Plug-ins: search marketing
Customer relationship management, or CRM, has evolved into a sophisticated approach to customer communications. Particularly with the advent of social CRM, companies can now track and monitor specific customer behavior to inform segmentation and customization of marketing messages for more sophisticated customer intelligence.
Our three expert CRM column contributors provide tips and advice about the latest trends and best practices in the CRM space, from social marketing features to proven processes and tactics used by marketers to maximize customer communication strategy and give brands a road map for success.
That includes thinking strategically about customers — and data gleaned from them — to determine marketing goals and design campaigns. One way to gather that data is through online surveys, described by one of our experts as a way to collect information about visitors to your website, in order to boost conversion rates and drive purchases.
Staying up-to-date on data technology:
Carol Lustig, CMO, Media One
Let's face it: There's a lot to keep up with when you're involved in marketing. It seems like we're all in perpetual motion — on a quest to keep up with the latest trends and technologies. Items such as QR codes, mobile apps and social media seem to take center stage. However, the importance of becoming an early adopter of new database technology cannot be overemphasized. If you're not using the most modern methods of data segmentation and hygiene, you could be in trouble, and in many ways.
- Today, CRM starts at the prospecting level. If you aren't establishing a relationship from the initial contact stage, then you're losing opportunities. For years, all of us have relied on the same, tried-and-true lifestyle selects. However, there are new technologies and methodologies readily available that enable us to target with far more accuracy.
Starting with a record based on an opt-in, click or response to a particular topic already puts us one step closer to reaching that recipient who is interested in what we have to say. Taking the data and enhancing it with that familiar demographic geography, as well as lifestyle and behavior information, takes us into a more viable universe.
- But before you rent that list, make sure you know who you're going after. When it comes to in-house data, it is essential to understand who your best customers are from a demographic and purchase level. You'll never know how to structure a prospecting campaign if you don't fully know what characteristics you're looking for. Make sure that your CRM, merchandising and accounting platform and report engine are compatible and speak nicely with one another. I have had situations in which my marketing database was housed in a CRM, my purchase history was housed within a separate database, and I had to pull Crystal Reports from a third source.
- When it comes to database deliverability, the average person has four email addresses. If you're appending a postal list to gain emails, it becomes a natural question: Which one do you select? Understanding the technical capabilities and procedures within the scope of your chosen append provider is imperative. How does it determine the most active address? If your append yields a large number of dormant or closed email accounts, a high bounce on undeliverable rate will occur, which means bad news for whitelist and spam rankings. It also will net you a lower-than-expected ROI.
- People are relocating in these economic times. If consumers are facing debt or foreclosure, then it is a good bet they're not submitting a change of address to the post office. Relying solely on the National Change of Address or Email Change of Address for accuracy could be a gamble. Using up-to-date hygiene technologies to assure the accuracy of your data can save you money. Determine the validity of each record. If it cannot be corroborated from a minimum of two and preferably three data sources, it needs to be removed until an address match can be made.
Those of us in the industry need to remain open to new ideas. Our experience may guide us to make smart decisions, but our curiosity will enable us to see our true data potential.
Use data to set goals, a new CRM concept:
Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek, executive director, client acquisition and marketing, Quaero
As marketers, most of us were trained to think strategically. We look at the big picture or the bottom line. We establish goals, and then design programs and campaigns to achieve them. Only then do we look for resources like customer data to validate our thinking.
I'd like to propose a new concept. Rather than use customer insight to help us meet our goals, we should look to data in the beginning and use it to determine what those goals should be. Thoroughly understanding customer needs, behavior, preferences and opportunities doesn't simply enhance programs — it drives them.
Here are four key steps to ensure that your marketing strategy and programs are designed from the inside out.
- Build rock-solid data as a foundation. Data isn't exactly sexy, but it is, arguably, the most important place to start. Ask yourself: What data do I have? What's of value? Are there any gaps? The answers will help you maximize the information available to provide insights and, ultimately, drive your strategy.
- Analyze your data — know your customer and his relative value. The most beneficial way to segment your customers is through customer value. The starting point is to identify the drivers of value (hint: it's not just dollars) to determine which customers are worth investing in.
- Set goals — use customer value to drive engagement. This is where today's database marketers are turning the established model on its ear. With solid data and a thorough analysis of customer value, goals are ready to be set.
- Test and optimize. Through a strategic approach built on customer insight, you have the opportunity for continual learning, and continual improvement. Every program can achieve results by bringing strategic goals within reach and providing more data and greater insight into customer behavior and value. This approach plays a fundamental role in evolving from customer marketing to customer engagement.
Online survey tips boost Web experience:
Erin Polka, director of marketing, iPerceptions
Online surveys collect information about customers and website visitors that can be used to improve an overall website experience.
A few simple rules can ensure that surveys build engagement and trust, and boost conversion. Surveys should be courteously introduced, provide easy inter-action and guidance, and thank people for their time.
- Solicit feedback upfront. When you invite people to complete a survey at your site, you can expect 90% to actually do so. Securing a commitment upfront gets the greatest number of completions. Avoid tracking visitors and tailoring surveys to their behavior, which many perceive as invasive.
- Make it easy to say no. On average, 95% of visitors will decline to take your survey. Respect your visitors' decisions by making it easy to say no and not ask them again for at least three months.
- Rely on self-initiated visits. Email, pay-per-click and other proactive campaigns to solicit feedback will inevitably skew your data — like receiving feedback from people only interested in winning a prize. Request feedback from visitors who come to your site on their own accord.
- Keep branding consistent. Site visitors are more likely to take a survey when it is coming from you and not a third party. Design the survey request to be consistent with your brand. Use the same colors, font types and tone visitors associate with your brand.
- Make the survey intelligent. Surveys should be easy to answer and follow a logical question pattern. Pay attention to question branching — how a question follows another. New questions should appear based on what your visitors have already told you.
- Minimize click-through fatigue. Research shows that exponential survey fatigue occurs after 35 to 40 clicks. Use automated processes such as auto-proceed to queue up the next question rather than requiring a "next" click.