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2/16/2011
12:35 PM
Michele Warren
Michele Warren
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Investing In Social CRM

Constant Contact just shelled out a cool $15 million to build out its social media platform. That's how confident company executives are that social networking is the key to success for small businesses.

Constant Contact just shelled out a cool $15 million to build out its social media platform. That's how confident company executives are that social networking is the key to success for small businesses.In a deal that closed yesterday, Constant Contact, which delivers e-mail marketing, event marketing, social media marketing, and online survey tools to SMBs, acquired most assets from Bantam Networks, whose Bantam Live social CRM technology is based on an open-source Web application framework called Ruby on Rails, or RoR. Using the Bantam Live platform, Constant Contact will help small businesses better track, measure, and enhance customer engagement by creating a unified repository of data across all channels, including opened e-mails, clicks, event participation, survey responses, and social media interactions.

"The social media space is exploding," says Gail Goodman, CEO of Constant Contact. "Small businesses have to go beyond just posting on their Facebook Walls or Tweeting a few times a week. They need to engage customers fully in order to build loyalty and reach."

With more than 400,000 small-business customers--70% of which have fewer than 10 employees--Constant Contact offers a number of online marketing tools, including NutshellMail, a free service that lets users manage all their social media accounts in one place and at one time, and Social Stats, which allows small businesses to see at a glance where their e-mail marketing messages have been shared socially, with what frequency, and to what degree of success.

By integrating Bantam's technology with its own, Constant Contact will create an integrated social-media marketing campaign solution, to be unveiled by year's end. "This will make it very easy for SMBs to initiate cross-channel marketing," Goodman says. "They'll be able to see which campaigns are working best, which customers are most engaged, and on which social networks."

Constant Contact works with more than 7,000 partners that help small businesses make the most of its offerings. Those partners range from local Web developers and marketing consultancies to solution providers that integrate the company's social media platform with their own.

"Building highly engaged customer relationships is the No. 1 pain point for small organizations," Goodman said in a press release about the Bantam acquisition. "To do this, they need a unified view of their contacts across all channels, from e-mail addresses to social media connections to event registrations." By merging its technology with Bantam's, Constant Contact will enable its customers to take a "targeted approach to building stronger customer relationships and cultivating new ones," she added.

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