In a Forrester report titled U.S. Email Marketing Forecast, the analyst firm notes that 70% of email marketing dollars are spent on customer retention programs. Analyst David Daniels advises that email campaigns designed for customer acquisitions are much more difficult and therefore not getting as much focus. However, he also shares that a small population of leading marketers are showing big success in using email campaigns for lead generation by creating narrow customer segments, developing highly relevant messaging and automating their business processes. But each of these success factors require accurate customer data.
Customer data is the lifeblood of digital marketing. We use contact lists to outreach new prospects, keep track of customers, follow prospects through the nurture process and manage campaigns that contact our customers or prospects. However, maintaining customer data quality can be tedious and time-consuming to manage. That's where Customer Relationship Management software can add value.
Customer data deteriorates at 2% per month, on average. That means, left unattended, nearly half the customer data will include errors and lack integrity after two years.
Effective marketing campaigns start with precise distribution target audiences. This can be as simple as "we want to reach all CIOs in the distribution industry in a three state area" or an elaborately laid out campaign with multiple messages delivered in a nurture program. At the minimum you need to know who your campaign target profile, and the more closely the better. CRM software can be a big help in detecting relationships and patterns in customer data that you can capitalize on in planning the campaign.
Sure you can blast your message out to every name you can get, but experience shows that is a low-return strategy. It wastes resources, and one of the most important resources it wastes is customer attention. Annoying target populations with non-relevant messaging or content is certain to incur the unsubscribe penalty and forever after you lose the opportunity to email highly specific and relevant promotions or content.
Customer attention is one of the most valuable resources in any marketing campaign. If you waste the customer's time with messages he or she is not interested in, you will be turned off like a light switch and it's awfully hard to flick that switch on again.
The combination of applying customer attributes, list segmentation and precise messaging is sometimes called microtargeting and is a powerful marketing strategy which allows marketers to apply outreach promotions which align with where customers are in their buying cycles.
According to Heather Blank, Director of Strategic Services with email service provider (ESP) Responsys, "Our clients who have been more successful [with lead generation] are the ones creating dynamically generated content by bringing in either Web or rich profile data ... and sending content that matches someone's profile very closely."
CRM systems can help you build carefully targeted lists supported by customer attributes which will help you achieve your marketing goals more efficiently. The thing that makes CRM technology especially valuable is the 360 degree view of the customer. The more data you have, the more closely you can tailor your marketing list and messaging. Other alternatives, such as mailing list programs, don't offer this all-inclusive view of the prospects or customers, which means that they cannot target their lists as precisely.
Customer segmentation is especially important if you are selling multiple products to different classes of customers. Sending out a generic message is not nearly as effective as sending a honed message to a targeted group. Of course sending a message aimed at one group to a completely different group is also a waste of resources.
Managing Customer Data
One of the first steps in managing customer data or a marketing list is ensuring data integrity. The most pervasive process is customer and data deduplication – eliminating redundant records that refer to the same person or company. List cleaning also includes getting rid of invalid addresses, customers who have opted out of receiving your emails, and correcting data such as ever changing postal codes.
Research firm Aberdeen shares that 78% of marketers cite a lack of trust in customer data which prevents them from leveraging personalization, customer segmentation, and customer profiling.
Here again CRM software solutions can help. Because of its all-inclusive view of the customer or prospect, your CRM system provides a valuable cross-check. If the sales department has John Smith at 123 4th St. and billing has John Smith at 321 5th Street. You have a chance to eliminate the discrepancy and improve your marketing effectiveness.
Keep in mind that customer data and marketing lists are fluid. They represent a group of people that change over time. Interest in your product grows or declines, people change jobs, potential customers go out of business or come into existence. Marketing lists generally deteriorate 2% per month so after only one year almost one-fourth of the list needs clean up. That means marketing lists need constant attention.
Here again, a CRM database can help you keep your data current thereby increasing campaign performance results.
Similarly, it’s important to keep from over-sending. Too many emails to the same customers result in a sharp rise in unsubscribe requests. Too many direct mail pieces, telephone calls, etc. also have a detrimental effect on the relationship with the customer – and the propensity for customers to respond unfavorably.
Cleaning the list cuts down on unwanted duplication and unintentionally peppering the same contacts with the same messages multiple times. Also with the automatic reminders or emails that can be triggered from the CRM system you can be sure your contact schedule is being adhered to.
CRM aids marketing apps to help make sure you are properly handling bounced emails and unsubscribe requests. It can also help you analyze those events and draw implications about your data quality. Emails that bounce are a canary in the coal mine when it comes to data integrity. The more bounces, the less reliable the data.
Opt-out requests are also important to monitor. Keep in mind that opt-out requests are probably just the tip of the iceberg. Opting out requires an extra step on the part of the reader. Most people won’t make that extra click, even if they’re not interested in the email content. They’ll just ignore it or mark it as spam. To get the true "not-read" rate you need to multiply the opt-out requests by several times. This fact makes opt-out rates especially important in analyzing the success of the marketing campaign. A high opt-out rate means you are doing something wrong.
Also recognize when prospects haven't opted out, however, have also not opened your emails. Unopened emails are affecting some marketers deliverability. According to Matt Wise, board member of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, "If you send your email out and no one engages with it, you are risking that the ISPs and corporations which use ISP black lists are going to stop delivering your messages." To prevent impairing your email deliverability, move prospect records who don't engage to a different campaign, or remove them all together.
A marketing campaign without analysis of the results is severely crippled. Here again, CRM systems can help, and especially those with purpose-built marketing analytics such as Salesforce's two marketing clouds.
These types of CRM applications have powerful analytical tools built in which can help you pinpoint how your campaign fared and how each campaign compares to all others in terms of cost, effectiveness and ROI. This real time analysis permits the marketer to quickly reallocate marketing funds away from lower performing campaigns.
CRM software is especially helpful with campaign test or control group marketing where a campaign is trialed on only part of the list. By tracking things like bounces and opt-outs as well as responses you get an important early indicator of how good your list is and then project overall campaign effectiveness.
Beyond test marketing, a CRM system is an ideal tool for pulling together the results of the campaign and analyzing them across a number of metrics and performance criteria. With marketing management systems you can not only see standard metrics like response rate and cost versus revenue of the campaign, you can also generate custom metrics specific to your needs. The powerful, flexible analytics of customer relationship management applications allow you to easily study your campaign and make improvements for better performing future campaigns.