Harte-Hanks Targets Social Sales Leads - InformationWeek

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Harte-Hanks Targets Social Sales Leads

As more enterprises embrace social tools, data provider Harte-Hanks adds social media as category of spending it tracks and sales leads it sells.

Top 20 Apps For Managing Social Media
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Top 20 Apps For Managing Social Media
Business data provider Harte-Hanks is adding social media as a category of spending it tracks, reflecting the increasing importance of social media marketing.

On Monday, Harte-Hanks announced an expansion of the firm's CI Pipleine leads service, which added seven new categories of technology purchasing: mobile device security, social media management, tablet computers, thin PCs, data de-duplication software, video conferencing hardware and software, and digital signage displays.

Randy Ilas, vice president of product development and marketing at Harte-Hanks, said business use of social media is moving from experimentation to serious business use. "It's a lot like what happened with websites. I think we're seeing social media move through that same continuum from curiosity to anxiety and opportunity," he said.

That trend is attracting a growing number of consultants and service providers who want to help with that transition, and the CI Pipeline service will help feed them leads. In addition to trying to find out levels of budgets and expenditures, the Harte-Hanks researchers seek to find out how many employees are tasked with dealing with a particular area of technology. Entry level pricing for CI Pipeline is about $3,500 to $5,000, although large clients pay up to a quarter of a million dollars a year for a subscription to supply leads from the service to a whole sales force, Ilas said. The data can be viewed through a Web portal or piped directly into customer relationship management systems.

Ilas said the social media data provided through CI Pipeline is based on survey responses--what organizations say they are planning to spend on social media--as opposed to monitoring social media activity.

Because Harte-Hanks is just initiating coverage on this market segment, Ilas said he doesn't have trend data to share yet, but the researchers have tested the waters enough to see the potential. "Let's just say we're getting enough interest from the customer base in what we're producing. In terms of social networking, we're finding seven out of eight businesses have some kind of plan to spend money on it. Of course, we have nothing to compare that to, but we do expect it to rise," he said.

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