Untapped CRM: Social Breadcrumbs

listeningpostMarketers have a lot of data. Online, they know where you live, what you clicked on, and what page layout (among other things) is more likely is going to drive you to make a purchase. They know what you searched for, what ads you saw and how long you spent on their sites. Signs are pointing to an elevated sophistication of using that data – get ready, because with the ability to combine your activities in social media with your online behavior, targeted, personalized approaches to marketing to you could be what’s next.

Exhibit A: CMO’s want to read the tea leaves

Mark Taylor, colleague at Rosetta, recently mentioned a study from the CMO Council that highlighted some key insight as to how CMOs feel they are deficient at understanding and leveraging customer data. Some key findings:

Marketers were asked about their top three areas of focus. Among the responses cited:

* 47% want to leverage existing resources to enhance customer communications.
* 41% would like to explore new customized communications technologies.
* 39% want to move marketing investments to Internet and mobile channels.
* 33% wish to improve behavioral targeting of advertising and online marketing campaigns.
* 32% want to adopt and use CRM and sales automation applications.

Exhibit B: Online activities reveal customer emotions and behaviors

I had a conversation earlier in the week with Evan Schuman, former retail technology editor for eWEEK.com and PCMagazine and author of the retail industry blog StoreFrontBackTalk.com. Evan recently posted a provacative article about how semantic information about a user’s activities could lead to more targeted marketing activities, and I’ve had it on my mind since.

Extensive analysis of a consumer’s Web interactions has been used for years to try and target pitches more effectively. But new research suggests that…every digital comment made by consumers anywhere—in a product comment, an IM, on a social network site, in E-mail and via, exchanges with a live chat tech support person, coupled with Web traffic analysis—can be mined for hints as to emotions and other thoughts.

What it could mean

Imagine what organizations who are savvy enough to tie their CRM data to semantic, social media content left as breadcrumbs out there. Evan rightly suggests that every consumer responds differently to emotion. When you’re sad, so you seek out comfort food or buy some new music? When you’re happy do you surprise your spouse at home with a gift? Could your social media activity be somehow tied, through emotion, prior history, or simply by subject, to your purchasing or brand buying behavior?

Some examples

Consider some possibilities. I’m sure we could come up with better ones together but here’s a stab at some.

  • In Twitter your posts could be mined for relevant information. Say, you have a cold and are under the weather, and you like to post about it as you are down in the dumps. Imagine a coupon for Advil Cold & Sinus showing up in your email shortly after you have a conversation about cold remedies, and a targeted ad on a news site gives you 20% off on a home humidifer.
  • In Friendfeed, you show a pattern of mentions about football in blog posts and comments, and favorited Youtube videos – and your favorite team wins the next playoff game. Knowing that when you are on an emotional high you tend to make an online purchase, retailers start showing specific discounted offers pop up on eBay and Amazon related to your team. Beyond the fact that the team won, taking it to the next level targeted people whose buying behavior changes at these peaks.
  • Imagine if in a Myspace posting you share the loss of a beloved pet. You start seeing ads and receiving offers for “comfort” items.

Evan responds,

What consumers receive is nothing bizarre: A pitch from Amazon or Borders or Walmart for a particular kind of product. But what they won’t likely know is that the pitch was prompted by … a MySpace posting the software thought “sounded sad.”

Technologically? This is quite do-able. Psychologically sound? If the software is done properly, yes, these predictive packages can be frighteningly accurate. But here are the big two questions: What about privacy and morality?

Sure there are many concerns about privacy, morality, and transparency. Is it going above and beyond using this type of data to target customers, or just the next logical evolution? It sure makes me think a little more about what I share on searchable outlets, but I am not so sure connecting me with the right products at the right time would be a bad thing. What do you think?

Photo credit: fenchurch via flickr

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  • Completely agree that these tools and this approach could be an advancement in connecting consumers with the products and services they want. I think there’s an intermediate step, though.

    It’s not news that consumers are increasingly comfortable with sharing their lives, emotions and experiences with others online. This is where the social Web excels, and where I think companies can best focus their energy in the near-term – using the social Web to take a relevant place in the consumer’s circle of influence. Now is the time to develop trust and affinity by providing value in the social context.

    Trying to take the leap too early will break that pattern of trust and can alienate a company’s message. That’s one of the reasons I think traditional advertising and marketing practices fall short when they are applied in the social setting. Consumers are still growing accustomed to the environment and need to feel like it’s one they can trust. Seeing a marketing message out of context causes them to retreat.

    I think the day will come when the tools you describe can be used, but the preliminary step is for brands to take a trusted place in the social scene, and that’s difficult to do when you lead with a marketing message of offer a marketing message without having first built that trust.

  • Completely agree that these tools and this approach could be an advancement in connecting consumers with the products and services they want. I think there’s an intermediate step, though.

    It’s not news that consumers are increasingly comfortable with sharing their lives, emotions and experiences with others online. This is where the social Web excels, and where I think companies can best focus their energy in the near-term – using the social Web to take a relevant place in the consumer’s circle of influence. Now is the time to develop trust and affinity by providing value in the social context.

    Trying to take the leap too early will break that pattern of trust and can alienate a company’s message. That’s one of the reasons I think traditional advertising and marketing practices fall short when they are applied in the social setting. Consumers are still growing accustomed to the environment and need to feel like it’s one they can trust. Seeing a marketing message out of context causes them to retreat.

    I think the day will come when the tools you describe can be used, but the preliminary step is for brands to take a trusted place in the social scene, and that’s difficult to do when you lead with a marketing message of offer a marketing message without having first built that trust.

  • New blog post: CRM/analytics data mixed with social media breadcrumbs could lead to highly targeted marketing http://is.gd/eONy

  • RT @adamcohen‘s new post: CRM/analytics data mixed with social media breadcrumbs could lead to highly targeted marketing http://is.gd/eONy

  • RT @adamcohen: New blog post: CRM/analytics data mixed w/social media breadcrumbs could lead to highly targeted marketing http://is.gd/eONy

  • Untapped CRM: Social Breadcrumbs | :: a thousand cuts :: adam …: Marketers have a lot of data. Online, they kn.. http://tinyurl.com/7j7u3e

  • RT @adamcohen: CRM/analytics data mixed w/ social media breadcrumbs could lead to highly targeted marketing http://is.gd/eONy = good stuff

  • RT @adamcohen‘s new post: CRM/analytics data mixed with social media breadcrumbs could lead to highly targeted marketing http://is.gd/eONy

  • Couldn’t agree more with the myriad possibilities for the marketer on integrating Social & CRM data! Your post acts as the perfect primer on why we should do it. My posts, made a couple of months earlier as well as on earlier this week, give a primer on what to measure & how to do the integration.

    Mind map for Social Media Metrics – http://scorpfromhell.blogspot.com/2008/10/mind-map-for-social-media-metrics.html

    Social CRM – ETL of Social & CRM data> – http://scorpfromhell.blogspot.com/2009/01/social-crm-etl-of-social-crm-data.html

    You can follow me on Twitter @scorpfromhell, I already am. 🙂

  • Couldn’t agree more with the myriad possibilities for the marketer on integrating Social & CRM data! Your post acts as the perfect primer on why we should do it. My posts, made a couple of months earlier as well as on earlier this week, give a primer on what to measure & how to do the integration.

    Mind map for Social Media Metrics – http://scorpfromhell.blogspot.com/2008/10/mind-map-for-social-media-metrics.html

    Social CRM – ETL of Social & CRM data> – http://scorpfromhell.blogspot.com/2009/01/social-crm-etl-of-social-crm-data.html

    You can follow me on Twitter @scorpfromhell, I already am. 🙂

  • RT @seanbohan: RT @adamcohen: CRM/analytics data mixed w/ social media … highly targeted marketing http://is.gd/eONy = good stuff

  • @Brad thanks for the comment…I agree that few companies are prepared for the level of sophistication it would take to tie all this data together. I also think before companies can dive in to leverage this data they need to gain an appreciation for the interaction and respect the relationship; else it will be the equivalent of Facebook Beacon’s launch in the violation of trust. There are a lot more ways companies should be engaging in social media, certainly starting with listening.

    @scorpfromhell (great name) – My post frankly wasn’t intended as a primer or supporting whether companies should or should not do it. Just exploring the possibilities. Thanks for the comment, next time I’d like to know your name too 😉

  • adam

    @Brad thanks for the comment…I agree that few companies are prepared for the level of sophistication it would take to tie all this data together. I also think before companies can dive in to leverage this data they need to gain an appreciation for the interaction and respect the relationship; else it will be the equivalent of Facebook Beacon’s launch in the violation of trust. There are a lot more ways companies should be engaging in social media, certainly starting with listening.

    @scorpfromhell (great name) – My post frankly wasn’t intended as a primer or supporting whether companies should or should not do it. Just exploring the possibilities. Thanks for the comment, next time I’d like to know your name too 😉

  • @Adam – I am called A. Prem Kumar, you can call me Prem. 🙂 I realise you are not rooting for/against using social data for more targeted ads, you are stating just that its possible & why its to be done.

    I have acted on this pretext, that it just is something that can be done as well as needs doing, as a first step of integrating social & CRM data. 🙂

    I am now interested in finding ways of actually having Social & CRM data driven, meaningful & useful conversations. Any thoughts on that are most welcome. 🙂

  • @Adam – I am called A. Prem Kumar, you can call me Prem. 🙂 I realise you are not rooting for/against using social data for more targeted ads, you are stating just that its possible & why its to be done.

    I have acted on this pretext, that it just is something that can be done as well as needs doing, as a first step of integrating social & CRM data. 🙂

    I am now interested in finding ways of actually having Social & CRM data driven, meaningful & useful conversations. Any thoughts on that are most welcome. 🙂

  • Untapped CRM: Social Breadcrumbs | :: a thousand cuts :: adam cohen’s blog http://tinyurl.com/7j7u3e

  • @BrentLeary did u look at @adamcohen‘s new post on integrating social & crm data? http://is.gd/eONy #scrm

  • Untapped CRM: Social Breadcrumbs: http://bit.ly/amBS

  • RT @JesseNewhart Untapped CRM: Social Breadcrumbs: http://bit.ly/amBS (Definitely food for thought.. makes me feel uneasy.. I think.)

  • Great article Adam!

    Interesting perspective. There is a flip side of all of this measurement of user behavior to add rich data to our CRM and marketing analysis… It will be misused by some. Those instances will be well publicized. People may become wary of clicking on much of anything on a site because they don’t want more ads sent to them or sales people to call…

  • Great article Adam!

    Interesting perspective. There is a flip side of all of this measurement of user behavior to add rich data to our CRM and marketing analysis… It will be misused by some. Those instances will be well publicized. People may become wary of clicking on much of anything on a site because they don’t want more ads sent to them or sales people to call…

  • I’ve been having very similar trains of thought lately also, Adam. It seems as though customer acquisition costs could plummet in the scenarios you mentioned, so I would hope that economic impetus would get marketers on board and soon.

    Marketing in the dimensions of socially-focused CRM seems inherently less risky than marketing to the lowest common denominators of demographics, retail and pricing strategies. I’m anxious to see who – like Amazon + iPhone, for example – will prove that this model is not only viable, but significantly impacts the bottom line without sacrificing too much in terms of privacy.

    As a consumer I certainly don’t want more ads, but I’d certainly expect to see more value and relevance in the ads I’m forced to encounter. If I’ve been exhaustively searching, tweeting, and/or wishlisting a certain product, I predict (or hope, at least) that smart companies will harvest this and make my purchasing decision a bit easier.

  • I’ve been having very similar trains of thought lately also, Adam. It seems as though customer acquisition costs could plummet in the scenarios you mentioned, so I would hope that economic impetus would get marketers on board and soon.

    Marketing in the dimensions of socially-focused CRM seems inherently less risky than marketing to the lowest common denominators of demographics, retail and pricing strategies. I’m anxious to see who – like Amazon + iPhone, for example – will prove that this model is not only viable, but significantly impacts the bottom line without sacrificing too much in terms of privacy.

    As a consumer I certainly don’t want more ads, but I’d certainly expect to see more value and relevance in the ads I’m forced to encounter. If I’ve been exhaustively searching, tweeting, and/or wishlisting a certain product, I predict (or hope, at least) that smart companies will harvest this and make my purchasing decision a bit easier.