One of the under-appreciated facts about modern marketing campaigns is that they don't occur one at a time. Most companies are running dozens of campaigns or sub-campaigns that all have to be managed concurrently. There are campaigns to attract new customers, campaigns to nurture leads until they become sales ready, campaigns to nurture qualified prospects through the buying cycle, campaigns aimed at special target audiences, campaigns to up-sell and cross-sell existing customers and on and on in bewildering variety.
Clearly trying to run multiple types of campaigns without an effective set of automation tools is extremely time consuming, prone to error and sometimes downright impossible.
For example, customer data is voluminous but essential for effective marketing efforts. But assembling that data can get so complex that many companies don't even try. They put together prospect lists and work from those without considering what else they know about the prospects.
In doing so they simplify their lives at the expense of conversions and the marketing budget. It's a missed opportunity. As Forrester points out, when marketers deliver targeted messages to segmented buyers, email reads increase by 200% or more.
A well-run Customer Relationship Management system can help you make sense of voluminous data and align data among dimensions to support precision marketing campaigns and thereby improve response rates, conversion rates and marketing budget ROI.
Here are some of the ways you can use your CRM software to bring data management, process automation and analytics to improve campaign effectiveness.
Precision Target Audiences
One of the first places CRM software can help campaign performance is in selecting a highly specific target population. Selecting prospects based on customer personas, customer segments, digital footprints, demographic data, or purchase history are a few of the data variables that will significantly outperform an unintelligent list.
Sometimes this is as simple as extracting contextual data - such as a combination of firmographics, demographics and technographics - from the CRM database and setting up a qualified list. Other times it may involve querying the CRM system to define subgroups within customer segments who are more likely to respond to a given offer.
The best-planned campaign will suffer without automated execution. Here again CRM applications can help you keep your campaigns on track. CRM software uses flexible workflow tools to sequence the timing and delivery of offers.
It also provides real-time visibility to the status of every target population contact (or possibly groups of contacts). The customer management system can remind you when to initiate follow-ups (or in the case of emails, it can distribute them automatically) and help you maintain the marketing schedule.
This becomes especially important when you are running multiple promotions or performing nurture campaigns. CRM automation lets you perform marketing tasks in parallel and keep straight which prospect is responding to what campaign, and even more concretely which solicitation or marketing asset generated the best or worst responses.
One way to do this is to assign an object number to each campaign that stays with the campaign and the prospects it produces through the entire marketing and sales cycle. This kind of annotation is easy to do with modern marketing automation systems. Having a unique identifier for each campaign allows you to compare the effectiveness of different campaigns by different variables and time-based periods.
This can involve a lot more than just the response rate. For example one company used the campaign ID feature in its CRM system to track responses from prospects who downloaded a white paper and those who listened to a podcast. In typical asset comparison – IT professionals and line of business managers responded more favorably to the white paper while CEOs and Presidents responded better to the podcast.
However when judged by the ultimate sales, the prospects who listened to the podcast were more likely to result in a purchase and at a higher average ticket amount. The ability to track different campaigns by multiple variables throughout a closed loop sales cycle made it much easier to compare the outcomes of the two campaign types.
Real-Time Follow Through
The integrated approach offered by CRM is particularly important when it comes to passing the prospect – now a developed lead – from marketing to the sales force. The more sophisticated marketing automation systems can automatically pass sales leads to the sales force based on sales lead distribution rules, once a threshold lead score is reached or other criteria that classifies the lead as sales-ready.
Here again the 360 degree customer view provided by CRM systems helps. Rather than passing sales just a name and contact information, you can provide a comprehensive view of all your company’s marketing touches with the prospect – and the responses back from the prospect. Sharing the type of marketing communications consumed and the prospect's digital footprints helps sales professionals understand each buyer's interests and motivation.
The CRM system can also allow you to track the status of the lead as it works its way through the sales cycle. Was the prospect properly qualified? Was contact made in a timely manner? What was the outcome? Summing the metrics for these types of activities ensures no lead is left behind and sales cycles are not unnecessarily longer than they need to be.
The compilation of sales cycle activities has many uses. For example, a comprehensive history for each prospect helps avoid the finger pointing between sales and marketing where sales complains they are not getting fully qualified leads and marketing claims sales is not properly following up on the leads they are given.
The CRM technology brings information transparency to deliver valuable feedback on the effectiveness of the campaign and the follow-on sales process to improve sales and marketing alignment.