• August 20, 2008
  • By Jessica Tsai, Assistant Editor, CRM magazine

Getting On Track with Marketers

NEW YORK -- At the destinationCRM 2008 conference here this week, the Day Two sessions took on a nuts-and-bolts fel, particularly in the notion of how Web 2.0 has begun to truly alter the landscape for the modern marketing department. Here's a quick roundup of the content that attendees experienced:

What’s in a Customer?: A lot more than just the person holding the checkbook. Denis Pombriant, the founder and managing principal at CRM consultancy Beagle Research Group, argued that CRM requires companies to tackle the notion of the customer module, which consists of a community database, community interface, analytics, and a loyalty program (one that actually fosters loyalty and isn’t just another decorative key tag). [It's a notion that Pombriant, a regular columnist for CRM, wrote about in the June 2008 issue of the magazine.]


The Little Engine that Could: Knowing the who, what, where, when, and why about your customers and the community, however, is only the beginning -- doing something productive with that information is the hard part. Principal Marketing Officer of Amtrak e-Commerce Sebastian Pawlowski, the principal marketing officer for Amtrak e-Commerce, described how, even in a multibillion-dollar corporation such as his, online CRM (what he called "eCRM") still needs to earn its funding and resources. Along the way, Pawlowski learned some hard-hitting truths about such implementations:

    * It’s not about marketing, but about customer service.
    * CRM is different for every company – mold it to your company and your customers.
    * Make use of your Web content to serve personalized content in real time.
    * “You don’t need a missile to kill an ant.” Know what you need and build what you need — There’s nothing out of the box that will fulfill all of your needs, he said. (On average, companies only use 40 percent of the features in an out-of-the-box solution, said Lee Scott, principal at Unleashing Leaders and fellow speaker.)
    * Engage in cross-channel, cross-departmental participation.
    * If you’re going to implement a CRM project – expect failure upfront, and get back up!

Initial campaign results, however, proved the gain to be worth the pain:

    * Regionally targeted campaigns showed 180 percent more click through rates (CTR) than a national campaign;
    * Regionally campaign with strong offer saw 530 percent more CTRs than a national campaign; and
    * Regional campaigns with monetary discounts saw 200 percent more results than a national campaign.


Move to the Groove: Most of the time, said Lee Scott of Unleashing Leaders, we see change as a threat rather than an opportunity, a competitive edge. Especially given the tenuous rules of Web 2.0, he said, a business philosophy based on agility is critical: Embrace change, iterate for results, engage the customer, and empower the team. Companies often bite off more than they can chew and succumb to the allure of what Scott called “product featuritis.” Realistically, however, less than half of the functions are ever used, he told attendees, let alone regularly. He compares it to the bulk-buying Costco approach versus the daily farmers market approach. The problem, however, is that customers often don’t know what they want -- the compromise? -- vendors provide broad implementation categories and give the customers authority to prioritize features and functions.


There's No "I" in Global: Focusing on the experience of his company, silicones supplier Dow Corning, Mark Maxwell, director of sales and market process, described its lead management campaign and its challenges with geographic development. Leads can either filter through the sales funnel or fall into the "black hole," Maxwell says. Dow Corning found the following formula to be successful when aligning its processes: marketing investment + effective lead management = profitable growth and relationship. Thanks to visible pipelines managed by business teams, the organization saw double digit growth since implementing its lead management strategy in 2002. Maxwell suggests that there's no such thing as one single customer, especially when doing business globally.


Tiny Tech: On Friends, as Monica’s one-time boyfriend Pete (played by Jon Favreau) once said, “…Can we make it smaller? Can we make it fit on the head of a pin? I love when we make things fit on the head of a pin.” We’re not quite there yet with mobile devices, said Tim Bajarin, but the space is exciting and the evolution of the technology is constantly changing. The goal for the personal computer, he said, is to “create a mobile device that has full Web-browsing capability and fits in your pocket.” Bajarin shared models from the “ruggedized,” to the “thin and light” and “ultralight” PCs. He sees cell phones with more computing power than the desktop coming soon -- “the age where information anytime, anywhere will be real.”


Driving Customer Care: Sharing her company’s experience, Cyndie Beckwith of the California State Automoile Association, a division of the American Automobile Association (AAA), provided a first-person account of CSAA’s CRM woes and wows. With 98 percent brand recognition and 88 percent membership and insurance renewal rates, it’s not bad being in Beckwith’s position -- and she said she's well aware of that. To get there, however, took three years. CSAA, she told the crowd, faced a common roadblock: “you know a lot of stuff but you don’t know what to do,” she said. It took operational changes and communicating with customers in their language, which meant speaking based on experience -- ease of use, quality of conversation -- rather than product. “The customer doesn’t know what they have, they just know they have a membership.”

That Pesky Internet: It’s throwing everyone off balance. According to Cheryl Max, director of corporate marketing at IBM, there are three tidal waves that forever eroded the landscape (in order of occurrence):

  • digital network evolution;
  • localization; and
  • the customer as a stakeholder.

She reiterateed the popular duos of this Web 2.0 trend:

  • pull vs. push;
  • listening vs. shouting; and
  • talking at vs. talking with.

She also took notice of some of the paid technologies available for helping vendors listen to customers online, a category she referred to as “buzz monitoring”:

  • COBRA;
  • Nielsen Buzz Metrics;
  • Collective Intellect; and
  • Kaava.

Click here for more of our destinationCRM 2008 coverage.

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top; to contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.

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