Relationship marketing in the limelight

Razorfish’s John Zell explains how technology and social media have brought CRM to the front of marketers’ minds

Q: CRM is once again at the forefront for marketers due to social media. Where is Razorfish when it comes to customer relationship strateg

A: What we’re interested in is bringing an informed front end to the back end so you get more concrete engagement with customers. I think what Razorfish offers and has traditionally offered is an excellent roadmap to build out customer experience, but the line between that front end and the traditional back end is blurring quickly, and we want to be ahead of that.

Q: What do you mean by front and back end? Haven’t all facets of marketing always used data for the same goals?

A: The disconnect is a little bit a matter of perception. There’s been a [separation] for years of “above the line” and “below the line” advertising. But, convergence of disruptive technologies have blurred that line and forced both agencies and marketing service providers to rethink their approach. They always have come together and made the customer perspective part of their experience, but it’s been done through different partners and different partner networks. Now, there’s a more combined approach.

Q: Can you explain some of these disruptive technologies and how they affect CRM strategy?

A: We’re looking at how mobile and social, for instance, inform e-mail — a more traditional channel — to make it more precise and more targeted. We need to know how you differentiate between tendencies, and if they are “actionable” in terms of developing personalization.

Q: Social CRM is a popular buzz term, but are there some kinks that still need to be worked out?

A: The data that you get from Facebook and Twitter can be very transitory in nature. It gets back to this idea of how you connect those data to what you know. I like to think of it in terms of a data supply chain. You need to take what you’ve traditionally done in direct — all those marketing databases that the technology team helps formulate and build — and create a roadmap to integrate those points of data, figuring out how those social data inform all that insight that you have about your customers. I don’t think anyone’s quite figured out the full scope of social CRM.

Q: Is there a danger that digging into social data could lead to consumer blowback on privacy grounds?

A: We take very seriously consumers’ privacy, and we believe strongly in the tenets of permission-based marketing. What’s going to emerge over the next three to four years is an ability to connect the pieces of those insights in social media with the same kind of discipline and the same type of analytics that you can use for a marketing database. But it’s all weighed very heavily in the approach to privacy. You can’t easily dismiss that.

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