CRM Analytics ROI Improvement Opportunities

According to Dr. Marc Teerlink, Global Strategist and Subject Matter Expert in Business Analytics and Cognitive Computing for the IBM Global Center of Competence, "Every day consumers and enterprises create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. In fact, 90 percent of data in the world today has been created in the last two years."

Boom. Analyze that.​

As part of your CRM system you've got oodles of customer data safely stashed away, and you're analyzing the heck out of it to surface customer insights and actionable takeaways. But could you be doing it better? Is there something you're missing that could turn out to be profitable? Probably.

Let's look at two and a half steps you could be taking to improve the ROI you're getting out of your share of that 2.5 quintillion.

First, try analyzing data to look for more horizontal marketing opportunities. Sure, one way to approach your customer is to throw everything you can think of in her face -- "How about this? Want this? Lookit these!" -- in the hopes that she'll see something she likes.

But people tune out a steady stream of uninteresting, irrelevant blather. Customers are human, too. If you don't pay attention to blizzard marketing why would you think they do?

Instead, as Teerlink says, use customer analytics scoring models to find the customer's purchase patterns, then "simulate the customer reading each planned promotion, one promotion at a time." What you're doing here is trying to discern how the customer would react to each one, based on analyzing everything you already know about her.

This costs less, and she doesn't tune you out, but comes to realize your communications are actually pretty relevant. It's looking at what your customer actually needs instead of your campaign goals, to how you can serve a customer better over time, Teerlink explains, and that requires a bit of a shift in focus, as well as increased sharing of information.

Secondly, try offering the rewards your loyalty club members receive to first-time customers in order to get the data from them that you do from your members. That's what John Lucas, Director of Operations at the Cincinnati Zoo, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the United States, did.

As he explains in a recent customer analysis study, "The number one thing we want to know is: who is coming to the Zoo? How often do they come? What do they do and what do they buy?"

But they were only getting this information from less than half of their daily visitors, the members with loyalty cards they scan around the park for food discounts or free rides. They weren't learning anything about the spending and park use of first-time or infrequent visitors and other non-members, the whole other half of their daily visitation.

So the Zoo decided heck, we'll give everybody a loyalty card. All non-members have to do is give their name, address, email and number of kids at the gate and bam, the Zoo hands them a card good for discounts that day. No waiting. "As a result, a very large proportion of visitors sign up," Lucas notes, and the Zoo gets a lot more data.

For one thing, Lucas learned, somewhat to his chagrin, what slackers Zoo members are: "In the first quarter of the updated program, the average non-member spent $3.48 on food service and $2.67 on retail per visit to the Zoo. Members only spent $1.03 on food service and $0.77 on retail."

But there's your business intelligence ROI: The Zoo learned that directing more marketing towards attracting one-time visitors could have a higher ROI than previously suspected. And that members need to be prodded with different incentives to spend a bit more. Marketing priorities and budgets can now be adjusted more profitably.

Now, the half: What is required for both of these approaches, trying horizontal marketing and giving first-time visitors the privileges normally reserved for members, is greater integration and sharing of data than may currently characterize your organization.

As one intelligent CRM analyst remarked, departments don't want the data to benefit the company, they want it to benefit the department. That's a challenge with CRM analytics. It's often true for individuals with their little fiefdoms as well, to whom information is their value in the organization.

Which is where you as the C-level executive must step in. A project manager can't force departments or individuals to share information they don't want to share, that's your job. If your CRM analytics investment is to yield the ROI you want, you have to ensure that you're getting the cooperation across the board you need.