Sowing the seeds Featured

7:00pm EDT December 26, 2010
You’ve heard the old adage that close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Unfortunately, this phrase often describes how companies manage their relationships with customers, sporadically lobbing messages at them that often miss the mark. New technology has made it easier to cultivate relationships with customers and closely target and monitor all modes of communication. Here are five ways to use technology to cultivate relationships with your customers.

Give customers what they want

Tracking customers’ responses to each e-mail is easily one of the best ways to give customers what they want. E-mail marketing firms like Delivra are adding another layer to traditional segmentation by tracking customers’ interaction with every e-mail and then assigning an engagement score. Marketers then use this score for decisions about future content and frequency of e-mails to create more relevant and targeted messages.

“Your customers’ history will show you exactly the type of e-mail they want,” says Neil Berman, president and CEO of Delivra. “When you send the right e-mail to customers, you increase open rates and reduce the number who unsubscribe because they were sent the wrong information.”

Boost your landing pages

Want customers to link to your landing pages? Consider the links you include in your e-mails and give customers a reason to link to your landing pages. Incorporate links to Twitter, Facebook, videos, online surveys, event registration forms, contests and whitepaper downloads. 

“Design your landing pages and e-mails to resemble each other to seamlessly extend the conversation with customers,” Berman says. “You’ll have more successful marketing results when you engage customers.”

Integrate your conversations

Today, it’s all about conversations. More companies practice conversational marketing — and for good reason: It works. But with so many marketing channels in play (i.e., social media), companies need to tear down the silos and simplify the conversation.

“A recent chief marketing officer survey with Argyle Executive Summit found that 37 percent of CMOs need to integrate marketing channels like e-mail, blogging and direct response, because the channels expand far beyond the resources in marketing,” says Lisa Arthur, chief marketing officer of Aprimo. “Our on-demand marketing software helps marketers manage and integrate conversations across all go-to markets.”

Reach your customers on their terms 

Engaging with customers is important, and reaching them at the right time using the correct method is vital. So, how do you identify the best way to communicate with your customers? Tim Kopp, chief marketing officer of ExactTarget, says the answer is simple — just ask.

“Create an online customer preference center,” Kopp says. “Give customers an easy way to tell you what they want to hear, when and how often they want to hear from you. You can do this by adding a simple registration form on your website or by expanding your existing e-mail registration page to include social media and mobile text.”

Communicate in real-time 

Consumers tweet and post on Facebook in real time, so shouldn’t your marketing team monitor social media in real time? Companies look to services like CoTweet to monitor and analyze conversations about their brand across today’s two most important social communities — Twitter and Facebook.

“Growing your fan base isn’t just about posting messages,” Kopp says. “Today’s marketers need to engage in authentic conversations across online channels that reflect real-time awareness, historical context and expert follow-up. From tracking conversation trends to providing customer service to managing internal marketing campaigns, CoTweet centralizes all of these conversations on one dashboard that multiple people can access from within the company.”

The way your company communicates with customers shouldn’t be like a game of horseshoes. In this digital age, messages shouldn’t be close — they ought to be targeted and precise. Now the technology exists to make monitoring and analyzing conversations possible. Your customers, and their inboxes, will thank you.

Jim Jay is the president and CEO of TechPoint, a statewide initiative to grow the tech sector and entrepreneurship in Indiana. To learn more about TechPoint, visit For more information on Indiana’s Measured Marketing Initiative, visit