Move to the next generation of CRM

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Michael Maher
Michael Maher

Too often, marketers limit themselves to an outdated, simplistic and less effective CRM approach. It's time to usher in a digitally charged CRM that utilizes the most powerful strategies and tools and achieves great marketplace success.

Many CRM programs consist only of outbound e-mail or direct mail, despite consumers becoming increasingly engaged with new digital channels. For instance, “I never check my e-mail,” says my teenage daughter. Instead, we should fully exploit opportunities through digital tools - IM, widgets, etc. – mobile and social media to build concurrent elements that maximize effectiveness.

Here are seven ways to seize the tremendous opportunity of digitally-powered CRM:

Think CMR. The term “customer managed relationships (CMR)” recognizes that consumers exercise more control of marketing interactions. Studies indicate the more control you cede - letting consumers select their preferred communication channels, content they want, how frequently they hear from you - the more they opt in, interact and engage.

Detach and distribute. Maximize interaction with your brand by providing portable content, tools and experiences that travel with consumers wherever they go. Use mobile, for example, and provide content according to how consumers choose to receive it, whether across e-mail, mobile or social. Also, place your content and tools on third-party sites. 

Use marketing as a service. Deliver marketing content that consumers see as providing real value and relevance. Communicate with a helpful, customer-centric voice to deliver content or tools that deeply engage, provide a tangible value-add and build a strong ongoing relationship.

Be social. Create community areas on your site and on social destinations, such as Facebook, where your target consumer congregates to facilitate sharing. Actively participate in community discussions, engaging customers and enriching the dialogue by inviting feedback or input.

Measure more than one-to-one. To quantify CRM's incremental value, compare sales of a control group of customers that don't receive your program with those who do. Also track word of mouth, viral and advocacy effects through quantitative social media measurement tools and qualitative surveys.

Go beyond consumers. Expand CRM to incorporate key constituencies  -employees, distributors, retailers and other gatekeepers. Linking CRM to multiple influencers builds stronger customer relationships and increases CRM performance, such as when consumers receive your CRM and subsequently see a related in-store display. 

Identify advocacy potential. Identify your database's most valuable and loyal customers. Treat your most valuable customers like VIPs. Invite loyal consumers to be advocates or ask about their propensity for word-of-mouth. Identify influentials in social media, empowering them as potential advocates, as well. Time your communications when customers are most passionate about your products.  

In all, these seven digital opportunities will enhance your CRM to ensure you achieve the best possible results in an evolving marketing environment.

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