The relationship between businesses and clients is ever-evolving. Now, more than ever, businesses are benefiting from the various ways of building and maintaining these client relationships, turning what may have otherwise been a one-time client into a lifelong one. From CRM to social media, new technology categories have made it easier than ever to stay in touch with clients, even across the country. The tools are there, but it’s up to the businesses not only to be aware of them but to properly utilize them in an ongoing and proactive way.
CRM (or Customer Relationship Management) technology is a bit of a catch-all term for the various technologies employed for businesses to manage and analyze customer-interaction data and customer-retention data. Essentially, it’s the technology that allows you to see how well you’re doing in terms of customer relations via several different metrics, giving you a better understanding of all of your external interactions. This is something that can otherwise be difficult to grasp and quantify without CRM. Even people working closely with these external interactions, such as customer service or social media representatives, may not always have a full grasp on the bigger picture. CRM makes the fully compiled data visible and easy to access. Most marketers, managers, and even customers agree that CRM technology provides a benefit in terms of customer satisfaction and service.
But CRM is mostly a tool for measuring and understanding the performance of your external engagement, and while CRM integration should be a key analytical streamlining feature of your next push to keep in touch with customers, you’re also going to want to proactively explore all communication channels available
It can be difficult to rely on email to boost engagement with clients these days, but it does have its merits if handled correctly. The problem mostly lies in the attention clients have for emails. The fact is, most people are flooded with more emails than they could ever have time to fully read. In fact, the 2019 open-rate for retail emails is only 13.9%, down more than a full percentage point from the previous year and with little sign of turning around. It’s not all bad news, however, and analysis of more than 30 billion emails showed that “The best and most useful emails will continue to see high open and click-through rates” And while this can be influenced by things like picking the right time to send your email (the report showed Tuesday seeing the highest open rates) much of your practical success with email in terms of both open and click-through rates will come down to the emails themselves, what information they provide, how attention-grabbing they are, and how they relate to your overall branding. Still, with an average click-through rate of just 2.6% across all industries, one thing that the story of email has taught us is that although it should be included as one of the marketing vehicles in your marketing caravan, it shouldn’t be the only one.
No one likes junk mail, but new technologies and strategies in the field of direct mail have transitioned many of the more successful direct mail campaigns out of that “junk mail” category. According to a recent report from ANA/DMA, the direct mail response rate is sitting at 9% for house lists and 5% for prospect lists. Meaning that, depending on how targeted your campaign is, direct mail can return anywhere from 5 to nine times the responses from email, which has a response rate of only 1%. Direct mail even beats out the proportion of email recipients who click-through, again at only 2.6%. Even social media and paid search sit at about a 1% response rate.
And direct mail isn’t a marketing vehicle without innovation. New technologies like VDP (or variable data printing) have made it so that mail no longer has to be addressed to “current resident” or “pizza lover,” and can instead be individually addressed by name. What’s perhaps even more surprising is that direct mail is even more effective among millennials, 88% of whom considered print marketing to be more official, with the majority also agreeing that it is more secure, more trustworthy, and more confidential than other marketing channels. Around half of millennials ignore digital ads altogether, but only 15% reported that they ignore direct mail. And while these numbers are quite the same for other demographics, the recent successes of direct mail make it clear that it can play a major role in your next push to keep in touch with clients.
Although response rates may be lower than direct mail, the fact is that more people are looking at social media than they are at almost anything else. And while social media has its pros and cons in terms of marketing, it may just be the perfect vehicle for keeping in touch with clients. One of the often-overlooked aspects of social media is its power to personify. Through platforms like youtube and twitter, people can finally see, hear, and readily interact with their favorite celebrities, brands, and creators. What social media presents businesses with is therefore an unprecedented opportunity to let clients get to know you. Here you can be personal, direct, and respond in real-time, positively impacting brand engagement, brand attachment, perceived quality, and brand loyalty.
Even if you don’t know what A2P is, you’ve probably experienced it. If you’ve ever received an alert about your bank account activity, a delivery confirmation, or an SMS subscription update, you know what A2P is. It stands for application to person, and it’s essentially a way for businesses to communicate with clients using SMS, and it’s surprisingly more effective than similar forms of marketing and communication, in terms of stimulating a response and increasing purchase intentions, and improving overall brand attitude.
The fact is, most of your clients use SMS regularly, and most people, in general, read their text messages. A2P even has the added virtue of being able to increase the response rates of other communication vehicles. What’s becoming more and more clear, hopefully, is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for keeping in touch with clients, rather each of these vehicles has their own advantages and disadvantages, with the biggest benefits being seen when these vehicles are put to work in conjunction with one another.
Staying in Touch
Now that you know a little about the tools available to you not only for communicating with clients, but measuring and understanding that engagement, the next question is how best to do just that. Again, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Each of these vehicles has its own advantages and disadvantages, and your individual use case should dictate which of these you use, and how. For example, if you’re interested in making your business seem more personal and be more immediate, social media is a great way to stay in touch. It can be routinely updated and managed, which keeps your brand recognition up, helps build and maintain a more personally-rooted relationship with clients, and serves as an ever-blinking beacon for those clients to let them know you’re here and open and available.
This is one of the reasons that social media has become one of the most popular areas of focus when it comes to marketing and communications. But don’t forget the importance of CRM. The numbers don’t lie. Your social media posts aren’t going to be seen by everyone. A2P on the other hand is a more appropriate vehicle for wide-scale dissemination of information. If there’s something you need to draw your clients’ attention to without fear that it will go unnoticed, A2P might be the best choice for that. If, on the other hand, you want to generate a response from clients, direct mail might be your best choice, especially among certain age-groups. Of course, email has the virtue of requiring less time and initial investment.
So while it’s going to depend entirely on how you want to keep in touch with your clients, it should also be clear that these tools should all have a place on your toolbelt, ready to be used for their individual strengths, or used in tandem to get the job done.