Using Mobile To Put The “R” Back in CRM

The following is a guest post from Neil Rosen – the Founder & CEO of eWayDirect.

The internet is moving us along at the speed of thought … and that can sometime be a little too fast for marketers to adapt to! New ways of interacting with customers are appearing nearly every day, and many of them threaten the traditional customer relationship model that marketers have used for years.

That relationship has always involved engaging customers with a certain company or brand. It’s meant giving that customer a great experience, reasonable prices, and an ongoing sense of connectedness with the marketer. The only competition offered was by competing brands or companies. So a clothing manufacturer only had to worry about other clothing manufacturers getting in first with their customers or prospects, which is, after all, what marketers are accustomed to doing.

And then the advent of mobile computing changed all that. Mobile apps that could be used immediately appeared, and companies like Groupon, RueLaLa, and others began offering incentives to buy from them, rather than directly from the marketer. Suddenly the clothing marketer was no longer merely in competition with other clothing manufacturers, but also with resellers who have an edge on search engine results pages and in the mobile market.

That’s a lot of competition.

The loss of that relationship between marketers and customers may make it feel like there’s no future for CRM. But that is not necessarily the case; marketers do need to let go of the past, but there’s a whole new CRM model opening up, something that I’m calling chatter marketing.

What chatter marketing is, is a return to the kind of marketing that took place when marketers actually knew their customers, knew their likes and dislikes, knew the places they frequented and the time of day they were likely to go shopping, knew their family and friends and all the intricate webs that make up a community.

What chatter marketing does, really, is take those old values and add the use of modern tools to identify a customer’s personal online community, become a vital relevant part of that community, get closer to the customer, and therefore become more likely to have a long, valuable lifetime relationship with the customer.

And that’s the word that’s paramount for chatter marketing: relationship. Chatter marketing starts with the relationship, embracing the fact that the customer has opted in to receive information from the marketer. Chatter marketing isn’t about attracting prospects, it’s about becoming part of the established customer’s purchasing decisions very early in the buying process. And that means building a relationship that is grounded in trust—the trust the customer has in the marketer to:

  • Not sell, rent, or spam the customer’s address
  • Use a customer’s personal information to make the buying experience more convenient and more relevant
  • Contact the customer at intervals that are comfortable for the customer
  • Keep the promises that the marketer makes

The success of chatter marketing rests on this trust, on this relationship. Once this trust has been established, the customer will see that the marketer has his/her best interests at heart, and will in turn trust the marketer’s recommendations, campaigns, and other outreach. It also means that there will be a relationship and level of trust established that will reassure any concerns about any imagined or real loss of privacy.

It is the chatter marketer’s job to understand this … by not abusing the trust that is core to the opt-in process, and by taking advantage of the flip side of the loss of privacy: using it to bolster the convenience of their customers. A simple early example is the use of membership cards at supermarkets. For the consumer, the possession of a card that records his/her every purchase, that notes when and where and how often that purchase is made, is balanced by the special prices on certain items accorded to holders of the card and by the useful coupons often received at checkout. It’s convenient for the shopper to be reminded of items that should be on his or her list, to be given special prices on those items, and to receive coupons for other products that he or she may be interested in. The fact that the shopper’s information is being stored in a database and used for many reasons other than those affording him or her more convenience and better prices is often overlooked or minimized.

It’s that convenience that is the chatter marketer’s stock in trade. What chatter marketing does is insert the marketer into the purchasing process, from research to check-out, much earlier than is the case with “normal” marketing efforts, even before search marketing. And what could be more convenient for the consumer? If I’m considering buying a camping tent but have only gotten as far as asking my Facebook and LinkedIn contacts their opinions about camping, wouldn’t it be amazingly convenient to have a camping equipment retailer contact me and indicate that they understand my requirements, can answer my questions, and give me a special rate on precisely the tent that I need?

It doesn’t get much easier than that!

This camping-equipment example is a good one: it shows the retail marketer’s ability to sustain a connection with the consumer that will lead to an immediate sale, before that consumer even thinks of using Google to locate some ideas and pricing on camping tents. She has bought the tent without ever needing to “shop” for it. Perfect convenience for the customer, perfect sales technique for the marketer!

Chatter marketing uses the science of monitoring opt-in customer and prospect online behavior (in the above example, listening to the customer’s remarks and questions on social media sites) and then translates that behavior in ways that allow marketers to deliver personal, powerful marketing campaigns (in this case, the sale of the camping tent).

And that’s how we’re putting the “R” back into CRM—by becoming part of the customer’s process. Getting to know the customer through the myriad ways that customer interacts with the internet, and being there when purchasing decisions are still only at their first stages.