Getting Started With Multi-Channel CRM


By John Faris, Vice President of Cross Channel Marketing, Red Door Interactive Featured in eMarketing & Commerce (eM+C)

Customer relationship marketing (CRM) entails communicating with your customers, with the goal of eventually turning them into brand loyalists and advocates. Loyal customers will skip the consideration and evaluation stages of the customer journey, jumping straight to the purchase phase; seeking out your product the next time they are considering a purchase in your category. By converting loyalists into advocates, you’ll prompt customers to share their opinions about your brand with others, through word of mouth - talking with friends, ratings, reviews, social shares, blog posts, etc. This can lead to improved brand awareness, preference, and purchase intent by those who listen to, and trust, your brand advocates.  A well-oiled CRM program also increases traffic to your online assets, and provides access to rich data about what type of content and messages resonate best with various segments (via click and post-click behavior). In turn, these strategies can be applied to all of your marketing programs, both online and offline. There are several channels that work well for building customer relationships. Social Media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter,  provide ample opportunity to monitor what your customers are saying about your brand. Social Media outlets also provide real-time public-facing customer service and give you a platform to distribute authoritative content. Blogs and RSS feeds are excellent ways to distribute information to your customers, and create a dialogue. Mobile platforms present other valuable opportunities to drive loyalty, through apps and SMS/MMS messages. And, of course, email is the primary channel that many brands rely on to communicate with their customers on a regular basis. All of these channels become infinitely more impactful, when the brand has a variety of unique content to distribute. Content provides additional value to your customer base, beyond the product/services that you are selling to them. On a daily basis, your customers are browsing/searching the Internet looking for informational, educational, and entertaining content; not just brand, product, and company information. If you can become a trusted source of valuable content that is not necessarily related to your brand, you’ll stay top of mind with your customers and encourage reciprocity. And by getting customers to opt-in to permission marketing channels, you’ll have an easy way to distribute and extend the reach of your content and engage them on a much higher level. CRM has implications for your organization beyond your email and social teams. You’ll need IT to provide a central database to track and communicate with brand advocates. Additionally, you will want to collaborate with the advertising team to acquire emails via consumer-facing online advertising. Then, you will be able to effectively work with your Web team to add email sign-up CTAs to key pages. You will also work with Partners to develop and cross-promote content, and acquire email addresses using incentives/sponsorships. Beyond basic CRM infrastructure, the primary prerequisite for creating a successful multi-channel CRM program is to develop and categorize a library of editorial content assets that align with the customer interests, needs, and pain points. Categorizing this content is important because permission marketing is not about mass communication. Ideally, your CRM messaging is customized to smaller groups of consumers (segments), and distributed to them based on their channel preferences which will in turn optimize your CRM infrastructure.

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