January 30, 2009, 12:00 AM

Who Do You Trust?

(Page 2 of 2)

Go viral or go home

Adding customer reviews to web sites was among the first ways online retailers began to incorporate the customer voice into marketing programs, and putting reviews into e-mail campaigns was a short hop from there. New tools are emerging, including from vendors specializing in review technology, that facilitate consumers’ exchange with each other while affording marketers some visibility into those exchanges. The aim is to allow marketers to reach new customers and more precisely target marketing to existing ones.

PowerReviews recently introduced a feature that lets customers place on their personal blogs and social networking pages reviews they submit to Mountain Gear, says Whitney Parsons, Internet marketing manager at the outdoor apparel and gear retailer. With this feature in use at Mountain Gear only for a few weeks, “I have already started to see growth from that process. It’s just one more way for people to share their experience,” says Parsons. Bazaarvoice likewise can place links within an e-mail allowing recipients to post a review within the e-mail to a profile page on Facebook or MySpace, turning those reviews into socially enabled viral messages.

E-mail services vendor Silverpop Systems Inc.’s platform’s Share-to-Social tool also enables marketers to place links in e-mails that allow recipients to post messages to social network pages. CEO Bill Nussey says marketers can then track how messages are passed around. Without such tracking, “once a message goes into the viral network, it’s lost. So at the point a consumer is introducing your brand to his friends, the marketer loses sight of what happens.”

Share-to-Social provides marketers with data on how many times the posted message is clicked on and opened on the recipient’s social network page and on the pages of friends who add the content to their own pages. That helps marketers identify influential customers whom they can then encourage with coupons and other incentives.

For Silverpop clients adopting the feature, immediate sales are not the only way of measuring success, Nussey says.

“The opportunity to continue the dialogue is worth more to them than whether someone bought something directly as the result of a Share-to-Social introduction,” he says. “I’m happy to have someone join my list and not buy anything for three months, because the alternative is, I have to keep paying for search ads to bring them back five or six times before they make a purchase.”

For the Internet Retailer E-Mail Marketing Products & Services Guide, click here.

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