CRM as a Marketing Toolbox

Marketing strategies are no longer just a business concern of large companies, banks or other uber SMEs. Small corner coffee shops, B&Bs and professional service microbusinesses now almost all have a Facebook page, a Web site and a visibility strategy. The owners and their employees have a LinkedIn profile, and they manage their community on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.

They compete head to head with the big boys and conduct advertising campaigns. They measure the strength of their brand, keep a blog, buy ads on Google and target their clientele on Facebook or LinkedIn. They send emails to their customers, obeying anti-spam constraints and legislation.

More than ever, SMEs are educated and aware of the value of a marketing strategy, be it digital, social, conventional, phone-based or, even sometimes, esoteric!

I recently saw an article explaining how intimately marketing has become tied to mathematics, even in the context of a SME. The author even mentioned that a marketing exercise is no place for people who don’t like math!

I was talking about it with Stéphane Poirier, director of marketing at Gestisoft, who told me that the “Mad Men” era had definitely come to an end. SEO strategies and algorithms measuring the scope of campaigns are now topics of conversation. Every initiative can be measured, and viewpoints and impressions make the brand stronger and drive conversion.

For the ordinary Joe, an email campaign boils down to sending a promotion to a list of addresses. For the marketing specialist, that type of initiative is just a snowflake on the tip of the iceberg. The approach to modern marketing actually involves leading the customer and the prospect along a scripted path.

For instance:

A prospect clicks a banner that takes him to a microsite where he simply watches and analyzes, briefly or not, the promotions that pop up on his screen. Even though he thinks he has left no trace of having been there, he notices later that the ads seem to be showing him the same promotion wherever he browses on Facebook or searches on Google. If he clicks again to see the promotion’s details, the offer may even be enhanced and he’s asked to identify himself to get more information or to access content he’s interested in. He’s prompted for his consent, if he’s interested in getting offers by email or text. When he gets an email confirming his registration, he clicks the promotion presented to him, which takes him to another microsite where he can once again analyze the offer and eventually make a transaction.

If he doesn’t do that, he’ll get another email suggesting other offers or benefits. If he’s registered on Facebook, he notes that some ads suggest valuable offers and bargains. If he completes an online transaction, he’ll get a thank-you email and, eventually, he’ll be offered other products and services based on the items he ordered, his interests, the frequency he visits the site, and the number of times he looks at the emails he gets.

In the preceding example, the path leading to the transaction was already scripted, and the campaign‘s “algorithm” was programmed in a campaign management tool in a simple decision model, based on the prospect’s behavior and score. Everything was configured in each of the components of the marketing solutions’ ecosystem, or better still, in a CRM tool, enhanced or not, with specialized marketing modules.

In the end, all the data gathered during the experience can be analyzed from many angles; for example, campaign performance; success of the campaign’s “steps”; behavior of prospects and customers; conversion rate; relevance of content, offers, vehicle (Web site, social network, banner, email). Moreover, performance indicators and other dashboards should be organized ahead of the campaigns so their goals and progress can be supported and monitored.

Obviously, that’s not an overnight job, it depends on integrating customer/prospect data with the company’s marketing vision. More modest initiatives can be used to test and measure campaigns that may, eventually, become steps in a larger, more wide-ranging initiative.

Most CRM solutions come bundled with a marketing toolkit that can actually help you support all or some of your marketing strategies and initiatives. The CRM tool’s capacity sometimes has to be expanded with outside modules that address specific marketing needs and requirements (email management, microsites, workflows, dashboards, social campaigns, etc.), but your CRM tool could really be the starting point for your strategy to automate your marketing activities.


Sylvain Tremblay

CRM Columnist and Consultant