Wunderman Thompson’s Steve Richards will discuss the challenges of creating one-to-one relationships in the era of the connected customer, convincing brand marketers that, no matter their target audience, they need to look again at CRM.

Originally, CRM conquered the doorstep through direct mail then the email inbox, then the mobile phone and the smartwatch. But in 2024 the coming challenges will be in your car, your TV and your social feeds. 

Through all the twists and turns of the industry, one thing remains constant – the need to build and maintain relationships with customers. Customer Relationship Management (CRM), originally rooted in the world of direct mail and email marketing, has evolved with the times, seamlessly integrating with mobile marketing, TV, social media and conversational commerce, and connected experiences.

As media channels collapse in on themselves, with the crumbling of cookies and the declining supply of paid inventory, CRM will expand into many more areas of a customer’s life. In the age of this connected customer, the clients that harness CRM’s ever-expanding ability to better reach, communicate and deepen relationships with customers will win.

If you’re wondering how in the world to do it, here are three key considerations to get started:

The Addressability opportunity

Marketers are having to adapt fast to handle many more addressable channels as the technology revolution opens up new routes for relationship building. From addressable TV to conversational commerce, to the potential of the connected car dashboard, all will produce an ever-greater proliferation of brand touchpoints. These services are likely to be funded by advertising, paid for by brands and targeted by data so brands have a new opportunity to apply their data to build one-to-one relationships with their consumers.

Solve the data puzzle

It’s no secret that the more data is collected the better the ability to construct a comprehensive profile of the customer. In a world with more touchpoints, powered by one-to-one data, the importance is now even more focused on data capture, and how well this is progressively built over time into a profile. With a mix of the interactions in these new channels in addition to the engagements that certain customers make with the brand, added to the existing data set. Piece it all together correctly and you’ve got rocket-fuel to build and grow relationships like never before.

Sweat the new channels available to you for all they’re worth

Today’s powerful new channels are helping to add more details to the consumer picture, boosting the opportunities to build relationships with customers.

The advent of addressable TV offers huge opportunities for CRM. Sky Adsmart is offering addressable advertising to 9.3 million households in the UK, a third of their total reach. ITV recently announced the launch of addressable ads in live shows across ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4 and ITVBe in Youview homes, some 1.3 million households. 

With addressable TV, brands can close the loop on campaigns by targeting specific audiences and then tracking their actions, whilst also weaving TV into the existing triggered customer journeys we build in more traditional CRM channels.

The growth of conversational commerce is another area where brands are applying the techniques of CRM with success. The spread of chatbots on brand websites allows consumers to message companies with queries and problems, with similar communication enabled through messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

Encouraging these conversations offers brands avenues for one-to-one communication with customers and ways to build key data about their likes and wishes. For instance, Hellmann’s mayonnaise used WhatsApp to offer consumers in Brazil tailored advice on how to cook a meal from a chef. Crew Clothing also ran a Facebook Ads campaign to encourage consumers under the age of 34 to connect with the brand through Messenger, where it then guided them through questions that led to a series of gift options for Christmas presents. 

Brands should also look to leverage connected experiences with consumers. A particular growth area worth looking into at the moment is through their cars, which can offer new opportunities for building direct relationships with customers through connected dashboards, apps and phones, offering a wealth of information and brand integrations.

Brands should consider integrating their comms into these services, offering ads based on one-to-one customer data. For example, an ad could offer a coupon to visit a coffee shop when a driver travels within a few miles of the location.

As customers become ever more connected, the opportunities for building one-to-one relationships based on the data and signals they share through these emerging channels are endless but, while it’s tempting to wait until these experiences and channels are further developed, the time for marketers to act is now to reap the biggest rewards.