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Flowtown: The Small Business Toolkit To Help Better Connect You To Your Customers

by Ken Yeung on October 15, 2010

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Have you ever wondered what you should do with that growing database of yours? There’s a whole wide world of social media out there, but it can be quite confusing and you can always deploy a “spray and pray” approach, but how good will that be if you’re not really hitting the majority of your customers? Are there specific social networks that you should be targeting to maximize exposure? Believe me when I say that there are a lot of social networks out there and for someone to simply sit there and examine each customer and research where they are most active and then draw trends and conclusions from that data would be very costly. For small businesses, chances are that the budget for such an expedition doesn’t exist.

Never fear, because there’s a solution for that. It’s called Flowtown and it’s an interesting tool that all small businesses looking for better reach and more effective targeting to their customers should pay attention to. Here’s how you can take advantage of it. Simply go into your customer relationship management (CRM) system, whether it’s a web database or Excel spreadsheet or something more within an enterprise-model, and by using your customer’s email address, drop that data into Flowtown’s system and within a few minutes, Flowtown will tell you the social networks that are associated with that email address (processing time varies based on size of list).

Flowtown

The expected output that you’ll get basically segments your customer database by social network so you’ll know which one to effectively target. No longer will you need to simply go to Facebook or Twitter and create a campaign where you don’t know how many people who buy your product will actually be there. Instead, you can spend more of your resources on relevant social networks. Maybe a majority of your customers have LinkedIn profiles – then in that case, you might want to use that knowledge to find a way to create a marketing campaign that reaches out to them through that media.

Flowtown

For small businesses interested in extending their reach via social media, Flowtown’s platform gives business owners much more information that they could get by themselves. Not only can you determine where your customers are going using actual data instead of demographics, you can also look to see who is an influencer and might be someone you’re interested in reaching out to – and when I say influencer, I don’t necessarily mean the folks like Brian Solis, Guy Kawasaki, Bob Woodward, or Ebert & Ropert, but the people within your industry and market that can affect the buying decisions of others.

Another feature that Flowtown offers is a bit like e-mail marketing, but not really. Instead, it’s an invitation that you can craft and send to your influencers via their respective social network to have them correspond with you. So you’re not going to take them away from Facebook and necessarily join you on MySpace or on Twitter (although you could still build relationships on any network they have a presence on), but you can start to  build out a true presence for yourself on the most trafficked platform. So once you’ve dropped your customer database into Flowtown and you notice that a majority are on Facebook, then send out invitations through Flowtown’s system to have everyone connect with you on Facebook. The same can be said if you have a group on LinkedIn, YouTube or on StumbleUpon.

So now that we know what Flowtown has to offer, let’s take a look at what it will cost the small business to operate this service. Flowtown offers a variety of packages that are best suited to different business needs. They range from $17 per month to as high as $197 per month and each one has about a $0.04 charge per import added onto that fee. What’s the difference between these packages beyond a financial one? The number of invitations you can send to your customer database. It starts off with a 10,000 send limit and goes up to 200,000 per month. Other variables that depend on your budget includes getting email analytics for when you send the invitations, SSL encryption and custom integration support.

What will this do for businesses? In a way, Flowtown helps take the guessing out of things. Instead of you wondering how to build that social media strategy and figuring out how to target the right person, just use your existing database and find out where they are coming from. The data that comes from Flowtown should be a good jumping off point to building off your existing users and then go after their friends and families to help increase your user base. However, one concern is how will you be able to attract new users? Well if you know that a lot of your customers are already on Twitter, then you might be able to assume that on Twitter, there’s a growing community of people who might be interested in your product and are looking for that “extra push”. So this is probably a good idea of what to do with Flowtown.

Have you tried using Flowtown for your business?  If so, what are some advantages you see in using it versus disadvantages? Would you pay to use it for your customers?

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