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Growing your business with decision management

A marketing focus today. More particularly a focus on marketing to existing customers prompted by three distinct posts. Firstly there was Growing Business the Old-Fashioned Way over on Customers Rock discussing how concentrating on existing customers can be very profitable. The post suggested, among other things that you think about the last 5 communications you had with an existing customer and thought about how those interactions will make those existing customers feel. As one of the posts referenced said, personalize your interactions so that your customers feel like you are talking to them specifically. This requires a focus on micro not macro decisions - a micro decision would be the content of this letter going to this customer (1:1) where a macro decision would be "what kind of letter should we send existing customers" (1:Many). You should also not just remember your customer's history but use it - leverage all that CRM information. Your best next action (discussed in this InterACT session What's Next? The "Best Next Action")  could be a word of thanks, for instance, not an offer. Lastly, existing customers should get special promotions too, which brings me to the second post - Loyalty Programs: The What and the Why over on EbizVitals.

This post revisited the old "corner store" idea (blogged about here in Customer Loyalty, EDM and "the corner store") and gave a good general overview of what a loyalty program is but raised an interesting question -  does your loyalty program simply reward the customer activities you would have got anyway or does it actually drive new ones? For instance, in retail, do your customers shop with you because of the loyalty program or simply because your store is nearer? If the loyalty program never overcomes a customer's tendency to go to the nearest store, what good is it? Well first, regardless, you can capture a great deal of interesting data about your customers and how they shop. This data can be put to work to improve marketing, store-layout and many other decisions as I have discussed in this post on using EDM in the loyalty economy and as evidenced by the EDM-Driven MyCokeRewards site. You can also apply more sophisticated analytics to see what rewards or rebates matter to a customer and might therefore actually change their behavior. A good example of this would be an offer that required a slight increase in spend or frequency over that particular customer's norm to get a special  bonus.

In a world of hits and niches  and multi-channel marketing, one of the questions is where to begin and this was the topic of the third marketing post I saw, over on the Unica blog. Two particular quotes leaped out at me:

"In order to embrace multichannel marketing, don't wait until the day that you can put the big 360 degree CRM data warehouse into place"
"turn the insights into intelligent marketing programs"

Absolutely! Start improving decisions with the data you have or can get and focus on adding the information that will help you do better over time. The post had a great example of a simple retention risk decision (using just web analytics to find customers whose visits declined) that could be gradually made smarter for instance by integrating offline sales data to eliminate customers who had transitioned from web to store from your list of "at risk" customers. When using  EDM to focus on a customer centric approach, a good way to start is by adopting a rules-only decision that can gradually be enhanced by more and more analytics over time. The critical thing is to identify the decisions that matter and then work from there back into the various channels that need the decision and the various data sources that might improve it.

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