The Last Quarter-Mile of CRM

Years ago I penned an article for Media Post titled "The Last Mile of CRM."  I spoke to the evolution of, and predictions for, CRM and ended with recognizing that email was this last mile of the CRM equation. So if email is the last mile of CRM, then social media and the emergence of social CRM is the last quarter-mile of this never-ending race. The revolution of social media on consumer behavior, in itself, has been phenomenal, though not without its challenges. The skeptics and measurement-minded professionals scoff at the vagueness of measuring influence through social media interactions in a traditional CRM view. While the principles of CRM don't change with social media strategies, the control of the content, message and interaction can leave strategists grasping at straws when they try to measure results -- or, better yet, consider how and what to optimize.

The reason email is such a vital element of CRM strategies is that it offers measurable syndication in a very targeted, time-controlled manner. The reason social media strategies fit so well into this mix is that they offer access to very cost-effective means of capturing unstructured data on customer opinion, behavior and interactions to balance the empirical conversion-oriented program view. It is the viral marketing perfect storm marketers have wanted for years. Social media is an inexpensive means of reaching your customers through a multitude of events, causes, promotions and syndication. In layman's terms, it's a cheap reach, syndication and feedback loop -- sound like another channel we talk about a lot?



The challenges marketers will face as they evolve their social media strategies and try to create sustainability to the channel is: How do you mine unstructured data efficiently into usable, actionable information? It's such a manual process today.

I love the term social CRM. While some CRM technology companies have actually productized this term, to me it means developing CRM programs that take advantage of the essence of what makes social media so effective, but using the same framework for planning, measurement and action that is ingrained in CRM planning.

Today, we know many things about the customer through a segmentation lens; we know Personal information, Profile information, Preferential information and Performance-related information around consumption patterns and attitudes; the Four Ps, as I like to call them. With email, we have a very tactical-level behavioral view that balances some of the assumptions we made about how to monetize our customers.

The next generation of this analysis will be the addition of social segments to help us understand, within our traditional customer segments, which of these customers have direct value as a consumer of goods, a secondary value as an evangelist/contributor to the brand, a syndication value as a social connector, and the appropriate channels for the type of information they will consume and share.

Yesterday, we housed one email address for a customer; today the average consumer has 2.7 email addresses, for work, home, promotions and social communications. Tomorrow, we may store MySpace, Twitter and Facebook IDs as our syndication options will grow and we try to link social interaction with conversion and marketing interaction.

The major challenges I see us facing with Social CRM are:

1. How do you develop actionable information from these events and interactions?
2. How do you operationalize the processes and mobilize into CRM efforts?
3. Who in your organization owns the evolution of this channel? (PR, DM, eCRM?)

All are great topics and we'll be tackling them at the Email Insider Summit next month. Hope you can join us.

2 comments about "The Last Quarter-Mile of CRM ".
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  1. Paul Greenberg from The 56 Group, LLC, April 20, 2009 at 4:34 p.m.

    This is a great, insightful article and nails it when it comes to what Social CRM is - or at least, should be. The real question at this point is NOT whether or not "Twitter is Social CRM" - it isn't - it's a channel, but does Social CRM exist anywhere. I would say not yet as a software package but more forward thinking companies are developing customer engagement strategies that resemble Social CRM. What I'm really glad to see in this post is the very accurate description of what it should be - and thus, how it's distinguished from the Social Web per se - and the major challenges which are pinpoint accurate - especially the first two. The third point is the only one that I think is not any more major a challenge than it was with traditional CRM - the best decisionmaker should own it - whether a CMO, VP of Finance, VP of Social Media, Chief Customer Officer, or CEO - whoever makes sense. Note I didn't say their department. I mean the individual as champion. There is no totally formal selection choice in this traditional or new domain. Beyond that, just excellent. Already tweeted by me to others. Great job David.

  2. david Baker from RedPill, April 23, 2009 at 12:31 a.m.

    Thanks Paul...

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