Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Improve your marketing by joining the CSI team!

Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) is one of the most popular TV shows on air today.  Legions of viewers enjoy determining the causes of the crime that opens the show.  Through the layers of plot twists, the investigators remain focused on figuring out the causes of the unfortunate demise of the victim, and making sure the perpetrator is clearly identified Even the Science Museum of Minnesota is a fan, with its exhibit, CSI:  The Experience.

Well, you, too, can join the CSI team, and should, if your goal is to increase the impact and profitability of your marketing programs.

First, change “crime” to “best customer.”  Then take the premise of the show and apply it to data-driven marketing.

What Happened:                   A Prospect Became a Best Customer
Who (or What) Did It:          That is for YOU to determine

You see, the key to improving your data-driven marketing results is to understand causes (“the culprit”).  Once you understand the causes, you can reallocate dollars to spend more on the tactics that drive best customer conversion and less (or none) on tactics that are ineffective.

How it works:
1.      Identify best customers who were acquired in the past year.  Clearly define “best customers” but do not fret over getting it exact; small differences will not change the results in this approach.  For our clients, we use a combination of frequency and annual revenue.  Frequency drives familiarity with your brand, and annual revenue “keeps the lights on,” so we like those.
2.      Determine which marketing programs those customers received in the 2 months before they became a customer.  In a core marketing effort, those communications probably include email and direct mail.  More sophisticated organizations include affiliate marketing, social media (if you can connect to a specific customer) and so on.  You can find out which customers received which campaigns by finding that customer’s name, email, etc. on the mail and email lists.  You can also look at coupons and offers that the best customer used on their first purchase to see which campaign generated those offers.
3.      Attribute the customer to 1 to 2 specific campaigns.  Usually, we use the campaigns that the customer received closest to their first transaction, with some enhancements for email:  first, the customer had to open the email (and usually click on the link as well).  That tells you that the customer not only received the email, but also noticed it.  Once you have assembled the list of the most recent campaigns that best customers received, compare them across all your best customers. 
By seeing the “clues” (similarities in campaigns most recently received and acted upon), you can trace it back to the perpetrator (most successful campaigns that acquire best customers)

Measurement must become core for your department.  For more on the role of measurement, visit  http://tinyurl.com/4vht6yx.

Your CSI effort should become more sophisticated over time.  You can trace back to key words for paid search.  You can include web site behavior over time.  Just like an investigator, you use all the tools at your disposal to nab the villain.

Being a marketer today requires that you assemble every clue that leads to best customers and then focus your energies on those tactics.  That way, you can keep your personal “ratings” high and make sure you are renewed for next year!

Mark Price is Managing Partner of M Squared Group, a consulting firm focused on understanding and building customer relationships, and the author of the blog “Cultivating Your Customers,” where he writes about practical approaches to improve customer retention and overall customer value.

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