Add Mobile to the CRM Mix

It's the moment dreaded by every marketer who considers herself "tech-savvy" -- the moment when that new medium for reaching customers transitions from bleeding edge to leading edge. It happened with email and Internet marketing -- and now, after rapid adoption in Europe, it's happening here in the United States with mobile marketing and mobile CRM. Marketing is undergoing a fundamental shift. The emergence of mobile CRM presents new opportunities to build lucrative customer relationships, while at the same time creating more complexity around related processes, functions and roles. Marketers Want Mobile Applications -- Their Existing Technology May Not Recently, we conducted a survey of North American direct marketers to gauge their emerging channel deployment strategies and adoption, and learn more about the challenges they face in managing the integration of emerging and traditional marketing channels. Our research found that four out of five marketers plans to incorporate at least one additional emerging channel by the end of 2008 -- most likely SMS or MMS. However, fewer than half were confident that their existing tools could effectively manage emerging marketing channels, or coordinate campaigns across emerging and traditional channels. What are the specific challenges inherent in mobile CRM?
  • The elusive single view of the customer. Mobile creates a new set of challenges for data gathering--particularly for companies that are running legacy systems that silo data.
  • Difficulties in managing consistent content across operational systems and channels of contact. From a content perspective, mobile communications must map well to communications through email and paper-based channels. From a measurement perspective, there are technology hurdles inherent in mapping mobile communications applications into legacy CRM systems all while tracking measurement metrics, new audience types and new engagement methods.
  • Increasingly savvy, demanding customers. Customers who have embraced mobile technologies are expecting vendors to do the same. In short, their expectations are very high; you have one shot to get it right.
  • The challenges inherent in adding any new technology. Time and money are tight; companies are trying to stretch marketing dollars in order to do more with less.
Matching Mobile and CRM Systems Marketers need to implement mobile technologies that can be easily integrated with existing CRM systems, in order to provide a complete view of touchpoints with customers across wireless, email and paper-based media. Ultimately, customer data and interactions need to be consolidated in one place. Enterprise-level marketing-management systems will play an important role for companies to effectively add mobile CRM to their arsenal in order to truly integrate marketing strategies to market on an individual level. Companies should make certain that these systems meet a number of criteria to solve the challenges I've outlined above, including:
  • Create a Single System of Record for 360-Degree Information. Marketers must have the technological infrastructure to automatically ensure they know enough about with whom they communicate. Continuous monitoring and response mechanisms are necessary in order to best understand the implicit and explicit actions or behaviors of your customers based on communications through all channels, including mobile. Ideally, such a system will provide data on a much more granular level: "How did each and every customer respond, and what does that mean for the way in which I will market to them next?" Sending a compelling text message or directing a customer or prospect to a WAP site won't get you very far unless you understand how they responded and you automatically know what to do for your next point of contact -- be it an email, another text message or, more traditionally, a direct mail piece.
  • Meet the Customer Where They Want to Meet. Be certain to know which customers are amenable to contact via mobile channels; and then, market to them appropriately by executing across emerging digital and traditional channels.
  • Personalize Content, Dynamically and Consistently. Choose a platform that can drive dynamic content personalization across all mediums to create more relevant two-way dialogue. Such a system should combine all channels, emerging and traditional -- such as direct mail, email, Web personalization, digital printing, WAP Push, SMS and MMS into a tightly-connected marketing program. Many existing solutions are built on direct-mail roots and lack the flexibility to support and smoothly integrate these new modes of communication.
Mobile is separate...but equal. It's a new channel that opens up dramatic new opportunities to engage customers 24x7. But it can't operate in a silo: mobile efforts have to feed the larger marketing beast. So to keep things humming, marketers need to have the infrastructure in place to bridge the gap between emerging and traditional channels and effectively interact with each customer at any point in time.

About the Author Patrick McHugh is the executive vice president of North American Operations for Neolane. Prior to that, he had leadership roles with Authentica, OutStart, Exchange Applications, and Stanford Technology Group.
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