Sunday, July 20, 2008

Enterprises Must Create Separate Marketing Strategies for Generation Virtual

As community marketing continues to evolve, organizations can target “Generation Virtual” by providing socialization tools to customers and prospects depending on their purpose and the level of customer engagement, according to Gartner, Inc.

Unlike previous generations, Generation Virtual (also known as Generation V) is not defined by age — or gender, social demographic or geography — but is based on demonstrated achievement, accomplishments and an increasing preference for the use of digital media channels to discover information, build knowledge and share insights. Generation V is the recognition that general behavior, attitudes and interests are starting to blend together in an online environment.

Gartner has identified four levels of engagement within Generation V, addressing both the extent to which customers will engage with other customers, as well as the level of engagement needed from businesses to enable the community. The four levels of engagement include: creators, contributors, opportunists, and lurkers. By recognizing and accommodating these levels, companies can harness their influence for marketing purposes, and ultimately, for transactions.

--Up to 3 percent of individuals will be creators, providing original content and can be advocates that promote your product and services.

--Between 3 percent and 10 percent of individuals will be contributors, essentially followers, who add to the conversation, but don't initiate it. They can recommend products and services as customers move through a buying process, looking for purchasing advice.

--Between 10 percent and 20 percent of individuals will be opportunists, who can further contributions regarding purchasing decisions. Opportunists can "add value" to a conversation that's taking place, while walking through a considered purchase

--Approximately 80 percent of individuals will be lurkers (and all users start as such), essentially spectators, who reap the rewards of online community input, but only absorb what is being communicated. However, they can implicitly contribute and validate indirectly reporting the value from the rest of the community.

Gartner recommends marketing organizations should:

-- Plan to segment and support all four engagement levels in the community. Each has significant business value, and each approach will dictate the technology you'll use to support them.

--Establish goals and have a plan for determining return on investment (ROI). Many companies are initiating or connecting to communities without clear goals as to the value they provide to the customer or the company. What may have begun as a way to connect with customers can damage the company's brand.

More information on Customer Relationship Management can be found at

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