Marrying CRM with Social Media, Product Launches with Content, Marketing with Sales

16 Dec
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If you go to Wikipedia, here’s how we (we wrote it, right?) defined CRM a while back:

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a model for managing a company’s interactions with current and future customers. It involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize sales, marketing (all aspects of it?), customer service, and technical support.

But how well does the “model” work? Does it really automate, organize and synchronize the interactions and functions in today’s highly social world? What does it need to do better? We gathered a group of those professionals who have their hands on the levers of CRM systems to discuss issues that automation systems face today.

Kevin Myers, Chief Marketing Officer at Swiftpage. Swiftpage provides digital marketing tools and CRM solutions that help businesses grow.

Christelle Flahaux, Senior Director, Global Demand Generation and Marketing at Jive Software. Jive’s Social Business software combines the power of community software, collaboration software, social networking software, and social media monitoring offerings into an integrated platform.

Todd Craig, Vice President Marketing at Aptean. Aptean empowers people and businesses with end-to-end, industry-specific software solutions to address complex business challenges more effectively.

Amanda Anderson, Marketing Manager at Epicom Corporation. Epicom builds, supports, and hosts high-performance web-based Customer Relationship Management systems.

Mick Hollison, CMO at InsideSales. InsideSales is the global leader in cloud-based sales acceleration technologies and solutions featuring cutting-edge technology that accelerates sales with science.

SocialAgenda Media:  Today’s marketer can hardly survive without either CRM solution for market segmentation or social pages with strong social following. What strategies and solutions do marketers still have to implement to marry the two – CRM and Social – in the most efficient way?

Christelle Flahaux: The key is marrying someone’s basic demographic information from a CRM system with his or her digital/online behavior. Marketing automation solutions such as Marketo and Eloqua have made massive strides in taking a person’s digital behavior on a website and turning it into information — lead scoring, nurturing, etc. — that is useful to a marketer and a sales rep.  But that is only half the equation. What about all the activity that happens off-property?  The activities people are doing on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram become more relevant.  But it’s hard to capture all this information in a CRM system.  CRM systems are static by nature.  There are some out-of-the-box workflows based on how a sales cycle operates or how someone transitions from a lead to a contact, but fundamentally what a CRM system is missing is the human element.  It’s nice to know that Joe Smith is a Sr. Director of IT but how much more meaningful would it be to know that he leads a LinkedIn group on Social Collaboration that has 7500 members and uses his Facebook page to share best practices.

Todd Craig: Content marketing is going to be the driver for both of these channels. More and more we are seeing organizations appealing to their target audience by providing compelling content that not only helps them do their jobs better, but keeps them up-to-date on the latest industry trends and techniques. Thought leadership is critical to set yourself apart from the competition and technology like CRM and social channels are the enablers to get your message out to an audience that wants to hear it.

Mick Hollison: In order to marry the two, marketers need to realize that CRM and Social need have the same level of attention, objectives and importance. This transition might take time, but the sooner you do this, the more likely your competitive advantage is to be solidified.

Amanda Anderson: Marketing automation is the link to combining CRM and social media marketing. Most of the major marketing automation applications have a social media scheduler and tracking mechanism built into the application. By using a marketing automation tool, not only will your marketing team be more efficient, but your sales team will also benefit. The key is to have a solid integration between your marketing application and CRM system.

Kevin Myers:  Swiftpage is committed to be operating a world class CRM solution internally in addition to the enabling software we bring to the market.  While Saleslogix is our system of record I believe success is tied to the following key solutions/strategies:

  • Data Quality.  Segmentation is only possible when your data has been merged, purged, deduced and augmented with attributes that allows for targeting the right message — to the right person — at the right time.
  • Contact Scoring, Nurture Marketing & Social Selling.  Once you identify the right person, whether a customer or prospect, qualify and segment their relationship status with your firm and your product/service.  Integrate a marketing solution that will deliver a variety of content over time that is integrated with sales processes that allow individuals to make social connections is a key to increasing the volume and quality of all your interactions.
  • Mobility, Quotes/Proposals & Alerts/Dashboards.  While the organization needs to support sales efforts via the bullets above, individual productivity is a by-product of knowing who to call, meet or tweet next.  Mobility does not mean delivering all of CRM to your mobile workforce, it means giving them the “top 3 things” they do every day with a single click.  Error-free and real-time quotes and proposals are a key to success along with automated alerts and a dashboard that highlight recommendations and next steps.

SocialAgenda Media:  What improvements do you think social CRM products and enterprise level CRM systems need to make in order to better serve the needs of marketers and their prospects?

Kevin Myers:  Focus on bullets #1 & #2 above and monitor marketing dashboards to see what content, tactics and marketing work best to close sales faster.  Success in modern marketing is acquiring the skill sets of great investigative journalism — listen, take notes, find the story, create the hook then broadcast everywhere with copy, pictures, new creative and videos.

Todd Craig: Social CRM and enterprise systems are ever evolving and when you look at the way they are integrated into the daily work-life of employees, it’s already impressive. Think about how a financial services advisor or call center representative can leverage data from several channels – social, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest combined with the historical data housed in the CRM or marketing automation tool – to give customers and prospects an outstanding experience. In the ‘age of the consumer’, it’s the ability to combine data sources that will give you a competitive advantage The technology is here – now it’s a matter of aligning it with your internal processes to find success.

Amanda Anderson: CRM systems could improve by offering a deeper integration into the social networks customers are using. It’s becoming more common to see CRM integrations that pull in a lead’s twitter stream or maybe iframe in some LinkedIn data about the lead or company. This a good start, but CRMs can push this a bit further. For example, CRMs should be able to automatically pull info into the CRM from a company’s LinkedIn page like the number of employees or industry. Or automatically pull in a lead’s title or current city from LinkedIn, FaceBook, or Twitter. By automatically pulling in more data into the CRM system, marketers have more to work with in terms of segmentation.

Christelle Flahaux: Two things come to mind.

First, there needs to be better integration with social listening and reporting in enterprise level CRM systems.  It still seems like two disparate systems.  It would be ideal to get to a point where we can see a 360-degree view of a customer in the CRM.  We are a long way off unless you have massively customized the CRM system.  We are down the right path with web hooks and partner eco-systems, but there are still many hiccups in getting all the data to synch with one person’s profile.

Second, reporting has to get better across the board. CRM is a sales and customer support solution first, a marketing tool second.  It is extremely difficult for a marketer get the right reporting to manage their business out of the box.

Mick Hollison: Social CRM products and enterprise level CRM need to improve their analytics, reporting and contact management platforms. By improving those three areas, marketers will be able to effectively manage and dedicate the attention that each individual prospect needs to close a deal.

SocialAgenda Media:What processes do you suggest marketers implement in order to bridge gaps between siloed marketing functions and between fragmented technologies to fully take advantage of narrowcasting and personalization?

Mick Hollison: Hold a cross-function team meeting every morning and weekly cross-training, so the team can develop a common view of the prospect for any given campaign and an understanding of the various functions and technologies within the marketing department.

Todd Craig: There’s really no excuse for siloed marketing functions these days. There are robust CRM and marketing automation platforms available that can integrate to virtually any system and manage any marketing initiative you can think of. We’re in this pioneering phase of being able to conduct highly targeted campaigns. Marketing is more exciting than ever with the ability to not only identify and nurture a prospective buyer, but to become part of their landscape and all of it can be managed from a single system that is leveraged across the organization by function.

Kevin Myers:  Ensure one person or department owns the commercial launch, not just a product release.  I found that Pragmatic Marketing is a great framework and process to focus on market driven requirements to target a large or growing addressable market.  These requirements feed the product & development team, their product readiness documents feed marketing whose branding and messaging kits feed creative, advertising, PR, social & communications.  One process bridges the gaps that exist in every business. Once the processes are universally adopted technology and data integration become very focused and executable.

Amanda Anderson: In order for marketing to be effective, it has to be focused. It no longer works to just blast information out about your company. Marketers have to develop targeted messages for a niche market and need better CRM data to do this.

In order to bridge the gaps between siloed marketing functions and fragmented technologies, marketers need to rely on one central location for their data. The CRM is the perfect tool to house data used in segmentation.

Also, repurposing content across multiple campaigns or media will help bridge the gap between marketing functions and is more efficient in reaching niche groups of people multiple ways. Marketers may be hesitant to segment their messaging because that means more content. Instead of trying to completely recreate content for each group, build a framework or template to work from. Then fill in the gaps with relevant information to that target. Some of the advanced marketing automation applications have dynamic content to automate this effort, but that’s not completely necessary. Repurposing content is also a big time saver and will enable marketers to do more. If a customer case study is produced, it can also become a webinar, a blog post, a press release, or content for an email to a prospect in the same industry as the customer case study.

SocialAgenda Media:  What 3-5 main marketing processes you think still need to be automated and how do you think CRM solutions should evolve to make it happen?

Todd Craig: There’s a push towards automating content creation by pushing it out to the consumer or creating turnkey processes like templates – video submissions and testimonials are good candidates for this. It can probably already be done to a certain extent, but uploading and cleansing of data by combining all sources can certainly be automated so that the data sources are always ‘fresh’.

Christelle Flahaux:

  • Budgeting:  Marketing is one of the largest cost centers for most companies.  The only automation tool that has budgeting worked into the solution is Marketo, but its the first iteration…and its not 100% where it needs to be.
  • Campaign Feedback:  How great would it be to get all the people that have contributed to, managed, and executed on a campaign to see the real-time feedback on how things are performing.  The problem we face is that your typical product marketer will not have access to the marketing automation tool or the CRM.  They are dependent on the marketing operations person to pull reports, pretty them up in Powerpoint and send them along.  If it was real time, we could make game-time decisions quickly and course correct.
  • Reporting:  CRM systems have sales focused dashboards and it takes an engineer or a marketing operations person to build out the dashboards for marketers. It would be nice if a KPI dashboard for marketing came out of the box with plug-ins to the marketing automation solution.

Mick Hollison:

1. List management: CRM should identify the best-targeted list based on successful progression through the sales pipeline.
2. Lead scoring and sorting: CRM should dynamically modify scoring based on the success of leads with similar attributes.  In addition, lead sorting should be implemented to put the most contactable leads at the top of the queue.
3. 360 degree view: CRM should intelligently recommend other contacts within a target company.
4. Deduplication: CRM should merge all relevant data for any given contact.

Kevin Myers:  CRM must either adopt best practices or automate…

  1. Content Creation that feeds Marketing, Lead Gen, Sales Tools, Nurture Marketing and Social Media
  2. Mobile & Online Landing Page CTA (call to action) Conversions for all marketing & lead generation activities
  3. Data & Social Network Connectors with de-dupe, merge & append

Amanda Anderson: Three main marketing processes that I think still need to be automated are segmentation, reporting, and analytics.

Segmentation. The CRM is becoming the core database of information and has the data marketers need for segmentation. CRMs have the reporting capabilities to filter the data to create segments, but CRMs could certainly be more advanced when handling static vs. dynamic vs. suppression lists.

Reporting. CRMs tend to focus more on sales reports than marketing reports and ignore the activity that occurred before a lead was assigned out. Some marketing applications handle this type of reporting, but aren’t always well integrated with the data in the CRM system. In order for marketers to easily report on the effectiveness of a campaign, the time to convert, best leads sources by revenue won, etc., the data needs to be integrated and CRMs need to have more advanced reports for marketing campaigns.

Analytics. As the data builds over time in the CRM system, trends should start to appear. CRMs should evolve to not just offer reports on data, but also provide an analysis of that data. For example, the CRM could show a trend chart on the number of leads generated in certain industries based on time of year. The marketer could easily see that in certain times of the year they get a better response rate from some industries or demographics than others.

SocialAgenda Media:  How do you think CRM companies have to change their demand generation strategies, tactics and messaging to appeal to and attract enterprise level customers that largely focus on social marketing?

Kevin Myers:  I can only comment on what we believe is the recipe for success, “less is more!”  Our products are built with a “mobile first” focus versus accessing the entire product in a mobile fashion.  We call this “purpose built” in that you identify each users’ primary goals and ensure they get recommendations, alerts and reports on what to do next, then are able to execute the tasks in one click.

Christelle Flahaux:

  • Well, they first need to create the right solution. CRM companies haven’t taken into consideration the marketer.  SFDC has the marketing cloud…but what has it really done?  It’s still a cloud outside of the actual CRM system.
  • The need to educate the market on best practices and where they see the melding of sales and marketing.  It should be so aligned that a marketer has a revenue target and sits at the sales table with their own metrics and are able to forecast to their targets.

Bottom line: CRM systems have to evolve.  Marketing and Sales need to be aligned and the only way to do that is to have all of us working in the same system and speaking the same language. You can’t do that in different, disparate systems.

Mick Hollison: CRM companies need to integrate social into the development of their products.  For example,  my team at leverages both an enterprise CRM and social campaigns via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to effectively target prospective buyers.

Todd Craig: CRM vendors definitely have to consider a broader range of marketing strategies in the evolution of their solutions. We hear a lot about social but the truth is, it’s a small percentage that have demonstrated ROI from their social marketing endeavors. It’s a process that often means a phased approach and that’s why it’s so important to find a CRM solution that doesn’t box you in to a particular set of methodologies. A solution that can grow with your organization and help you build on a 5-year plan for social marketing is going to be a smart fit. We couldn’t have imagined the impact of a channel such as Twitter before it came along so there’s a need to be open to the possibilities while still being as effective as possible using the channels that work for your business now. For example, if you’re developing a series of highly-downloaded ‘how to’ videos, it makes sense to house them on YouTube and use all other social channels to support that effort. Consistency is still key and CRM can help by creating a synergy across channels while providing a closed-loop on feedback and other metrics that will help shape your marketing plans in years to come.


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