Those of us working on the direct marketing side of CRM love our data. So whenever we find a new snip of data, we try to find ways to use it to add color to our analyses. Klout is especially tempting since it speaks to that whole social CRM thing which we’re all buzzing about but which no one has quite figured out. Yesterday, Esteban Kolsky of called Klout for CRM ludicrous. He’s not entirely wrong.

Certainly, you wouldn’t want to base the lifetime value a customer brings to you on a score that speaks to the value a customer brings to the social scene as a whole. The two might be related, but only so indirectly that it would be similar to projecting your company’s quarterly revenues based on Zuckerberg’s fortunes. But still, Klout is data. It speaks about influence, and we have all heard how powerful word-of-mouth can be. So it’s hard to give up on it completely.

Putting the lifetime value score aside though, there are a few ways that Klout might be a reasonable additive to your CRM efforts. Here are three analyses you should conduct to see whether Klout information has value for you:

  1. Test offering perks to customers with Klout scores above a certain level. Sure, Klout enables this through its system, but you want to test this idea, not toss it out to the general public. So map those scores to your base, segment so you have your test and control group, and offer the test group a special perk that they can share with up to 5 friends. Hint: make it pretty special, and make sure the sharing limitations are very clear if you want to get a decent read on results. Done right, this test could help you determine whether Klout scores help identify real influencers for your brand. You’re looking for the number of people who hit all five shares, broken down by Klout level.
  2. The corollary to number one is of course to test offering perks to customers with Klout topics of influence that align with yours. For example, Klout participants with influence in fashion might be right for a clothing retailer. Conduct the test above, but use a second test group of non-Klout scorers to see if your Klout-proclaimed experts spread the word better than a random group of customers (and better than the control group with no special offer). Again, you want to measure the number of people who hit all five shares.
  3. Lastly, using your existing customer data, analyze whether either Klout scores or Klout topics of influence map to the following areas: your highest LTV group, your biggest customer complainers. You might find that a subset of influencers are some of your best (or worst) customers. Further testing in that group could give you some ideas of how to use that information across your PR and customer service efforts.

Klout doesn’t make sense as an additive to LTV, but it might work as an occasional extra in your CRM strategy. As always, test it first.