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Connected CRM: Is it really worth the hype?

I am often asked, “What is so special about connected CRM and how is it different than customer marketing databases?” I’ll take a few moments to share my view.

Traditional marketing databases are not designed with the interconnections required to deliver customer intelligence at an interaction level deep enough to allow marketing to facilitate a truly personalized and interative conversation. Rather, most marketing databases exist to manage and link transactions. It is through the lens of these transactions that customer value is established.

However, in today’s digitally enabled world, customer relationships aren’t built on transactions, they’re built on trust. Consumers want the relationship to be reciprocal; I’ll share with you if you’ll share with me. When one party focuses too much on acquiring information for the purpose of leveraging that information through a one-way messaging plan, trust can be compromised. The problem with traditional direct marketing is that it turns people into data, and relationships into promotional programs. This is why social media is so foundational to a connected CRM strategy. It provides the “emotive insights” needed to move the marketer/customer relationship into a balanced equilibrium by moving the conversation from pitching to listening and responding

The evolution of consumer digital behaviors brings plentiful new streams of reliable, however disparate, information. When this “big data” is properly integrated and linked to traditional CRM attributes, it gives marketers the ability to place the customer at the center of the business strategy. This is connected CRM, and it delivers a more intimate view of not just what the customer has purchased, but where they are showing interest, where they are being influenced, who they are influencing. The visibility at a unique individual level of “intent” and “influence” is allowing specialty retailers to develop new techniques for developing intimacy and trust with consumers through the perpetual conversation and real-time dialogue with their customers.

Interactive commerce and social media are driving a significant change in customer behavior and their expectations for personalized dialogue. The effective application of big data and embedded decision management to personalize these communications will separate the brand winners from losers.

Connected CRM requires the recognition of unidentified digital interactions and the ability to link those interactions to all that is previously known about that customer; their value, their purchases, their preferences. The resulting view is not only what they have purchased, but what they looked at, who influenced them, and who they influenced.

This extraordinary intelligence at an individual customer level fuels the ability to optimize the customer journey through a “listen & learn” interactive dialogue with each individual customer, and I am excited to bring these capabilities to you through Merkle.


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