Merkle opens a social CRM agency

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CRM agency Merkle has launched a social media marketing firm to develop social products and clients' go-to market strategy. Rich Fleck will serve as VP and GM of the Denver, Colo.-based agency, Merkle Connect, reporting directly to Craig Dempster, Merkle's EVP and CMO.

Merkle created the agency to help clients leverage Merkle's social technology and to develop social strategy in order to "drive performance and to avoid the shiny objects,” said Fleck. Merkle Connect's six-person team will leverage analytics to establish each specific clients' needs and appropriate creative strategy.

The agency's primary responsibilities will be social analytics measurement, creative design, app development, social listening and campaign management.

“There's little measurement going on in social,” explained Fleck. “Marketers have money to invest but aren't accountable for judging performance. That will end. The more we're able to measure social the more we can say it's performing well.”

Disney and BBVA Compass Bancshares are Merkle Connect clients, said Fleck.

When asked why Merkle decided to open a separate agency to handle social marketing, Fleck said the Columbia, Md.-based company determined that “the pace of change in social warrants having people who are focused solely on social CRM.”

Merkle launched an integrated social marketing framework in 2010.

“We felt we couldn't keep pace with [the pace of change in social media] without having a team focused on it,” he added.

Fleck said he expects Merkle Connect to expand to 12 employees within the next 12 months and to more than 40 employees by the end of 2012. He said the agency would likely expand beyond Denver to New York and San Francisco.

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