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CRM = Customer Relationship Management

Although it seems like a no-brianer—something all marketers should prioritize over everything else, in daily life it tends to manifest as junk mail. For whatever reason, it becomes everyone’s last priority. Speaking as someone with a lot of experience executing CRM from different angles, it saddens me to see the discipline be delegated to less experienced individuals just because it’s the less exciting channel. And most of all, because it doesn’t account for its potential to redefine your business if you let it—if you treat it like the title suggests and actively manage your relationship with consumers. 


R is the Forgotten Letter in CRM 

If I read another post about CRM that uses the "dating" analogy, I think I may lose it. You know the one I’m talking about. Any self-respecting CRM strategist has heard it. Essentially, you wouldn’t send an email to a brand new hand-raiser demanding they buy your product in the same way you wouldn’t propose to someone on a first date. It takes time to build trust—which is true in both courting and marketing. Even though this metaphor has been beaten to death, there is merit to thinking about your interactions with consumers as a relationship. You can’t push too quickly—you have to remember who they are, you have to build trust, and most obviously (and most often forgotten), you have to listen when they speak.


Every touchpoint has the potential to add trust and brand equity. Pennies in the brand bank, if you will. Each communication your consumers read, each commercial they see, each social media post, and visit to the store or dealership contributes to their understanding of the brand and how they should feel about it. And although we as marketers tend to believe it’s the most critical component, nothing exists in a vacuum. And no amount of funny commercials can make up for a faulty product or unreliable distribution. It all works together and each interaction with a consumer is an opportunity for the brand to deliver on its promise and build the desired association in the minds of consumers.

Where it Lives 

In the past, CRM was understood as direct mail (DM). But since the advent and rapid adoption of the internet, email quickly became the primary channel to communicate with customers. Shiny new emails seemed like an exciting alternative to overflowing mailboxes, but now it’s almost the opposite. Interesting direct mail pieces with creatively designed contents/inserts standout in a sea of email clutter.


But if you think about how we as consumers exist when we’re looking to connect with a brand, there are many other channels to be considered. Not only should CRM include DM and email, it should also include: your brand website, social media profiles, in-person retail/dealership experience, customer service, after care and support, and any other place consumers have the opportunity to interact with your brand.  


The true essence of your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. Those mental association people have about your brand are created at every step along the way. It requires consistency—and a consistent delivery of your brand promise.  

Evolving CRM: Triggered and Data-driven 

The science of CRM has gotten much more complex in recent years. What started as an abundance of junk mail, has evolved to data-informed personalization, and the possibilities are endless.


Just like any other channel, the CRM world has greatly benefited from the advent of digital marketing and our newfound ability to track and measure everything. Enter the eternal struggle of how to use the data you’re given. The best way to incorporate more data into your CRM efforts is to start utilizing these data points to move from ad-hoc newsletters to triggered communications and cadenced journeys. Use the data you’ve collected about consumers to do propensity modeling to understand when they are likely to buy next and understand who else in the world (who looks like these valuable consumers) may also be looking to buy. Use the data about household income and past purchase patterns to understand which consumers have been engaging in what ways, and which have the highest lifetime value. Each of these different consumers should theoretically be communicated with differently—more priority given to those with a higher lifetime value, more attention given to those with a lower engagement score, and so on and so forth.


The practice of CRM is constantly evolving. It’s not just about customized content anymore. It’s about a whole new level of personalization. –customized to each customer. We are dealing with savvier and savvier consumers who understand and expect companies to use their data to bring them better content, better experiences, and better products. Can you keep up?

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