Ahead of the Curve
While most companies have this information, Gianforte says many do not have access to it. "The primary repository is the department with the most frequent contact with customers—that is the customer service center," he explains.
To gain access to this wealth of information, direct marketers need to integrate or create a common record of all of a customer's interactions, regardless of channel. Then, using analytic tools, marketers can mine these customer records to uncover opportunities for communications. "That's what gives you the right to communicate with a customer," says Gianforte.
Even more important, he notes, is to link any new data gained from a customer interaction back to the existing customer record. Gianforte says it's easy to export data from one application, import it into another, and send a campaign. "But rarely does a link exist for new data generated from the campaign," he says. "Too often, new data is housed in a separate system in the marketing department."
Muller says he's seen a trend inside organizations to move information at an enterprise level to support these interactions. "This sharing of information across the enterprise is the next iteration of CRM," says Muller.
Collectively referred to as optimization technologies, contact management and real-time applications blend marketing intelligence with predetermined actions across the whole of an organization. This enables marketers to more quickly and effectively respond to information, regardless of the channel used to communicate.
This sharing of information also helps marketers better manage what offers a customer receives and when.
1. Contact management software
According to Eric Schmitt, a senior analyst at Forrester Research, an independent technology research company based in Cambridge, MA, this type of application can aid marketers in determining the best possible time within a specified window to target a customer. It is particularly helpful for marketers who might send multiple campaigns to one customer, such as a financial services mailer. Rather than diluting the effectiveness of any one offer by saturating a customer with several mailings within a period of time, contact management software can help marketers decide which offer is the best based on eligibility and probability, says Schmitt.