Linking CRM data to e-mail marketing

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Tying customer relationship management (CRM) data to your e-mail marketing program can help boost relevance and conversion, says Ross Kramer, CEO of e-mail marketing firm Listrak. “Anyone who is serious about moving the needle within their lead nurturing program should be tying events happening in CRM to their [e-mail service provider],” he said. “Everything, even something as simple as a lead going from open to contacted, should trigger a message or series of messages designed to increase awareness and meet the lead's personal needs.”

The tools to do this are fairly simple, he said. Most CRM programs have APIs (application programming interfaces) that, in conjunction with an ESP's software, can make this process automatic. Here are four of the CRM events that should always lead to an e-mail message, according to Kramer:

1) When the prospect goes from being contacted by your company to expressing interest in more information (discovery). When someone raises their hand and expresses interest in your product or service, they are looking for additional information. While product sheets, case studies and links to podcasts, videos and other interactive tools are great, don't forget to address the customer experience. “You can send out an e-mail from the director of training that says, "This is what you can expect from us when you become a customer.' The next message might be from your director of product strategy or development, detailing your company's roadmap,” Kramer said.

2) When the prospect moves from discovery to making an appointment. Sending out a triggered message when someone sets up an appointment to meet with a member of your sales force can do two things: increase brand awareness while decreasing the chance of canceled appointments, Kramer said. “The e-mail should set the stage for the meeting,” he added. “It should say: "Dear Name, insert personalization tag [the name of the salesperson] is looking forward to speaking with you on Thursday at 4 p.m.,' ” he said. “Then you'll want to word it in a way that gives the recipient an opportunity to ask questions between then and the appointment.”

3) When the prospect moves from lead to sale. Life cycle messages, Kramer said, are the perfect way to upsell as well as show your appreciation for a customer, which can build trust. At the very least you should trigger e-mails before a contract is up, whenever a product update is released and when anything related to the original product is released, he said. “Life cycle messages are really killer,” he said.

4) When the customer requests support. Listrak has implemented a trigger within its own company that automatically sends out a survey to people once their trouble ticket has closed, Kramer said. It does this to help understand how the company rates when it comes to a Net Promoter score (which identifies the likelihood that a customer would refer a service to a friend or colleague). “One of the key metrics for our support department is getting more surveys filled out and collecting more data to understand how the changes we're making to our customer service are affecting our Net Promoter score,” he explained. Most companies will want to send out some sort of survey or follow-up e-mail to make sure that the customer was satisfied with their experience. In some cases, there's an opportunity to do a soft upsell, especially if a company is selling a multitiered service offering.

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