Despite the common refrain, more data isn't necessarily what every marketer needs right now. The bigger goal is learning how to turn existing data into actionable insights. For many marketing teams, the answer is in their CRM.
Once considered cumbersome and cost-prohibitive, CRM software is increasingly accessible, even for small and mid-sized businesses. Gartner predicts CRM software revenue will reach 36 billion dollars by 2017, up from 23.9 billion dollars in 2014.
Here are three ways marketers could be capitalizing on CRM data today:
1. Deliver customized messages to prospects and customers
Even in 2014, only 38 percent of marketers are capable of separating prospects and existing customers. This is a tremendous missed opportunity. Using first-party CRM data to target advertising can dramatically improve campaigns. Per Neustar's Media Intelligence Report Q1 2014, entertainment and retail advertisers that did so experienced up to a 107x lift compared to average ad performance.
CRM data will help you talk to your audience, yes, but it's also an invaluable listening tool. Paying attention to behavioral trends and the reasons behind your conversions will help identify opportunities to upsell happy customers or reach out to at-risk customers on the verge of leaving you behind.
2. Find new customers by learning about your existing customers
Once you've gained a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding of your customers, it's a lot easier to go out into the digital wilderness and find other people who resemble those customers. By blending CRM data with third-party behavioral data, you can extend your reach to a crowd that's predisposed to hear you out.
How does it work? For example, if you visit computing giant Lenovo's website while streaming a Carrie Underwood song and watching "The Amazing Race" on your computer, you're likely to see banners and products that, say, a Saturday Night Live loving entrepreneur wouldn't see. That may sound like an arbitrary classification to some, but by customizing their offers according to these types of data variables, Lenovo experienced a 40 percent increase in order conversions. Customers are on board with this approach, but most marketers are lagging behind.
3. Influence customer interactions in real-time
CRM data constantly influences real-time interactions, as with the Lenovo example above. The impact also extends to old-fashioned events like phone calls and store visits. When a customer service representative is chatting with a disgruntled consumer, real-time analytics can present options that are most likely to lead to a peaceful resolution (e.g., is there a special offer that is relevant to the specific situation?).
Look for a real-time explosion in the years ahead, particularly for brands and retailers. According to the 2014 CRM/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey, only 22 percent of leading retailers currently use real-time analytics, but 61 percent plan to implement in the next two years. The end goal? A highly personalized experience for the customer, across all channels, online and offline.