Most of us never saw it coming. But as in the case of most doomed relationships, the end was inevitable. In January 2020, Google announced that they are making third-party cookies “obsolete” by 2022. Which means that two years from now, the digital marketing world will be very different. Gone will be the retargeting and the personalised ads and the easy sales, and we’ll look back and wonder: did we ever really know our customer?
Well, the truth is, a lot of us marketers don’t really know our customers. For many of us, prospecting for a potential customer is like getting set up by a friend who tells you everything there is to know about your date, after which you go for dinner and try to woo them based on this second-hand information. And though that’s what marketing with third party cookies is all about, that’s not what a good customer relationship (or romance) is made of. That’s why all marketers need to don the CRM hat and learn the secrets to romancing the customer.
Secret number 1: Old is gold, when it comes to customer relationships
Whether it’s due to the thrill of the chase or the excitement of something new, marketers have heavily focused on creating and capturing demand, and missed giving the same attention to their older customers and their existing business. And yet there is a lot of economic value in what you have already. As Shantanu Narayen, CEO of Adobe, says, retention is the new growth. It may not be easy getting someone to buy again and again, or buy from across your product offerings or buy something even more valuable and become an advocate of your brand, but it’s actually less expensive in the long run than acquiring new customers. Repeat sell, cross-sell, up-sell and advocacy — that’s the holy grail good CRM can give you.
Secret number 2: You’ve got to really know your customer
Just like in any relationship, to do CRM right, you need to find out who your customers really are. Find out what interests them, what makes them worry, and what catches their attention. You’ll also want to know where to find them, when and how often to reach out to them and which is the best way to reach them. How exactly do you get to know all this about your customer? As far as possible, don’t rely on second-hand information — first-party data is the foundation you want to build your customer relationships on. First-hand data refers to information about the customer that you collect yourself. This data might have begun with a name and email address, but with every successive customer interaction, you might get details about your customer, like his hometown or the last five airport visits he made or the amount of luggage he usually carries on a trip. The first-party data you collect can be extremely useful in guiding your conversations after that these initial pieces of information are mined. Salesforce, for instance, recommends finding overlaps between first-party data and customer touchpoints that will help you send more relevant information or offers to your customers. Do this progressively and your contact data becomes richer with every touchpoint and your segmentation becomes better. One last thing about knowing the customer — sometimes you do not get information outright, you need to rely on your understanding of consumer behaviour.
Secret number 3: You can’t hurry the customer love
When it comes to communicating with your customers and your database, the starting point usually is a one-to-all communication model, where you may send out the same message to all the contacts in your database. But play the long game, and this evolves into a one-to-many communication model, a one-to-some model, a one-to-few model and then finally a one-to-one communication. This transition doesn’t come easy. It requires you to invest in your customer relationships and play the long game. That’s what the Loyalty Maturity Curve is all about, and the end result is a data-rich, high-value relationship with your customers that third-party cookies could never get you.
Finally, choose to elevate loyalty alongside acquisition in your marketing plan
When CRM is done right, you’d be sitting on a goldmine of data that can help you understand what your customer is interested in and how to address their concerns and pain-points. The data needs to be protected with the right tools and processes so as to avoid the possibility of data breaches. Across the globe, there are also more regulations protecting the customer’s right to his or her own data, and as a marketer, you need to ensure you’re adhering to PDPA or GDPA requirements when it comes to storing, managing and using customer data.
When you implement these CRM lessons, engage with the customer and respect the data entrusted to you, you’ll end up scaling the loyalty maturity curve and developing the ability to have one-to-one conversations with the customer. Most importantly, you’ll get greater value from their customers and in turn, help your businesses grow. All you have to do is really get to know the customer.
Join us on Thursday, 21 May 2020, for episode 5 of the #HappyWebinars, where we’ll look at how CMOs can don the creative hat effectively. If you haven’t signed up yet for our #HappyWebinars on The Marketer who Wears Many Hats, and want to attend the remaining 2 episodes in the series, here’s the sign-up link.
* This article has been co-authored with Celia Vincent