentioned U-Pack …

 

 

As you can see, U-Pack got the business. But the conversation didn’t end there. “On a side note, this customer did actually have a problem with parking today and used Twitter to get help,” Autumnn said. “He messaged a thank-you for our responsiveness!”

 

Related Resources:

Developing a Social Media Strategy: 6 Lessons from Kodak

Social Media Marketing: How to optimize the customer experience to benefit from word-of-mouth advertising

Social Media Marketing: Interview with Kodak’s Chief Listening Officer

ABF U-Pack Moving website

ABF U-Pack Moving on Twitter

TweetDeck – monitoring platform used by ABF U-Pack

Sprout Social– monitoring tool used by ABF U-Pack

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Social Networking Evangelism Community



  1. March 30th, 2012 at 13:08 | #1

    Excellent example about how social media can drive business, Daniel. Sounds like ABF U-Pack is doing a great job connecting with potential and current customers through social networks!

    Also, thanks much for mentioning Sprout Social as well!

  2. March 30th, 2012 at 14:35 | #2

    Is there a range for a follower count you would recommend before looking for leads via Twitter?

  3. carlos lindayag
    March 31st, 2012 at 06:55 | #3

    nice post. keep it up!

  4. March 31st, 2012 at 08:42 | #4

    This is something to keep as a case study when speaking with clients about the advantages of social media. Great article.

  5. April 2nd, 2012 at 11:26 | #5

    Great example of how you can listen in, engage with prospects & support them through the process.

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