With digital marketing budgets expected to rise this year, customer relationship management (CRM) software vendors are ramping up their pursuit of paid media budgets.
“Marketing is perhaps the hottest area in the customer-facing realm right now, and it is evident the place has multiple holes to fill and many approaches to take,” observed Paul Greenberg, president of The 56 Group, a consulting firm that focuses on CRM strategic services.
Combining data sets – i.e. “breaking the silos” to serve customers relevant ads and offers – is one of the holes that marketers are trying to fill. CRM vendors are approaching the problem by offering more ways for companies to fuse their CRM data with advertising.
Customer demand drove Salesforce.com’s decision to produce Social.com, a tool that lets marketers connect their purchase and customer loyalty data, as well as data from contests, whitepaper downloads and other conversion pages to their social ad campaigns, according to Peter Goodman, VP of Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
“Our customers have been asking us to help them apply what they know about their customers to their ad campaigns,” Goodman told AdExchanger. “And we see [Social.com] as a way to help them better target their audience and transform the way brands advertise.”
Salesforce.com’s rival, Oracle, has been thinking along similar lines. The software giant is testing a paid media offering that will allow customers to tie their Oracle CRM (Fusion, Eloqua, Siebel) data to social channels. “Leveraging capabilities such as Facebook’s Custom Audiences, we will provide a conduit through which companies can target individuals and their friends and followers on social networks,” said Meg Bear, VP of Oracle Cloud Social Platform. “Our product offering also provides powerful segmentation and targeting options, so that the right messages can be delivered to the right audiences. This allows for a very strong ROI on the ad spend.”
The paid media channel will be included as an enhancement to Oracle’s Social Relationship Management platform in Q3 of this year. A Twitter ads integration is “on the roadmap,” but the company does not yet have a rollout date for it. Bear declined to comment on Social.com.
In building out their offerings, established CRM players like Salesforce, Oracle, Microsoft and IBM have been aggressively acquiring marketing startups, as Gartner notes. "With corporate cash at all-time highs, many vendors are willing to pay high premiums to acquire specific technologies and expertise in an increasingly dynamic and competitive CRM market environment," said Gartner VP Joanne Correia in a statement. The research firm also noted total CRM software revenue reached $18 billion last year, in a 12.5% increase from 2011.
The 56 Group's Greenberg noted the acquisitions arms race is “evident with Microsoft acquiring Marketing Pilot…[and] Oracle acquiring Eloqua…This is a hot hot area for technology and will be blown out even further as the next year or two rolls on.”
As another example of the ad industry’s growing ties with CRM technology, Greenberg pointed to digital ad agency LBi’s decision to hire Anthony Lye, former SVP of Oracle Cloud Applications and a CRM strategist, early this year.
“Many agencies are realizing they need customer-facing technologies,” Greenberg said, “so they are…trying to do what Publicis/LBi did and hire Anthony Lye away from Oracle to run their digital technologies division.” Lye is currently president of DigitasLBi’s digital platform and channel division. On the flip side, CRM vendor Infor built its own in-house creative agency, Hook and Loop, which designs software interfaces for Infor clients.
The bottom line, Greenberg noted, is that “the sea around agencies is roiling and opening up opportunities for many companies to be involved, one way or the other.”