Every builder has a CRM strategy –- even if they don't think of it quite that way. The issue facing most builders isn't about having a CRM strategy; it's about having an intelligent CRM strategy.
By intelligent strategy, I mean an integrated marketing and sales effort that generates quality leads and produces measurable sales while positioning your company effectively against competitors. This is easier said than done.
At its best, CRM is approached from a customer-centric point of view, seeking first to understand their wants, needs, and desires, and then aligning those to the intended business outcomes. These insights should be used to inform every component of a CRM program, focusing on creating meaningful value for the customer as they interact with your brand touchpoints in their purchase "journey."While the notion of a complex customer journey isn't a new one (especially in the home building industry), data-driven digital marketing has made it both easier yet more challenging to anticipate and address buyer issues as they move towards a purchase decision and, ultimately, serving as an advocate for your company. I say easier because we can now generate a lot more data about our customers. However, this data, if it is to yield useful insights into the customer, requires sophisticated data mining that many builders currently lack – or fail to leverage.
Think of CRM as a collection of tactics that rest on a sophisticated knowledge of the client while including a flexible array of marketing tools, whether that happens to be display advertising, video, websites, social media, or even collateral. To determine how best to use CRM, some key questions must be answered:
- What is the measurable business objective?
- What is the path from the initial point of brand awareness through to that conversion?
- What is the overall strategy that should be used to communicate our brand to this customer?
Once the basics are understood, it’s easier to determine how CRM fits with the overall marketing mix — and how it will best be deployed. And by “how” I mean, to begin with, how does the consumer enter the CRM process? How should the customer be nurtured through this process? What are the end goals — a meeting with sales, an app download, a purchase, shaping brand perception? Also, how does this integrate with Sales Operations, and who is tracking these interactions from start to finish?
In the home-building industry, CRM plays an effective role for the brand by helping to filter out "hot" leads that can be transferred to sales for closure from "warm" or "cold" leads that need to be nurtured with content about your brand's offering and how it can help the builder.
Additionally, CRM can help augment the awareness-building activities, like print + digital + social media, trade shows, events, and conferences. In each scenario, you're generating leads for your organization, yet you need a way to prioritize those leads to ensure Sales is focusing on the high-value opportunities while allowing for CRM to nurture the rest until they’ve reached “high value” status as well.
It's important to note that, in the home-building industry, it’s not as simple as selling beer and bubblegum that can be purchased on an impulse; this is a practice of pushing major transactions, with numerous influencers, and a protracted buying cycle that can range from 6-24 months. CRM allows marketers to automate components of this, and to manage those long-term opportunities effectively.
A major home appliance manufacturer recently applied these principles in an effort to establish the home-building industry as a distribution channel. Preliminary research yielded certain insights, including an understanding that builders:
- Thought of the brand as a major brand -- but not necessarily in the home-building market
- Felt that the brand appealed to millennial and tech-savvy consumers
- Tended to quote and to purchase legacy brands with which they were already familiar.
To reshape this behavior, a campaign was designed to show how the brand would bring new consumers (millennials and tech-savvy consumers) to the marketplace. This messaging began with more traditional means (website, events, print), given that the path to purchase in the building industry is often old school, where builders want to meet a business partner and "press the flesh."
Meantime, testing was undertaken for a more sophisticated CRM approach with digital advertising, videos, and supporting email drip campaigns that spoke to different facets of the appliance manufacturer's offering. For example, if the target wanted to know more about warranties, product line, or technology integration, they received more content about the things that were of greatest interest to them, and less about the topics they didn’t care as much about.
After going live, the campaign exceeded industry benchmarks for click-through rates (CTRs), conversions, and closure rates while also gaining valuable data that yielded additional insight into how the target audience thinks, and how best to optimize and tailor future messaging to them in a way that resonates best and drives them to action.
The campaign met the tangible business objectives of the brand in a way that provided meaningful value to the buyers – the very definition of customer-centric CRM.
This sounds like a lot of work (and it was), but competition will increasingly demand this kind of disciplined and integrated approach to marketing and CRM. As Boston Consulting Group notes, the digital marketing revolution has only just begun, and builders ought to be ahead of the change.