Traditionally, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) refers to the strategies marketers employ to actively manage the customer experience; the marketing programs they design to influence specific customer groups; or the technologies that enable the delivery of strategy, practice and programmes direct to the consumer.

It’s widely acknowledged that a CRM function in some form enables a brand marketer to connect directly with their customers and understand who they are, while understanding which brand messages resonate with individuals and trigger positive responses.

It is also accepted that a CRM function helps to increase reach and brand loyalty through targeted content and messages, whilst at the same time speeding up the evolution of your brand’s marketing with immediately available data based insights.

Therefore, it’s surprising how many marketers don’t recognise the value CRM can bring to a brand. Many retailers still seem to be oblivious to the role ecommerce and specifically CRM is set to play in their roles, with 40% of physical sales now digitally influenced [comScore].

Understanding the mobile user experience is vital for every marketer to maximise their campaign’s effectiveness. Most consumers now have constant connectivity – whether this is by smartphone, tablet or computer, and they are ‘always on, always connected’.

Online shopping on mobiles has overtaken desktop for the first time – 52% of website visits are now made via a mobile, while 36% of UK online sales are now completed on a smartphone or tablet [IMRG Capgemini Quarterly Benchmarking Report]. This is only set to rise.

In my view CRM strategies can be grouped into three main types:

  • Formal programmes – customer behaviour is overtly driven through rewards, g. the Waterstones Rewards card
  • Lifecycle marketing – customer behaviour is driven through engaging with the customer at the right time, e.g. a brand’s welcome programme
  • Customer engagement approach – customer behaviour is driven through content and conversations that reflect customers’ interests, i.e. with personalised content

Of course, CRM can also be a combination of the above too.

Marketers and their colleagues throughout a brand need to understand the value a CRM function can bring, because it is quickly becoming clear that CRM marketing programmes support customer value growth, ensure retention and foster loyalty.

Common programme types include:

  • Acquisition – acquire information to uniquely identify an individual
  • Conversion – drive to purchase or other directed action
  • Loyalty – drive towards advocacy through incentives or surprise and delight
  • Service – reduce friction within the purchase process
  • Retention – educate customers on your brand and products
  • Winback – re-engage lapsed customers

There are CRM technologies out there that enable the delivery of CRM strategy and programmes, but if they haven’t already got a CRM solution in their armoury, in my view a good CRM solution has to include the following elements:

  • Data collection – from all customer touchpoints: online, in-store, web, apps, mobile etc to build a rich customer profile
  • Data processing – to enrich data and aggregate it into meaningful groups
  • Segmentation – to enable a marketer to filter their entire customer base and focus on a specific group
  • Messaging – to enable a marketer to efficiently communicate with the customer
  • Personalisation – to ensure relevant content can be placed in messages

Above all else, brands need to remember that context is king. Context is gained through location, through proximity, through weather, through likes and dislikes, and much more. Context is the differentiator that makes mobile marketing the perfect medium for truly relevant messaging.  The world has changed – how a customer connects within it is now the greatest opportunity. Consumption has blurred into one seamless experience, both physical and virtual. Getting CRM and mobile strategies right is now as vital as a brand having a website.

Az Ahmed

Az Ahmed


Az Ahmed is a Senior Marketing Consultant at SmartFocus.