I know my customers

Many organizations will engage in a CRM project because they want to get to "know" their buying public, thus potentially increasing customer sales, loyalty and satisfaction. However, customer analysis typically remains a mystery prior to many CRM implementations: How will we conduct it and, more importantly, what do we do with it once we have it? While there are many variations in performing the analysis, it is typically conducted either previous to any marketing activities and/or after the sales process. Successful analysis will take place before and after campaign and sales execution.

Initial Analysis
Spend some time prior to running a campaign to ask a few questions regarding what you hope to gain from the gathered customer data:

1. Will I use this data for designing future marketing campaigns? (e.g. Did I provide a feedback channel?)
2. Will I be segmenting my audience in the future, and do I have the appropriate variables identified? (e.g. age, race, gender, education,etc.)
3. Will I be using this data to substantiate my current marketing activities? (e.g. ROI, reach, revenue and cost per target, etc.)
4. Do I have a way to identify respondents with the source in which they were driven to respond? (e.g. index, source codes,etc.)
5. Do I need a test sample of my population in order to validate results? (e.g. subset of audience to test various message differences)

By taking some time

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up front to plan for the analysis of results, a more logical and complete account can be expected after the campaign is executed. However, once marketing activities have begun, it is often too time-restrictive and costly to change course mid-stream in order to capture relevant data that may have been missed. Unfortunately this is often the case considering that many organizations are pushing hard for sales, leaving analysis as only an afterthought.

Post Analysis
After the campaign has run and sales results are being realized, are you asking the right questions during customer analysis in order to drive future sales?:

1. Did my message/campaign reach the right audience and how do I know this?
2. Am I seeing any type of trend that has become apparent after the campaign and sales process? (e.g. purchase after a specific event)
3. Do I have enough information to label precisely who my customers are and what they bought? (e.g. customer typologies)
4. Can I segment my customers geographically and demographicallyfor the purpose of conducting a spatial analysis? (e.g. purchase behavior in certain radius around site)
5. Can I run my data against census data to reveal any nuances? (e.g. has my market changed over time?)

There are many applications available that will help organizations analyze data that have already been captured. There are even applications that can assist in modeling expected behavior and results. However, without spending time analyzing what you wish to gain from customer data gathering exercises, much of the data that is ultimately gathered may not provide the information you expect. Remember, in many situations you are only given the opportunity to benefit from this valuable information once. Spending time on these activities before you focus on the pure sales and revenue processes could be even more valuable.

Michael De Lio is a Director within E-Solutions, responsible for assessment, solution design and project management for clients engaged in e-commerce/CRM initiatives, for marchFIRST an Internet Professional Services company in Chicago, IL.

This was first published in February 2001

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