The Race to the Top of “Social CRM”

The Race to the Top of Social CRMYou may not know it, but there’s a race going on, a big one, that has already been long, slogging and rough and will just become more so. But the prize, ah the prize!

You see, social customer relationship management (CRM) is one of the core tenets of the social media movement.

It’s all about direct communication with your customers, vendors and associates. It’s being part of the conversation, not above it; it’s about “engagement”, the key to traditional and now “Social” CRM.

It’s a key to making sales.

Our social media arsenals are large. From Twitter to Facebook to LinkedIn to more and more and more, the sheer choices and options are overwhelming. And as yet, one piece is missing, the holy grail, the one ring to rule them all:

As yet, one piece is missing, the holy grail, the one ring to rule them all.

A centralized social media management platform that incorporates all the features of a traditional CRM solution as well as the critical features required for social media participation.

Let’s Trick It Out

In broad strokes, traditional CRM solutions can include:

  1. A huge repository of contacts with lots of information about each contact: name, company name, addresses, e-mails, birthday (don’t forget to send a card!), wife’s and kids’ names (don;t forget to ask after them) and much, much more!
  2. A history of interactions with each of those contacts: conversations, e-mails, sales, returns, complaints, compliments and anything else you wish to track.
  3. A tickler or reminder functionality to stay on top of those customers – “Haven’t heard from Joe in 6 months. Time to call and ask if he needs more widgets!”
  4. The ability to share all this with your teammates be they fellow sales folk of customer relationship representatives.

Now, “Social” CRM takes this all and bumps it up a notch. These new solutions can include additional features such as the ability to:

  1. Go out and grab each contact’s social profiles and add them to the database.
  2. Show your your customer’s “Social Stream” – their tweets, Facebook Status updates and more – all in one place and allow you to save them as an interaction (see #2 under “traditional CRM) above).
  3. Integrate your e-mail system so that all sent e-mails can be added to the correct contact’s history of interactions automatically.
  4. Access your e-mail and social media accounts and updates all in one place and post new updates to each platform.
  5. Schedule updates on any of your social media platform, days and even weeks in advance.
  6. Tag your contacts and interactions so you can group them by project or campaign or sales cycle.
  7. Create shiny graphic reports on anything and everything from mentions of your company’s name to integrating your Google Analytics data.

Sounds great, eh? You bet it does! But there’s only one problem:

No one solution can do it all!

Yet.

And that’s the race.

Meet the Players

The prize is the eternal gratitude, and hopefully the patronage, of marketing, sales and customer service professionals everywhere.

So, the race is on and the prize is the eternal gratitude, and hopefully the patronage, of marketing, sales and customer service professionals everywhere.

Why those folks? Because they are the ones who currently have to jump from site-to-site, enter posts and updates manually day-after-day and devise intricate and convoluted ways to track hits and misses just to stay on top of it all.

Big stakes, yes.

So who’s in the race? Below are some of the top contenders running for the hearts and souls of this market.

There are many, many players in the market, but these are the vendors who are trying to become the one-stop-shop for small businesses online.

Note the recent acquisitions – the market is contracting and the race is heating up.

  • Batchbook – one of my favorites – love their “Supertags” as a way to organize everything.
  • ContactMe – fun and friendly and easy-to-use.
  • Sendible – A solid offering here, but I had some interface issues (i.e. it was lacking in intuitiveness – couldn’t figure out where certain things were logically).
  • Flowtown – one of the first players, they have drawn the curtains and are re-tooling. Can’t wait to see what they come out with when they relaunch.
  • Nimble – currently in Beta, they have a nice product that brings it all together but with some limitations. Excited to see this one in 6 months.
  • BantamLive – also really liked these guys but they were recently acquired by Constant Contact (read the release) so we’ll have to wait to see how it all develops.
  • JitterJam – just found these guys and liked what I saw however, they were recently bought by Meltwater (read the release) and will be integrated over time with the company’s social media monitoring tool, “Meltwater Buzz” so only time will tell what the offering will become.

Pick Your Horse!

It’s a little early to be making bets, but this is going to be a really interesting race to sit and watch. Players will drop out and new one will join and who’s left standing in the end is anyone’s guess.

As a customer, I’m delighted to watch these guys push themselves to give us better and better functionality. I’m not so sure I would want to be one of the jockeys though; it’s gonna’ get rough.

Have a favorite listed among the solutions above ? Have I missed one of the horses completely? Let’s hear from you in the comments below.

Comments

  1. Great piece. I concur, BatchBook is really nice. A fav of mine too. I’ve researched this area too, and liked Zoho, but for me BatchBook stood out above the rest.

    Interesting to actually see a list without mention of SalesForce.com. These folks have some strong advocates/evangelist, that’s for sure.

    I’m not saying they’ve made it just yet, i.e. reference to your list within, but Sage ACT! has added some SoMe tracking options in the last couple of versions, so this may deserve some more attention given it’s extensive market share.

    • Hey Keith,

      Glad you liked the post!

      I did not include Salesforce because frankly, even though they target small business a bit better these days, they are still a complex solution to implement, too complex for many small businesses I believe.

      As for Act!, when I checked a short time ago, they do not have a full online version, just a connector/synch functionality and I only focus on online solutions.

      -Matt

  2. Heather M says:

    Very timely topic for us. Interesting that your list is completely different than SocialFish who just published a white paper reviewing their list of Social CRM top players. I’ll have to compare your players to theirs and see who rises to the top…http://www.socialfish.org/whitepaper

    • Heather,

      Very interesting! I would love to see their paper, but I don’t see the form they mention so I can sign up to get it e-mailed to me. ๐Ÿ™

      You’ll have to let me know how they compare. It would be interesting to study as they focus on associations and non-profits and I focus on small business. That does not always make a huge difference, but perhaps it does in this case!

      Thanks!

      -Matt

      • Heather M says:

        Hi Matt,

        They are in the process of switching how they “deliver” their white papers, but if you go to the main page http://www.socialfish.org/ – there is a link at the bottom right to get notified. That’s how I got it.

        Heather

        • Tried it, but it looks like all the links lead to the white paper page now with no form, lol.

          • Ah…isn’t technology fun. Sorry about the form issues, Matt. If you email me, I’ll send you the paper.

            Nice post on Social CRM. I think you’ll find there are some significant differences between small business and association SCRM. As a small business owner myself, I think you’ve done a great job in outlining the tools and purpose. We use (and love!) Batchbook, and we used Flowtown back in the social discovery days. (I miss those days.)

            • Thanks Lindy! I just sent you an e-mail; looking forward to reading the report.

              Thanks also for your kind words on the post! Gotta’ love Batchbook though, they haven’t won this race yet.

              Lastly, SCRM – hmmmm….trying to figure out how to pronounce that acronym. “Scram” sounds like just the opposite of what you’re trying to do, but seems to fit the best. ๐Ÿ™‚

              -Matt

  3. How about starting off by picking your objective and finding out what your customer wants and needs are that you solve thru tracking and interactions, and then go out and finding the tools that help you help the customer better. If i need a hole in the wall to hang a picture, i then go out and find the tool that will help me do so #justsaying

    Nonentheless, we’re seeing some interesting tools arrive on the market as vendors strive provide the market with what they think is needed – but this need is still very much a work in progress. Interesting times that we live in ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. wonder if you have any updates for this great post- great cause it focusses on small buisness and the social media component.

    I used batchbook for about 4 months well over a year ago and it was so sloooooowwww to do anything.

    can you let me know currently what is the best? thanks

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    The Race to the Top of “Social CRM”…

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