Archive for the ‘Social CRM’ Category

Milestone: Social CRM Pioneer Group Crosses 1000 Members #SCRM


On March 5th, Ray Wang and I announced the SCRM report, along with that, we launched a community to allow practitioners and those who serve them to connect to each other.  The goal of this group was to extend the discussion further in this very early market, hence we coined it a “Pioneers” group and dubbed the theme around exploration, going “west” as we explored various trails as a collective.   A few days ago, the Social CRM Pioneers Group (you can join too) crossed over 1000 members and the discussions in this new industry continue to spill over.

This labor of love continues to impress me as members connect, share, and foster new relationships that spill over to real world conferences and events.  There are actual practioneres from Comcast, Dell, BT, David’s Bridal, and others who may not want to share their employers name on what they see happening, additionally, many of the vendors we outlined in the SCRM report are also present.

Here’s a selection of some of the more interesting discussions:

Of course, any community requires some weeding, and I had to turn on message moderation as we started to receive spam.  In addition to myself and Ray, w e also anointed Jacob Morgan to help with moderation, who was a big help when I was on the road.  We started to feel a change in the seas when we started to see our very first SCRM dedicated job postings emerge, leaving the choice to the community, we setup a poll to allow the pioneers to decide on how those job postings would appear, and it was decided by the group a single ongoing thread would be appropriate.

If you’re a pioneer, I’d like to thank you for your contributions in the community, thank you for connecting and learning with each other so we can grow this new approach.

Research Note: Integrate Social Networks with your Corporate Website with ‘Social Sign On’


Trend:  Corporate Websites and Social Networks Begin Integration
For over three years, it’s been argued that corporate websites were irrelevant since they were separate from consumers who were making decisions with each other on social networks.  Since then, we’ve discussed a vision of how corporate websites and social networks would integrate (roadmap: see these 8 stages of integration) and today, the tools and technologies are finally here to make that happen.

There are at least a few points of entry to integrate your corporate website: 1) Extending your corporate websites to social networks, 2) Allowing for customers voices through reviews and ratings, 3) Aggregating the discussion back on your own website.  Yet, despite the options, I’d like to discuss an underlying technology that is going to be core to the infrastructure of these programs going forward: Social Sign On.  While we’re risking ‘social washing’ all terms old into something new, let’s discuss why enabling social logins from third parties makes sense –and when it doesn’t.

Problem Identification: Corporate Websites Detached from Customers
There are a number of specific disruptions now that social networks have gained prominence with customers, the include:

  • Consumers and customers are already connected to each other using social technologies and making decisions about products and the brand is not involved. While the corporate website is still key for factual product information, it’s safe to assume that consumers will continue to lean on each other to make decisions –not listen to the bombardment of marketese.
  • Furthermore, the information consumers enter into the antiquated registration pages is likely inaccurate percentage-wise compared to the level of accuracy in self-updated profiles in Facebook and other social networks.
  • Managing these multiple login systems from all these social networks is cumbersome due to changing APIs, protocols.
  • Companies that simply put a “Follow me on Twitter” or “Like us on Facebook” without registration are doing themselves a disadvantage as they throw away hard earned traffic to a social network.
  • Lastly, don’t expect your consumers to be using a variety of social networks and email platforms –they are not evenly distributed, surprisingly, Yahoo has more login than Facebook logins.

“Social Sign On” Defined
Social Sign On enables website visitors to authenticate to your website using their existing credentials, such as Facebook, Twitter, OpenID, etc.  As a result, users don’t have to initially register to your website in order to verify their identity.   Social Sign On is a subset of Social CRM’s 5Ms, read the report to understand the greater strategy required.

[Social Sign On enables visitors to register to your website using their preferred credentials increasing the opportunity for contextual content, website engagement, and conversion]

Value Statement
Social Sign On offers a variety of benefits:

  • Increase conversion rate as users use existing Social Network logins (in a few clicks) rather than filling out long registration pages.
  • Opportunity for increased engagement as users can quickly identify which one of their friends has also visited that same website and interact with them.
  • More accurate contextual information as first time users information can be used to match relevant content, media, products, and even advertisements.
  • Reduced time in marketing/sales funnel as prospects quickly can be served up relevant products and even shopping carts of peer recommended products within seconds.

Downsides and Limitations

  • Industries in a regulated space may have significant policies and user privacy to overcome before ever implementing these systems.  Expect that lifestyle marketing efforts will be the first foothold for these industries –but not their core activity website.
  • While Social Sign On may be key for upper funnel activity, don’t expect it to fully replace credit card registrations as ecommerce may still require a registration page to collect credit cards, shipping addresses, and other detailed information.  This, could, overtime go away as we’re seeing Facebook snuggle up to payment systems like Paypal in recent quarters.
  • Reliance on a third party for registration creates additional failure, and in this case is known as ‘Authentication Rot‘ (This was added post-publication via Carmen Delessio)

Impacts: Future Trends

  • Potentially less data collected by brands, as users can control how much information is passed from the social network profile to the corporate website.
  • Expect this trend to continue and most major consumer lead corporate websites will have one form or another of Social Sign On within a few years –the trend that the ‘power shift to consumer’ continues.
  • Expect this term “Social Sign On” to fade into the background as we just use ‘logins’ for all of our interactions in the digital space.
  • Registration pages go away…much to the approval of consumers.
  • Single Sign On systems don’t go away they simple aggregate this new level of data.

Primary Vendors

Case Examples and Research

  • Microsoft’s answer to Google Docs “Docs.comuses Facebook connect as it’s “active directory” to allow members to login and connect with their real friends.  An interesting deployment as it assumes that we use office collaboration with our actual Facebook network.
  • Levi’s deployed Facebook’s “Like” button which increased conversion rate, and serves up recommended products from friends after a few clicks.
  • Citysearch using Janrain’s ‘Engage’ and has increased the amount of content on Facebook using the connection technology, read the PDF for details or more of Janrain’s case examples.
  • Gigya offers a best practices guide on increasing registrations using Social Sign On technology (PDF).
  • Gigya has conducted a survey with a third party to find out The value of Social Sign On (PDF) and has a myriad of graphs and user awareness demand data in this report.
  • has integrated community right onto their homepage, and also offer a variety of ways to login and register, such as Facebook. After connecting with Facebook, users are prompted to enter their email, zip code, and create a login name. What’s interesting is that request for email is still required to complete Social Sign On, a hybrid model. (I added this on Sept 29,2010)

Develop a Roadmap for Social Integration Using the ‘8 Stages Framework’
My research indicates this is an undeniable trend, that corporate websites must integrate social networks to increase the relevancy and interaction of their websites.   Use the 8 stages of corporate website integration frameworks as your roadmap –don’t have a plan before jumping into this space.   Consumer facing companies should look at their customers socialgraphics to first identify which social networks they should allow for integration of, yet be inclusive by using a Social Sign On feature which allows for consumers to register using a variety of login options.

Video: State of Social CRM


I find that Paul Greenberg (follow him on Twitter @pgreenbe), one of the early adopter who mapped out the CRM space gives a succinct overview of what’s happening in the Social CRM space. He points out the two converging forces ‘social’ and ‘CRM’ spaces that are coming together, yet the third force, ‘companies’ themselves aren’t yet ready for the internal changes that are coming.

He raises a good point that social media empowers everyone in the organization to now have a customer touchpoint in this flattening tools. Yet this means that customers will need a consistent experience regardless of who they talk to in sales, marketing, support, or in-person. As a result, this is creating some unique cultural changes inside of companies, companies with many silos will start to have to come together to provide those consistent experiences. Do check out Charlene’s book Open Leadership which can help leaders make sense of how to approach this cultural change.

Matrix: Brand Monitoring, Social Analytics, Social Insights


Social CRM Needed To Make Sense of Consumer Data.
Social data is overwhelming.   More customers, buyers, and consumers are creating content everywhere they go.  Companies cannot scale to match this in a 1:1 basis, and most companies are in early phases of the 8 Stages of Listening.   Earlier this year, I made clear investments in researching the Social CRM space and Mobile+Social space (report forthcoming), it’s clear that Social CRM is starting to get wind under it’s wings, and mobile/social is certainly happening at consumer level.  So what do I see happening next?  Two trends, social analytics intelligence, and social business value networks, which I’ll discuss at a later time.

Social CRM Use Cases: Overlay of Insights Use Cases (Orange) which yield to predictive experience use cases (Green)
The above graphic lists the Social CRM Use Cases (read the full report). I’ve highlighted the insights use cases (orange) which will yield predictive customer experiences (green).

Social Analytics and Social Insights are Components of the Social CRM Suite.
You can see how we indicated in the toolset there are use cases in Social Marketing Insights, Social Sales Insights, Social Support Insights, Innovations Insights, Collaboration Insights.  If you can successfully derive insights from these 5 use cases, you’ll be able to complete the far right use cases and provide a VIP experience to customers –before they’ve ever entered your store or registered to your website.

Matrix: Brand Monitoring, Social Analytics, Social Insights

Category Description and Example Current State What no one tells you
Brand Monitoring Aware. Simple aggregation and reporting –without any real intelligence. These technologies scrape and aggregate what’s being discussed by a topic, channel, or group and derive alerts and workflows. Commodity technology.  I started a list in 2006, yet now there are over 145 indexed by E&Y employees.  These technologies do not provide intelligence, or predictive behavior modeling. The smart brand monitoring companies have already started their integration plans.  They don’t want to end up being trilobites and have become part of a larger system:  Recent acquisitions include Scoutlabs+Lithium(community), Filtrbox+Jive(Community), Techrigy+Alterian(WCM) and others.
Social Analytics Intelligent. Derive meaning what social data means.  These companies provide intelligence and answer “Why are 500 people a week tweeting about goat milk?” Companies who derive intelligence from social data like Crowd Factory, Crimson Hexagon. Emerging features are coming around.  These tools help true data analysts derive meaning from patterns, and how it influences large scale commerce. This space is still evolving, and expect that the business intelligence software vendors like IBM Cognos, SAS, Qlikview, Oracle, and beyond to start acquiring data streams in the social space and coupling with their engines within the next 12-18 months. Even analyst Esteban Kolsky agrees
Social Insights Predictive. These companies can predict what consumers will do based upon social data.  I’ve seen early examples from community platform Lithium who’s able to predict within 45 minutes if a community will be successful based on comparing to historical data, but for the most part, that’s limited to community data –not the whole social web. Not here, yet.  Right now, systems are just aggregating content to make meaning out of it, yet there’s no clear set of companies that are able to truly provide predictive recommendations. Look for companies who have data across a value network.  What’s that?  Data in multiple companies from manufactured, supplier, retailer, to consumer. Expect companies like Bazaarvoice to be able to yield insights as they collect data from multiple manufactures like HP, Dell and are used on retailer sites like BestBuy

Corporate Social Strategists Should Evolve Buying Criteria Now.
The social media landscape is noisy, and brand monitoring features aren’t sufficient for brands to be actionable –only reactive.  As a result expect:

  • Brand monitoring companies who don’t evolve are on the path to becoming trilobites.
  • Instead, look  for companies that will help derive intelligence from the excessive data source of social –not just provide monitoring and reporting.
  • Ask them to expose their product roadmaps before buying, look at their partnerships, and ask how they will derive meaning –not just extend alerting.
  • Expect social analytics and social insights, to emerge within the next year and a half, and many brand monitoring companies to evolve or perish as the BI incumbents move in.

Love to hear your perspective as companies seek to derive meaning –then predict customer behavior using social data.

How Insurance Companies Will Influence Rates Based On Your Tweets: Social Insurance Rates


Expect insurance and wellness companies to monitor social data, then reward –and penalize member actions.

Companies Want Accurate Customer Data and Social Data Promises a Gold Mine
In our recent research report on Social CRM, we studied how companies will use social data to amend existing customer databases. We mapped out which use cases are ready now, and which ones we expect to see in the future. We expect in the future that companies will give customers an improved customer experience, or improve innovation of products and services by using customer data. (SCRM use cases: CX1, 2 and I1). Just as companies use previous purchasing behavior, demographics, psychographics and other studies, we expect companies to take advantage of the social data that customers are providing to the public, in order to make better decisions.

Insurance Companies Already Influence Rates Based on Historical Behavior
Nothing new here. Insurance and Healthcare companies want safe and healthy customers. In fact, AllState’s mantra of rewarding good drivers with lower rates has been the mainstay of their advertising blitz. Health companies like Kaiser encourage members to participate in ‘Wellness programs‘, to increase overall awareness of healthy lifestyles and health.    We already know that age, health, and behavior is already factored into rates, so we should expect insurance companies to extend their programs to also include social data.

Hypothetical?  Actually, it’s already happened.  We know of this Canadian woman who claimed medical disability, but was soon denied after the employer and insurance company discovered Facebook pictures of her on a beach.

Three Ways Companies Can Influence Rates Based on Social Data
Using a variety of Social CRM techniques (like the ‘5Ms’ to map social profiles to existing customer records), companies can conduct the following three use cases:

  • Monitor and glean intelligence: These insurance companies could monitor what members are saying, then offer suggestions on wellness, activities, and being healthy. Overtime, they can develop intelligence and eventually predictive models based upon members published information and their overall well being.  Expect companies to quickly be able to size up new members based upon their existing social behaviors online in order to influence the packages and rates they’ll offer.
  • Penalize ill-behavior: Insurance companies could monitor customers, and those that participate in a negative way online could be penalized. Example: Checking into bars four times a week consistently when it’s not your job could yield a 10% increase. Anyone who earned the “Crunked” badge (going to four places in one night, referring to binge drinking) could receive a 10% increase in fees (unless of course, you’re the Budweiser delivery person). Or, anyone posting pictures of them skydiving or any picture while driving on the freeway from the drivers seat, would yield an increase in car insurance.
  • Reward members with pro-wellness activity: Rather than punish bad behavior, insurance companies could incentivize members to participate in pro-health programs. For example, members that regularlly publish their stats to Nike Plus, a system that connects Nike Shoes, iPods, and the internet to track running stats, could benefit from a decrease in health rates. Or, people that frequently check into healthier food alternatives like Trader Joes or Whole Foods, rather than a fast food place, may have a decrease in insurance rates for the family.

Yet ‘Social Insurance Rates’ Fraught with Challenges
Web strategy is all about tradeoffs, to get a benefit, you have to give up something, here’s the risks as I see them.

  • The data may not be accurate. Just because someone indicates they’ve gone to a bar doesn’t mean they’ve indulged in Irish car bombs till the sun goes down or even drank at all.  Don’t expect all checkins, self-expressions to be accurate on how they are actually living.
  • The data could be gamed: it’s difficult to tie actual confirmation of said activities with the reality that they have.  Anytime rules are set in place, there are opportunities to game it, expect loopholes and automated publishing tools to misrepresent actual behavior.
  • Members will clam up to evade the ‘stick’: If customers know that data they publish will be used against them, they’ll lock up the data and not make it public.  Instead, they’ll just make their data available to their friends and trusted confidants –no longer public.
  • Legal implications unexplored: We’ve not even explored how companies may be put at risk by using public information for or against members, which would result in a new class of legal services, great.

Conclusion: Expect Companies to Offer Opt-In Programs for “Social Insurance Rates”
To combat the above mentioned risks, I would expect health and insurance companies to offer an opt-in method for existing wellness programs to be extended to tools like online education courses, participating in wellness programs with peers (like Nike Plus) or allowing members to submit location based checkins to the gym, healthy eating, and other pro-health activities.   We should expect that a forward-thinking insurance or wellness company offers an online incentive based program to encourage members to connect to each other, become more educated, and live a healthy lifestyle.

(The Social CRM Pioneers online group is already have a discussion around this topic, join in here). Update: Marketing Vox has extended the conversation and pointing out some other examples of how financial services firms are looking at social data. See how Rapleaf aggregates your online reputation, and how financial services firms are using it. I assert this isn’t much different than credit scoring systems already in place. )

Update Nov 21, 2010: NYT Article
New York Times: Insurers Test Data Profiles to Identify Risky Clients. Despite various viewpoints in the comments, there’s already signs that insurers are exploring new types of data, here’s a quote on how some data companies are scraping social info:

“Increasingly, some gather online information, including from social-networking sites. Acxiom Corp., one of the biggest data firms, says it acquires a limited amount of “public” information from social-networking sites, helping “our clients to identify active social-media users, their favorite networks, how socially active they are versus the norm, and on what kind of fan pages they participate.”

Trend: Social CRM Consolidation


Social Software Is In the “Cambrian Explosion” Era
Last weekend, I visited New York’s Museum of Natural History and Sciences.  I’m always fascinated by the dawn of life, and often draw a lot of parallels from the era of many new organisms and how many evolved and many who didn’t adapt to their environment.   In fact, the metaphor works very well in the fast moving social software space, as we’re currently in the Cambrian Explosion, where many new species are appearing (I’ve mapped over 100 community platform vendors, and E&Y has found over 125 social monitoring firms).  The barriers are so low for entry, and with a recession in place, we’re seeing an explosion of new firms.  Those that combine and create new value evolve and will eventually move to land, those that don’t make the right partnerships or develop sophisticated solutions for enterprise buyers will become the extinct “Trilobites

Community Platforms and Listening Platforms Combine To Create SCRM Suites
Lithium, a community platform, has announced their acquisition of social media measurement company Scoutlabs.  This combination paves the way for social point ware software to evolve into a greater suite of enterprise social software which can evolve to Social CRM.  Expect more of these acquisitions and partnerships to occur over the coming year.  Ray Wang, my business partner, maps out what the Lithium and Scoutlabs acquisition means.

Next Generation Consulting Firms Will Rival Complacent Incumbents
On a similar note, Dachis Group, which has a hefty war chest of $50mm backed by Austin Ventures, has made some strategic acqustions in the social business arena.  Aside from key hires from Forrester Research  (like Peter Kim, Tom Cummings, and Cynthia Pflaum) have joined the team along with Caroline Dangson, Dion’s enterprise consulting group, Xplane, Headshift, and most recently the Enterprise 2.0 Adoption Council, a group of end user pioneers.  This star team has the makings of a next generation consulting firm, and can have a powerful impact as they go to market.

Many Social Software Providers Will Become Extinct “Trilobites” –Avoid Them Now
This is just the start, expect more consolidation, and market changes, to protect your bets from investing in a Trilobite, it’s important you pay attention to the trends at hand.

  • Continued acquisition of social point products to build SCRM Suites. Expect more VC funding into this space for point product social software firms to acquire supplementary vendors to increase user base, and increase the number of SCRM use cases.  Lithium wasn’t the first, Jive Software acquired Filtrbox, a social monitoring firm, but they didn’t have the large enterprise footprint that Scoutlabs currently does.  We also saw Twitter client CoTweet be acquired by direct/email marketing firm Exact Target. Tip: Watch for the investment pattern at the VC level to see how they pull their portfolio together.  It’s commonly known that VCs will make introductions between their portfolio investments and encourage them to partner and eventually align.
  • Expect a new class of social business consulting firms to emerge. Dachis Group has assembled the right team, and has first mover opportunity to beat McKinsey, Deloitte, and system integrators to the punch.  They have thought leadership, research, strategy, implementation, and support.  What’s missing?  Expect them to acquire or build an enterprise software suite that connects disparate systems together (much like Salesforce Chatter).  Despite their huge talent draw, their biggest challenge won’t be going to market (it’s mainly green playing field) but the internal culture strife as many independent voices, egos, and styles are forced to work together.  I must say, if they can pull it off, then they can help their customers with the same problem.
  • Don’t expect a Social CRM suite to emerge that “does it all”. Expect many vendors to line up behind the Social CRM monikor, but don’t expect them to be successful.  In fact, as a buyer, you must ask them “how many times have you integrated your existing systems with a SCRM system” to find out how successful they really are.  Use The Altimeter Research Report on Social CRM to find out about the roadmap, use cases, and vendor short list.  We published it at no-cost under creative commons, and it’s already received over 41k views (says slideshare).

To learn more about Social CRM, join the SCRM pioneers Google Group, where we’re having an active and thriving discussion on pain points, use cases, early practices, and even guest speaker interviews (like Comcastcares).  Disclosure:  Lithium, Jive are clients of Altimeter, we hope that you’ll trust us more by our disclosure policy.