3 Technology Tools You Need to Build a Successful Customer Lifecycle Marketing Program

I attended a conference earlier this week and interacted with many smart Marketers, each doing some wonderful things and accomplishing a great deal. However, everyone seemed to be having the same challenges and asking similar questions. I came away thinking that the following three platforms could provide the base for any Marketer to be successful in building out their CLM Program. Please add your comments as I am interested in your thoughts on this topic.

1. CRM (Customer Relationship Management). CRM should be the base for most any CLM program. A robust CRM program consists of good process and an enabling technology. At its heart, CRM should integrate data from your key systems, including contact, transaction, behavioral and service data, to name a few. Use it to make improvements to your lead generation, cross-sell, up-sell and retention programs by leveraging its ability to track what is happening in your sales pipeline. Build segmentation schemes and make them available in your CRM system.

CRM tools are very powerful, so it is in your best interest to carefully understand your processes, define your CRM strategy and the business needs. Failure to define effectively up front leads to failure upon implementation. At minimum, if you understand your processes, build a rock solid strategy and support it with detailed business requirements, you can find the technology that meets your needs and set yourself up for success. And make sure you involve your users in building requirements and the decision-making process.

Look for tools with the following characteristics:

  • Out-of-the-Box functionality is robust enough to meet most of your needs;
  • Customizable- good functionality out-of-the-box is needed, it is likely not everything will work as required, so you should be able to make some adjustments periodically;
  • Configuration is simple and robust, meeting your needs;
  • Integrates easily with the systems that will be feeding it data;
  • Scalable- it can meet your volume needs now and accommodate reasonable growth for many years into the future (these are not systems you want to RFP every few years). Additionally upgrades can be accomplished on a regular basis (annually or every other year) without too much pain;
  • User interface that is easy enough for your power users to accomplish complex tasks but not going to limit user adoption for front line customer service or sales users.

2. MA (Marketing Automation). MA enables you to provide automated sequences that support a sales process. These could be welcome, cart or browse abandonment, renewal, replenishment or bounce back campaigns. Built alongside your CRM system, MA becomes an even more powerful tool as it can make your messages more personalized and relevant by taking advantage of segmentation, behaviors, transactions, etc.

Email is a popular tool to leverage with MA platforms, but you can easily deliver messages to/via websites, apps, SMS, POS, contact centers, social media, etc. A good system will allow leads to be captured, scored, segmented, and added to your CRM.  You should also be able to map out your workflow and manage your leads. You can even manage campaigns within the tool. Many of the same requirements outlined in CRM above also apply for MA tools.

3. BI (Business Intelligence). BI is a tool that enables Marketers to easily analyze data and make the most informed business decisions, often in real-time or near real time. Analytics from BI can drive your programs, helping you to not only identify your successes and failures, but also optimize program performance. Look at how different segments are performing in your welcome program, for instance, and test the offer for a particular segment or test a different cadence or workflow. They key is looking at the data to develop a hypothesis and then test it. A BI tool can be instrumental in building segmentation, online media purchasing, and countless other applications.

Again many of the same characteristics from MA and CRM above will apply. You may also wish to look for tools with the following features:

  • Query Tools:  ability to build queries using a GUI or via SQL to get at the specific information you need to answer a question;
  • Reporting: Often in conjunction with the query tool, you should be able to build reports that can be run either on a schedule or on demand, and delivered to a specific audience to view the information they require to manage their business;
  • Data Visualization Tools: A graphical representation of data allowing you to see data relationships within a single or multiple data sets, usually includes, charts and graphs, allowing you to build dashboards and/or scorecards.
  • Alerts: Building on the above, BI can help you to set up a series of notifications that will trigger when BI detects certain programmable conditions. A good way to establish the quality of your data or drive action when certain business conditions are experienced.
  • Data Mining: Enables you to identify trends in your data sets by poking around in your data. I have often encouraged my analysts and strategists to form some hypothesis and then poke around in the “sandbox of data” to prove or disprove it, or find some nuggets that could lead to testing down the road.

Of course, it is hard to stop at three, but other helpful technology tools could include a Content Management System (CMS) and a Testing and Optimization platform (think Optimizely). If you really wish to blow your mind about all the possibilities, check out Scott Brinker’s supergraphic at http://chiefmartec.com/2015/01/marketing-technology-landscape-supergraphic-2015/?utm_content=11147422&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin -it is one of my favorite pages on the web (OK, I am a geek!).

These tools will help you to get the most bang for your buck from your Customer Lifecycle Marketing program. If you invest in any of these, let me know how it goes.