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Drowning in consumer data, CRM swim lessons.

Data Insights
5 min read

Photo by Louis Tricot on Unsplash

Most companies are drowning in data. As marketers in this century, we’ve been trained in the benefits of collecting consumer data to gain insights on their behaviors. As consumers, we’ve come to expect that turning over our information is a form of currency when engaging with brands – online and in-person.

With a priority put on collecting data and so many options for collecting it, putting a plan in place to really leverage the data you have beyond analytics or media targeting can be daunting. Our advice? Start simple, add value and go from there. Refreshing, right? Here are a few tips we’ve pulled together to help you start swimming in the ocean of data at your feet. 

Find the data.

Simple enough. Half the battle is identifying what data your company actually has, determining if it’s usable and getting it into one location so you can leverage it. Start by interviewing contacts in marketing, technology and events to identify all possible data sources, what information you’re collecting and how you are collecting it. The how is important – with new data protection laws like CDPA and GDPR, we’re witnessing the close of the Wild West in consumer data, so making sure the data is properly collected and stored will keep you away from potentially hefty fines.

Organize the data.

Once you know what data you have and how you plan to leverage it, you can begin considering how to organize it. You’ll see terms like CDP, DMP and CRM. Without boring you to death, a consumer data platform (CDP) allows you to aggregate multiple sources of data into one single view of the consumer. A data management platform (DMP) is more for anonymous information and media deployment. Customer relationship management (CRM) is how you organize the interactions you have with your consumers. CRM platforms can scale from simple email marketing like Mailchimp to the industry’s powerhouse platform, Salesforce.

Plan for what you will do with it.

Before you invest in a management system, you need to decide how you want to leverage your data to fit your organization’s goals. Your plan doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Email marketing isn’t dead. You can also consider developing a CRM program which could range from short-term volume-driving tactics (coupons/promos) to long-term relationship building – that’s more our style. We believe word-of-mouth marketing is the strongest form. To achieve that level of advocacy, brands have to build belief.

  • Be human – Have a personality, personalize your communications and provide unbelievable customer service.

  • Listen – Consumers are your most valuable source of feedback.

  • Gating is okay – Provide a feeling of exclusivity or insider information so your consumers feel like they have currency to share.

  • Start simple and build – Have we said this enough? You don’t need a robust program in place before you act. Email marketing is still effective.

  • Measuring WOM is difficult – Yes, you can track engagement metrics like open rates and conversions, but 80% of WOM recommendation is offline. That’s where a CRM like Salesforce can help. We’ve even built out custom metrics based on machine-learning algorithms if you want to get super geeky. 

Create a content plan.

Most folks want to jump here first, but to be effective, your content needs some foundational planning to help organize it. We recommend developing a core+ model to keep consumers engaged. You can then pepper in surprise & delights to mix it up. (Never underestimate the power of physical mail!) Your communications can be automated, but make sure there’s a dedicated person monitoring and responding to the community as needed.

Don’t forget the ecosystem.

You put a plan in place, don’t neglect to tie in the rest of your marketing tactics to create an ecosystem which will bring new consumers into your database. That involves:

  • Capturing intent – Employing SEO/SEM tactics to show up when consumers are searching for your brand or product.

  • Continuing to build your list through compliant tactics like website forms or surveys, eCommerce opt-ins, added-value downloads and event activations.

  • Listening – Often you might have advocates who are already talking about your brand on their platforms. If you’re building an advocacy model, use social listening to identify these folks and reward them, or personally invite them into the community.

Of course, once you put the plan together, it’s time to deploy, test and optimize. But remember you don’t have to be an Olympic swimmer to start navigating you consumer data pool. Start with a simple dog paddle and learn from there.

CRM Programs We Admire:

Maker’s Mark Ambassador Program – We’re partial to this one.

Skimm’bassador – A referral program for what started as an email newsletter.

Harley Owners Group (HOG)– Organizing a passionate owner’s group, with tiers for fans only.

Starbucks Rewards – A rewards program like no other.

Recess – Simple email marketing that delivers on its brand 100% of the time.

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