Posts Tagged ‘data driven marketing’

CRM, Marketing Automation and Data Quality

Do you use customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation platforms in your business? Or are you starting to dip your toe in the water and explore these tools? This blog post looks at how both of these systems work, their market trends, and how they are both fueled by the quality of your contact data.

Understanding CRM

A customer calls you with a technical problem. Have you spoken with her before? What solutions have you tried already with her? What is the depth and breadth of her customer relationship with you? And what kind of organizational knowledge could help her now?

This is one of two main functions of CRM: providing visibility about your customer at the point of contact: for example, having their billing history at your fingertips, or linking their issues with your organizational knowledgebase. Good CRM makes everyone an expert on every customer, at every touch point – with the end result hopefully being a seamless, professional experience each time they interact with your business.

The other key function of CRM involves mining accumulated customer data, to strategically improve customer experience and profitability while reducing costs. For example:

  • What installation support issues do people have with your software product, and how could you use this information to improve its out-of-box experience for the future?
  • How do customer interactions vary by time and day of the week, and how could these variations inform your staffing efforts?
  • What patterns do you see in the results of your upselling efforts?

All of this and more is just a little data analysis away. In a very real sense, CRM platforms give you the ability to turn your customer contact operations into strategic business intelligence, while keeping your finger on the pulse of your customer contact activities.

Understanding marketing automation

Marketing automation, by comparison, manages the relationship between you and your prospects – some of whom may, of course, be existing customers. Its primary goal is to improve the efficiency, ROI and profitability of your marketing efforts through data. Some of the services these platforms offer include lead segmentation, email drip campaigns, A-B testing, results tracking, and more. They also can automate much of the drudgery involved with creating everything from landing pages to social media campaigns.

Both marketing automation and CRM platforms revolve around your contact data assets, and today many organizations – particularly larger ones – employ both sets of capabilities. In an ideal case sales, marketing and customer contact teams coordinate their efforts and share data to maintain a 360-degree view of what is happening with their prospects and customers.

Trends in the industry

Years ago, both CRM and marketing automation were reserved for the very largest organizations: many tools were expensive, difficult to implement, and seemingly required a cast of thousands to install and maintain. Today, a new generation of inexpensive, cloud-based applications that can be licensed per-seat and/or with flexible transaction limits have put these tools in the reach of nearly everyone.

Both kinds of platforms have also helped unify a growing range of marketing and customer contact channels. CRM tools, for example, have helped drive the move from call-centric operations to multi-channel support, including live chat, email, social media, and more – platforms integrating data from each of these channels have helped even the smallest organizations become multi-channel. Likewise, marketing automation platforms allow organizations to mix, match and compare results across a wide range of marketing channels.

Finally, understand that the lines are increasingly blurring between CRM and marketing automation platforms nowadays. Some CRM platforms now integrate marketing automation capabilities and vice-versa, with larger players such as Salesforce, Hubspot and Marketo offering integrated solutions. In general, as costs continue to drop and capabilities increase, this trend towards integration should continue to grow.

The importance of data quality

The promise of both CRM and marketing automation ultimately rides on the quality of your contact data. Why? Because according to industry statistics, 25% of B2B contact data is incorrect, 40% of your leads contain bad data, and nearly two-thirds of the best data-driven marketers cite data quality as their biggest obstacle to success. You need to ensure that your contacts are real people with accurate contact data.

Whether it is people changing jobs, registering with a fake name or address to get a free marketing goodie, or simply fat-fingering their contact data, bad data can undo much of the promise of automated platforms. In addition to the increased time, cost and human effort of marketing to false or incorrect leads, using bad or out-of-date customer data risks consequences ranging from brand damage to compliance penalties.

This is why our contact data quality services, such as DOTS Address Validation and DOTS Lead Validation, are designed to plug right in to major platforms via API interfaces, and can be used in conjunction with batch list processing options. Either way, these tools make it easy to ensure clean contact data at the point of data entry and/or usage.

Customer Expectations are Getting…Younger

Being based in the college town of Santa Barbara, California, we notice something interesting: the students seem to get younger every year. Of course, it is actually our own ages that continue to change. But this illusion contains a valuable marketing lesson for all of us.

The rise of the generational customer

According to the latest State of the Connected Customer survey from, consumers really are getting younger, as markets shift over time from older customers such as Baby Boomers to Generations X/Y and the Millennials. In fact, this year marks the first time that adult consumers exist who have never lived in the 20th century.

This trend means a lot more than having customers who don’t remember the 9/11 attacks, or realize that Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings. Some of the key points from this survey include:

  • Millennials and Generation Z live in an omnichannel world, using an average of 11 digital channels versus nine for traditional/Baby Boomer customers.
  • Nearly twice as many Millennials prefer to use mobile channels versus traditional/Baby Boomer customers (61% versus 31%), with 90% of Millennials using this channel versus 72% of older customers.
  • Traditional and Baby Boomer customers use less technology than their younger counterparts, but they aren’t dead yet: over 70% of them use channels such as mobile, text/SMS, and online portals and knowledge bases. However, usage falls off sharply with age for newer channels such as social media and voice-activated personal assistants like Siri and Alexa.
  • Between 77% and 86% of survey respondents believe that technologies such as chatbots, voice-activated assistants, and the Internet of Things (IoT) will transform their expectations of companies. The most important ones? AI and cybersecurity, at 87% each.
  • Over two-thirds of all consumers surveyed (67%) prefer to purchase through digital channels.

Overall, one of the key takeaways from this survey was the growing importance of customer experience. Eighty percent of respondents stated that the experience provided by a company was every bit as important as its products and services. This in turn involves greater connectivity between companies and their customers, with 70% of customers noting that connected processes are very important to winning their business.

It all comes down to data

What does this mean for the future of marketing? For one thing, it is clearly becoming more data-driven. While your oldest consumers still remember ordering from catalogs, your youngest ones expect to engage you on your tablets and smartphones, with little tolerance for error. This also means that both your marketing and your customer service are increasingly becoming electronic.

We welcome this trend at Service Objects: our company was originally founded in 2001 around reducing the waste stream from direct mail. But this trend also creates a mandate for us – and for you – to keep looking beyond simple contact data validation, into a world of data analyses that range from demographic screening to compliance with growing privacy laws. It is a major challenge, but also an opportunity for all of us – and frankly a big part of what keeps us young.