Mining Twitter for Retail Customers is Easier Than You Think
If you’re like most retailers we’ve worked with, you’d never miss an opportunity to sell someone into shopping one of your stores. Great retailers, and we’re talking chain owners as well as single-store proprietors, all have stories of people they converted into customers through the chance meeting. At a party, your kids’ soccer games, in the airport, it’s a sure bet you start paying attention when the talk turns to your product category.
So what about online conversations about your product category? How can you pay attention there? The good news is Twitter, with roughly 175 million accounts, is awash with potential new business. All you have to do is pay attention for the right conversations and you can join in there, too. Since Twitter is public, you have permissible access to all the publicly available tweets. Listening is easy, and you don’t need a lot of staff or software to tap into these real-time opportunities.
Choose your key words to start listening
You want to develop a thorough list of key words that surround your business and are likely to indicate a conversation is happening that you’d like to be a part of. Include your own company name, and those of your rivals, as well as your product categories and customer needs that might indicate buying opportunities.
For example, furniture retailers might choose words such as “just moved,” “new furniture,” “sofa,” “chair,” “dining room,” and the like. Keep the list brief: we suggest around 5 – 10 key words to start. Set these up as twitter searches and keep an eye on them. As you get the hang of it and see what’s working and what isn’t. Then, you can add and subtract to your list accordingly.
Tap in regularly
Put your Twitter monitoring on a schedule and stick to it. Regular visits will provide you with better information and more ability to join a conversation. Don’t expect much from just dropping in when you have a minute or two. Like all good marketing ideas, this effort needs sustained and habitual effort. You don’t want to try jumping into a conversation that’s several days old.
Use the right tools
You can listen from inside Twitter, but there are good monitoring tools available. Free dashboards such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite allow you to set up columns for each search. More complex tools can give you specialized data, but may require a monthly fee. Bricks and mortar retailers will want tools that filter results by location, for example, and may want data summarized. Shop around for the right one.
This is social media, so it’s your chance to get in on the conversation. Step in with a brand-consistent message. But, just like when you hear someone at a party start to talk about you’re category, you don’t want to open up your side of the conversation with “I have something to sell, buy my product!” Offer something of value to someone local who’s interested in your merchandise. This could simply be advice or encouragement. Work your way up to an offer or at least ease into it with something conversational.
During this process, you may find customers who are talking about your store specifically. Make sure you acknowledge them. If they’re saying something nice, thank them. If they have a complaint or customer service issues, make sure you take immediate action, contact them and try and resolve their issue.
Steal your competitor’s customers
If you see something negative about your rivals, it may be a great opportunity to reach out and offer a solution. If you’re a pizza place and you see someone nearby has tweeted they’re pizza from a competitor is way overdue and they’re tired of waiting – offer to bring them one of yours immediately, on the house. Something like that will go a long way towards not only converting that customer, but all her friends that she’ll tell about the story.
Here’s how Hertz stole a top Avis customer via twitter. Recently, a group of us went to see a presentation by author and agency owner, Gini Dietrich. She travels a lot and had a premium membership with Avis that gave her top perks for her volume of business. On one trip, she had reserved a car with Avis using her preferred, executive account. She arrived early and found they didn’t have a car for her. The counter lady said she couldn’t help her. She tweeted Avis about her situation and status as a preferred customer and asked if there was anything they could do.
Avis never tweeted her back, but Hertz, who was listening via Twitter, did and offered her a solution. They tweeted an invitation to their counter at the same airport – for immediate access to a similar car. A few days later, they tweeted again to see how it went and to invite her to enjoy the same premium executive status at Hertz as she did at Avis. She took it and never looked back. That’s how you steal your competition’s customers – by listening and being responsive.
Now, not everybody has 24/7 monitoring access, but you get the point. The rival was present, and met the customer’s need professionally and fairly. On a smaller scale, you can do this too.
Keep at it
With a little Twitter experience, you’ll see ways to fine tune your efforts, enhancing what you say and how you respond to opportunities. Tie it into your other sales-building efforts and you’ve got this piece of social marketing in the bag.