Several years ago, when I was still working at an agency, we helped a large global client select a new set of social media marketing tools. The client had been on one of the marketing cloud platforms, but found the promise of an all-in-one, comprehensive social marketing solution just wasn’t living up to their needs, which included a very high volume of customer care interactions.
So we helped them select a social analytics tool, paired it with a content development and publishing platform, and then added on a social customer care point solution. The three products integrated well, providing a best in class solution at a comparable cost to an all-in-one that would have done some things well, some not so well.
Three tools are fairly easy for a social marketing team to manage. But compare this scenario to that of a Gartner client I was speaking with recently, who found themselves with sixteen different social marketing technologies deployed across their global organization. Sixteen!
It certainly made sense for this client to consolidate, and that’s what they’re doing. Fortunately, the cloud and all-in-one solutions have come a long way in just the past couple of years, and those vendors now represent a viable option for many. But the point solutions – those tools that do one thing and do it well, still make sense for markets who need to go deep on a particular social use case – from listening and analytics to employee advocacy, customer care, or collecting user generated content.
Marketers’ investment in these tools is on the rise. According to our Digital Channel Survey, 2016, (client login required) 64% of marketers are increasing investments in social engagement and customer service technology, 57% plan to invest more in social content and distribution tools, and 49% will spend more on social analytics technology this year.
Enter our Market Guide for Social Marketing Management (clients login required) which we refreshed just last week. The guide covers all of the top marketing cloud solutions for social marketers, and most of the widely used suite solutions.
While most of these tools have very similar capabilities – they collect and analyze data from the same sources, enable content development, approval, and distribution (including social advertising capabilities) and triage, escalate, and case manage care interactions, they often vary widely in pricing and the level of client support. So much so that these are two of the biggest factors we hear from clients looking to switch from their current provider(s). It’s not just about the tool, it’s about the level of expertise that comes with it.
Speaking of expertise, I want to welcome one of our newest Gartner for Marketers analysts, Elizabeth Shaw. Elizabeth brings to the team an extensive background in social marketing and more broadly, marketing innovation. Based in Bend, Oregon, Elizabeth’s enthusiasm for social is palpable. If you haven’t yet had a chance to meet her in person, you’ll get your chance at our upcoming Digital Marketing Conference in San Diego.