The enterprise social media solution space just got a whole lot muddier. Earlier this month I shared the news around our new social marketing product, Adobe Social, to overwhelmingly positive response. But if you’re a marketer, be it specifically social, digital, B2B/B2C, or otherwise, you’re going to want to pay close attention over the next few weeks to industry conference chatter from CRM providers who have recently invested in social. Why? You’ll realize they’re not the solutions for you, Mr./Ms. Marketer. Let me explain.

As a marketer, you are charged with building brand awareness, engaging your customers in meaningful and relevant ways, driving customer demand and demonstrating business impact from your marketing efforts. Realizing success in these goals requires engaging all customer touch points and marketing channels and leveraging a mix of those options to reach and convert people across different parts of the customer journey. It also means being able to connect data and insights from channel to channel to create a seamless, and increasingly personalized, customer experience that optimizes conversion from the first click to the conversion point.

When is the last time you invested in a channel that couldn’t demonstrate its return on these goals? When is the last time you looked at only one marketing channel to drive those business results? I hope you answered, never.

Getting back to social, I think social media as a channel is not only great for generating awareness and creating interest at the top of the funnel, but it’s also a great enabler for interactions in channels further down. While many marketers believe social stinks at direct sales, we really can’t discount its effect on other channels that drive conversion. In fact, we found that retailers, for example, are undervaluing social’s impact on conversion by up to 94%. Clearly, people connect with you in more places than just social media. You can’t decide to invest in social thinking it alone will solely drive growth and profit, nor can you ignore its impact on the rest of your marketing mix. And this is what I want to highlight today.

What will CRM providers announce?

In the next few weeks you’re going to hear a lot about Social CRM and arming your salespeople and customer support folks with social data so they can better engage with customers. If CRM is central to your business model, that’s great value.

You’ll also probably hear about next-gen marketing solutions and how social listening and engagement tools can help you identify trends, opportunities and threats in real-time, which can enable sales, marketing and support to take immediate action on it. So true, but that’s old news.

So riddle me this. Pretend you’re a fictitious motorcycle manufacturer named Marley Richardson. For that brand advocate who has spent his days touting your brand to friends and colleagues, who proudly wears your t-shirts, but has yet to actually buy your motorcycle, what value does he have to your business?

  • Do you know who he is?
  • Do you know how he has influenced others to walk into your showroom and buy the latest model?
  • Do you know what tangible impact he has on your business?

Social CRM can’t tell you that. CRM only reveals what has happened after the customer has raised their hand, after he’s engaged with you, and after he’s transacted with you. You have no idea what his behavior is before that point and can’t leverage those insights to go after other people like him.

Here’s where Social CRM solutions fall short:

  1. Connecting social media to your bottom line
    Why are you and so many other companies choosing to invest in places like Facebook and Twitter? For more Likes and retweets? Nope. You’re leveraging social media to drive performance in key business objectives like brand awareness, customer demand and loyalty, cost-reduction and revenue. Without a connection to these bottom-line business results, you can’t demonstrate why your investments in social media are paying off. Ask your Social CRM vendor to explain where their analytics come from and show you exactly how much business impact your social media posts drove.
  2. Connecting social media to the rest of your customer experience
    Social CRM gives you social tools to enhance customer profiles. That’s great. But, how do you act on that data proactively? You can take action with it, but only in a reactionary sense. Social CRM can help you respond to customer service inquiries, or give some additional color to a salesperson trying to close a B2B deal. But, how do you use social data to make social a proactive business driver? Ask your Social CRM vendor to show you not only how to support customer service, but create defined segments and target consumers using: personalized digital experiences assembled on the fly based on social profiles, targeted advertisements based on engagement in social or social profiles, and the combination of customer behavioral and social data together to more effectively manage investments across all channels.

If the CRM use case is central to your business, then yes, social CRM makes a lot of sense. But for those of you out there where marketing plays a critical role in creating brand awareness, increasing brand loyalty, and driving new customer demand, what’s the point if your social marketing solution is disconnected from tangible business metrics and the rest of the customer journey?

Profile data vs. behavioral data

At the end of the marketing day, there is a difference between the data you get from a database and the insights you can draw from actual customer behavior. What I say in my Facebook and Twitter profiles only reveals a fraction of what I actually do throughout the purchase cycle or conversion funnel. And I believe behavioral data is much more indicative of true business impact and influence than profile data.

Look, I’m not saying CRM is not valuable to a business; Adobe values this, too. But when it comes to marketing, you need visibility across all marketing channels, and to effectively leverage social as a business driver, you need both social data and customer behavioral data working in tandem, not in silos.

Do more than just touch social customers; Convert them

Adobe’s approach to social marketing goes beyond social CRM, enabling you to directly connect your social media efforts to tangible business results and then connect that activity and insight to other touch points of the customer journey to drive conversion.

Only Adobe can give you access to both social data and behavioral data across websites, advertising, mobile, even offline. And for the marketer who is charged with the art and science of growing the business and proving you’re not a cost center, Adobe’s rich heritage in creative and multi-channel measurement is just the ticket for delivering and demonstrating social ROI.

Ask your Adobe Digital Marketing rep to explain how. Check us out at and tweet us up on @adobesocial.


Lawrence Mak Photo Lawrence Mak is a product marketing manager for Adobe Social and Adobe’s social marketing solutions. Lawrence has spent several years driving marketing strategy for social media platforms and has been featured on Mashable and All Facebook.