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Customer Relationship Management. Framework Or Strategy?

 Often shortened to the initials CRM, Customer Relationship Management has been a buzzword in the business world for decades.  In most cases CRM refers to a framework for managing your customers, specifically some sort of software solution.But what about the actual customer relationships?  Can CRM be a strategy? 

Customer Relationships

Prior segments in this series talked about Branding, Business Philosophy and the Customer Experience.  The topic of Customer Relationships follows nicely on that sequence, and is a key part of that core focus.  Managing customer relations is vital to making your business boom.Technology is a big part of that, of course, and software like ManageByStats can help, but what about engaging your customers?What if you could make your customers fans?

Rules Of Engagement

Customers are your most valuable asset.  Your goldmine, your foundation. Once they’ve purchased from you, once they’ve become a customer, it’s easy to relegate them to that status, a simple asset, sometimes even forgetting about them.  But those are real people out there, people who thought enough to purchase from you at least once, and with the right attention they can be elevated to something more.It starts with the right approach.  First, adopt the viewpoint that there’s value, extreme value, in a growing -- and engaged -- customer base.  Focus your approach on two key strategies:
  1. Attracting interested customers to your list
  2. Adding value
Sounds simple, and it mostly is.  The “adding value” part often gets lost, and we’ll cover that in the section below.  The importance of that element can’t be stressed enough.

The Long Game

Best way to attract customers is to get them to sign up for your list after purchase.  You can do this with inserts, offers, things that get them interested in opting in. Building a list is a marathon.  Steady wins the race, persistence is key and a dozen other such cliches that only got to be cliches because they’re true.We’re talking here about email lists, but these days you can also invite people to a Messenger list, or other avenues for staying in contact.If you started your customer list a year ago think how far along you’d be by now.  There’s no time like the present to begin adding to your goldmine. You’ll also find that, once you start, these things tend to grow exponentially.On email lists, what if you’re using a big service (like a MailChimp or Constant Contact, for example), and you’ve got lots of emails that need to be added?Do it on a gradient.

Building A List

  1. If you’re adding emails that have not opted in to your list, take 100 and add them.  Single opt-in ... you’re opting them in.
  2. Send them some great content.  Follow CAN-SPAM rules -- which means include an unsubscribe link and include the name and address of your company.
  3. A few of them will unsubscribe.  A few may complain or report Spam.  But this is OK because it’s very low volume.
  4. Next week add 100 more to the list.  You now have 200 minus the unsubscribes, so maybe 195 left.
  5. Send them all some great NEW FRESH content.  A few more will unsubscribe, which is good -- you’re cleaning the list.
  6. Next week add 200 more to the list, and repeat with FRESH NEW CONTENT.  This cleans out more.
  7. Then 300, then 500, etc -- always with FRESH CONTENT.  
  8. The key is that the newly added number of emails added to the list is not too big a percentage of the subscriber total.  It is vital to keep the unsubscribes and spam complaints to a low percentage of the mailing. Again, this strategy is a marathon, not a sprint.  It may take time to build a large list, but it’s worth it.
  9. Once all your emails are in the list, then you can add in offers and deals occasionally, as long as you keep the content NEW and FRESH and ENGAGING.
We used a lot of all-caps in that section.  That’s because the key to all this is GREAT ENGAGING CONTENT.  This single point is what stops most marketers from building a viable email list.The rest is just mechanics.

Adding Value

Content is king.  The way to build and maintain a list is with regular great content that keeps them interested and engaged.  What often happens is that businesses make a list then flood it with offers, come-ons, surveys, requests … all things that are not adding value for the customer.  Even a coupon is not really adding value, as you’re asking them to spend something. If you’re asking for anything you’re not nailing this concept.The hardest part of this to embrace is that what you give them be absolutely free.  That it make no request upon them whatsoever. Not to purchase, not to reach back to you; nada, zip.  Give them something. Make their life better.More often than not this is content.  It’s the easiest thing and costs very little.  You could give little gifts, but if you have lots of customers that could get expensive.  Content is very affordable. You want to do this regularly, so they come to look forward to hearing from you.  Entertainment, education, podcasts, videos, articles ...Your imagination is the only limit.A newsletter, a recipe, tips on how to do something cool with the product they bought -- anything that gives them something and asks for nothing in return.Remember, you’re building the relationship.

The Deal

While CRM is both framework and strategy, the way you craft your approach to your customers is what makes you grow.  How you cultivate those customer relationships makes all the difference. Do you just send them deals, come-ons and offers?  Or are you actively working to make their lives better?Once you’ve built your list, once you’ve strengthened it by adding value, once you’ve made fans of your customers, such that they look forward to hearing from you …Your relationship will become as solid as any personal friendship, and you’ll have an audience that listens when you have something to say.  If you then maintain that relationship, not only by offering great deals, opening up first-look opportunities and so forth, but by continuing to add value as your priority, by continuing to cultivate that connection that makes them a fan, your business will only continue to boom.To Your Success,Your ManageByStats Team #ManageByStats#RelationshipManagement