How to create a growth strategy for your CRM

It’s been a while since my last post. Actually, it’s been too long. Also, I’ve taken the decision to start writing in English. This may upset some of the people who already follow this blog, but since I’ve worked for almost 4 years in international environments, it seems like a natural step. Of course, I’m not a native speaker, much less a native writer, so I will ask for your understanding and please excuse me whenever I make a mistake (and I will make mistakes for sure). With that said, let’s get down to business.

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

Couple of weeks ago I was talking to a friend about how to build and grow his CRM. She was looking for ways to develop a CRM strategy that could drive the growth of her CRM database. Throughout the discussion, I realized that one of her problems was that her actual company misunderstood the topic of CRM. Many companies include their CRM strategy within their Marketing strategy, as it were just a part of the marketing department, disconnected from other areas of the company. Especially sales.

When you think about a CRM strategy you must consider not only the data itself, but also where it came from and what do you want to do with it. I remember, long time ago, working on another CRM team (by the way, also part for the marketing department), that inside a locker I’d found hundreds of customer surveys. No one knew why those surveys were there, and neither what were they supposed to do with them. I’m talking about a time when you still used printed surveys that customer must fulfill with a pen, not like it’s nowadays, that everything is digital, and you just must download the file from your survey provider.

One of the first thing we did back then was to define and clarify any possible input from customer data that we could have, identify our touchpoints, and define which one we would like to measure and get some data back. Then, we focus on the quality of the data. Because no matter how good your strategy is, if you’re coming from a low-quality data base, you CRM strategy will fail.

I asked my friend “how do you get your data?”. She wasn’t sure. “What do you mean?” she replied, “The data is already in the system. Those are our customers. I need to grow our data base, but not bother about how the data gets into our system.”

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on

Before even thinking about creating campaigns, loyalty programs and many other fancy things, you must be sure of the quality of your data. You don’t want to spend time and money in a campaign just to realize that half of your emails are wrong or send you directly to the spam. That’s a bad idea. So, you need to take a step back, share some coffees with the people that provides you with the data and make sure they understand why it’s important to have the right data, so they make sure your customers and users give it to you. And if that means that you must go talking with someone from your sales department, you will probably also learn something about their needs and how can your data help them doing their job better.

And that’s my second point. What are you going to use the data for? You need to do something with that data. So, when you’re talking about growth, what do you mean exactly? Are you talking about getting more sales leads? Are you talking about gathering more customer information, for example if you work with distributors that don’t share much customer data with you?

If you’re looking for data to understand better your customers, this is something that you shouldn’t keep it for yourself and to add some nice pages on your next board presentation. With a better understanding of your customers, you can support your sales teams providing them with the sales opportunities, customers that you think will be more willy to buy new products or upgrade those that already have.

But let’s say that you don’t have a big sales department. You’re more an online type of business. So, how do you make your business grow?

We come again to the question “how do you get the data and what kind of data do you get?”. You must make sure your customers provide you with their emails, at least. So instead of completing their purchase as guest and leave, you must think about how to make them register.

One solution could be offering more information about their shipping status. If you want to know about your package, they must register in your page, so you will be able to send them any change in the status of their shipment.

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on

Another solution is a loyalty program. And, please, don’t start thinking about those old loyalty programs that provide points that you can redeem for some merchandising. That’s old school, and you will do good if just put those ideas aside. Instead, think about how you can help your customer use your products more and better. Create a content strategy that you can share with them. Personalize that content, based on your specific customers segments. Use some gamification on top and then, just then, think about a referral strategy.

By now, you may be wondering why not to star with a referral project from the beginning? Well, if you have already asked any of your customers for a referral on exchange of a discount or a git, you already know the quality of those leads. Don’t you? Therefore, you must be sure that whenever a customer provides you with a referral, it’s a qualified lead that you can use. And the only way to make that happen is having happy customers that use your products. I’ve already wrote about the NPS (in Spanish), so you may have a look.

To end this post. I hope that by now you have some ideas about how to create a growth strategy for your CRM. Don’t think as an independent department, but more as a whole, where you are the connection between different departments to gather information from customers, process it and give it back to the front teams to make a better job and generate more sales or better customer experiences. CRM should be an End-to-End process and not just a team inside a marketing (or sales) department. And, as a final recommendation, if you’re responsible of the CRM in your company, think about sharing more coffee with your colleagues, specially from other departments.

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