Northwest Missouri State University's online MBA in marketing program includes Advanced Marketing Communication, which covers two of the most important contemporary marketing strategies -- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC).
The most effective marketing and sales organizations intertwine these strategies. Before we explore the synergy between these concepts, let us examine each one individually.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
If the "customer is king," customer relationship management (CRM) is the method by which companies treat their customers like royalty, nurturing the relationship to make customers feel like the business exists to support their wants and needs. Success in this endeavor nurtures a customer's bond with a company as he or she moves through this progression:
To move as many people through this progression as possible, CRM employs the necessary strategies, tactics, activities and technologies to manage customer interactions and relationships. CRM has been around for decades but has become highly sophisticated in recent years. The advent of CRM software has made it possible for companies to store, analyze and learn from customer data, and even automate many steps in the relationship management process.
Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC)
This is the fusion of multiple channels of communication for the purpose of clearly and cost-effectively conveying messages to prospects and customers.
Today, companies communicate with their customers through more channels than ever before. These include mass media channels like television, radio and magazine advertising, where communication is broadcast one way to a large audience. It includes email and direct mail, which can be segmented to niche audiences with specific needs, and social media, which can be segmented and can also foster two-way communication.
All of these channels can be optimized to support the customer's progression from awareness to loyalty to recommending a product or service to others. As part of a broad, integrated marketing communication plan, every channel and every communication has a specific purpose.
IMC Optimizes CRM
Integrated Marketing Communications aligns information and data tools to meet the needs of buyers through the purchasing process and the customer lifecycle. It takes what we learn through effective CRM and enables marketers to make the most efficient use of this knowledge, improving the way they relate to customers.
CRM and IMC in Action
"Terri" has just discovered a new convection cooking appliance through an infomercial. She then visits the company's Facebook page to ask a question to existing users before purchasing the item. Once she receives it in the mail, she registers it online and sets up an account. In the process, she provides her contact information and details about the kinds of meals she likes to cook and the number of people she cooks for in her household.
To reward her for providing this information, the brand gives her access to online forums, videos about healthy cooking, and recipes. She reviews the recipes, adds them to her profile, and cooks the meals, before returning to provide a short review of each recipe.
Through these interactions, the company learns about Terri. They learn that she is a vegan and is interested in low-fat, high-protein meals. Data analysis reveals that people that fit Terri's profile are highly receptive to email promotions for the company's fitness products, including workout videos and specific exercise devices.
Terri orders two of these products, and the company offers her a rewards card membership program that will give her discounts and bonuses on any subsequent purchase she makes. All she has to do is provide some additional information. Her membership will also entitle her to special promotions the public does not know about.
The rewards card will track all of her future purchases and make it possible for the company to keep a highly detailed ongoing customer profile based on her purchasing habits. Meanwhile, Terri is improving her health and fitness and becoming brand-loyal. The company incentivizes her to share her experiences with other customers through social media. CRM and IMC enable all of these practices, which improve the customer experience and business profitability.
These concepts lie at the foundation of every successful organization's sales and marketing strategies, from Apple to Zappos.
Learn more about Northwest's online MBA in Marketing program.
Sources:Forbes: Why Is Customer Relationship Management So Important?
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