December 5, 2012

Connected CRM: Using Customer Data to Gain Competitive Advantage

James Giese UWEBC Communications Director

kim-merkleSteve Kim was the featured guest speaker at the UWEBC's Web and Multi-Channel Marketing Peer Group Meeting on Nov. 8, 2012.
There is an opportunity to drive company growth through greater customer targeting – within and across an increasingly digitized media landscape of data collection.

However, the scale of customer data is increasing across a wide range of media and channels making data collection and constructive action difficult. “A connected CRM approach allows brands to seize the data opportunity and gain competitive advantage,” according to Steve Kim, a Vice President with Merkle, a leading customer relationship marketing agency.

Kim said that while return on investment (ROI) is actively discussed at all companies--large and small--it still remains elusive. So Kim asked the question: How to achieve ROI in marketing? How to measure ROI on the various channels—digital, direct mail, TV, radio—that companies use to reach consumers? The answer is that companies need to first track the customer interactions within these channels to measure ROI.

These interactions are creating a large amount of data—so called, “Big Data.” According to Kim, by some estimates humans are creating 200 exabytes of information per year. An exabyte is a unit of information storage that is equal to one quintillion bytes.

The huge data explosion in recent years coupled with advancements in technology are enabling new opportunities, and data analytics are core to transforming raw bytes into tangible business value. Digital targeting of customers—creating a model, models recognized in a variety of channels, identifying what is working with digital attribution, and closing the loop with optimization—can create measurable ROI.

Connecting all of this data directly into an integrated analytics and execution platform allows for faster, often real-time, optimization of marketing spend. The best practice companies master the required CRM and digital marketing skill sets and disciplines; integrating them into their organizational structure and infrastructure at an enterprise level.

merkle-presentation“Sounds great, right? So why isn’t everyone doing it?” says Kim. The problem is that given the many channels and amount of data; the task of converting data into actionable insight can be overwhelming. One way to deal with all this customer data is a system of connected CRM capabilities. 

Connected CRM is a systematic way to identify, serve and retain high-value customers better than competitors by delivering customer interactions that improve financial results, create competitive advantage and drive shareholder value. Connected CRM is the ability to create and manage a 360º view of the customer, while identifying and segmenting high value customers. It also has the ability to organize in a fashion that allows a company to respond to changes in customer, competitor, or marketplace behaviors faster than the competition.

A specific set of tools and skills is required to build the platform upon which connected CRM is built. The platform contains a granular view of the individual that encompasses data from all touch-points, and is tied to segmentation systems based on aspects such as lifetime value, demographic profile, and product category. The ability to bring individual media interactions from the offline media platform together with digital behaviors from the digital data management platform – into the CRM data platform – is essential for a connected CRM strategy to work.

According to Kim, the foundation of Connected CRM is a clearly rationalized strategy framework that is widely adopted at all levels of the organization and forms an ongoing process.

The disciplines of data management, analytics, measurement, and execution can now be more tightly integrated across all media and channels and optimized at the consumer level. This represents a dramatic and fundamental shift away from yesterday’s silo-controlled, product- and media-focused approaches; where wide gaps existed in the handoffs between consumer insight, planning, and execution; between direct mail, social and digital media; between marketing, sales and customer service.

Kim says that the consolidated view of the consumer reaches across all touch points and the data is deposited in a single repository that allows the user to analyze their programs in context of the whole picture. This holistic attribution helps determine what is working and in what combinations. It is important to note that multi-media, multi-channel optimization will create huge efficiencies and scale.

The foundation for all forward-looking analytics is an accurate view of the past. Users should understand each medium’s contribution relative to historical spend and by taking a top-down measurement approach understand media impact on incremental sales, according to Kim. Scenario planning can be used for forward-looking optimization.

Finally, Kim advises companies to assess how they are currently measuring ROI within and across all their marketing channels and to start the conversation within a company about using the connected CRM framework.  Member companies can access Mediasite recording and other meeting materials>>

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