Know your customer – By Merkle’s Leon Molenkamp

Leon Molenkamp is marketing technology consultant at Merkle MENA

Just take a second to remember how, in times gone by, shop owners would actually know a lot about the customers who turned up in their shop, wouldn’t they? They would know who this person in front of them was, their household situation, their children’s names, products this person mostly bought, preferences he or she had as well as things they didn’t like. Knowing these sorts of facts are indicators of a genuine and valuable relationship between two people, representing the company on the one side and the customer on the other side.

Nowadays, we’re in the middle of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and we’ve gone through significant technological developments and disruptions. As a result of this, a lot of these typical shop owners and their shops have disappeared or gone online. However, until today, they still surpass us with one critical success factor: the way they built relationships with their customers based on the genuine interest they showed, and the way they acted upon this.

Knowing your customer, based on data and insights you get from actual behaviour, forms the basis of working on a genuine relationship like the shop owner back in the day. Actively working on this relationship offers companies a whole range of new possibilities, so we look at CRM and marketing automation as a strategic element of a business. We believe that the combination of CRM and marketing automation is not just a tool, a sort of magic box or, even worse, ‘e-mail drip campaigns’. It is a mindset. A mindset of truly wanting to establish and foster the relationship with your customers.

A strategic next step for businesses in the MENA region
Over the past years, developments regarding data and (marketing) technology have been impressive, especially in the MENA region. However, now the time is here to step up our game and start using this data and technology to start nurturing prospects and customer relationships by communicating in a relevant and personal way. In doing so, businesses will become able to ‘steer’ audiences in the direction they want, based on customer lifetime value (CLV), net promoter score (NPS) or simply revenue.

As a starting point, businesses should have a good understanding of their user journeys and the related ‘lifecycle stages’. You have a big group of people that just bought your product or service for the first time; they are in the ‘onboarding’ stage; great. What are you communicating to them to foster that new relationship? What do you want to know from them? More importantly, what do you have to offer them?

Looking further down the lifecycles, you will see a group of people who have used your product or service for a while, but they might stop or consider alternatives. This is not something to be afraid of, but a normal fact of business. How is your relationship with these people? Do you know what will make them stay? If so, are you able to offer that? If you don’t know anything at this stage, you’re steering in the dark. The question arises: What should you change in your approach during earlier lifecycle stages to become able to retain them as soon as they are in the retention stage of the lifecycle?

Make CRM and marketing automation work for you
Think about your key performance indicators. What is it that you are trying to accomplish, whether in terms of CLV, NPS or revenue, and how can you get that from the people you have relationships with? What is your next step to make all of this happen? Is it a campaign, or do you need to off er a better overall experience or something else?

Getting your CRM strategies and tactics in place in such way that they will play a strategic role in reaching your goals isn’t the easiest. But bear in mind, it is a strategic choice to build further upon what you have developed so far, in order to become able to truly foster your customer relationships. Combining data gathered across different touchpoints and during different moments across the customer lifecycle will enable you to effectively manage your users’ journey. According to research, organisations that are able to do this properly might expect a 28 per cent increase in revenue as well as a 26 per cent increase in marketing ROI.