For marketers, Web 2.0 offers a remarkable new opportunity to engage consumers. If only they knew how to do it.
I found those comments, courtesy of a feature article in today’s Wall Street Journal, a great way of summing up the crossroads marketers currently find themselves at. But whereas the concept of importing sales leads or building networks for a sales force via Facebook is still very much a theory, viral marketing is legit, and appears to be the only pillar of CRM that’s truly leveraged Web 2.0 to the tune of more customers and increased revenue.
Years ago, companies built Web sites and then attempted to drive consumers to it via banner ads and keyword searches. Today, it’s now possible to construct a Web site that works similar to an application, molding the site’s content and format to allow it to mold to different scenarios, allowing companies to market virally.
Today the Web is no longer just a collection of sites and pages. It’s a collection of feeds and services that deliver content fluidly across a myriad of contexts, from portals and news readers to widgets, mashups, and consumer-generated media sites. The uncontrolled nature of Web distribution is increasingly disruptive to the media business, and smart marketers, particularly in the B2C model, are learning how to leverage Web 2.0 technology to track much of the unfettered content to initiate transactions, build brand recognition, and create advertising opportunities that you didn’t see just a few years ago.
But along the same lines of marketers being forced to leverage Web 2.0 tools to collaborate with consumers, cloud computing and the embedding of Web 2.0 capabilities within CRM are making those processes an ever-more reality. Take for example what we did with Sugar 5.2. The new Cloud Connectors and Sugar Portal dashlets allow marketers to embed such content back into a businesses’ CRM system, which could be accomplished leveraging the Cloud Connectors to build a simple connection to Facebook, a Wikipedia or a commonly-accepted industry blog to allow marketers to track buzz around new products, features or prices. We use that here at SugarCRM to track bloggers and writers across the Web that cover CRM and IT market in general.
But technical examples aside, the ability for marketers to understand the context in which the younger generations will come first and foremost, and will present a challenge to both marketing departments and CRM vendors alike.