Trying to figure out what to do with social media strategy as it relates to CRM still seems to be an exercise in guesswork. One of the panels attempted to focus on the type of data that the social world produces: number of fans, number of connections, feedback, comments; essentially social graph data.
The first audience response was "Oh my gosh, businesses really can see all these things I post online?" -- followed by "What do I do with this data?" There was a lot of discussion about what the larger data aggregators (Experian, Acxiom etc.) were doing with social data and how companies were accessing this data. But there was very little substance about pure integrated social campaigns, innovative technologies or how companies are using this data for targeting, segmentation and intelligent marketing.
While the common response to various social media campaigns presented in roundtable settings was "cool!" I could see that most were curious, yet still had a hard time seeing where it fit into their business world. Social marketing is something we'll all have to embrace over the next few years as it gets ingrained into how we build Web and consumer experiences. Many retention marketers struggle with how to measure influence and how their marketing activities integrate with social. But there's no mistaking it, this is a subject that will be so core to marketing in the coming years that email marketers can't afford to get behind the game. One marketer said, and I had heard this quote some time ago, "Social marketing is like sex as a teenager! You get really excited about it, you talk about it a lot, but you're not very good at it."
We offered a few other topics that were very consumer-focused to help round out the Summit, with panels from Microsoft on the Hotmail inbox, as well as a stellar presentation by Loyalty Labs on consumer loyalty programs.
One of the big winners was the "Building an Email Database" roundtable run by Mike Fitzgerald of AdKnowledge. While there was a lot of talk about acquisition, there were heated discussions on the value of email append services. I was a bit surprised at some of the conservative comments from acquisition-oriented companies, but it netted out that email append is alive and well. Most of the larger brands do it persistently as a list hygiene process, and you shouldn't discount it when applied properly.
What was missing from this summit, I thought, was discussion of pure deliverability, and more case studies. The feedback was clear: People wanted to hear about deliverability, more about privacy and essentially "what are the challenges getting into the inbox." We've deviated from this technical and tactical view of deliverability in the past, giving way to more topical discussion around trends, but you could tell there was a void. As programming chair, I will definitely work to ensure we integrate deliverability back into the main stage sessions in April.
This event is always a mix of service providers and industry people, along with representatives from consumer and B2B brands. As is common with brand marketers, they clamor for case studies and examples of what others have done. Personally, I find these contextually irrelevant in many cases, unless you find that pearl of a study with a great presenter. But there is no denying that the audience wanted more "meat" on these topics. You can never get away from the value of case studies and the intimacy of program details that usually comes forth.
So, the next summit will definitely feature a blend of case work and foundational topics (deliverability). Too, I bet by then we'll find some great examples of Social CRM.
If you have great ideas for topics, case studies or great speakers for the April Email Insider Summit, shoot me a note (firstname.lastname@example.org). I'm always a sucker for great content, creative speakers and topics that are "out there."