CRM Evolution 2016: Marketers Stress Getting Personal with Customers
In connecting with customers, companies should reach out on a human level: telling stories, creating personas, and building loyalty and trust.
Posted May 24, 2016
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Connecting with customers on a personal level was the main focus the first day of CRM Evolution 2016—and that theme was approached from various angles in the marketing-oriented sessions.

During his session “Laziness, Narcissism, and Other Politically Incorrect Considerations in Formulating Marketing Strategy,” Robert Bergman, instructor of marketing at Lewis University, emphasized the importance of crafting a story to successfully connect with customers. “Stories trump data,” Bergman stated. “It’s not about features, functions, and benefits, although most marketers use them—‘Let me use my marketing message to tell you about the features, the functions, and the benefits.’ No. It’s about stories—when it comes to persuasion, stories are easier to understand and therefore sell your product better.”

Samantha Stone, founder of and senior analyst at The Marketing Advisory Network, emphasized the importance of creating a persona—a fictional representation of a brand’s ideal customer—in her session “Mapping Personas in Your CRM System to Maximize Value.” According to Stone, personas are a composite of market research and serve as a reminder of customers’ “unique human element.” She also emphasized the importance of conducting qualitative interviews with both customers and non-customers, saying that if “you want to understand people, talk to people...It is the single biggest difference between personas that work and drive value, and personas that someone checked off their to-do list. And you have to talk to customers and non-customers—not just the people who already understand the context of your business, but the people who don’t yet.”

Building loyalty with customers was the thrust of the session run by David Kay, principal of DB Kay & Associates Inc. In his talk, titled “Using Customer Journey Mapping to Create Great Experiences,” Kay said that research indicates a “basically random correlation between satisfaction and loyalty,” and that building loyalty is marketers’ ultimate goal. He emphasized several ways for marketers to go about it, including understanding their brand’s promise, empathizing with customers to determine their reaction, and clearly defining customer-facing tasks and “backstage,” non-customer-facing tasks.

Michael Fauscette, chief research officer at G2 Crowd, encouraged brands to embrace the transparency of the digital world. In his session “Is Personalization Enough? Marketing Challenges and Opportunities,” Fauscette noted that brands are “already naked” in the digital environment, and customers “are already in control. “In this online environment, things about you, the information about you, the information about your products and services, it’s out of your control and it’s almost everywhere,” he said. He suggested that rather than being concerned with what information customers have access to, companies should embrace the transparency promoted by the digital environment in order to build trust—and, eventually, authentic relationships—with customers.

David Raab, principal of Raab & Associates Inc., took on the hot topic of intent data in his session, detailing the multiple sources that can produce intent data, including page views, and networks, downloads, webinars, social media posts, registrations, and reviews, and pointing out that this sector has several noteworthy vendors, including Web site TechTarget, ad exchange Everstring, and predictive lead scoring and analytics company Infer.

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