Introducing 8thBridge Social Insider Panel – a new solution that runs on the 8thBridge Graphite™ platform.
Understanding your customer has never been more important than in today’s retail environment where the customer is in charge of their shopping experience.
Internet transparency, social product discovery, competition and new business models have all played a role in putting transactional control squarely in the hands of the customer.
This presents serious challenges for retailers, and those that have lost touch with their customers – especially those that target a younger demographic (under 25 years old) – risk experiencing significant decline.
Social Media Represents Problem and Solution
Brands rightly point to social media as the chief disruptive force behind this new consumer controlled shopping paradigm, but it can also contribute to the solution.
Four factors are worth noting:
1) Authenticity trumps personas – In social media, authenticity is more important than marketing, rendering the “ideal customer” persona concept obsolete. True identity and behavior is even more important as retailers strive to interact with customers on social media.
2) True personalization will drive retail – Personalization must be based on segmentation and personas, which, thanks to social media, are significantly more detailed than the simple segmentation schemes that exist today.
3) Purchase cycle is more complex – All phases of the purchase cycle are now very complex and retailers don’t have access to data to understand what their customers are doing – especially when it comes to understanding a holistic view of the purchase process.
4) Social is the largest data source – Social behavior is now the largest source of data in today’s digital world and it is key to understanding the true identity and behavior of your customers.
Social Insider Panel
To address these concerns, 8thBridge has developed a product called the Social Insider Panel, which is designed to help retailers uncover their customer’s real identity and gain data-driven insights into customer preferences, shopping habits and social behavior.
By seeing them as people via their social identities, not just as consumers via their purchase histories, brands get a telescopic view into who their customers truly are and what they care about.
Social Insider Panel provides retailers with a complete, self-contained research site for use with customers. Access is by invitation only and the brand defines the participation criteria.
This gives brands opt-in access to their customer’s real identity from their social profile, as well as insight and validation from social behavior and opinion, which come in the form of surveys and polls.
In return, customers get an exclusive, fun, social experience that emphasizes privilege, access, recognition, and rewards.
How Social Insider Panel Works
1) Customers receive an invitation from the brand to apply for access, or click on a social story shared by a friend in order to apply.
2) Applicants log in with their Facebook credentials and allow the brand to access certain specified social profile data.
3) They are then asked to complete a registration questionnaire. If the information provided meets the criteria set by the brand, the customer is granted immediate access. Otherwise, an email is sent to the applicant that lets them know they are on a waiting list, in the event their particular profile is needed.
The Social Insider Panel site has four areas:
Activities to Engage – This includes surveys, polls, and events made available to a customer by the brand.
Rewards – By participating on the site, customers accrue points, which make them eligible to receive rewards that can be immediately redeemed. Rewards come in the form of coupons, special promotions, and product samples.
Activity Feed – A newsfeed of what other members are doing on the panel.
Profile – Customers set up a profile where they can see a record of their activities, points earned, and rewards achieved. They retail control over their identity and choice of whether to share activity with friends on Facebook.
ELLE Inner Circle
One brand taking advantage of the Social Insider Panel is fashion magazine ELLE, which created a site called ELLE Inner Circle.
Panel members are treated to an array of polls and surveys that reveal their preferences regarding television viewing, hairstyles, makeup, music, apparel, and other topics. Each time a participant completes a poll or survey he or she is awarded points that accrue toward rewards from brand partners.
Why Customers Participate
There are many reasons why ELLE customers would want to participate on the ELLE Inner Circle site.
They get recognition from peers and achieve tastemaker status, which is shared to social networks through social stories. The exclusivity associated with the site gives them a sense of privilege, which translates into tangible rewards based on participation.
Not only that, they get an inside look at where the brand is going. Through the polls and surveys, ELLE solicits guidance from Inner Circle members to help make determinations about the direction it should take – the result being a mutual partnership that benefits both parties. And, in spite of the emphasis on exclusivity, the panel can grow thanks to social sharing by members with Facebook friends.
Benefit to Brands
Brands receive a number of benefits in exchange for customer participation on Social Insider Panel sites.
Brand Awareness and Perception Tracking – Polls and surveys reveal how customers feel about the brand and the true nature of their participation with it.
Segmentation and Persona Definitions – Social Insider Panel members are automatically segmented into “crowds” based on interests, influence, expertise, loyalty, demographics, and other actionable filters.
Brands can use any combination of social profile, social behavior, brand public site interaction, rewards achievement, and survey completion data to create social groupings, and then use segmentation to trigger activity, rewards, email, and campaigns to specific user segments.
Path to Purchase – Brands have access to user behavior on the brand website, the number of site visits and product views, and special site social expressions (Love, Want, Collect, etc.).
These and other insights help brands better understand their customer’s product preferences, see what’s trending, can test brand positioning and product messaging, and gauge customer sensitivity to price.
Even though social media has disrupted the way retail shopping has traditionally been done, the massive amount of data that sites like Facebook make available to brands – especially those that use the 8thBridge Social Insider Panel – can lead to its reinvention.
It’s a new world where authenticity trumps personas, people are no longer labeled as consumers, and where brands can provide a truly personal shopping experience.