March 04, 2013

Social CRM Prompts Skepticism There’s a lot of talk about social CRM but much less action. The idea of mining social media to develop one-to-one relationships, curry favor with customers and prospects and develop loyalty is a seductive illusion. The reality is that very few companies have a clear understanding of what social CRM is, why they need it or why they should invest in the time, energy or technology to make it happen. A recent survey in CRM Magazine found that 41% of a thousand companies surveyed had no CRM program and that 47.5% are either evaluating social CRM or doing it informally, whatever that means. A mere 11% of those surveyed have a formal program in-place. We are looking at a slim segment of early adopters and a great mass of wait-and-see marketers. Part of the slow uptake is a growing skepticism about the genuine business value of social media. Part of the hesitation is uncertainty about access to reliable data, doubts about dealing with Facebook, Twitter and their ilk and confusion about the ROI of undertaking a labor intense social CRM effort. The leading business goals of social CRM are lead generation, community building, brand awareness, marketplace intelligence, increased web traffic and customer satisfaction. But hardly anyone can connect the dots between the available solutions set and achieving these business goals. To a certain extent, marketers The common objective is actionable customer insight. Conventional CRM wisdom is that the more data points; the better. The big software firms offer what appears to be the whole enchilada -- an online-offline aggregation of purchase history, contact, campaign and response history, web traffic, mobile usage, social activity and geographic location. The upstarts offer social data and social activity with the promise that these data sets can be married to others but more importantly they can drive real-time communication through pre-fabricated digital, social, mobile or location-based apps or messaging. Both sides will provide software-as-service (SaaS), secure cloud storage and consulting help. Most will provide ways to analyze the data or dice and slice on-demand. Unfortunately there are very few successful case studies and nobody is touting their business results from marrying up with either the start-ups or the established players. The key to unleashing social CRM is building a business case and positioning this emerging tactic in the context of an overall marketing effort. Making smart social CRM decisions will turn on the answers to these five critical questions, which will be unique for each brand: What are your business objectives for social media? What function is social media playing in your marketing mix? Do you collect, aggregate and use offline customer data now? Can you aggregate, analyze, mine and report on social media data today? What will you do with what you learn?
The Future of Video Content TV and online video are converging. And while TV viewing remains stable, online video consumption is soaring. New players are creating new content in online channels that will compete with established TV programming. And new combinations of exposure to video are being hailed for added reach and efficiency.The implications for ad guys and marketers are enormous. Netflix, Amazon, Google and Microsoft are developing TV shows, featuring name talent, to be streamed online. According to the New York Times, AOL, Sony, Direct TV and Twitter are not far behind. The number of comparable entertainment sources and the amount of ad inventory could increase substantially prompting a price war. At the same time new research from IAB and Nielsen sponsored by Microsoft and Yahoo documents the synergy between TV and online video and makes a compelling case for marketers to use both channels in-tandem. Evidently video is the medium of choice even if viewers are not clued to the tube. The lightest TV viewers watch more than twice as much video online as the heaviest TV viewers. The device they are using and the content might be different, but they are tuned-in and turned on. More women do more streaming in general, but men spend more time viewing says the new IAB Online Video Study. From an advertising standpoint, there is a reason to run ads in both media. If 15% of a TV buy is reallocated to digital media, reach spikes at lower costs. When the same spots are aired on TV and online as a campaign in the same time frame, key consumer brand metrics like awareness, recall and preference, outpace the performance of either medium on it’s own. Prior exposure of ads online (think Super Bowl ad previews) doubles the impact of TV exposure when spots are broadcast regardless of the program genre. The combination of channel synergies, new program sources and continuous growth of online and mobile viewing, force marketers to rethink of how, when and where we tell our stories and how we develop cadences for commercial messaging. Four options come to mind. Focus on Frequency. Use multiple devices to push a single impactful message. By previewing it online and then buying roadblocks and concentrated high frequency rotations you can drive greater awareness sooner. The same message, more times on more devices equals higher reach and more persuasion and faster conversion. Creating a surround-sound of messaging could penetrate and persuade a target faster than ever. Sequence the Message. Using a combination of online and TV or cable channels imagine A sequencing a brand’s key message by parsing it out over time and through different channels. The additive value of sequential messages over a limited time period can expose more facets of a brand to create a more robust impression of a brand. Fractal Messaging. By assigning different parts of the message to different channels at the same time, marketers could acknowledge different facets of a brand’s appeal and expose different facets or offers at different times to different people in different content environments. The cumulative impact could rival frequency or sequencing tactics. Orchestrate the Story. Another approach is to assign specific marketing tasks to specific channels in the same way that Bach, Beethoven and Brahms assigned specific roles to specific instruments. One plays the base theme. Another adds the variations. The third, fourth and fifth infuse the experience with complex harmonies or contrapuntal sounds. In this media scenario, TV lays down the basic message, while spots in online content channels amplify or expand the message. And this is just the beginning. Synergies between online and broadcast/cablecast video and new video content sources are expanding our choices and our thinking about messaging and media. It’s time to start experimenting with new, creative media options.

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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