Companies that don’t integrate Social Data fail in the age of the customer, says Forrester

By | December 18, 2011

Given the prominence of “all things social” in 2011, it’s an appropriate topic for this last post of the year. As 2012 begins, few executives will argue with the need to integrate social media better with their business. The questions will arise, however, regarding the best way forward. It can be confusing.


Possible answers will come from many sources and occasionally conflict. Social media is being used to monitor conversations to avoid public relations disasters, provide customer service often for the same reason, and engage consumers in promotions and other marketing programs.


If you haven’t been paying attention you might have missed the socialization of e-commerce, as in selling via online stores hosted within Facebook (f-commerce), or the fact consumers are using social login for buying on retail websites. Adding to the mix is e-commerce in general, especially as a trend among CPG companies looking to grow sales amid a down economy through as many channels as possible.


In some cases, one tactic is a means to an end, as in “Brands…embracing ecommerce to gain access to shopping behavior data typically retained by the retailer,” according to this recent eMarketer article. Such is one goal of the Demand Signal Repository or DSR (among others), not typically associated with e-commerce but rather the sales organization.


Most businesses simply want to remain relevant in this newly social environment defined by Connected Consumers, but that will be increasingly difficult when social actions happen in disconnected and disparate ways.


It’s against this backdrop that I thought it worthwhile revisiting an October report from Forrester Research titled, “The Road Map To Integrating Social And Customer Data.” The subject of this report is sure to be a topic of discussion in numerous businesses throughout 2012, especially Consumer Goods Manufacturers. The report’s executive summary states:

“Too many companies remain trapped by merely monitoring or passively collecting social media. Few actually reach Social Intelligence: driving their marketing and business strategy using the data that social media creates. Today, companies underutilize social data and often leave it sitting in its own silo. To overcome this problem, Customer Intelligence (CI) professionals must start looking at social media as a new source of customer information that integrates with their existing data. But this is far easier said than done.”

Forrester prescribes a crawl, walk, run and fly approach to achieving this state, that makes little sense to attack in a piecemeal fashion using point products and outsourced services. As pointed out in this recent article titled, “Why Traditional Marketing Isn’t Clicking With Consumers”:

“…there is no third-party cookie or panel data that can possibly compare with a brand’s own unique customer insight, including customer transactional and service history, their preferences, their interests and attitudes, and even past receptivity to brand content. For many brands, this insight is multichannel and found in their marketing databases.”

Unfortunately few Consumer Goods makers possess internal marketing or consumer databases, let alone actual DSRs with retail transaction data. Instead, the data resides outside the company, in the care of dozens of agencies and marketing services companies. Teradata’s approach involves a single platform to support the Consumer Goods maker’s journey from social media listening through the integration of this data with consumer, transaction and other sources to inform multiple business centers. It is this maturity curve which Forrester describes.


To “fly” in Forrester speak involves “Integrating social and customer data in the customer database through social listening, appending existing records, or collecting customers’ social information through opt-ins.” Of the three ways to collect consumer social data, it is an opt-in or pull approach which Forrester describes as the one with the greatest accuracy and fewest privacy concerns.


Teradata works with leading consumer Goods companies in this very way, providing the marketing campaign platform to opt-in and nurture consumer relationships across channels as well as the data integration platform for resolving the diverse and rapidly growing sources of data to fuel these interactions more intelligently.


The role of analytics cannot be discounted either. As businesses become defined by their mastery of the social universe, analytics will play a central role in helping understand the relevance and value of social data across the enterprise. One such application, marketing attribution as supported by Teradata Aster Data, is described in this recent Forbes article.


Forrester says “Companies that don’t integrate Social Data fail in the age of the customer,” but that time is now. Don’t let social data overtake your business before it’s too late. 2012 is sure to be the year of the socialization of business.


Gib Bassett 

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