Friday, December 7, 2012

Leveraging Big Data and CRM Software to Improve Marketing Strategies

I sometimes find myself singing jingles from yesteryear’s TV commercials, like "Hawkins ki seeti baji, khushboo hi khushboo udi..Mazedaar, lazzedaar….minton mein jhatpat pakaaye..Hawkins! Hawkins! Hawkins Pressure Cooker!" which was popular when I was in my teens. Most of the adverts these days don’t catch my attention and I doubt I”ll remember them in a few years. One of the reasons for this could be that on an average day I see so many advertisements while watching a reality show or the news, that the only ones I pay attention to are those that talk about the environment, unprivileged children and endangered species!

Almost everyone in my age group who watched the colour telecast of the Asian Games in India rolls their eyes when I mention a particular commercial's punchline from slightly after that period, then their eyes light up before they break out in loud laughter as the associated visuals and music enters their heads. Some of them were so influenced by these commercials those days that they stocked up the related product in the hope it would actually change their lives!

A majority of my favorite new ads are from a cookery channel I often watch late in the night while planning the next day's meals. This is because almost all the ads are related to the channel's theme - cookery and kitchens! Rarely do I see an ad for deodorants, paints or make up on this boutique channel - its viewers are simply not interested.

At a class reunion a few weeks ago, I found myself in the midst of friends working across the world in different professions. We were talking about popular music in the 80s - Duran Duran, Robert Palmer, Wham! and so on, we somehow ended up talking about what each one of us considered ‘outstanding’ advertisements and then the conversation progressed towards how almost around 50% of the population in major countries now owned smartphones and that TV sales has increased by only about 1% this year.



With a wide variety of new marketing channels like websites, blogs, YouTube, social networks and FM radio, advertisers can now create multiple specialized campaigns, though, there are so many factors to consider when identifying the optimal marketing strategy. A close friend talked about the pressure companies face when they pay over USD 3 million for a 30 second commercial during the Super Bowl broadcast, the match last year was watched by over 111 million people! 

Another friend added how his company’s marketing team had used data mining to create separate customer segments for each marketing channel using simple factors like sex, age group, religion, preferred media channel, income, etc. Customer information had been collected through their CRM solution from various sources through multi-channel integration from the website, SMS campaigns, social networks, call centers and a few other customer touchpoints. This large volume of customer information he called "Big Data" was then scientifically slice-and-diced to generate actionable intelligence related to customer segmentation, cross sell products and propensity to purchase new products. The results were shared with the marketing team to redesign their marketing strategy and identify the most appropriate channel for each of their campaigns. By the end of the exercise, their CMO had pinpointed which model, actor or sportsperson she wanted for each campaign to ensure it would catch the attention of a specific customer segment!
Customer segmentation for optimal marketing

I left the reunion party that night feeling a little dizzy thinking about the implications of having continually growing Big Data and an effective CRM solution which enabled leveraging this information to improve marketing performance. I realized a key factor in facilitating exponential growth would be to identify what questions to ask customers when they buy a product, share feedback, register a complaint or visit a store and use it to gain a clear understanding of their needs and expectations. In fact, with social networking sites, companies can make it easier for customers to share their opinions with a few clicks - like/ don't like/ I'm indifferent or share elaborate feedback, all of which will be collated and analyzed through social CRM!

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