Yesterday, I had the pleasure of interviewing Clint Page, CEO of Dotster, on social media return on investment. I've been a fan of Dotster for 7 years now and my appreciation for the company was reaffirmed when I heard about the nightmare Terms of Service that other registrars were leveraging on their customers.
2009 is the year of social media for Dotster. Dotster has expanded and hired a social media team and the results have already been exceptional. Dotster has even been able to develop methodologies to measure the return on investment for its efforts. The company is seeing growth in acquiring new customers, gaining on retention of customers, and even lowering customer service costs.
“We know customers are talking about us… and we wanted to be part of those conversations“, said Clint.
Twitter is Where It's At!
Dotster is seeing much of the conversations and opportunity on Twitter. The conversations primarily center around customer service issues – so Dotster has been able to both respond to questions as well as take customer input into consideration to improve their products and services.
There have been some growing pains, but Clint said that the greatest experience with social media has been watching customers turn into customer advocates. Dotster has found that their customers want to help them because it not only improves the company, but in the end it also helps the customer. At times, the social media team has had shocked customers – those customers never thought that someone would reach out in person from such a large company.
Engaging with customers is working. The company is growing its value-added services… so much so that they believe it will overtake their domain registration services. The additional services has reduced customer churn by adding services that customers used to have to get elsewhere but can get through Dotster's suite of products and services.
Clint says that the company has been able to “Harness the collective intelligence of the Dotster user community.”
Harnessing the Dotster User Community
Dotster has expanded its use of social media, recently with a great video campaign called the Next Big Small Business. The contest required customers to upload a 2 minute video speaking about their business and their use of Dotster. Aside from the great press, the grand prize winner received $1,000 and the second prize was $500. The third prize was an honorable mention followed by $50 to the next 20 businesses. If you add that all up, think about all the great stories Dotster accumulated for $2,500! Not bad!
Here was the winner, Bike Tires Direct:
Dotster acknowledges that they aren't experts in social media – some mistakes have been made along the way. More importantly, though, they are believers in social media! Customers are asking Dotster to fix things, and if they respond quickly and listen to the feedback, they'll be successful. If they don't, they create what Clint calls an information vacuum – someone else will fill in the space left!
The Daily Social Media Dashboard
Clint gets a social media dashboard that he reviews on a daily basis. The report compiles negative comments, positive comments, and industry news. I think it's fascinating that a CEO would ensure that monitoring his company's social media health is an essential part of every day. This may be a dashboard that your company should be implementing!
Dotster has evolved quite a bit from a domain registrar – offering companies hosting, site design, development and content management systems. Dotster has also launch Dotster Connect to assist companies in developing their own social networks. They've also written a fantastic whitepaper on calculating social media return on investment.
Where is the Return on Investment for Social Media?
Dotster points to many opportunities for gaining a return on investment on social media. With respect to branding and promotions:
- Reducing Marketing Expenses
- Increase Sales
- Reduce Customer Acquisition Costs
- Improve Brand Reputation
They also see a direct return on Customer Service as well:
- Reduce Call Center Costs
- Improve Customer Response Time
- Reduce Research Costs
And Dotster also encourages corporations to adopt social media technologies internally, there are returns when social media is leveraged… some examples:
- Increase Productivity
- Reduce Help Desk Overhead
- Lower Training and Travel Expenses
- Foster Innovation
Best of all, Dotster can measure a return on investment with regard to Customer Loyalty:
- Improve Customer Retention
- Reduce Research/Marketing Costs
- Lower Recruiting Costs
For more information on user communities and Dotster Connect, visit the Dotster Connect website or call 360-449-5900. I'd also recommend Dotster's 15 tips for a Successful Community!
Photo from the Portland Business Journal's article on Dotster.