New book casts spotlight on the future of Customer Relationship Management

By Chris Lee

There has never been a more interesting time to work in marketing, according to a new book written by a team of marketing experts. In Data We Trust by Björn Bloching, Lars Luck and Thomas Ramge argues that access to – and interpretation of – consumer data will be the key differentiator between success and failure in the future of marketing. It will be renamed Customer Relationship Management (CRM), the authors argue.

Data surrender

Despite the wealth of information that individuals give up about themselves on social networks and via their online shopping hazards, “digital native” consumers are now savvy about what information they voluntarily give up about themselves.

Neither off-line loyalty card users nor digital natives are “made up of sheep that need to be protected from the data wolves”, the authors say, but they do expect marketers to personalise their approach and want to be themselves online rather than hide behind avatars.

The default setting for consumption is now public, the authors argue, so that the purchaser’s online network can have access and often look for dialogue post-purchase. Marketers now need to use this information better to improve their CRM.

The big corner shop

In Data We Trust builds the argument that data arms brands with the chance to become the equivalent of modern day corner shop keepers who would remember their customers’ personal choices. Brands can now do so much more than simply take the Amazon route of “Customers who bought this also bought this” approach.

The book covers the link between customer and their value to the brand, plus their potential going forward and uses case studies from the likes of US retailer Wal-Mart for best practice on how to use customer data. It cites useful business models too for the collection and use of customer data.

The Naked Company

The book also warns that while brands may have access to data on customer data and behaviour, at the same time they are compelled to be transparent on the use of that data.

“Over the course of this decade, the long-term winners in data-based marketing can only be the companies that create a clearly recognisable added value in a transparent way,” the authors argue. “The differentiation helps them to provide better products and services, and customer can use common sense to understand or guess what information has led to their being offered which product.”

Marketing will become, in effect, a “service” as data-based marketing – guided by the right campaign management tools – allows advertising to be perceived as useful, In Data We Trust says. For that to happen there needs to be a focus on:

• Relevance: Communicate only with the customer when relevant to them

• Frequency: Do not communicate too often with the customer, even if their data suggests they are suitable for certain campaigns

• Added value: Make the customer an offer that they would not receive elsewhere

“Marketing as a service will, if handled well, not only increase the customer’s trust in data handling, but in the company as a whole,” the authors said.

The book concludes by citing the World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee on personal data. “It’s mine – you can’t have it. If you want to use it for something, then you have to negotiate with me,” he said in a 2008 BBC interview. Customers trust in companies that deserve their trust.

In Data We Trust is published by Bloomsbury and will be available in the UK.

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