Social networking has transformed the way businesses relate to their customers. Customer relationship management (CRM) is no longer a monolithic, one-way sales push; it requires meaningful engagement across multiple channels and a 360-degree knowledge of every customer.
According to a Pew Research study from January 2014, 74 percent of all online adults use at least one social networking site (90 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds). A separate study suggests that 45 percent of social media users interact with brands on social sites.
To help companies deal with this consumer shift, a new sales and marketing model called “social CRM” is rising to the occasion. Though Social CRMs are still new, many groups are already forecasting rapid growth. RnR Market Research predicts the Social CRM market will reach $9.08 billion by 2018, up from its current level of almost $2 Billion.
What is Social CRM? How is it used?
Paul Greenberg, author and leading CRM expert, calls it “the company’s response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation.” This description reflects the dual nature of Social CRM, which is equal parts theory and action—essentially, methodology and technology.
Put simply, Social CRM is the integration of social media management with traditional customer relationship management (sometimes as an all-in-one solution, other times as separate products). It is typically used to gather customer information and insight for the purpose of driving leads, improving brand awareness, and adding value to both the business and the customer.
Social CRM relies on analytics and monitoring tools to do much of its work. One example of this is “social listening,” which helps marketers track mentions, comments, likes, retweets and other metrics that concern their brand. Some listening tools even use text and voice analysis to measure emotional cues, turning unstructured data into useful intelligence.
[Editor’s note: Expect a review of social listening tools on B2BNN on Tuesday Dec. 23]
What Can It Do for Marketing?
In the interest of keeping their competitive edge, marketing executives are quickly wising up to the value of using Social CRM tools in their campaigns.
Here are four ways to improve your marketing efforts with Social CRM:
- Build Complete Customer Profiles
When you incorporate social data into your contact records, you get a much more informative picture of who your customer is. You can leverage this knowledge to personalize your marketing efforts (by remembering birthdays, for example, or referencing things your customer has “liked”).
Another example: Have you ever seen those “sign in with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn” widgets on a site? That information is usually sent to a CRM database, where it can be added to the existing customer/prospect profile or used to create a new one.
- Feed Targeted Campaigns
Social CRM tools can help you segment customers and prospects based on engagement metrics and information from their public profiles and posts. This gives you a better idea of which contacts likely provide the greatest benefit, which probably won’t read your emails, etc. From there, you can group contacts into private lists, such as longstanding clients, recent prospects, and well-known influencers. After this, it’s much simpler to disperse the right content to the right people, without being relegated to the spam folder.
- Create a Content Generation Cycle
Companies create content for a number of reasons—to educate clients, to nurture leads, to drive site traffic—but the creative process can sometimes be arbitrary, and marketers don’t always know if their content is effective or not.
Using a Social CRM tool to guide content production is like aiming artillery rounds. Fire (market directly to contacts within social media); Measure (see how the content “lands” using social analytics); and Adjust (create new, curated content). In that sense, your campaigns become bi-directional: listen first, and then disseminate. Not only that, but you’re bound to gain a few brand advocates in the process—influential customers who share your quality content on their own pages.
- Prospecting and Lead Generation
One of the biggest advantages of Social CRM is that you’ll never have to pursue a “cold” lead. When you know a person’s likes, interests, occupation, family size, hometown, and business conections, they become more than a stranger. Social CRM tools help businesses do the hard work of mining and analyzing this unstructured data to identify prospects. In fact, prospecting and lead generation is one of the top reasons marketing departments use Social CRM.
The current generation of Internet users has practically grown immune to marketing messages. That’s because the vast majority of them are impersonal, untimely, and poorly targeted. Social CRM offers a promising solution to help marketing teams actually engage with customers and prospects, offer valuable content to the right people at the right time, and turn leads into conversions.
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As more and more people become connected through online profiles on social media channels (864 daily active users on Facebook alone, and counting), getting socially integrated and plugged in as a company is becoming more important.
Even just the simple integration that gives you more info about a customer will help in the short and long term as you answer questions and build customer personas.
CRM gives you the power to gather the data, organize it, and act it out in real time.