Sony Electronics: Engagement is the Best Form of Customer Segmentation

Engagement is the best form of segmentation, according to Jennifer Geddy, Director, CRM, Sony Electronics.

“People are unique, but can still be predictable,” Geddy said during her April 10 session titled, “Sony’s Selling Style Revealed,” during Forrester’s Forum for Marketing Leaders in San Francisco.

Geddy told attendees how Sony Electronics changed organizational priorities and shifted its selling style to be more consumer-focused. By restructuring its CRM approach and studying how customers interact with its products, Sony found a solution that’s turning one purchase into a lasting relationship.

Geddy said Sony’s successful approach engages consumers by: 

Generating increased sales from their established customer base.

Studying customers’ shopping behavior to drive future engagements. 

Fearlessly making decisions and trying new approaches to strengthen customer retention.

“We assembled a team and implemented tools,” Geddy said. “We resolve issues so customers would return to use our products. Customer support agents created how-to videos for YouTube. Based on our Facebook experience, we needed a Sony-branded community for customers to come and talk to others and experts. It became much more conversational as we tried to add a human face to the company.”

Sony Electronics also launched Twitter and an inbound customer support channel.

“With all of this going on, we’re creating user-generated comments and we put that content in new buyer triggers, which nearly tripled our click rates,” Geddy explained. “We wanted to connect people to the brand, people to the products, and customers to each other.”

Subsequently, Geddy said the company turned back to modeling and segmentation using purchase date, recency, frequency, monetary, demographics, and geography.

“As data got better, our models got better,” she said. “We were pleased to see purchase data completely running the show. We discovered something fascinating. Our engagement data was far more powerful than purchase data. It gives us a lot of good information as to how to talk to customers best.”

Engaged households account for about 75% of Sony Electonics’ direct-to-consumer sales, Geddy said.

“The key here is to get the message in front of the customer,” she added. “We shifted away from broadcast campaigns. The new triggered emails meant to engage customers and solidify their relationships with Sony. We also shifted from static emails to dynamic content.”

Geddy said Sony has more than 70 different versions of email for a customized connection.

“Triggered emails make up 1% of our total email volume, yet generate 15% of sales,” Geddy said. “We treat customers as the individuals they are. Depending on triggers, we have open rates between 50%-95% and click rates between 10%-35%, which are extremely successful campaigns.”

Sony Electronics developed a customer experience management group, including teams such as CRM strategy and customer support and, most importantly, restated its mission: Use, Advocate, Repurchase.

“No doubt customer experience management is huge and it will drive engagement and drive purchase,” Geddy said. “We piloted some campaigns last year that blew us away with results. We have customers in our database who are influential and we wanted them to sell to their friends and it worked. Influencers are acting as an acquisition source for us.”

The “big lesson”, Geddy said, is that engagement is the best form of segmentation.

“People are individuals, they’re different and unique, but not entirely unpredictable if you observe what they’re doing and what they respond to,” she explained. “We all have opportunities to engage with our customers. Dig deep, persevere, challenge what you’re doing, and see what you can achieve. The insights we got from customer support agents were transformational.”

What’s more, Geddy advised marketers to think as much about internal campaigns as external campaigns, and “make sure you’re executing.”

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