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Integrating Social CRM into your Inbound Marketing Strategy

April 19th, 2010 :: Steven Fisher

I am sure you have all heard of the term, CRM which stands for Customer Service Management. CRM systems have been around for the last two decades have taken on all shapes (sales focused, customer service focused), sizes (small teams and enterprises) and technology approaches (local installations and cloud services). They generally have five major functions – lead management, opportunity management, account management, document management and reports/analytics. For the most part this hasn’t really changed, only the processes and approaches to convert those at the beginning of the pipeline as a prospect to the end of the pipeline where they become a customer. Sure there are tools and other stuff to manage the customer when they have issues or want to order more stuff in the future but things in the last two years have seen a shift in the way we view the customer and communicate with them.

I am of course talking about social media.

Gone are the days of one-way communications or a back a forth with emails and phone calls. Social media means two-way engagement and at some times hearing customers talk about your company and your products in ways you might not be happy about. You have one of two choices at this point in time – ignore them and their voices will get louder and you will be considered obsolete or engage and talk to them hearing their concerns and responding in a transparent way so others see you as a company that actually cares about its customers.

So I have talked about CRM and social media. Let me introduce you to the concept of Social CRM.

I know, I know, everybody is slapping the word “social” on everything like they did with “e-” in 2000. I will give you that Social Media is on a groundswell right now but the concept of Social CRM is a great one and true evolution in a technology that needs a breathe of fresh air. Here is a great example of traditional CRM and Social CRM:

(photo: Hurricane Agency)

Barack Obama, the Social CRM president

I was introduced to the concept of social CRM about two years ago by two friends, Brent Leary and David Bullock. They were following the campaign of this freshman Senator from Chicago that had just announced his run for the presidency. His name of course, Barack Obama. Senator Obama had assembled many talented people including young innovative campaign marketing staffers who began leveraging social media tools to build a community and begin what many call a movement to get Senator Obama elected. Over the course of the campaign, Brent and David created a site called Barack 2.0 and tracked all the tools utilized to create a comprehensive Social CRM system to help him get elected. It is a fascinating study and they eventually published a successful book on this entire process and you can check it out at the site Barack 2.0.

The 18 Use Cases of Social CRM

Fast forward two years and many companies have integrated Social CRM into their solutions. Many companies have attempted to implement some form of Social CRM process and last month, The Altimeter Group put together a great paper on 18 Use Cases of Social CRM and it is summarized in this chart below:

You can see that the use cases follow the segments of a typical CRM system the key here. You can read the full paper at and dive deep into the analysis.

Three Steps You Can Do to Integrate Social CRM into your Inbound Marketing Strategy

1.) Start Talking About it With Your Team – Now if you are a small business that team may be just you and in other cases it might be 50 people. In all cases you should look at the chart above and see which functions could be served by a Social CRM solution.

2.) Evaluate Your Social CRM Software Options – There are many Social CRM tools available for your small business. Some products, like BatchBlue CRM were launched from the beginning as a Social CRM solution. There are many others like and Siebel that are adding Social CRM functionality to their solutions. If you already use these tools see how you can utilize these functions and if not, look around the web and search on “Social CRM software” to see your options.

3.) Integrate Social CRM practices into your inbound marketing processes – The only way to start using this is by doing it. If your company isn’t on Twitter, sign up. If it doesn’t have a fan page, make one and start promoting it. Learn what customers are using social media tools and engage with them. Social CRM software can help but ultimately your inbound marketing activities will use your Social CRM tool as a hub.

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