Social CRM on a budget

The urgent need for companies to understand their  customers and learn from interactions with them on social networks has driven demand for CRM tools with social interactional capabilities to unprecedented levels, according to a new report from Nucleus Research. And in this case, demand has resulted in increased competition among vendors and lower costs for marketers. 

Nucleus Research VP Rebecca Wetteman says deployment of new CRM capabilities has quickened because affordable cloud computing power allows users to implement applications in a matter of months instead of years.“If we think about the old on-premise world, a company might spend six to 12 months getting it up and running with a huge commitment from its IT department,” she says.  “Whereas now, I can go to a Salesforce or a Radian6, swipe my credit card and sign on for a year’s commitment for a few hundred dollars.”

At the beginning of the year, noted CRM expert Paul Greenberg observed in his blog that “social CRM has almost become what CRM is.” This emphasis on social is a trend that has companies large and small seeking new solutions for integrating unstructured data into their customer segmentation efforts. CRM vendors leading the way, according to the Nucleus report, include Oracle and Oracle has been aggressive in acquiring social CRM startups and Salesforce gives its Marketing Cloud customers credits they can apply toward social data analytics through a number of the company’s partners.

“Companies have the ability to try a lot of applications,” Wetteman says. “They can monitor online communities and social networks for trends that help them track and target specific promotions. They can use social media to automate lead-scoring. For direct marketers, it’s going to become increasingly important to one-to-one marketing efforts as they [better learn] how to attract and understand influencers.”

The pace of new CRM technology introductions look to get faster before they get slower. The power of the cloud and the demonstrated ability of CRM vendors to adapt their applications to support new and changing business processes will see those vendors adding capabilities on a quarterly basis or quicker, says the report.

Companies, meanwhile, will be eager to buy them, the report suggests. Nucleus sees an increased investment in CRM tools from companies as they uncover ROI opportunities they did not know existed in the areas of management, integration, and collaboration.  An earlier Nucleus analysis of several CRM programs identified an average ROI of $5.60 for every dollar invested in the systems.

“Analytics have gotten a lot better at integrating across different channels,” Wetteman says. “It will soon encompass how companies market through such things as QR codes, mobile devices, and digital signage.”

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