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It's Time to Get Real
Doing CRM right when the stakes are too high to
get it wrong

by David Bernard, Managing Director of DB Marketing Technologies

Until recent years, CRM had been a much touted marketing approach and (more often than not) a technology buy - something every company should adopt, but not C-suite mission critical for most.  Sure, companies acknowledged the benefits of advanced marketing automation and applying best practices to customer data management, but their businesses didn’t hang on this.  It was a marketer or IT thing, something to boost business. CEO’s didn’t get fired over poor data use and management.

But, today that’s all changed. We have almost daily reports of data breeches and security lapses at the largest consumer facing companies. Corporate victims of these lapses are seeing stock prices tumble. That has the C-suite rattled, with some CEOs getting the boot. Add to this, a weak economy has companies in a constant state of “reorganizing” where technology is purchased to make up for the shrinking employee base. Consequently, we find Corporate America with an almost insatiable obsession with the concept of “Big Data” to further marketing, sales, product development and product placement. Companies are collectively spending billions of dollars on Big Data tools and infrastructure in the feverish hopes of landing that customer wherever and whenever they want to purchase. But in the desperation of these challenging economic times, technology purchases tend to be made first and thought through later. Clear evidence of return on investment has been crushed in the stampede to adopt Big Data solutions. Up to their necks in customer data, the C-suite has it all to lose now if they don’t get CRM right this go ‘round.

What to do? Given the “irrational exuberance” for Big Data and daunting responsibility of managing/securing customer information, companies can no longer just pay lip service to CRM while pointing to the mounting pile of technology purchases in their Marketing and IT departments. It’s time to get real.

Blind adoption of “Big Data” will NOT deliver success.  Poor or mediocre customer data management will NOT suffice as the losses and breaches will be too great for those responsible to survive.  Here are three things you can do now to get real and get CRM right:

1. Get your Analytic house in order

Many marketers and their agencies spend a lot of time and money focusing on engagement devoid of sales.  But today’s world demands results and accountability, and if marketing is only concerned with the volume of customer touch, they can’t sufficiently justify their efforts and are unable to use differential investment to spend more on prospects who will bring greater sales.  If your analytics are not guiding marketing investment customer-by-customer based on near-real time measurement and prediction, you are not receiving sufficient value from your investment in data, tools and technologies. Getting real means investing in analytic processes that continually elucidate the connection between customer value to marketing spend.

2. Manage your data better - a LOT better

Customer data has been the stepchild of IT departments.  Consequently, lax security put data and privacy at risk. Poor database designs made data difficult to access and use accurately. And extended IT response times threw a monkey wrench into pretty much any effort to improve marketing sophistication. 

Marketers who have tried to circumvent IT departments by using third party MSPs have been confronted with a whole other set of issues, including a lack of transparency into data management practices and a lack of skill in managing technical vendors. 

In the past, the risk of error and breach caused by insufficient data management and technology management practices was considered acceptable.  This is no longer the case, as customer data breaches and CRM execution errors have become big news open to shareholder scrutiny. CEOs are now exposed and held accountable for these breaches. That translates into zero tolerance for data mismanagement at most companies.

Getting real means overhauling your data management practices across the board, including security, data encryption, database design and data governance/data stewardship.  If the customer database is housed at an MSP, add to this list establishing rigorous vendor quality management practices including Service Level Agreements, Vendor Engagement Audits and Quarterly Business Reviews. 

3. Establish robust day-to-day marketing operations

Lackluster marketing operations resources and processes are the root cause of many marketing failures, such as contacting the wrong prospects with the wrong message or getting programs out late.  But, strangely enough, businesses continue to mishandle or even ignore marketing operations in their environments—instead continuing to be captivated and hypnotized by big shiny tools and Big Data.  But consider this, CRM, especially sophisticated CRM that justifies the investments in Big Data, requires robust marketing operations to ensure that programs are setup and executed properly.    Getting it real means staffing marketing operations with professionals who understand and support technical and organization integration, implementation of accurate cross channel program logic and rigorous monitoring of campaign and operational success.

Avoiding disaster and achieving success is possible, of course, if you temper the allure of the latest fads, technologies and tools, by addressing foundational marketing operations competencies.  You, your company and your customers will fare much better – and you’ll hold on to a lot more of your budget.

For more information about how DBMT® can help your company with an Analytic Plan, Customer Data Management or Marketing Operations Support, please email us at info@dbmt.com or call us at 212-717-6000. We'll make your CRM problems go away.


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