Is interactive CRM the future of e-mail, social and all marketing and customer activities?

Is interactive CRM the future of e-mail, social and all marketing and customer activities?

May 18, 2011  inspiration

 
 

I guess everyone by now knows that e-mail marketing is rapidly evolving from what once was an isolated mass marketing activity to an integrated part of a holistic marketing approach. The integration with social, CRM and other marketing channels, the increasing focus on real time e-mail marketing, triggered and event-driven campaigns and the growing adoption of marketing automation and lead management solutions are all happening right now.

However, if you carefully look at all these phenomena, you will probably notice that we are in a phase where we are talking about integration and a focus on the customer's buying journey and life cycle from mainly a channel and messaging perspective. The question is what lies underneath these evolutions? And the answer is clear: businesses are paying more attention to the needs of a multi-channel consumer (and we all are consumers). And it's not just in marketing but in all customer- and even business-related functions.

Traditional funnel models don't fit the multi-channel reality anymore

We are emphasizing these needs because we know that a more personalized and integrated approach leads to more conversions and efficiency. We know that revenue and thus conversions, depend on a combination of factors such as content, channels, time and relevance. We also know that improving customer satisfaction, retention and loyalty are more important than ever before and that buying journeys nor conversion paths are linear. And finally we know the consumer is more demanding and more in control over communication and buying processes.

Traditional funnel models don't fit the multi-channel reality anymore. There are always blanks in what we can know about conversions. Why does someone type in your company name in Google? Because he wants to find your address and thus knows you? Because he has a habit of using Google instead of typing URLs in his browser? Because he heard about you in a blog post, via a friend or after having seen an ad, and thus is a potential customer that wants to learn more about you? We never fully know.

What goes for search behaviour, goes for other interactions as well. So, what is really happening in this fast changing reality where we, marketers, are integrating, segmenting, personalizing, using event-driven campaigns, creating tailor-made content, are blogging etc.?

The CRM imperative: being where our customers are is not enough

We want to be were our customers are. But most of all we want to know WHO our customers are. We want to have a single view and understand patterns, buying behaviour, multi-channel interactions and much more.

In the end this boils down to one acronym: CRM. Customer Relationship Management, albeit with new layers: social, multi-channel marketing and bi-directional flows. CRM has become social but most of all it has become interactive in the true sense of the word. All touch points, flows, interactions, channels and personalization efforts aim to give us a deeper understanding of our prospects and customers.

The aim is simple: we need this understanding to act upon it in a relevant way, providing one consistent and valuable experience and avoiding the errors we have made because we have been thinking in terms of silos, departments, channels and messages instead of in terms of people and their reality instead of ours.
Customer-centricity is so much more than taking the needs of prospects and customers into account. It has a profound impact on the way we think, work and organize ourselves. CRM is becoming the heart of all this, beating in the same rhythm of the individual consumer's pulse.

Whether we call it Social CRM or Interactive CRM: isn't CRM what will drive and even encompass all our marketing activities including e-mail, social, offline, etc.? I ask you. What do you think?



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