Relationship marketing: The new CRM
Columnist Seth Price believes that the best martech sits at the intersection of old-school marketing and today's digital technology, and next-gen CRMs that can manage this balance will help marketers connect with consumers in the most effective way possible.
The way consumers interact with brands is constantly changing, and with over 3,500 companies in the marketing technology landscape, there is no shortage of CRM tools and marketing software to keep companies up to speed. But mastering how to best leverage customer data and information technology is no easy feat, causing far too many services to lose focus on bringing efficiency to daily tasks and driving strong customer relationships.
For years, CRM tools have been sought after for fine-tuning customer management and easing administrative burdens, but questions still remain around how broad and complex these services should actually be. The direction of CRM has become muddied — it’s trying to be too many things to too many people. These broad offerings aren’t necessarily valuable for your business or unique target audience.
CRMs are focusing too heavily on providing extensive customer management solutions, when tailored customer marketing solutions would be a more effective way to strengthen customer relationships. No two industries or audiences are exactly alike, and your CRM and martech stack should reflect this reality to deliver everyday value to users.
Marketers, let’s focus
The value of CRM is clear. Digital marketers need tools to help build their brand and connect with their customers. The days of casting a wide net and expecting companies across industries to buy into the “one size fits all” approach are past. The key to moving CRM toward a productive future is focus; we need to zoom in on everyday tasks specific to each industry, unpack how they could be made more efficient and offer unique solutions that bring productivity to the next level.
Most practitioners don’t need all the features of a traditional CRM. What marketers need is simple: to deliver the right message to the right prospects at the lowest cost. Users are looking for simple, everyday value, and this requires accessible, non-technical tools for marketers to attract and understand buyers. Technology shouldn’t stand in the way between brands and consumers, but when your CRM is misaligned with your daily business operations, that is often the case.
The next generation of CRM should resurface traditional marketing tactics and bring efficiency to processes like attracting and understanding buyers, setting up campaigns and learning what works best for your business and your customers — all while using modern technology to automate tasks like content syndication, social media marketing, lead routing and report generation. When a CRM can complement traditional marketing tactics with modern technology, marketers will be in a strategic position to connect with consumers in the most effective way possible.
Customer “management” isn’t enough
As consumer attention spans continue to drop, reaching a potential customer is only half the battle. There’s no guarantee of grabbing their attention, which creates another set of challenges that are pushing the future of customer “management” toward customer “marketing.” When you only have a few moments to engage with a consumer before their attention drifts elsewhere, you need to think like a media company and start “atomizing” content into easily consumable pieces.
Brand-customer relationships now depend on whether short snippets of content are attention-grabbing enough to drive shares and boost engagement. Atomized content — delivering it across channels and customer profiles — is now essential in generating web traffic and sales, fueling a shift in CRM solutions towards these marketing-focused initiatives.
The next-gen CRM
We’re reaching a point where customer relationships are fostered across various digital media with content optimized for short attention spans, opening up doors for CRMs to help strategically manage and market to consumers and strengthen brand-customer relationships. The solution to creating this next-generation CRM is a matter of embracing single-purpose, vertical solutions that enable high-velocity acquisition in very specific markets. Utilizing these tools will lift brand marketing and customer management to new heights — and give companies a leg up on competitors.
The martech landscape will continue to grow, but unless users (and vendors) learn from the bumpy history of CRM, they are bound to repeat the same mistakes. If we recognize that the best martech sits at the intersection of old-school marketing techniques and today’s web, mobile and information technology, we’re ripe for a productive future. Specialized, vertical solutions are the key to meeting the everyday needs of marketers and brand managers, and they will ultimately offer the shortest path to success.