After much anticipation, our 2015 Social Depth Platform Wave was published today. Our evaluation shows how much vendors' solutions have progressed since our first SDP Wave in 2013. When we first introduced "social depth" as a technology category in 2013, vendors were just beginning to build out their social depth capabilities. Today, vendors offer most of the social depth capabilities we identified as "must haves" for building a branded community, and they continue to fine tune their offerings and services to meet marketers' needs.
As a refresher, Forrester defines social depth platforms as:
Technologies that add social content and interactions (e.g., blogs, ratings and reviews, user generated content, forums, online communities) to branded websites to drive exploration of products and services.
We evaluated 7 vendors that provide social depth capabilities—Acquia, Jive, Lithium, Livefyre, Salesforce, Sprinklr and Zimbra and scored them against 62 criteria. Clients can access the full report here.
Some of the key findings from our evaluation include:
Few SDP features are truly differentiated. Although vendors continue to fine tune their platforms and strengthen their weakest links, we found minimal differentiation across the feature sets. This is great news for marketers because they can feel confident with choosing a platform that will have the base set of SDP capabilities. On the other hand, vendors will need to dial up platform innovation and add-on services to stand out from the pack.
Customer-centricity separates the leaders from the laggards. In the age of the customer, it is no longer enough for vendors to just provide an impressive set of platform features. Value-added services are critical for marketers who seek partners that can guide them to success. My favorite quote from our online SDP survey sums this up: “The expertise that comes with the product is the most important feature to my social depth efforts — it’s the human factor. It’s being guided by experts on how to drive the Ferrari rather than just being thrown the keys.”
Integrations are critical to get the most ROI from an SDP. Since depth is a critical marketing objective, it is mandatory that SDP vendors provide out of the box integrations with leading marketing and sales systems, such as marketing automation and CRM platforms. Although all of the SDP vendors in our Wave can integrate with other marketing systems, they differed greatly in how they are integrated.
We hope you find our 2015 Social Depth Platform Wave to be a valuable tool for evaluating the leading vendors in this space. Let us know what you think!