Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Bespoke CRM – back in vogue?

It does seem that age old question IT Directors are faced with when their business has a CRM requirement, just won’t go away – “do we buy off the shelf or do we go for a bespoke CRM solution?"

The past few years have seen many companies shy away from bespoke CRM solutions, maybe due to the perceived higher cost and risk, or maybe as a result of numerous high profile government IT initiatives that have badly failed and served to simultaneously make everyone in the IT industry shudder at the cost.

Whilst business leaders have always understood the inherent benefit that a solution tailored to their existing business practices and make-up provide, that understanding has been tempered with a large slice of should they invest in a bespoke solution that does everything or trade a proportion of that functionality for an off-the-shelf product that everyone else uses

No doubt there are some very good off the shelf CRM solutions out there, with differing delivery options, packaged components and as the saying goes ‘no one ever got fired for recommending the market leader’.

So are Bespoke CRM solutions back in vogue?

Well it would appear the tide is turning in favour of solutions that meet all the CRM requirements of the business, bridging existing operational solutions, collecting data and insight from all channels, integrating Social Media and in so providing that one-stop-shop that customers demand.

These days bespoke CRM solutions are not built from the ground up, but from the customers’ existing data layer and intended touch points, utilising proven, scalable, reliable software libraries and hardware platforms – reducing the risk and costs previously associated with the bespoke CRM solutions of yesteryear.

Finally, given these uncertain economic times it would seem to make sense that business leaders are more inclined to buy into CRM solutions that fully support their own, very specific, business and customer requirements, over the functionality that maybe provided by an off the shelf product which is probably being used by their competitors – after all, everyone needs an edge!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

How Customer Insight can Shape Your Marketing

Understanding your customers, particularly your existing customers, has always been an important element in successful marketing. Ultimately through this understanding it is possible to target the right people, at the right time with the right message. To achieve this however, it’s vital to have data at your disposal, data which can be effectively segmented and used for marketing and advertising functions.

Such a point was recently reiterated by the head of marketing and communications at the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Ray Jones. Mr Jones emphasised the importance of learning as much as possible about existing customers and using such information to provide better marketing material. He also highlighted that segmenting customers along the lines of wants and needs and developing plans to appeal to these desires should be a priority for all businesses.

Gathering data which can be segmented and profiled to provide a platform for effective, targeted marketing has long been a key principle of customer insight at EWA. Customer insight and data analysis has a vital role to play in marketing, look at companies such as Amazon or Play that send emails filled with products which customers are the most likely to buy based upon a plethora of data and the behaviour of other customers within their segment.

Whilst they may not always get it right, companies like Amazon do use their data to the greatest effect. They ensure that the insight they gain from it is never wasted and consistently use it to shape marketing campaigns based upon segmented data and not supposition.

Much can be learnt from such activities for all businesses but the primary lesson here is to understand that the data you collect as part of your customer insight activities needs to be handed over to your marketing department or agency. Fail to do this and your marketing is unlikely to speak to your customers in the right way. Do this however and it can help you to garner the largest ROI from marketing and improve the lifetime value of each customer through targeted, relevant and timely communications.