Moving Beyond Social CRM to CRM Intelligence

Why should direct marketers care—or not—about social CRM?

Segmenting and messaging to the specific needs of very specific customers is the cornerstone of direct marketing—and direct marketers absolutely cannot ignore social as a tool to tailor their strategies. The Digital Marketing Association (DMA) reports that the influence of digital and social channels on businesses and consumers can’t be ignored. According to DMA’s “2013 Statistical Fact Book”:

  • 49% of social media users report that they will buy a product based on a social media post
  • 85% of B2B marketers have used social channels to segment and reach buyers with relevant content
  • Almost half of best-in-class marketers are applying behavior to customer scoring

What’s more, in the Forrester Research “2012 Customer Insights” study, 59% of direct marketers describe their customer segmentation sophistication level as “basic or evolving.” To more accurately segment prospects and more effectively score their responses, marketers must leverage more intelligent information. In many cases that intelligence will come from the social realm.

So, while marketers should care about social CRM, that limited view is no longer enough.

Get smart

I live at the intersection of sales and CRM in my day job, and over the years I’ve seen the rise social content for marketing called everything from social selling to social CRM. Whatever moniker it holds, marketers need to leverage social information as part and parcel of a larger grouping of data and intelligence, an area I’ve come to call CRM Intelligence.

CRM Intelligence combines three key ingredients: data, insights, and connections. This aggregated data—company and contact data, insights from news and social sources, and professional connections—are most useful in the marketing process when they used within the CRM or marketing automation system. With CRM Intelligence marketers are able to augment traditional methods of segmentation such as industry, geography, title, and company size, with particular information that is valuable to their offer.

For example, the direct marketer in an office furniture company might use “title” to find directors of operations or director of facilities in their database. Add CRM Intelligence, and that search becomes richer, and more likely to return meaningful sales results: Rather than segmenting on title alone, imagine the ability to find directors of operations in companies with more than $50 million in revenue that have announced plans to move into new office space in the North East. Now, imagine being able to approach this highly segmented list with a meaningful offer for office furniture. That is intelligent segmentation.

Companies that use CRM Intelligence to inform their segmentation strategy experience higher opportunity to pipeline conversion, and overall increases in sales.

National Hardware Resale, a $300 million company that sells preowned and surplus computer network hardware, uses CRM Intelligence to guide its segmentation and targeting process, as well as to send more relevant offers than it had in the past. Since 2010 NHR has seen meeting acceptance rates jump from 5% to 50% using intelligent segmentation methodologies.

What’s your ability to go broader than social CRM to do insight-driven segmentation?

1. Beyond company size, location, and target titles, do you use insights from news, social sites, and professional social networks or online communities to target buyers?

2. Do you have a CRM intelligence solution combined with your CRM or marketing automation system?

3. Are there regular events that indicate a sales opportunity in your industry (such as the new office indicator for the furniture company example above)?

Solutions to consider

As customers become more resistant to random direct marketing, segmentation is increasingly the essential to engagement. But finding, evaluating, and sorting through all the disconnected information available about companies and prospects from CRM tools, social sites, and the like is too time consuming for most marketers. The more holistic insight available from CRM intelligence can provide the in-depth data marketers need to optimize their segmentation.

Key requirements for more intelligent solutions that support better segmentation include:

  • Multi-sourced

The insights that are delivered through any solution must be from multiple sources. News, online, financial, social sites, and even personal and professional connections.

  • Curated and validated

The sheer volume of news and social information makes finding relevant information difficult and time consuming. A robust CRM intelligence platform should offer the ability not only to find information about target customers, but also to validate it and deliver only the relevant information a marketer needs.

  • Real-time

If you’re selling furniture, it’s not helpful to find out that your prospect leased new space six months ago. Useful CRM intelligence solutions deliver meaningful insights in real time.

  • Integrated

CRM intelligence must integrate with CRM and marketing automation system so that it is simple to use and part of marketers’ natural workflow. CRM intelligence can go beyond social CRM to provide the insights required for more intelligent segmentation.

Brian Kelly is CMO of InsideView.

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