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  • November 1, 2007
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

The Age of Influence

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Professionals who regularly make intelligent investments in marketing information are more likely to benefit the most in the long run. But what information is relevant and how do you relate to potential customers? With the amount of data marketers are collecting, it's easy to suffer from information overload. For starters, organizations need to make sure their data is accurate, as customer lists get old fast. In the feature story "Cast a Narrow Net," by Editorial Assistant Jessica Tsai, baby and infant products retailer The Right Start learned this lesson firsthand when it attempted to contact 500,000 double opt-in customers. It quickly discovered that the actual number of double opt-ins was nowhere near that. Through some targeted marketing efforts, however, the company significantly increased its list of legitimate double opt-ins. Once customer lists are updated, it's important to set appropriate metrics. One consultant in the same story maintains that marketers' performances are still measured by "overall reach as opposed to conversion of leads." The consultant adds, "as long as that metric is in place, marketers aren't encouraged to be more effective." When reaching out to potential customers it also helps to know what most influences them to buy. According to the Insight story "Have You Caught It?"
by Jessica Tsai, "consumer interest in a product is most influenced by referrals from friends." This phenomenon also crosses the cultural divide. In The Tipping Point column, "The Year (and Decade) of the Tiger," Woody Driggs, global managing partner responsible for the CRM service line at Accenture, states: "Research shows that friends, coworkers, and product reviews are relied on by nearly two-thirds of Chinese consumers when making purchases." Unfortunately, in their attempts to spread word-of-mouth or viral marketing among consumers, many U.S. companies have fallen short. And, as a result, they are decreasing their viral marketing investments by 55 percent next year, according to the aforementioned Insight story. The failure of many word-of-mouth marketing campaigns, I suspect, is largely due to their transparency. I recently viewed a YouTube video, created by a CRM software vendor, which attempts to poke fun at professionals who don't believe in current CRM technology and processes. In the video a young, arrogant, and condescending manager barks antiquated and ignorant business strategies at his staff. His team keeps debunking his warped ideas by showing how the CRM vendor's technology can solve their business problems and help them achieve their financial goals. The video is long and the dialogue is only mildly funny. It wasn't worth forwarding to my family, friends, or colleagues, because it was more of an ad promoting the CRM company than a humorous video. Had it been more of the latter, I likely would have forwarded it. David Myron Editorial Director dmyron@infotoday.com
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