To get to grips with social data you first need to understand and devise a social CRM strategy. With so many varying definitions of social CRM if you are looking for an absolute definition you are out of luck. Despite the sometimes confusing and contradictory definitions of social CRM, most share some common characteristics.
Social CRM focuses on customer-centric interactions through social media. This is a huge and growing source of data for Marketers and those who recognise how this data can help them learn about, and connect with, customers will be the trail blazers of the future.
So how do you create a social CRM strategy? Here are 6 tips for developing a strategy for your business.
1) START WITH A SOCIALLY POPULATED CUSTOMER DATABASE
This is your starting point. You need to combine social media data with your CRM database. Consider what data you want to populate in your database then evaluate the technical challenges of obtaining it.
Typically you will need to overcome cross-channel customer identification challenges and to do this you are likely to need help from your IT team and/or a data analysis specialist.
The key is to ensure your database can handle social data and of course, you must be on the safe side of customer’s privacy concerns.
2) PLAN A SOCIAL STRATEGY
For most companies social CRM is one technological bridge too far. However, successfully implementing social CRM is not just about overcoming technological challenges. It requires an organisation to understand and accept social media as a valid source of customer data.
Those responsible for social CRM must decide why before they figure out how. Why do you want a specific piece of data? What will you do with that data? Why is it important? What impact will it have on the business?
Once you have answered these questions your strategy will start to take shape. It is only then that you address how to obtain that data, how you will overcome the technical challenges of recording it within your database and how you will retrieve it for marketing purposes.
3) GET THE RIGHT MIX OF TECHNOLOGIES
There are a number of very good CRM platforms that incorporate social CRM elements. We use Zoho CRM and its Campaigns module has some very interesting capabilities. However, it is important to understand that no single CRM vendor provides a 3600 view of social CRM.
Instead you need to research and understand the various technologies that can help you get the data you are looking for. You need to develop the right mix of technologies to deliver a true social CRM.
These technologies must be able to address your data needs and integrate with your CRM platform in order to get their data into your database. This means utilising APIs from social media sites, aggregators and/or listening platforms. If APIs do not exist do you have the capability to develop a bridge between the systems?
Similarly, once you have this data in your database, you may need to bridge out to marketing suites and other outbound communication tools. Systems like Zoho CRM have modules that do most of this. But if you are using a different CRM system with solutions such as MailChimp, HootSuite and others, you will need to link your CRM to all of these systems. Your CRM system will sit in the middle of a multi-technological integrated marketing suite made up of disparate and fragmented systems. This takes a lot to set up and a lot to maintain. Seek out systems that offer the most in one box and integrate with similar systems to minimise your integration and maintenance efforts.
4) EXPERIMENT FOR SUCCESS
There is no definitive way to approach social CRM. There are no out of the box solutions that address specific business needs and technological challenges.
CRM providers are building more and more functionality into their systems but this is still limited when compared to the wealth of data available.
The only way to succeed is to pioneer your own solutions by experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t. Test your strategies and test technological solutions. You will soon find what works and when you do you will gain a superior competitive advantage over competitors who give up.
Just remember to keep it simple and use it to address basic business goals. Don’t change your traditional business goals and strategies to accommodate social media. Enhance them with social CRM.
5) USE EXPERIENCED DATA ANALYSTS
To make this all work effectively you need to manage an enormous inflow of social data and map this to specific customer records. The data then needs to be used to segment customers based on social behaviours and outbound campaigns developed to communicate to these segments. On a small scale this is not too taxing, but for organisations with massive databases it is a different ball game.
The only way to achieve commercial success is to utilise professional data analysts who can undertake database management, modelling, data mining and analysis in order to drive sophisticated social based customer segmentations. Experienced data analysts can help you transform social data into marketing action.
6) TEST OUTBOUND COMMUNICATIONS
Once you have your database structured for social CRM, developed your strategy, identified your mix of technologies, and experimented to see which delivers the results you want, and you have your experienced data analysts in place you should test your outbound communications with a pilot campaign.
Start small and run a campaign based on social behaviours. Learn as much as you can to fine tune your next campaign.