1 min read

ROI measuring: make the most out of every pound in 15 minutes a day

,

Managing the performance of your marketing is just as important as planning and executing it.

However, for many marketing managers, measuring ROI is still a big challenge, which sometimes results in having a hard time negotiating the marketing budget.

This is a shame because – as we marketers know – every extra pound is worth having!

Let’s start with ourselves then. What can we as marketers do to have more money? Well, we can either spend less or make more.

  1. How do I spend less?
  2. Spend less money: Use marketing analytics that measure how much money you spend on every campaign and on every channel. That means you’ll be able to extract what works best on which customers and where – so you won’t waste resources stabbing in dark.
    Spend less time: Also, for lead optimisation, use the lead scoring function that will tell you how ready your leads are and how much value for your company they have. The better you define your scoring criteria, the more you’ll know which leads are not worth the effort and which still need some nurturing.

     

  3. How do I make more?
  4. Spend your money here: You can spend the money you save in many ways – experimenting with new campaigns or reinvesting in the best performing ones. That means the more money you bring in, the more money you bring in.
    Spend your time here: Dedicate your time and effort to those leads that are sales-ready and carry high value. Your sales reps will close deals sooner because they will know who to target and how, while your customers will enjoy talking to your company because you’ll always be relevant and will take care of those who appreciate it the most.

2 min read

10 Mistakes to avoid when implementing CRM

,

5 “no-brainers” and 5 actual pieces of useful advice.

    Speed of implementing

  1. Implementing too quickly: This is a classic no-brainer. You really do need to do enough research so you can make the market fully meet your own requirements.
  2. Implementing too slowly: Actually, over-analysing can harm your business too. The time and energy you invest into researching and meeting different vendors should be limited, otherwise you can make your expectations too unrealistic. Don’t waste time when you could be dedicating it to working with your existing CRM! Make sure you schedule your process realistically before you start implementing.
  3.  

    Importing data

  4. Importing too much data: Any data that won’t be used in the next half year is generally not worth importing as by the time you come to use it, it will be too obsolete to rely on.
  5. Not importing enough data: Do you think transferring data is too much hassle? Keep your existing valuable data alive. Choose a CRM vendor with easy data import technology and look into the future to determine which data might still make a difference.
  6.  

    Initial functionality

  7. Implementing too many features: You will end up paying too much and your users might end up overwhelmed. You also need to consider the amount of time needed for customisation of the whole system, as implementation is only the start, adding on more time again before you reach the fully optimised state.
  8. Not implementing enough features: Start small but make sure it counts. Write up a list of what you need and don’t let yourself be sold a solution that doesn’t fit your current business processes.
  9.  

    Reasons for implementing CRM

  10. Focusing on fixing a management problem: If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there. Make sure you’re implementing CRM for the right reasons: better customer relationships, not better company management, and adjust your objectives accordingly.
  11. Focusing on fixing a technology problem: To treat a CRM system as a unified database without pursuing the additional benefits it can bring to your marketing, sales and service would be to completely miss the CRM essence. Understand that implementing CRM calls for change and more clarity in your business processes, and make sure your company can handle the shift.
  12.  

    Relationship with your vendor

  13. Over-relying on your vendor: Make sure you are clear on the responsibility division before you sign the contract. Also, never assume that they are perfect – the outcome will also depend on your share and initiative.
  14. Over-relying on yourself: Don’t be afraid to take a step back. You may well profit from hiring a consultant who specialises in companies like your own. Outsourcing some business expertise is likely to bring you more objectivity, skills and confidence in the system.
2 min read

How to harness customer data

,

Harnessing and understanding customer data can offer businesses the chance to find new leads and increase their revenue in an increasingly competitive marketplace, an expert has claimed.

Dave Peters, chief executive officer and founder of Emagine International, recently laid out some of the potential benefits that can come from working out how to deal with information gleaned from the behaviour of consumers.

He suggested that such data, if used effectively, can have a revolutionary and galvanising impact on the world of marketing and advertising.

Writing in Digital Marketing Magazine, he explained that customer information is not a novel thing but in “recent years the amount of data available (from the internet, social media, mobile, credit cards, transport and building infrastructure and so on) has become so vast that we can really only make sense of it with the help of automation and machines”.

Indeed, businesses have carried out a rudimentary type of this analysis for many years – think of the owner of a small shop noting that a particular brand of biscuits sells more than the others and purchasing extra of them, for instance.

So what’s changed? As well as the remarkable expansion of information pinpointed by Mr Peters, the sophistication and power of automated CRM and big data analysis systems has improved over the last decade.

The Emagine International founder expressed his hope that the emergence of this kind of automation would make it easier for marketers to engage in creative processes and produce innovative work.

He added that siloing relevant information can be a real value-adder for B2B and B2C firms.

“Customer interactions are relevant and valuable, and customer experience can be easily tracked and improved, providing marketers with the opportunity to create rich records of what a consumer wants while creating greater “stickiness” with the brand,” declared Mr Peters.

Extracting more valuable insights from consumer behaviour is likely to be the biggest trend over the coming 12 months, he concluded.

2 min read

Data ‘must be contextualised’

,

There is a lot of data ready to be collected from consumers at the moment, with firms investing in analytics technology, skilled workers and CRM systems to ensure they can take advantage of it.

While all of this is important in taking as much information as possible on board and attempting to learn from it, an industry expert has warned that failing to place it into a proper context could leave businesses spending too much on an ultimately pointless function.

Emma Haslam, insights consultant with 4PS Marketing, argued that firms need to consider how data fits within the big picture of their business activities if they are to glean as much from it as possible.

After all, it isn’t only the digital world that has an impact on how consumers behave online, meaning organisations should not simply concentrate their data collection on web-based platforms.

She said: “Of course marketing certainly plays its part in affecting customer behaviour, so do you refer to all your offline activities when looking at your web analytics? Do you have a calendar of your TV adverts, when they were shown, and what they were promoting?”

Keeping track of all these functions either via a standardised database or a CRM system is crucial if companies want to ensure their analytics team has access to as much information as possible.

By examining online and offline data, firms can develop a 3D picture of their market, consumers and competitors, rather than relying on the one-dimensional images created by simply focusing on one source.

“Without a calendar or record of the above scenarios that anyone can easily refer to, you’re leaving your analysts pretty impotent in their ability to give you a complete picture of what impact everything your business is doing is having on your online performance,” added Ms Haslam.

Although she suggested that companies do not need to invest in a whole new infrastructure to reach this level, there is no doubt that CRM software can play a role in improving data analysis.

2 min read

Is brand experience important to consumers?

,

It can be difficult to convince executives of the importance of brand experience, given that it is a relatively hard thing to quantify or calculate a clear return on investment for, which places marketers in a difficult position.

However, consumers are increasingly influenced by this type of marketing, which can shape how they look at a particular company or service.

This, in turn, can mean they recommend it to their friends – which can be crucial in an age when advertising is increasingly treated with caution by well-informed shoppers.

Brand experience doesn’t necessarily need to involve dramatic PR stunts or friendly shop assistants. It also incorporates contact points such as calls and emails, which is where CRM comes in.

Personalising your approach towards customers can have a big impact on how they view your service or product, helping develop your reputation within a particular sector or consumer segment.

John Viccars, senior strategist with RPM, recently argued that the scepticism toward the benefits of brand experience needs to be addressed.

“I think brand experience is still daunting because many marketers think in terms of immediate reach. Based on my X budget, I can ‘push’ a message to Y amount of people,” he explained, writing in the Guardian.

He urged industry experts to consider the potential benefits of ‘consumer influence’, which can allow a message or positive experience to spread exponentially without any further investment from the marketer.

“According to studies by McKinsey, experiential brand experience is the most powerful form of word of mouth, driving activity accounting for 50 to 80 percent in any given product category.

“Brand experience is inherently social, it’s built on ideas that people want to spend time with and that people want to share,” he added.

For firms that want to embrace this element of marketing, investing in a CRM programme could be wise – but they need to do it the right way.

2 min read

More CRM training needed in the UK?

,

The marketing industry has faced a digital revolution over the last decade, as online becomes an essential component of their business as clients demand an increased focus on new channels such as social and mobile.

While this has opened up many new opportunities for the sector, it has also put pressure on workers to develop their skillsets and keep track with the pace of change within the industry.

According to a new report from training firm The Knowledge Engineers, businesses need to do more to ensure their staff are ready to cope with the challenges involved in digital marketing and communications.

For instance, only 29 per cent of respondents described themselves as happy with their data and CRM skills, suggesting firms may not be getting everything they can out of investment in this kind of software.

On the bright side, this figure was considerably higher than the global average of 20 per cent, an indication of how important CRM is becoming to British companies.

Nevertheless, as digital becomes an entrenched part of the landscape, it is crucial that workers are given the experience and training they need to take advantage of this shift.

Niall McKinney, founder and chief executive officer of The Knowledge Engineers, pointed out that digital is beginning to overtake print as the biggest advertising medium, meaning companies will be left behind if they do not upskill.

“It is essential for organisations to understand whether they have the right skills to maximise their digital opportunity. The UK leads the world in some areas of digital marketing like search, but needs to catch up quickly in others like mobile,” he added.

Only 35 per cent of UK respondents felt completely confident delivering digital marketing activity, with content strategy deemed to be the most important area in which to develop their skills over the coming years.

2 min read

CRM market enjoyed expansion in 2013

,

New research from Gartner has delineated the impressive growth levels seen by the global CRM market over the course of 2013 as firms attempt to improve their relationships with buyers and utilise the analytics possibilities offered by the software.

“High levels of end-user investment in digital marketing and customer experience initiatives were the primary growth drivers of the market in 2013,” said Joanne Correia, research vice president at the firm.

“CRM will be at the heart of digital initiatives in coming years. This is one technology area that will get funding because digital business is critical for companies to remain competitive.”

One of the major factors in this development is increased demand for software as a service (SaaS), which is developing across a host of sectors as firms attempt to move on from outdated legacy services or provide complementary additions to their workers.

Another possible reason for the increased popularity of CRM is that major vendors such as Oracle and Microsoft Dynamics have upped their efforts to compete for market penetration.

As these software providers vie to offer the best service and develop the subtlety and techniques of their CRM offering, firms will have more choices when it comes to bringing in new technology.

Microsoft enjoyed the second-biggest growth levels over the course of 2013, expanding by 22.8 per cent. Salesforce was the best performer, with a 30.8 per cent increase.

On a regional basis, Western European firms appeared to be the keenest to develop their CRM processes, perhaps suggesting that the American market (an early adopter) is beginning to show signs of maturity.

The former enjoyed growth of 15.2 per cent over the course of the year, while the bulk of revenue share (52.9 per cent) was recorded in the latter.

On a sector-by-sector basis communications, media and IT services vertical industries are the largest spenders on CRM because they tend to link up with large numbers of customers via call centres and other direct marketing techniques.

4 min read

How CRM can help overcome business challenges in oil and gas service sector

,

The oil and gas sector is a potentially very profitable one – in the UK, despite the fact that supplies have fallen in some places, it is still worth a great deal to the economy and could be extremely lucrative for the companies involved in extraction, sales and so on.

Retired businessman Sir Ian Wood recently completed his government-commissioned report on the industry, with the coalition now keen to fast-track many of his proposals as it attempts to effectively support the economy.

42 billion barrels of oil and gas have already been produced from the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) – however, some 12 to 24 billion more could still be generated, meaning it is vital that the sector is given the chance to perform well in the near future.

The near-term prospects for the UKCS are strong, but it is facing an extremely different environment than it did ten or 15 years ago when production was at its peak, Sir Ian explained.

But what has all this got to do with CRM? Well, many upstream oil and gas firms rely heavily on this kind of technology in order to manage their relationships with customers and keep track of their information effectively, a process that could become even more important as the market in the UK becomes squeezed.

For firms in the oil and gas service industry keen to upscale their forecasting models or develop their customer management abilities, investing in software such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM could be a good idea, particularly in the build-up to the various changes put forward by Sir Ian.

Here are some of the ways that investing in CRM can help upstream oil and gas businesses fulfill their roles.

Providing a strong customer view

This isn’t necessarily an industry specific benefit, as it is generally considered the core benefit of installing a CRM system whatever sector you are working in. However, the complexities of the deals involved in utilities sales and other common occurrences in the energy world mean it can be especially helpful here.

A well-integrated piece of CRM software can make detailed notes, document attachments, communications, open quotes, pending orders, well status, production volume, service contracts, services issues and more available to workers across an organisation.

Keeping all this data in one place can have major benefits – it makes the sales and marketing process more efficient, but it also means it is less likely that a piece of vital knowledge will get lost in a (figurative) pipeline, saving the time that can often be spent attempting to gather all the information about a specific transaction.

It also makes it easier for business intelligence experts and other analysts to gain a picture of how customers are behaving, which can be extremely helpful in the relatively volatile and fluctuating world of oil and gas.

Real-time integration of industry data

As CRM software gets more sophisticated and powerful, it can provide firms with real-time integration of data – again, given the fast-moving nature of the energy market and the fact that the UK’s natural resources are no longer at their peak production level, this could prove extremely useful.

Many firms offer an oil and gas sector-specific form of CRM that can access all leading industry databases in order to provide decision-makers with the information they need. This can also be a good way to generate leads.

Track competitors

Oil and gas, as mentioned above, is a competitive sector. By using CRM to keep track of how rival firms are doing, a company would be able to plan its next move with the necessary context.

Dynamic, high-tech mapping

Again, by using industry databases, firms can create a representative model showing well permits and well production status, among other important pieces of information.

Customer service improvements

Firms will be able to assign, manage, and resolve support incidents by using a CRM database. By providing historic information about customer interaction, it will make it easier to form strong relationships and engage with buyers.

Basically, it will streamline the process of linking up with customers, as it can do for any B2B or B2C industry.

Sir Ian “estimates that full and rapid implementation [of his plans] will deliver at least 3 to 4 billion more barrels of oil than would otherwise be recovered over the next 20 years, bringing over £200 billion additional value to the UK economy”.

If this is the case, there are still plenty of profits to be made by firms that are canny enough to deal with the ways in which the market is going to change.

4 min read

How to make your CRM software work for you

,

One of the difficulties in explaining the potential benefits of CRM to neophytes or sceptics is that it can become a fundamentally different thing depending on the industry you work in or the scale of your business.

What is important is not to think of it as a one-size-fits-all panacea that will deal with all of your marketing problems – CRM can be extremely useful, but it needs to be integrated and planned correctly if it is to be an effective part of your advertising technology.

Before purchasing the software, you should think about exactly what areas you need to target for improvement, and tailor the type of CRM you purchase so that it can fit into these gaps.

For instance, a large company with well-established procedures and an international, wide-ranging customer base will use CRM very differently from a start-up with its own aims and demands than its more mature competitors.

Ultimately, you need to make sure you have the right plans in place to make CRM work for you, otherwise conversion rates and return on investment will end up being disappointing, no matter how powerful the software package you have purchased is.

Here are some of the ways you can ensure your CRM is performing at an optimal level.

Keep it simple

As I explained above, it can be tempting to see CRM as a cure to all that ails your marketing function – to use it as a way of improving mobile content, engaging more effectively with customers, producing insightable data and sharing information across the company, all at the same time.

Naturally, this is an attractive proposition, but like most things that sound too good to be true, it is a pipe dream.

If you want your CRM software to be taken up across the company and used regularly, it makes sense to produce a simple, effective workflow initially, before adding all the bells and whistles that come with modern technology.

Of course, CRM can help you with improving your mobile service provision, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be used for such a complex task straight away. At first, use the fewest functions you can get away with – this will make the benefits clear and ensure that the people holding the purse strings will be happy to invest further in the technology later down the line.

Target it effectively

The failure of many CRM integrations comes about at least in part because firms do not have a strategic plan in place for utilising the software. You wouldn’t hire a new member of staff if you were unsure exactly what they were going to do – the same approach should be taken when adopting new technology.

Andrew Brittain, managing director of digital agency Advantec, recently told My Customer that companies need to change the way they look at CRM if they are to use it successfully.

“A CRM system is an important tool for building customer loyalty and encouraging retention. It will also keep your business competitive, but one common trap that can be fallen into by organisations is to see it as a standalone tactic, rather than developing it as a strategic function,” he explained.

“If you have a CRM system and it is not currently achieving what you hoped then it may down to the absence of a strategic plan, or because the system is not fully integrated and in line with business goals.”

Train workers to use CRM properly

Effective, comprehensive training on how to make use of CRM software will ensure that workers are comfortable with it and do not consider it either an imposition on their time or an overly complex, confusing system that they do not understand.

This should start with a short introduction to why the system has been brought in, explaining the benefits it can offer on an organisational level – workers will be more likely to express resentment or uncertainty if they are unclear about what CRM is for.

However, a short afternoon session is unlikely to sort out all the issues staff have with utilising new technology. Businesses that provide ongoing support and development opportunities to their workers around CRM will find their investment proves far more worthwhile.

Potentially, Microsoft Dynamics CRM can be adapted to more quickly, because its basic interface is more easily understood by people who have spent a lot of time with the tech giant’s other products.

Ultimately, bad training will mean no workers utilise the CRM package, which is one of the biggest reasons that many implementations fall by the wayside and will make the investment a waste of money.

4 min read

CRM, Retail and New Approaches to Marketing | Microsoft Dynamics 365

,

The world of British supermarkets has undergone major convulsions in recent years, with old certainties changing as a host of young contenders emerge to challenge the established superpowers of Morrisons, Asda and Tesco.

Admittedly, the process may not be quite as exciting as it sounded in the first paragraph, which was composed under the influence of too much Game of Thrones.

But it is true that the supermarket landscape is in flux. One way in which big brands have responded is by placing a renewed emphasis on customer relations and CRM, as they attempt to slough off their reputation as faceless corporations and form strong links with British shoppers.

Waitrose – the upscale grocer that is acting as one of the contenders to the likes of Tesco, winning market share and opening new sites – recently reaffirmed its commitment to accessible, inspiring marketing.

Marketing director Rupert Thomas described the shift in approach as being an attempt to move on from direct selling to ‘inspiring’ customers, shaping how they think about food and their leisure time.

“The role of advertising is shifting. We want to help people make great choices around what they do and who they shop with. It is less about selling and talking to consumers about products or services they should be buying,” he told Marketing Week.

CRM could prove to be crucial in this change. While it is obviously important that retailers bring in good staff to produce the kind of engaging content referred to by Mr Thomas, a well-integrated relationship management system will make it easier to keep track of how people respond to this new approach.

It will also free up marketers from the burden of technical tasks, meaning they can spend more of their time in generating inspiring and innovative campaigns.

What do customers want?

Working out what customers want is one of the great challenges of marketing – but modern technology is providing firms with a glut of data that can produce insights in this area if managed effectively.

By tracking sales information, responses to marketing campaigns, the popularity of certain products and more, supermarkets or smaller retailers can form a clear picture of the people who use their stores.

Naturally, this will then make it easier to plan changes to advertising or sales functions, by ensuring that firms know how to tailor their approach.

Such a large amount of information can be daunting and difficult to manage; after all, having a large amount of information is pointless unless you have the framework in place to draw intelligible statistics from it.

A CRM database can make this a lot easier, by placing all the data in the same place and providing ready-made analytics tools to explore it.

Brand connections

The holy grail for many retail companies, particularly those that are used on a regular basis such as supermarkets, is brand connection – creating a link between customers and their service that means they are the first stop for somebody’s needs.

However, producing this kind of link is difficult given how competitive the market is, with firms such as Aldi attracting a lot of shoppers because of their willingness to undercut the prices of competitors.

In such a situation, the only way a firm like Waitrose can compete is by generating strong brand awareness.

“People see us as a trusted source of information and a place to go for inspiration on everything, from how to cook to what to do with their families. What people buy into with us as a brand is an opportunity to engage with us across a broad spectrum. It’s about trust in the brand,” declared Mr Thomas.

To create this kind of relationship, it is vital that businesses have a clear idea of how they have interacted with customers in the past, which is where CRM can offer a great deal of help.

By tracking all previous conversations had with or campaigns targeted at individual shoppers, CRM can make it far easier for retailers to offer the kind of personalised experience that creates brand engagement.

Multichannel

Finally, CRM can help supermarkets improve their multichannel approach, ensuring that they can offer customers a unified experience across mobile and online.

While the bricks-and-mortar shopping offering is still crucial, more and more consumers now buy their weekly food online, meaning that it is vital they feel like valued customers when purchasing items in non-traditional ways.

As firms struggle to enhance their mobile channel, CRM can make it easier to migrate customer data and manage relationships over the web.