Using Social & Relationships tools to build customer relationships across the funnel in six stages (3/6)

Don’t let the 1,652 Social & Relationships tools of the Martech Supergraphic scare you. By analyzing 200+ real-life marketing technology stacks, we found that marketers first reach out via Social Media Marketing & Monitoring, and set up a CRM as a foundation. Then they engage 1:1 via Events, Meetings & Webinars, and invest in Feedback & Chat capabilities. B2B marketers deepen relationships via Account Based Marketing (ABM), while B2C marketers invest in Customer Experience, Service & Success.

This blog post on Social & Relationships tools is part of a series. Other categories in the Martech Supergraphic are discussed in detail here:

6 Social & Relationships ‘Jobs to be done’ are Key to Marketing Success

The Social & Relationships category of the Supergraphic is mainly about continuously engaging and keeping track of individual contacts across the funnel stages in a CRM. It is required to start building the more intimate relationships that are necessary to make funnel conversions happen.

The subcategory names of the Martech Supergraphic are close to describing marketing tasks, processes or ‘Jobs to be done’. They can be a starting point for learning to navigate the Supergraphic.

The individual tool names of the Martech Supergraphic can tell us what tools are dominant, and which of their capabilities are vital for running marketing activities.

When marketers have gotten to grips with Social Media Advertising and SEO to generate enough website traffic and leads, it is time to engage with contacts and build strong relationships. The ultimate aim in this part of the process is to generate Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), i.e. leads who are likely to make a purchase.

Marketers engage with prospects through targeted interactions throughout their buying journey with the intention to move them down the sales funnel. Customers can be researching a specific brand on Social, which causes them to go to the website and become an MQL by downloading a whitepaper. Some time later, that same MQL might reach out in Chat to ask for specific product info, getting ever closer to buying. It is the job of marketers to engage along the entire buying journey until, finally, the leads make their (next) purchase.

Now let’s zoom in on the most popular subcategories in the Social & Relationships Supergraphic category.

What are Social & Relationships tools used most for?

1. Social Media Marketing & Monitoring


The most important area to start building relationships is on Social Media, judging by the popularity of Social Media Marketing & Monitoring tools. These tools allow for posting social messages in a structured fashion, and enable the analysis of their effectiveness.

The goal of Social Media Marketing & Monitoring is to engage with potential customers by starting a dialogue and monitoring sentiment. Social Media Marketing & Monitoring supports the publication and repurposing of content for multiple social media channels.

This content can range from text to photos or video clips, and encourages people to engage by sharing, liking and commenting on posts. Tools in this area support social network integrations for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Reddit, Storify, and Tumblr. Occasionally, these tools integrate with Marketing Automation or CRM tools.

Typical capabilities of these tools are the management of the company’s accounts in social networks. This includes writing, approving, scheduling and monitoring posts to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin, as well as analyzing their results and engaging with their community.

The importance of using these capabilities in the overall marketing effort is clear. They provide efficient and effective platforms for managing the day to day needs of this area of marketing, ensuring we are optimizing our use of social media platforms in marketing.

Hootsuite, SproutSocial and Buffer rank on position 2, 3 and 4 of most used tools in the Social & Relationships category.

2. CRM


To manage the customer relationships across channels marketers use CRM tools. It enables them to keep track of how contacts, leads and accounts develop from MQLs into SQLs.

The purpose of this specific Supergraphic category is to maintain and grow relationships with (potential) customers to sell and cross & upsell. A CRM supports the management of the opportunity pipeline, converting Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) into Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) and Sales Opportunities.

Marketing ideally defines what criteria qualify a website visitor as a prospect or which criteria turn the lead into a MQL. The next step is for sales to take over the MQL and 'go in for the deal'. Based on internally agreed criteria, Marketing and Sales decide when a MQL is handed over to Sales and turns into a Sales Accepted Lead (SAL) and Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). An example of those criteria can be BANT, which implies the lead has a Budget to spend on the product, Authority to make the decision, a compelling Need for the product and a clear Time deadline.

To keep track of contacts and the funnel stage they’re in, having a CRM tool is paramount. What started as a Rolodex is now an address book on steroids. With the customer data nicely structured and accessible, a CRM now is managing data driven interactions across communication channels, such as website, telephone, email, live chat, marketing materials and social media. All of this with the aim of customer acquisition and retention and ultimately driving sales growth. A growing trend in this area is the use of Artificial Intelligence to accelerate conversation and conversions.

Salesforce is the undisputed champion of CRM tools. As inventor of the SaaS industry, it now offers a wide range of functionality even beyond sales, into marketing, customer success and support.

With the stack population in mind, one might expect to see Hubspot CRM and Netsuite in our charts. Surprisingly, these tools are not in the top 20 of most used Social & Relationship tools. Other CRM tools like PipeDrive and ZohoCRM are both categorized as Commerce & Sales in the Supergraphic. Based on the numbers, PipeDrive would have been in the top 20 of the Social & Relationships category.

3. Events, Meetings & Webinars


In addition to building digital relationships via social media, relationships can also be developed via verbal or physical communication. Looking at the numbers in our research, Events, Meetings & Webinars tools are very popular.

Where the social media interactions are predominantly digital, live interaction is a different level of engagement. This is where Events, Meetings & Webinars come in. Events & Webinars are often a form of monologue intended to bring share e.g. knowledge or product information. Individual meetings allow for a more in depth dialogue. In case of Events & Meetings, a facial or physical component is added which increases engagement with the customer further.

Webinar tools are very popular judging by the results of this research. At least 4 tools support the organization of webinars, On24, Brighttalk, Readytalk and Zoom. Organizing a webinar isn’t just about hosting the webinar itself and recording the track. It includes sending email invites (including clicks and bounces), getting information about the registrants by providing registration forms, doing post event communications such as thanking registrants for attending, sending recordings to those who could not attend, and analytics on how attrendees respond during the webinar with questions, votes and likes.

Eventbrite and Cvent are online event management and ticketing platforms. Their services allow users to browse, create, and promote local events. The service charges a fee to event organizers in exchange for online ticketing services, unless the event is free. Please note that internal tools that support the management of events in terms of collaboration with RSVP management, suppliers and venues, are not mentioned here.

For the management of one-on-one meetings marketers use tools like GotoMeeting, Skype for Business, Google Hangout,, etc. These tools are covered in the Management category (Collaboration), more on this in our upcoming Blog #6 on Marketing Management solutions.[sc name="Mid-post-CTA"]

4. Account Based Marketing (ABM)


Account Based Marketing (ABM) tools particularly help in the B2B space. It enables sales reps to equip contact persons with account based content so they can start convincing (selling) on the client side. It creates broader client buy-in as a kind of land-and-expand strategy.

Account Based Marketing (ABM), also known as Key Account Marketing (KAM), is the approach to engage with specific accounts in a personalized way, based on the specific needs of that account, i.e. clients or contact persons. Account-based marketing is typically used in enterprise level sales organizations. Some say ABM flips the sales funnel. Once a contact person landed at the end of the funnel and became customer, it is time to expand and cross & upsell.

Tools that help you find other contact persons within the same account (client company) are Demandbase, Terminus, Linkedin Sales Navigator and Insideview. Linkedin Sales Navigator helps you segment prospects as well as find new contacts within the same account or company, within the LinkedIn network. Demandbase, Terminus and Insideview allow marketing & sales to do the same within their own contact base. They help you target high potential contacts, find ways to engage with them and ultimately drive the sale.

5. Customer Experience, Service & Success


One might regard Customer Experience, Service & Success tools as the B2C equivalent of ABM tools. These tools help to improve 1-1 communication across company departments. Once the 1-1 relationship is taking shape, it is time to equip sales people with content ammunition to help them execute the ‘land & expand’-strategy.

In addition to the social media, website and verbal interactions, there is a need to integrate the experience across the multiple touch points. While this need is the same for B2C and B2B companies, the tools used in these arenas are different. As a rule of thumb, one could say that Customer Success tools mainly support the B2C markets, whereas the ABM tools cover the mainly B2B. The difference is scale. Customer Success tools focus on mass customization or even mass personalization of the content. ABM tools tailor the content experience and journey on an account to account basis (read: company by company basis).

The area where social media, website and verbal interactions come together is not only in marketing communication, but also in customer service and success. Customer service provides support to customers before, during and after a purchase. The goal of Customer Success is to make the customer as successful and satisfied as possible, with the aim to improve the customer lifetime value (CLTV) for the company.

The use of a Customer Experience, Service & Success tool can be recognised by an interactive text balloon, or chat box, on the bottom right corner of a website, webshop or webapp. It provides behaviour and context relevant instructions and questions for the user. If someone visits a pricing page for the third time, the brand might want pop-up an automated human-like message to clarify the pricing plans. Another example is the abandoned basket or ill-adopted apps which are automatically followed up with emails to re-engage.

This is what Feedback & Chat tools (see below) do too. Customer Experience, Service & Success tools can follow up with emails in a similar fashion as Marketing Automation tools do. Intercom and Zendesk are intelligent chat tools that enable marketers to interact with website visitors.  In addition, they provide intelligent email nurturing campaign capabilities. We would also include Mixpanel here but in the Supergraphic, it has been categorized as (Data - Mobile & Web Analytics).

Gainsight takes it one step further by shaping the experience around the customer journey. It checks things like onboarding progress, product adoption rates, NPS scores and customer health, and suggest appropriate actions like mail, call, etc.

6. Feedback & Chat


Where Social Media enables the digital communication, and Events & Webinars support verbal and physical communication, Feedback & Chat tools enable initial relationship building via the website. Chat messages are partly automated, but can be taken over by marketing, sales or call center assistants.

Feedback & Chat tools can be recognised by that interactive text balloon, or chat box, on the bottom right corner of a website, webshop or webapp. Based on behaviour, it serves different suggestions or content. But as soon as someone starts a conversation, a real person takes over the cruise control of the chat bot.

The use of the chatbot can be used for several business goals, such as lead generation, higher sales volumes, or better service. Chat metrics allow marketers to optimize the messaging and streamline the conversations. These tools tend to integrate with with dozens of popular tools ranging from helpdesk and CRM tools, to Marketing Automation and Analytics software. This helps to share accounts, client statuses, stories and data across platforms.

Drift and Olark are the most popular chat tools that enable marketers to interact with website visitors. The bot behind the chat of Drift qualifies site visitors, identifies which sales rep to speak to, and books a meeting. This approach bypasses the webform and lead nurturing if necessary, and can convert leads quickly based on intelligence.

A final note on the emerging term Conversational Marketing. It gives marketers the ability to have 1:1 personal conversations across multiple channels, meeting customers how, when, and where they want. Conversational Marketing tools provide solutions for businesses to have real-time one-to-one conversations with their audiences, so customers can get answers to questions quickly. The new marketing practice shifts the focus from forms to chat boxes, and far beyond. Chat bots can propose automated, context relevant, questions that can be easily answered. But conversational marketing also extends to phone calls, texts, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, email, Slack, and basically to any channel with which a customer wants to communicate with your brand. This speeds up the interactions and reduces the prospect to lead time.

How to walk the six stages of Content & Experience ‘Jobs to be done

To summarize…

  • Post and analyze social messages using Social Media Marketing & Monitoring (1)
  • Manage the customer relationships across channels and funnel stages using CRM (2)
  • Deepen relationships through verbal or physical communication using Events, Meetings & Webinars (3)
  • Convince B2B clients and create buy-in with Account Based Marketing (4)
  • Engage with B2C clients 1-1 with Customer Experience, Service & Success (5)
  • Build an initial relationship via the website using Feedback & Chat (6)

So, that is it for this Supergraphic category. If you are ready to get to grips with the next category, Commerce & Sales, stay tuned!

If you want to contribute to the ongoing Martech Benchmark research, submit your stack now. You’ll receive an automatically generated, personalized report in minutes.If you’re really getting the hang of it, email Frans to talk about a MarTech training from MartechAcademy.

Thanks to…

Lastly, a huge thank you to our magnificent and ever-growing review panel.

Roel Seegers, Carlos Doughty, Doug Kessler, Dr. René Steiner, Kirsten Wildberger, Silvia Di Stefano, Marinka Eekman, Matthieu Vermeulen, Odd Morten Sørensen, Travis Martin, Stacy Falkman, Nikki Kyriakopoulos, Julia Valentine, Peter Krmpotic, Peter Meijers, Huib Stad, Scott Sweeney, Michael Sweeney, Justin Flitter, Mayur Soni, Hans van der Meulen, Mark Wakelin, Carmine Basile, Simon Daniels, Danielle Balestra, Sree Vattikuti, Annika Werner, Maarten Rijswijk, Ibán Ríos, Mayer Becker, Venkatesha(Venky) Murthy, Moni Oloyede, Samuel Schmitt, Marc Maisonneuve, MBA, Gary Katz

About this research

The Marketing Technology Landscape contains 7,040 tools spread over 50 subcategories, which are represented in the Martech Supergraphic. This is simply too much to take in. If we are not careful, marketers might think the field of martech is too complicated altogether, and might not capitalize on its huge potential.

In six blog posts, we’ll try to discover which stages companies usually go through as they improve their stack. We’ll explore which tools other companies are using, so you can identify how your company’s stack compares – where it overlaps and where gaps are. If you are over-equipped in a specific area, you might be able to cut out some tools and accompanying costs. And if you are under-equipped, you have a great opportunity to improve your marketing efforts.

If you are interested in how the martech market has developed over the years, including the data category, read all about Martech consolidation here.

When reading through the research results, please bear in mind that the sample is leaning towards SME B2B technology companies with between 25 to 1000 staff members and an annual turnover of 10 to 50 million dollars.

Want to contribute to the ongoing Martech Benchmark research? Submit your stack now.

Important note: We see our stack population of 200 Martech stacks as a first indicator for which type of tools marketers use or need. We aim to distill a ‘Martech roadmap’ that outlines which tools marketers need to improve their Martech capability over time, as their company develops.

Please understand that our research population is mainly covering SME B2B technology companies with between 25-1,000 staff members and yearly turnover of 10-50 million dollars. We believe our research population is still too small to consider our results as a definitive answer on which tools are best. Rather, we encourage you to investigate the breath of alternative tools within (sub)categories.