Hannah Stacey
Hannah Stacey
Posted 15 January 2021

5 lessons in building great CRM teams

Topics: CRM teams

Having led the CRM and lifecycle marketing at brands like Uber Eats, Glossier and now FitOn, it’s safe to say Raj Suvarna knows a thing or two about how to get the most out of CRM and the teams that use it.

At Ometria’s Lifecycle event, Raj shared an array of unique insights from his career – and we’ve distilled the five best tips from his session here – and you can check out the full video at the bottom of this post. 

You can access videos and slides from all of the amazing talks at Lifecycle20 here.

1) Understand what makes a great CRM team

Raj opened the session by outlining the five key characteristics of a great CRM team.

Great CRM teams are customer obsessed.

They are the champions of the customers internally, and promote their interests across the many different functions of a business. 

They are fierce collaborators.

CRM teams act as the hub of functions in marketing and beyond. This can stem from the unique findings in analyzing data and inputs, or from unveiling valuable insights through user-research and consulting stakeholders. 

They are also prolific communicators.

The best CRM teams will share their roadmap and priorities – and then reshare these as they are continually evaluated and updated. This communication is integral in aligning strategies across marketing. 

CRM teams are execution machines.

CRM teams supercharge strategy across the business – in addition to building and launching multiple projects which ensure the business is constantly learning and optimizing its offer to best suit customer needs.

The best CRM teams are fearless.

Great CRM teams know that when they take chances, there is a strong likelihood some of these efforts will fail. And there is no shame in that. Failures provide genuine learning opportunities for the wider business.

2) Know how to structure the team

Strong CRM teams are composed of a multitude of different talent requirements and skill sets – and Raj talks us through the most important sub functions within a CRM team.

  • CRM Marketing Managers are ‘marketers first, technologists second’. They should be responsible for creating the overarching strategy and what metrics the team is trying to move – the hallmark of a great CRM Marketing Manager is the ability to craft a crystal clear campaign brief. 
  • Marketing Operations are not marketers – they handle the technical development, integrations and deployment of campaigns. 
  • Data Science plays a crucial role in keeping teams focused on prioritising the right things. They assist teams by developing plans for experimenting and post campaign analysis. 
  • Creative/Design teams are game changers in CRM marketing. It’s essential they can reflect the different nuances of different customer bases in their design, whilst staying true to the principles of the brand. 
  • Copywriters are the secret weapon of the marketing team. They are not just writing copy – they take complex strategies and transform them into simple value propositions for customers. 

Not every retailer is big enough to support each of these roles – and Raj explained how he might prioritize hiring using the diagram below:

3) Process leads to progress

Raj highlighted that having strong, clearly defined processes is the best way for CRM marketing teams to produce effective campaigns. 

Segmentation is the first and most difficult step. The first way to segment your audience is through their core characteristics (things that change infrequently), such as name, gender, age, language and city. 

Then there is behavior. How are they browsing? How many emails are they opening? What content is resonating? 

From these blocks, you can then segment based on future value indicators. How often are they purchasing? And at what value? How long have they been a customer? Are they influential on social and can they impact sales?

The final segmentation looks at your customers’ needs indicators. What are the customer’s support expectations? What is their defect/return rate? How frequently do they contact support and for what issues? This segment helps you identify the customers whose needs may outweigh their value. 

The next step is mapping the journey –  from the awareness stage before they place an order, to the early phases after a purchase, to regular interactions – then to those who are ‘at risk’ with large periods of inactivity. You need to define what stable looks like – and what at risk looks like. 

4) The art of the hypothesis 

Raj stressed that one of the most important qualities in a CRM marketing team is the ability to develop a good hypothesis. 

A good hypothesis is one which is clearly articulated and can be proven or disproven. If it can’t be proven or disproven – it is not a good hypothesis. Raj gave an example of what this could look like:

“By including a recommended products module in our first order transactional receipt email, we expect second order conversion to go up by 10%.”

This could be true or false – but with experimentation it will be possible to know which it is with certainty. 

5) Execution and measurement go hand in hand

You can write strategy all day long – but if you can’t execute it then it’s useless. Raj recommends that CRM teams draw flowcharts and visualise what a campaign will look like – before it goes to deployment. 

Execution and measurement are two sides of the same coin. Raj shared his high-level template of how CRM teams should assess whether there is any statistical significance to the results of a campaign. 

Summary and key links 

There is a lot to cover when it comes to building a great CRM marketing team – and Raj tells us exactly how to go about it in the video below. 

  • To learn more about the characteristics that make a great CRM team, check in at 00:44. 
  • For details on their composition and roles, tune in at 03:28.
  • For insights on how you should scale your CRM marketing with your business growth, skip to 07:40.
  • For an overview of the process structure CRM teams should follow, jump to 11:48. The deep dive on audience segmentation begins at 12:46. 
  • At 15:11 Raj explores the art of the hypothesis – before moving onto experimentation at 16:40.

To access more great Lifecycle20 content, head to our content hub.

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