By Dave Chase, Altus Alliance
To hit the mother lode, add email tools and services that complement basic CRM capabilities.
When goldminers strike gold, that’s a big event. But there’s still hard work to bring that gold to market — from refining it to turning it into products such as jewelry. The refining process can be a simple melt, sample and assay procedure. Alternatively, it can be a complex mix of burning, drying, grinding, screening, blending and sampling for low-grade scrap and floor sweepings.
Marketers have a similar challenge. Finding the gold in a marketing/customer database is a challenge that server-based CRM systems such as e.Piphany and Siebel, and web-based systems such as Salesforce and Seattle-based Entellium and the like, are well suited for. That’s what they are built to do. Because most CRM systems have the ability to send and track email, clients are often encouraged to stick to capabilities built inside the CRM system.
However, to refine and productize that “gold” (i.e., customer segments) and realize the full potential of the customer base, marketers should consider e-mail systems and service providers that complement CRM systems.
Companies such as Seattle-based Memetic Systems focused on providing email services go well beyond what the vast majority of CRM vendors provide. A CRM vendor is 100 percent focused on core CRM capabilities, making their systems available on as many platforms as possible, and on the myriad other challenges to stay competitive within the highly competitive CRM space. Consequently, their email capabilities aren’t best-of-breed (see my article Expect more from your email marketing for criteria on selecting email service providers).
The following list of email capabilities have a direct impact on marketers’ ability to achieve a strong ROI (these are the items most CRM vendors do not provide):
Content creation and management
• Customer lifecycle conditional content: This is the ability to serve up unique offers and editorial based on where the customer is in the customer lifecycle. Recently, a non-profit firm I know took advantage of behavior analysis which showed that three transactions in one year had a high correlation with those people who became long-term donors. The company designed a special message to move people from two to three transactions to get them over the final hurdle.
• Preference conditional content: When customers fill out forms on your Web site, they expect that you’ll reflect their preferences in future communications. A music site took advantage of indicated music preferences to send people unique editorial about hot new sounds in those categories they had chosen.
• Ease of use of content management tools: This is important for campaigns which are time-dependent. If it’s not easy to put in new editorial or offers based on the responses you see in the short term, then your ability to capitalize on changes you’re seeing in the analysis tools will be severely limited. This is where time is unquestionably worth money.
Rich reporting (including online behavior)
• So you’ve sent unique editorial or offers to highly specific customer segments, but can you now report on the effect of each and every segment’s response? Reporting on this is crucial because aggregate data doesn’t tell you where to focus. One online dating company was able to identify a high-performing segment and then focused even more resources on that segment, producing a 4X response over the average for the campaign.
While the email capabilities provided by CRM vendors may be free, they aren’t without expense when you translate the difference in ROI enabled by the capabilities mentioned above. Email marketing firms, with their superior ability to send out highly personalized messages and offers have seen anywhere from 2X to 4X open and click-through rates relative to standard mass e-mailings.
Marketers who take advantage of these tools are destined to be the ones who strike gold within their customer base. [24×7]
Dave is a Partner in Altus Alliance which is a partnership of seasoned executives focused on helping early stage businesses. Altus Alliance (www.altusalliance.com) helps promising early stage ventures accelerate their business models by offering counsel as well as execution. Altus is a team of highly qualified and successful executives who played leadership roles in growing companies such as Oracle, Microsoft and Intel into leadership positions in their respective markets. Later, they played senior Sales, Marketing & Business Development roles in several startups that grew into segment leaders. Altus partners are committed to leveraging their experience, insight and contacts, for the single purpose of delivering results. Unlike other firms, Altus develops and implements strategy. Our objective is to develop and support business growth initiatives and revenue acceleration through strategic partnerships, business development, corporate transactions, and recurring revenue generation. The result is a new level of execution to accelerate your business through the most challenging phases of the lifecycle: initial conception, sales traction and scaling.
Before joining Altus Alliance, Dave Chase spent twelve years at Microsoft in various senior marketing and general management roles, including his role as Managing Director for Industry Marketing & Relations. In that capacity, he was responsible for MSN taking a leadership role within the Interactive Marketing industry to grow online’s share of the overall ad market in concert with AOL, CNET, Yahoo!, Google and other market leaders. During his tenure, MSN championed two key initiatives that the industry has adopted — Cross Media Optimization Studies and the Interactive Best Practices initiative.
Dave played leadership roles in launching several new businesses within Microsoft including Microsoft’s entry into the enterprise software and server business which is now a multi-billion dollar business. This included co-leading Microsoft’s first vertical marketing efforts where he grew the Healthcare vertical market from virtually no presence to a market leading position. The healthcare business now represents over $400M in revenue for Microsoft as of 2003.
From there, he was integral in Microsoft’s entry into consumer internet sites that achieved both critical and business success. These included Sidewalk, Encarta, and HomeAdvisor which were among the first profitable consumer Internet businesses for Microsoft.
Prior to joining Microsoft, Dave was a senior consultant with Accenture with a background in finance. Dave has also been a successful investor and advisor to several early-stage companies. Today, Dave applies his 20 years of business and marketing experience on behalf of Altus Alliance clients.
Dave maintains an active lifestyle with his wife and two children. Whether chasing after his children, traveling to the 25+ countries he’s visited or careening down the slopes or trails on mountains, Dave loves velocity as much in his personal life and he does in his professional life. Dave was a Division I half miler in the PAC-10 in college. Dave is married and has a 4 year old daughter, 1 year old son and 7 year old Yellow Lab that enjoys going up and down mountains as much as Dave.