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The Forrester Wave Q2 2015

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The Forrester Wave Q2 2015

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The Forrester Wave Q2 2015

  1. 1. Forrester Research, Inc., 60 Acorn Park Drive, Cambridge, MA 02140 USA Tel: +1 617.613.6000 | Fax: +1 617.613.5000 | www.forrester.com The Forrester Wave™: Social Relationship Platforms, Q2 2015 by Nate Elliott, April 20, 2015 For: B2C Marketing Professionals KEY TAKEAWAYS Percolate, Spredfast, And Sprinklr Lead The Pack Forrester’s research uncovered a market in which Percolate, Spredfast, and Sprinklr lead the pack. Shoutlet, Expion, Hootsuite, and Falcon Social offer competitive options. Sprout Social, Adobe, Oracle, and Salesforce lag behind. The Category Is Growing Because Any SRP Is Better Than No SRP Most SRPs do too little to solve marketers’ real social challenges -- few share data with trusted measurement tools or make recommendations on what content brands should post and when -- but they do make it easier for marketers to manage dozens of social employees and accounts. Nearly every marketer we surveyed agreed that SRPs save them time. Breadth Of Offerings And Automation Are Key Differentiators In The SRP Market Many SRPs still have significant gaps in their feature sets; the Leaders stand out for the completeness of their offerings. With social marketers struggling to hire enough staff, vendors further differentiate themselves through automation. The vendors that automate recommendations rather than simply providing insights are in the best position to succeed. Access The Forrester Wave Model For Deeper Insight Use the detailed Forrester Wave model to view every piece of data used to score participating vendors and create a custom vendor shortlist. Access the report online and download the Excel tool using the link in the right-hand column under “Tools & Templates.” Alter Forrester’s weightings to tailor the Forrester Wave model to your specifications.
  2. 2. © 2015, Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited. Information is based on best available resources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change. Forrester® , Technographics® , Forrester Wave, RoleView, TechRadar, and Total Economic Impact are trademarks of Forrester Research, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective companies. To purchase reprints of this document, please email clientsupport@forrester.com. For additional information, go to www.forrester.com. FOR B2C MARKETING PROFESSIONALS WHY READ THIS REPORT In Forrester’s 41-criteria evaluation of social relationship platform (SRP) vendors, we identified the 11 most significant software providers — Adobe, Expion, Falcon Social, Hootsuite, Oracle, Percolate, Salesforce, Shoutlet, Spredfast, Sprinklr, and Sprout Social — in the category and researched, analyzed, and scored them. This evaluation details our findings about how well each vendor fulfills our criteria and where they stand in relation to each other to help B2C marketing professionals select the right partner for their social relationship platform. Table Of Contents Every Social Marketer Needs A Social Relationship Platform But SRPs Haven’t Kept Up With Marketers’ Needs Marketers Need SRPs To Embrace Automation Point Solutions Serve Marketers Better Than Social Suites Social Relationship Platform Evaluation Overview Our Evaluation Considered Current Offering, Strategy, And Market Presence We Found Three Leaders In The Cluttered SRP Landscape Vendor Profiles Leaders Strong Performers Contenders Supplemental Material Notes & Resources Forrester conducted lab-based evaluations in January 2015 and interviewed 11 vendor and user companies, including Adobe, Expion, Falcon Social, Hootsuite, Oracle, Percolate, Salesforce, Shoutlet, Spredfast, Sprinklr, and Sprout Social. Related Research Documents Data Defines The Future Of Social Relationship Platforms Integrate Social Into Your Marketing RaDaR Social Relationship Strategies That Work The Forrester Wave™: Social Relationship Platforms, Q2 2015 The 11 Providers That Matter Most And How They Stack Up by Nate Elliott with Luca S. Paderni, Nick Hayes, Erna Alfred Liousas, and Collin Colburn 2 3 5 7 9 12 16 APRIL 20, 2015
  3. 3. FOR B2C MARKETING PROFESSIONALS The Forrester Wave™: Social Relationship Platforms, Q2 2015 2 © 2015, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited April 20, 2015 EVERY SOCIAL MARKETER NEEDS A SOCIAL RELATIONSHIP PLATFORM B2C marketing leaders say the primary reason they maintain branded accounts on social networks like Facebook and Twitter is to build stronger relationships with their customers — so Forrester calls these tactics social relationship marketing.1 In the past five years, dozens of social relationship platforms have emerged to help marketers manage their branded accounts. Social relationship platforms are technologies that help marketers publish organic posts to social networks as well as monitor and respond to customer posts on social networks. Most social marketers already use an SRP. But if you don’t, you should hire one today. Why? ■ Managing branded profiles remains marketers’ favorite social activity. We surveyed 184 avid social marketers and found that every one of them maintains a branded Facebook page; another 97% maintain branded Twitter accounts (see Figure 1).2 In contrast, far fewer buy Facebook or Twitter ads, publish branded blogs, or host branded communities.3 ■ But social relationship marketing is getting harder. In 2014, big brands’ organic Facebook posts reached just 2% of their fans — and Facebook has slashed organic reach even further in 2015.4 Today just 0.22% of top brands’ Facebook fans engage with each brand post.5 On Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+, that interaction rate is below 0.05% and falling fast.6 ■ Using any social relationship platform is better than not using an SRP at all. The average social marketer uses approximately 45 employees to manage about 55 branded profiles — and SRPs make it easier for marketers to manage all these social employees and accounts.7 That’s why 95% of SRP clients agree that social relationship platforms save them time.8
  4. 4. FOR B2C MARKETING PROFESSIONALS The Forrester Wave™: Social Relationship Platforms, Q2 2015 3 © 2015, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited April 20, 2015 Figure 1 Managing Branded Profiles Remains Marketers’ Favorite Social Activity Source: Forrester Research, Inc. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution prohibited.120645 100% 97% Facebook page Twitter account Note: Not all responses are shown. Source: Forrester’s Q1 2015 Global Social Relationship Platform Wave™ Online Survey and Forrester’s Q1 2015 Global Social Depth Platform Wave™ Online Survey “Which of the following social tactics does your company use?” 82% 73% 66% 62% 54% Pay for ads or promoted posts on Facebook Influencer marketing Base: 184 avid social marketers (multiple responses accepted) Host a branded community or forum Pay for ads or promoted tweets on Twitter Maintain a branded blog BUT SRPS HAVEN’T KEPT UP WITH MARKETERS’ NEEDS It’s true that using any SRP is better than using no SRP — but vendors in this category aren’t serving marketers as well as they should. In fact, a 2014 Forrester survey found that most marketers wouldn’t recommend their SRP to a peer.9 Why aren’t clients more satisfied with their social relationship platforms? ■ Most solve the problems of yesteryear. SRPs easily overcome the basic logistical challenges of social relationship marketing. Almost any product in the market can manage your team’s permissions, cross-post between Facebook and Google+, or schedule a tweet for 3 p.m. tomorrow. That’s why fewer than 10% of SRP clients now list these tasks among their key challenges.10 ■ But few solve today’s most pressing challenges. SRP clients say measuring performance is their biggest social relationship marketing challenge — and they tell us their vendors do little to provide solutions (see Figure 2). Marketers also receive little support in creating effective content and choosing the right time to schedule their posts.
  5. 5. FOR B2C MARKETING PROFESSIONALS The Forrester Wave™: Social Relationship Platforms, Q2 2015 4 © 2015, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited April 20, 2015 Figure 2 Social Relationship Marketers Still Face Significant Challenges Source: Forrester Research, Inc. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution prohibited.120645 “Thinking about the branded accounts you maintain on social networks, which of the following are your biggest challenges? Please focus only on your organic marketing on these sites, not on any social ads or promoted posts you buy.” 53% 38% 27% 26% 21% 18% 16% 16% 9% 9% Measuring the performance of these profiles Finding or creating content to publish Deciding what type of content to publish Finding budget for staff to manage these profiles Responding to user posts and comments Finding budget for external support Deciding when to publish posts for maximum impact Scheduling posts and creating a content calendar Finding or training qualified staff to manage these profiles Other Note: Not all responses are shown. Source: Forrester’s Q1 2015 Global Social Relationship Platform Wave™ Online Survey Base: 118 avid social marketers (multiple responses accepted)
  6. 6. FOR B2C MARKETING PROFESSIONALS The Forrester Wave™: Social Relationship Platforms, Q2 2015 5 © 2015, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited April 20, 2015 Marketers Need SRPs To Embrace Automation Automation remains a dirty word in social media; no brand wants to repeat the automation-driven mistakes of Coca-Cola and Bank of America.11 But with social marketers struggling to hire enough qualified staff, the greatest value that social relationship platforms can offer their clients is lightening their workload. Intelligent SRP automation can solve marketers’ remaining social relationship challenges by: ■ Sharing social data with measurement tools that marketers trust. SRPs’ measurement dashboards offer clients more customization and better visualizations than ever before — yet clients give SRPs lower scores for measurement than for any other feature.12 Why? Social marketers don’t need fancy charts; they need to share their social data with trusted cross- channel measurement tools like mix modeling vendors and attribution platforms. But just one vendor in this Forrester Wave™ — Shoutlet — currently has an integration to dynamically push its data to an attribution partner. ■ Making targeted content recommendations. Marketers don’t know what topics they should cover in social media, and they struggle to find or create effective content. But while many vendors in this Forrester Wave attempt to offer marketers inspiration for what they should publish, fewer than half provide actual content recommendations. The standard-bearer is Percolate; its Brew tool tracks custom-defined lists of media outlets and influencers, looks for topics related to a brand’s key themes, and then prioritizes the specific topics on which clients should publish. ■ Publishing posts at just the right moment. Autoscheduling doesn’t just save marketers time; it improves their performance. For instance, upstart SRP SocialFlow automatically publishes brands’ posts when its tool detects that clients’ social followers are online — and marketers like Pepsi and Volkswagen find that this strategy increases their reach by 91% and their engagement rates by 25%.13 But just four of the 11 vendors in this Forrester Wave offer meaningful scheduling recommendations, and just two of the 11 offer an autoscheduling feature. ■ Automating tasks up to the last click. Social automation doesn’t have to be scary. Some automation happens entirely behind the scenes, like Falcon Social’s Priority algorithm, which tells clients which post they should respond to next but lets community managers write the actual responses. Others “automate to the last click,” like Hootsuite’s Suggested Content Publishing tool, which automatically creates and schedules posts based on marketers’ favorite keywords but waits for client approval before publishing. POINT SOLUTIONS SERVE MARKETERS BETTER THAN SOCIAL SUITES More than two-thirds of avid social marketers believe it’s more effective for them to buy all their social tools from a single vendor than to buy social point solutions from several different vendors.14 But they couldn’t be more wrong:
  7. 7. FOR B2C MARKETING PROFESSIONALS The Forrester Wave™: Social Relationship Platforms, Q2 2015 6 © 2015, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited April 20, 2015 ■ Social relationship marketing is more about relationships than about social. Most brands’ social followers are existing customers who want to stay up to date on new products and hear about special promotions.15 In fact, your Facebook fan list looks a lot more like your email or loyalty database than the people you’re targeting with paid social ads or word of mouth. That’s why, in this Forrester Wave evaluation, we give credit to vendors whose goal is to integrate their social tools with leading nonsocial marketing and CRM solutions, not just with other social technologies. ■ Social suites rarely offer best-in-class tools. We’ve yet to see any end-to-end social suite maintain leadership across the social technology value chain. For instance, Salesforce offers a social listening platform, a social relationship platform, and a social advertising platform — but none are categorized as Leaders in our most recent Forrester Waves, and both the listening and relationship tools have lost significant ground in the past few years.16 That’s why, in this evaluation, we give credit to vendors who help marketers use their SRPs alongside best-in-class tools from other vendors rather than trying to build their own end-to-end solutions. ■ Marketers who buy point solutions are happier than those who buy social suites. Three of the 11 SRPs in this Forrester Wave evaluation are part of end-to-end social suites, while eight are point solutions.17 On average, clients of point solutions rate their satisfaction at 4.5 out of 5; clients of social suites lag far behind, rating just 4.0 out of 5. Likewise, 92% of marketers who’ve bought point solutions say the SRP’s features match what they were promised, while just 64% of marketers who’ve bought social suites agree with that statement (see Figure 3). Figure 3 Social Marketers Are Happier With Point Solutions Than With End-To-End Suites Source: Forrester Research, Inc.120645 Source: Forrester’s Q1 2015 Global Social Relationship Platform Wave™ Online Survey Base: 25 avid social marketers who are clients of Adobe, Salesforce, and Sprinklr Base: 93 avid social marketers who are clients of Expion, Falcon Social, Hootsuite, Oracle, Percolate, Shoutlet, Spredfast, and Sprout Social Clients of social suites “Our social relationship platform’s features and functionality match what we were promised.” (Responses on a scale of 1 [strongly disagree] to 5 [strongly agree]) Strongly agree or agree 64% Clients of social relationship platform point solutions Strongly agree or agree 92%
  8. 8. FOR B2C MARKETING PROFESSIONALS The Forrester Wave™: Social Relationship Platforms, Q2 2015 7 © 2015, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited April 20, 2015 SOCIAL RELATIONSHIP PLATFORM EVALUATION OVERVIEW To assess the state of the social relationship platform market and see how the vendors stack up against each other, Forrester evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of top SRP vendors. Forrester included 11 vendors in the assessment: Adobe, Expion, Falcon Social, Hootsuite, Oracle, Percolate, Salesforce, Shoutlet, Spredfast, Sprinklr, and Sprout Social. We selected each of these vendors for its ability to (see Figure 4): ■ Manage most social relationship marketing tasks. In a category where many platforms still have significant gaps in their feature set, we looked for vendors that offered at least 12 of the 17 social relationship tasks that matter to marketers. ■ Provide large-scale deployments to enterprise clients. It’s not easy to manage social programs for large brands. We looked for vendors whose enterprise customer base included at least 100 SRP clients and whose average enterprise deployment included at least 25 seat holders. ■ Offer significant market presence. The SRP category remains cluttered, with dozens of competitors vying for marketers’ attention. We looked for vendors that have generated significant interest and that frequently appear in the consideration sets of Forrester clients.
  9. 9. FOR B2C MARKETING PROFESSIONALS The Forrester Wave™: Social Relationship Platforms, Q2 2015 8 © 2015, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited April 20, 2015 Figure 4 Evaluated Vendors: Product Information And Selection Criteria Source: Forrester Research, Inc. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution prohibited. Vendor Adobe Expion Falcon Social Hootsuite Oracle Percolate Salesforce Shoutlet Spredfast Sprinklr Sprout Social Product Adobe Social Expion Falcon Social Hootsuite Enterprise Oracle Social Cloud Percolate Salesforce Social Studio N/A Spredfast Conversations Sprinklr N/A Version 3.4 6.0 7.2.58 N/A N/A 5.12 N/A N/A 7.0.4 8.2 N/A Vendor selection criteria The tool must offer at least 12 social relationship platform (SRP) features. The tool must serve at least 100 clients with SRP services. The tool must be certified by Facebook and must publish to at least three social sites. The tool must be primarily focused on supporting marketing teams. The tool must have been the subject of Forrester client inquiries in the past year. Our Evaluation Considered Current Offering, Strategy, And Market Presence After examining past research, user need assessments, and vendor and expert interviews, we developed a comprehensive set of evaluation criteria. We evaluated vendors against 41 criteria, which we grouped into three high-level buckets: ■ Current offering. In this section, we assessed how the vendors performed across the entire range of social relationship platform tasks. We studied how many SRP features each platform can provide and how well they perform those functions.
  10. 10. FOR B2C MARKETING PROFESSIONALS The Forrester Wave™: Social Relationship Platforms, Q2 2015 9 © 2015, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited April 20, 2015 ■ Strategy. Here we evaluated each vendor’s product development road map and how well that road map positions each vendor for market leadership. We also assessed each vendor’s client satisfaction and how focused each vendor was on delivering best-in-class SRP technology. ■ Market presence. Last, we gauged vendors’ presence in the market based on the number and size of their clients and installations, their revenues, and how well they onboard new clients and support existing clients. WE FOUND THREE LEADERS IN THE CLUTTERED SRP LANDSCAPE The evaluation uncovered a market in which (see Figure 5): ■ Percolate, Spredfast, and Sprinklr lead the pack — but have little in common. Our three Leaders couldn’t be more different. Percolate boasts a strong current offering but is a Leader primarily because of its bold vision for how social and nonsocial marketing fit together. Spredfast strikes a strong balance between product and strategy, and it appeals because of its commitment to partnering with other vendors rather than trying to do everything itself. Sprinklr offers more features than any other vendor we evaluated, but we question the vendor’s dedication to building an end-to-end social suite out of lackluster acquisitions. ■ Shoutlet, Expion, Hootsuite, and Falcon Social offer competitive options. Any of our Strong Performers would make a fine choice, but each boasts different strengths. Marketers who prioritize measurement might turn to Expion. Those who value content-and-publishing automation may prefer Hootsuite, while those looking for monitoring-and-prioritization automation should investigate Falcon Social. Shoutlet is the best all-rounder of this group. The key for marketers is to carefully draw up a list of must-have functionality and look for the vendors whose feature sets align. ■ Sprout Social, Adobe, Oracle, and Salesforce trail. Sprout Social has done an admirable job of turning its product into a credible Contender for enterprise business — but it still suffers from gaps in monitoring and responding, content and publishing, and workflow. Meanwhile, social relationship technology contributes less than 1% of the revenues of Adobe, Oracle, and Salesforce, and it shows. The software giants’ SRPs don’t perform particularly well as standalone solutions and too often fail to integrate effectively into their parent companies’ other technologies as well. This evaluation of the social relationship platform market is intended to be a starting point only. We encourage clients to view detailed product evaluations and adapt criteria weightings to fit their individual needs through the Forrester Wave Excel-based vendor comparison tool.
  11. 11. FOR B2C MARKETING PROFESSIONALS The Forrester Wave™: Social Relationship Platforms, Q2 2015 10 © 2015, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited April 20, 2015 Figure 5 Forrester Wave™: Social Relationship Platforms, Q2 ’15 Source: Forrester Research, Inc. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution prohibited. Risky Bets Contenders Leaders Strong Performers StrategyWeak Strong Current offering Weak Strong Go to Forrester.com to download the Forrester Wave tool for more detailed product evaluations, feature comparisons, and customizable rankings. Adobe Expion Falcon Social Hootsuite Oracle Percolate Salesforce Shoutlet Spredfast Sprinklr Sprout Social Market presence Full vendor participation
  12. 12. FOR B2C MARKETING PROFESSIONALS The Forrester Wave™: Social Relationship Platforms, Q2 2015 11 © 2015, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited April 20, 2015 Figure 5 Forrester Wave™: Social Relationship Platforms, Q2 ’15 (Cont.) Source: Forrester Research, Inc. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution prohibited. Adobe Expion FalconSocial Hootsuite Oracle Percolate Salesforce Shoutlet CURRENT OFFERING Product information Monitoring and responding Content and publishing Workflow Measurement and data Usability Security and risk Global functionality STRATEGY Customer satisfaction Product strategy Corporate strategy Cost MARKET PRESENCE Installed base Revenue Onboarding and support 2.18 0.00 1.60 2.10 3.80 2.50 0.50 2.50 4.00 2.42 2.00 3.00 0.20 0.00 1.76 1.90 2.00 1.00 Forrester’s Weighting 50% 0% 25% 25% 10% 20% 10% 5% 5% 50% 30% 60% 10% 0% 0% 40% 40% 20% 2.92 0.00 3.60 2.90 2.60 3.00 2.50 2.00 1.75 3.44 4.00 3.00 4.40 0.00 2.18 2.20 1.00 4.50 2.78 0.00 4.10 2.60 2.70 2.00 2.50 1.50 2.25 3.03 3.00 2.75 4.80 0.00 1.28 1.20 0.00 4.00 2.65 0.00 1.90 3.30 3.20 2.00 3.00 4.00 2.50 3.48 4.00 3.00 4.80 0.00 3.80 3.50 5.00 2.00 2.02 0.00 2.70 0.60 2.60 3.00 1.00 2.50 2.25 2.29 4.00 1.75 0.40 0.00 2.26 2.40 2.00 2.50 3.29 0.00 2.20 3.60 5.00 3.00 5.00 3.00 1.75 4.55 4.00 4.75 5.00 0.00 1.86 1.40 1.00 4.50 2.03 0.00 2.70 1.20 3.70 1.00 2.50 3.00 1.75 1.52 1.00 2.00 0.20 0.00 1.08 2.70 0.00 0.00 3.01 0.00 3.30 2.90 3.80 3.00 3.00 2.50 1.00 3.89 4.00 3.75 4.40 0.00 2.00 2.00 1.00 4.00 Spredfast Sprinklr 3.46 0.00 4.20 3.40 3.80 2.50 3.00 4.50 3.00 3.88 4.00 4.00 2.80 0.00 3.62 2.80 4.00 4.50 4.24 0.00 4.40 4.30 4.40 4.50 3.00 4.00 4.50 3.09 5.00 2.25 2.40 0.00 3.06 3.40 3.00 2.50 SproutSocial 2.50 0.00 2.20 2.50 1.50 2.50 4.50 3.00 1.50 2.30 5.00 0.50 5.00 0.00 1.46 1.40 1.00 2.50 All scores are based on a scale of 0 (weak) to 5 (strong).
  13. 13. FOR B2C MARKETING PROFESSIONALS The Forrester Wave™: Social Relationship Platforms, Q2 2015 12 © 2015, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited April 20, 2015 VENDOR PROFILES Leaders ■ Consider Percolate if you want to integrate social into broader marketing strategies. Percolate thinks of its SRP as a way to gain entry into marketing organizations. The goal: to build a marketing system of record that lets clients centralize their operations across all marketing channels, streamline their workflows and governance, analyze their results, and optimize their marketing programs. The platform boasts best-in-class workflow and content creation tools; its Brew content recommendation engine is the most sophisticated we’ve seen. Percolate also offers a series of five role-specific mobile apps that clients rate highly. Percolate does have room to improve its current offering. Its analysis, prioritization, and routing of inbound posts can’t compete with what the other Leaders offer: The tool monitors only Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; it can’t analyze for sentiment; and at the time of evaluation, it couldn’t route posts automatically. The product tells marketers when posts have performed best in the past but offers no scheduling recommendations. And its global capabilities are underdeveloped for a vendor with such grand ambitions. ■ Consider Spredfast if you value inline insights and an ecosystem approach. Marketers appreciate that Spredfast Conversations provides them advice and insights while they work. The product offers clients detailed information about users who’ve posted comments and questions. Likewise, when seat holders create new posts, it recommends popular hashtags related to their content and suggests alternative wording that might generate more interest. Clients love Spredfast’s onboarding and support and like the fact that it partners with other leading social vendors (e.g., Brandwatch and Kenshoo) rather than trying to build an end-to-end social suite. Spredfast Conversations still shows some weaknesses, however. Although clients say the tool’s ease of use has improved greatly in the past year, it remains far from best-in-class. The product makes it too difficult for seat holders to collaborate and share ideas. And not only do clients think Spredfast’s own measurement tools are merely average — the vendor does little to help marketers share their social data into third-party measurement tools. ■ Consider Sprinklr if you have broad social needs and global ambitions. Sprinklr endeavors to offer clients every imaginable social tool, not just a full range of SRP features but also social command center displays, social ad buying functionality, and more. Anything its standard SRP can’t do, Sprinklr’s team can custom build using the product’s impressive rules engine. The result: It ticks a lot of boxes in our current offering evaluation. Its monitoring and publishing features are especially strong. The product’s interface is also available in nine languages; it analyzes sentiment in 12 languages; and it can monitor and post to a range of regional social sites.
  14. 14. FOR B2C MARKETING PROFESSIONALS The Forrester Wave™: Social Relationship Platforms, Q2 2015 13 © 2015, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited April 20, 2015 But we question Sprinklr’s vision and focus. The vendor’s recent buying spree finds it focused more on integrating a series of lackluster technologies into an end-to-end social suite than on helping marketers connect their social efforts to their broader marketing programs. And the product’s complexity, combined with its relatively poor ease of use, means Sprinklr clients pay far more than average in services fees: The vendor already charges among the highest technology prices in the market, and clients can expect to add another 33% to their bill to cover services. Strong Performers ■ Consider Shoutlet if you need a well-rounded tool at a good price. Shoutlet remains a strong generalist, offering consistently above-average functionality without leading the pack very often. We’re fans of Shoutlet’s discovery tool, which suggests specific content topics based on insights from a variety of sources. The platform shares data with Google’s Adometry — making it the only vendor in this evaluation to integrate with an attribution vendor — and its scheduling and workflow tools are above average. Clients are very satisfied with the vendor’s onboarding and support. And on average, Shoutlet costs much less than most of the other SRPs we evaluated. Just as Shoutlet doesn’t often trail other vendors, it doesn’t typically lead the pack, either. Marketers with global needs will likely look elsewhere, as Shoutlet lags significantly behind other vendors for global capabilities. The product doesn’t offer any foreign language interfaces and analyzes sentiment only in English and Spanish. It does little to foster collaboration and sharing between seat holders. Clients also say the platform’s built-in measurement tool makes it too hard to uncover actionable insights. ■ Consider Expion if you value customer support and measurement. Clients love Expion’s customer support team, rating it as the best in the market. And overall, clients are very satisfied with the product’s features and functionality. The platform excels at analyzing inbound posts —filtering content by sentiment, influence, keyword, engagement rate, and a dozen other variables — and at giving seat holders the information they need to reply effectively. Clients also say Expion’s built-in measurement tools are among the best in our evaluation. But for a vendor that aggressively targets global brands, Expion’s international capabilities are curiously weak: At the time of evaluation, the product’s interface was available only in English; it could analyze sentiment only in English; and it could only post to one regional social network (Sina Weibo). The platform’s review and approval process is unnecessarily time consuming, and the vendor must put a greater focus on security and risk. And though clients say that Expion’s ease of use has improved recently, they report that the product’s customizability makes it harder to use rather than easier.
  15. 15. FOR B2C MARKETING PROFESSIONALS The Forrester Wave™: Social Relationship Platforms, Q2 2015 14 © 2015, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited April 20, 2015 ■ Consider Hootsuite if you value automation and an ecosystem approach. This popular consumer social media tool is all grown up, and we think you’ll be impressed. Hootsuite Enterprise offers the best content and publishing automation in our evaluation. The platform can dynamically create entire content calendars based on its analysis of clients’ favorite topics and its reading of when clients’ social audiences are most active. And while many vendors build APIs that never get used, Hootsuite’s aggressive app directory strategy already claims more than 100 integrations with listening platforms, content engines, compliance tools, and more. However, Hootsuite Enterprise still has plenty of room for improvement. Clients say the product’s built-in measurement tools are far below standard; some rely on third-party social analytics vendors (or pay extra for Hootsuite’s uberVU product) to close the gap. The platform also struggles to help clients analyze, prioritize, and route customer posts. Hootsuite Enterprise’s reliance on third-party apps for monitoring and posting to key social sites limits clients’ ability to cross-post on those sites and to use dynamic link tracking. Finally, clients report that the vendor needs to improve its customer support. ■ Consider Falcon Social if you’re focused on responding to customer comments. Falcon Social offers the best unified social to-do list we’ve seen. Its Priority algorithm collects posts from a variety of social sites, ranks each on a range of factors (e.g., sentiment, activity level, and the influence of those contributing), and then orders them by priority so clients can respond to the most important first. Better yet, the algorithm tracks what clients actually respond to so it can improve over time. Falcon Social also does a good job helping marketers decide what content to publish, and clients say the vendor excels at onboarding new customers. However, the vendor’s publishing capabilities aren’t as robust. Falcon Social doesn’t allow clients to create posts for multiple social sites at the same time, and though the product tells marketers when posts have performed best in the past, it offers no scheduling recommendations. Clients say they’re not satisfied with the product’s measurement tools, leading some to work with separate social measurement vendors. Surprisingly for a company based in Europe, the tool’s interface is available only in English. Finally, Falcon Social must improve its approach to security and risk. Contenders ■ Consider Sprout Social if you want a competitive offering for a great price. Some marketers ignore Sprout Social because of its background in selling SRP tools to small businesses for a few dollars a month. But the platform outperforms category leaders like Spredfast and Sprinklr for ease of use and scheduling, and it beats software giants like Adobe, Oracle, and Salesforce on platform security and customer support. Consider that Sprout Social’s average enterprise customer pays about one-quarter as much as it would pay many other vendors in this evaluation, and it’s little surprise that clients say this vendor offers among the best value for money in the market.
  16. 16. FOR B2C MARKETING PROFESSIONALS The Forrester Wave™: Social Relationship Platforms, Q2 2015 15 © 2015, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited April 20, 2015 But Sprout Social’s enterprise offering suffers from significant gaps. It monitors for posts on only Facebook and Twitter, can’t analyze sentiment, and struggles to prioritize or route posts. The platform does little to help clients choose which topics or content they should publish. And Sprout Social’s workflow tools lag far behind: The product offers very limited review and approval functionality and doesn’t allow clients to tag their inbound or outbound posts. ■ Consider Adobe Social if you have global requirements and need solid workflow tools. Global brands say they appreciate the fact that Adobe Social can interpret sentiment in 10 languages and has translated its interface into eight languages. The product’s basic publishing features are relatively strong, and its workflow functionality outperforms that offered by the other Contenders. And despite the vendor’s focus on integrating Adobe Social with Adobe Analytics, the product does an unexpected amount to help clients use third-party measurement tools. Surprisingly, Adobe Social’s built-in measurement tools disappoint many clients. Some say they prefer to download reports in XLS format for analysis elsewhere; others say they’ve resorted to pulling data directly from social networks. The product’s useful Social Buzz feature allows clients to track brand mentions from a variety of sources, but oddly, seat holders can’t reply to or route messages from this interface. The vendor also struggles to successfully onboard and support its customers. The result: Clients are less than impressed with Adobe Social’s functionality and ease of use and say it doesn’t offer enough value for money. ■ Consider Oracle Social Cloud if you value measurement and have global needs. Clients give Oracle Social Cloud good marks for its measurement and reporting tools. At the time of evaluation, the product’s interface was available in 29 languages and could analyze sentiment in seven languages (though it couldn’t monitor or post to any regional social networks). Beyond these features, the platform is competitive in several areas — it can tag and route posts automatically; its workflow tools are respectable; and it offers some advanced security features — without excelling in any. Marketers focused on content and publishing won’t find much help here: The product provides clients with little inspiration for what they should publish, makes it difficult to find and reuse old posts that have performed well, and offers no recommendations on the best times to schedule content. Clients also describe Oracle Social Cloud as the least usable platform in our evaluation; one compared it unfavorably to Twitter’s free TweetDeck product. As a result of these problems, Oracle Social Cloud clients say the tool offers relatively little value for money. ■ Consider Salesforce Social Studio if you’ve already bought into the Salesforce ecosystem. In some ways, Salesforce’s 2014 launch of Social Studio was a step forward from the vendor’s previous SRP, Buddy Media. Social Studio can automatically route inbound posts based on two dozen criteria; its integration with third-party tools like Getty Images and Trendspottr makes post creation easier; and its review and approval functionality is robust and flexible. And if you already buy other Salesforce tools, you’ll likely get a good deal on Social Studio.
  17. 17. FOR B2C MARKETING PROFESSIONALS The Forrester Wave™: Social Relationship Platforms, Q2 2015 16 © 2015, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited April 20, 2015 But in far too many ways, Social Studio represents a step backward. The vendor admits it’s still working to build out its feature set; several clients told us that Social Studio’s functionality is so limited, they’re still paying for access to other SRPs. Social Studio clients rank the tool lowest in our evaluation for features and functionality, onboarding, customer support, and value for money. And while Salesforce says Social Studio is integrated into its other tools, clients say the benefits of integration are far from being realized — one reason why only half the vendor’s clients agree that the product’s features match what they were promised. SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIAL Data Sources Used In This Forrester Wave Forrester used a combination of three data sources to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each solution: ■ Vendor surveys. Forrester surveyed vendors on their capabilities as they relate to the evaluation criteria. Once we analyzed the completed vendor surveys, we conducted vendor calls where necessary to gather details of vendor qualifications. ■ Product demos. We asked vendors to conduct demonstrations of their product’s functionality. We used findings from these product demos to validate details of each vendor’s product capabilities. ■ Customer reference calls and surveys. To validate product and vendor qualifications, Forrester also conducted reference calls with three of each vendor’s current customers and conducted online surveys of at least eight of each vendor’s current customers. The Forrester Wave Methodology We conduct primary research to develop a list of vendors that meet our criteria to be evaluated in this market. From that initial pool of vendors, we then narrow our final list. We choose these vendors based on: 1) product fit; 2) customer success; and 3) Forrester client demand. We eliminate vendors that have limited customer references and products that don’t fit the scope of our evaluation. After examining past research, user need assessments, and vendor and expert interviews, we develop the initial evaluation criteria. To evaluate the vendors and their products against our set of criteria, we gather details of product qualifications through a combination of lab evaluations, questionnaires, demos, and/or discussions with client references. We send evaluations to the vendors for their review, and we adjust the evaluations to provide the most accurate view of vendor offerings and strategies. We set default weightings to reflect our analysis of the needs of large user companies — and/or other scenarios as outlined in the Forrester Wave document — and then score the vendors based on a clearly defined scale. These default weightings are intended only as a starting point, and we encourage
  18. 18. FOR B2C MARKETING PROFESSIONALS The Forrester Wave™: Social Relationship Platforms, Q2 2015 17 © 2015, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited April 20, 2015 readers to adapt the weightings to fit their individual needs through the Excel-based tool. The final scores generate the graphical depiction of the market based on current offering, strategy, and market presence. Forrester intends to update vendor evaluations regularly as product capabilities and vendor strategies evolve. For more information on the methodology that every Forrester Wave follows, go to http://www.forrester.com/marketing/policies/forrester-wave-methodology.html. Integrity Policy All of Forrester’s research, including Forrester Waves, is conducted according to our Integrity Policy. For more information, go to http://www.forrester.com/marketing/policies/integrity-policy.html. Survey Methodology Forrester’s Q1 2015 Global Social Relationship Platform Wave™ Online Survey was fielded to 118 social marketers who are client references of social relationship vendors participating in this Forrester Wave. These vendors typically recommend their most active clients, and our survey data shows that these reference clients are significantly more likely to use any given social network than other leading brands. We call this group of client references “avid social marketers.” Forrester fielded the survey during Q1 2015. Exact sample sizes are provided in this report on a question-by-question basis. This data is not guaranteed to be representative of the population, and, unless otherwise noted, statistical data is intended to be used for descriptive and not inferential purposes. While nonrandom, the survey is still a valuable tool for understanding where users are today and where the industry is headed. Forrester’s Q1 2015 Global Social Depth Platform Wave™ Online Survey was fielded to 62 social marketers who are client references of social depth platform vendors participating in this Forrester Wave. These vendors typically recommend their most active clients, and our survey data shows that these reference clients are significantly more likely to use any given social network than other leading brands. We call this group of client references “avid social marketers.” Forrester fielded the survey during Q1 2015. Exact sample sizes are provided in this report on a question-by-question basis. This data is not guaranteed to be representative of the population, and, unless otherwise noted, statistical data is intended to be used for descriptive and not inferential purposes. While nonrandom, the survey is still a valuable tool for understanding where users are today and where the industry is headed. ENDNOTES 1 Thirty-seven percent of avid social marketers say their primary business objective for maintaining branded accounts on social networks is to increase customer engagement — more than twice the number who cite any other objective. Source: Forrester’s Q1 2015 Global Social Relationship Platform Wave™ Online Survey. 2 Much of the survey data in this report comes from Forrester’s Q1 2015 surveys of 184 reference clients of social relationship platform vendors and social depth platform vendors. The group we call “avid social marketers” are reference clients of social relationship platforms and social depth platforms. These vendors typically recommend their most active clients, and our survey data shows that these reference clients are
  19. 19. FOR B2C MARKETING PROFESSIONALS The Forrester Wave™: Social Relationship Platforms, Q2 2015 18 © 2015, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited April 20, 2015 significantly more likely to use any given social network than other leading brands. Source: Forrester’s Q1 2015 Global Social Relationship Platform Wave™ Online Survey and Forrester’s Q1 2015 Global Social Depth Platform Wave™ Online Survey. 3 Source: Forrester’s Q1 2015 Global Social Relationship Platform Wave™ Online Survey and Forrester’s Q1 2015 Global Social Depth Platform Wave™ Online Survey. 4 Social@Ogilvy reported that in February 2014, Facebook brand pages with more than 500,000 fans reached just 2.11% of their fan base with each organic post. And in December 2014, Facebook warned that starting in January 2015, brands that post promotional content “will see a significant decrease in distribution.” Source: Marshall Manson, “Facebook Zero: Considering Life After the Demise of Organic Reach,” Social@ Ogilvy, March 6, 2015 (http://social.ogilvy.com/facebook-zero-considering-life-after-the-demise-of- organic-reach/) and Nate Elliott, “Facebook Has Finally Killed Organic Reach. What Should Marketers Do Next?” Nate Elliott’s Blog, November 17, 2014 (http://blogs.forrester.com/nate_elliott/14-11-17-facebook_ has_finally_killed_organic_reach_what_should_marketers_do_next). 5 Source: Forrester’s Q1 2015 US Top 50 Brands Social WebTrack. 6 Top brands’ average per-follower engagement rate on Twitter fell from 0.035% in 2014 to 0.027% in 2015. On Pinterest, that rate fell from 0.097% to 0.042%, and on Google+, it fell from 0.069% to 0.044%. Source: Forrester’s Q1 2014 US Top 50 Brands Social WebTrack and Forrester’s Q1 2015 US Top 50 Brands Social WebTrack. 7 Source: Vendor questionnaires for The Forrester Wave™: Social Relationship Platforms, Q2 2015. 8 Source: Forrester’s Q1 2015 Global Social Relationship Platform Wave™ Online Survey. 9 In fact, marketers gave a Net Promoter Score of -16 to their SRPs. See the “Data Defines The Future Of Social Relationship Platforms” Forrester report. Net Promoter and NPS are registered service marks, and Net Promoter Score is a service mark, of Bain & Company, Satmetrix Systems, and Fred Reichheld. 10 Source: Forrester’s Q1 2015 Global Social Relationship Platform Wave™ Online Survey. 11 Both brands have had unfortunate brushes with poorly managed automated social programs in the past year. Bank of America merely was duped by Occupy Wall Street supporters, but Coca-Cola was fooled into retweeting Hitler quotes. Source: Nicky Woolf, “Coca-Cola pulls Twitter campaign after it was tricked into quoting Mein Kampf,” The Guardian, February 5, 2015 (http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/feb/05/ coca-cola-makeithappy-gakwer-mein-coke-hitler) and “BofA’s ‘Tone Deaf Robot’ Replies To Consumers With Boilerplate Tweets,” The Financial Brand, July 17, 2013 (http://thefinancialbrand.com/31832/bank-of- america-occupy-automated-twitter-replies/). 12 Source: Forrester’s Q1 2015 Global Social Relationship Platform Wave™ Online Survey. 13 Source: “Data Drives Social Performance,” Social Flow, August 2014 (http://www.socialflow.com/wp- content/uploads/2013/12/SocialFlow_Data_Drives_Social_Performance_WP.pdf). 14 Source: Forrester’s Q1 2015 Global Social Relationship Platform Wave™ Online Survey.
  20. 20. FOR B2C MARKETING PROFESSIONALS The Forrester Wave™: Social Relationship Platforms, Q2 2015 19 © 2015, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited April 20, 2015 15 Depending on the category and brand, recent research found that anywhere from 51% to 75% of Facebook fans had bought from the brand in question during the past 12 months. Source: “Engaged Social Followers Are Your Best Customers,” SlideShare, September 26, 2013 (http://www.slideshare.net/etsarkov/engaged- social-followers-are-your-best-customers). 16 We listed Salesforce’s SRP tool as a Strong Performer in our 2013 Forrester Wave, but it has fallen into the Contenders category in 2015. Likewise, we listed the company’s listening platform as a Leader in our 2012 Forrester Wave, but it fell into the Strong Performer category in 2014. See the “The Forrester Wave™: Social Relationship Platforms, Q2 2013” Forrester report, see the “The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Listening Platforms, Q1 2014,” and see the “The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Listening Platforms, Q2 2012” Forrester report. 17 To be listed as a social suite, a vendor must offer a social reach platform, a social depth platform, and a social relationship platform. For the purpose of this evaluation, we consider Adobe Social, Salesforce Social Studio, and Sprinklr to be part of social suites, and Expion, Falcon Social, Hootsuite Enterprise, Oracle Social Cloud, Percolate, Shoutlet, Spredfast Conversations, and Sprout Social to be SRP point solutions.
  21. 21. Forrester Research (Nasdaq: FORR) is a global research and advisory firm serving professionals in 13 key roles across three distinct client segments. Our clients face progressively complex business and technology decisions every day. To help them understand, strategize, and act upon opportunities brought by change, Forrester provides proprietary research, consumer and business data, custom consulting, events and online communities, and peer-to-peer executive programs. We guide leaders in business technology, marketing and strategy, and the technology industry through independent fact-based insight, ensuring their business success today and tomorrow. 120645 Forrester Focuses On B2C Marketing Professionals Consumers are more empowered than ever before. You must understand their changing behavior, and optimize marketing spend across online and offline channels, using new media and technologies to win and retain those customers. About Forrester Global marketing and strategy leaders turn to Forrester to help them make the tough decisions necessary to capitalize on shifts in marketing, technology, and consumer behavior. We ensure your success by providing: n Data-driven insight to understand the impact of changing consumer behavior. n Forward-looking research and analysis to guide your decisions. n Objective advice on tools and technologies to connect you with customers. n Best practices for marketing and cross-channel strategy. FOR MORE INFORMATION To find out how Forrester Research can help you be successful every day, please contact the office nearest you, or visit us at www.forrester.com. For a complete list of worldwide locations, visit www.forrester.com/about. CLIENT SUPPORT For information on hard-copy or electronic reprints, please contact Client Support at +1 866.367.7378, +1 617.613.5730, or clientsupport@forrester.com. We offer quantity discounts and special pricing for academic and nonprofit institutions.

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