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Connected CRM

Become Customer Centric

If you could systematically identify, activate and retain customers, how would your marketing strategy change? Connected CRM, published in 2013, was a data-driven blueprint for creating long-lasting, highly profitable customer relationships on a massive, measurable scale.


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What Is Connected CRM?

The disruptive factors in business today are numerous, but the most important one for many organizations is the behavior of their customers. They quickly adopt new technologies, move between online and offline media and channels, and constantly reinvent the interaction paradigm before we finish building the prior one. Organizations must at once deal with an ever-changing landscape while activating their brands and engaging customers for the long haul. They utilize customer insights to deliver the brand experiences that their target customers desire, in hopes of creating competitive differentiation.

Over the decades, marketing has evolved from the mid-century "age of the brand," when national broadcast media helped build iconic brands that controlled the consumer landscape; to the 1990's and early 2000's "age of channel" when direct response and burgeoning digital channels allowed for measurable targeting; to today's "age of the consumer," where consumers have taken control of how and when they engage with brands, and with each other.

Today, there are three macro trends that are changing the marketing landscape: the digitization of media and channels; the proliferation of social media networks at scale; and the ability for consumers to access media anytime, anywhere. Marketers are responding with data-driven, digital customer strategies and a collective business model transformation.

The CMO is now at a critical junction. It is essential that meticulous preparations be in place to take advantage of the opportunity. We must make the connection between customer centricity and business strategy, leveraging the intersection of big data, analytics, and technology to build customer experiences that result in long-lasting, profitable relationships. This approach is called Connected CRM (cCRM)™. Connected CRM is a systematic way to identify, serve and retain customers based upon their value better than competitors through orchestrated customer interactions that improve financial results create competitive advantage and drive shareholder value.

These competencies comprise a clearly rationalized framework that is at the heart of cCRM. It is widely adopted at all levels of the organization and forms an ongoing process for complete enterprise implementation. Fundamentally, the approach is the same for every organization, with three seemingly simple steps: developing the strategy; building the infrastructure; and effecting the operational changes necessary to implement. But it's anything but simple. There are so many aspects to consider, not only in terms of media mix, but brand positioning, product strategy, channel planning, customer dynamics, sales and service experiences, and so on. As soon as we start looking at CRM as a "customer" conversation as opposed to a "media or campaign" conversation, we have to consider all these factors that influence the customer and the value associated with them. We see the framework in five fundamental components; three customer-specific functions and two types of enablers.

The framework reflects the requirements for making cCRM a reality. It begins with enterprise segmentation that supports the customer strategy and forms the basis for planning based on customer value metrics. An integrated targeting and customization competency supports media and channel planning for personalized experience delivery. And a strong financial management competency utilizes measurement and attribution techniques to enable media and channel budget application.

The infrastructure that enables an enterprise cCRM process encompasses the data, systems, tools and technologies required for ongoing management and execution. The organizational alignment to the approach is equally important. It requires changes to leadership and management decision rights; changes to workgroups and how they collaborate; and empowered top talent with the right incentives.

About David Williams

David Williams

David Williams is Chairman of Merkle Inc. He acquired Merkle in 1988 and became its 24th employee. Today, Merkle has more than 9,600 employees in locations in the United States, Europe and Asia and is one of the largest marketing services companies in the world. In September 2016, Merkle joined the Dentsu Aegis Network, which acquired a majority stake in the agency. David now sits on its Global Executive Committee and is Chairman of its Americas business.

Under David’s leadership, Merkle has sustained double-digit annual growth over the past 30 years and is the only agency that has been recognized by Forrester Research across every aspect of the customer journey: customer engagement strategy, marketing and database operations, search marketing, and loyalty solutions. In 2019, Advertising Age ranked Merkle as the 12th largest agency in the US, the 4th largest CRM/Direct Marketing agency globally, and the 12th largest US digital agency. David was recognized by Winning Workplaces and Fortune Magazine as one of America’s Best Bosses of 2006, and was the 2007 Maryland Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. 

Praise for the Book


“There are many books that explore the subject of customer relationship marketing, CRM for short. In this book the "m" is for Marketing, and David's perspective, amassed from 25 years of experience, indeed makes it a capital "M." Taking core direct response marketing techniques and moving beyond the simple use of data, analytics, and modeling, he explores how today's marketers can leverage advances in technology to develop and execute successful customer-centric business strategies. This is actually a cookbook with recipes for baking … a sustainable competitive advantage.”
Ted Ward

Ted Ward

VP, Marketing, Geico

“In a data rich world, consumers demand that marketers turn data into highly relevant and highly personal experiences. 'Don't talk with me as a member of a segment, talk with me about how you will meet my unique expectations and solve my unique problems' becomes the battle cry. For those of us who grew up in the marketing world of mass and broadcast, this is a tall order. Connected CRM helps marketers unpack customer centricity for their organizations, providing real insight into the development of a framework for enterprise customer centricity - a framework that promises true sustainable advantage through deep, meaningful and growing customer relationships.”
Tom Lamb

Tom Lamb

CMO, Lowe’s

“Never before has customer data been more available, more necessary to build sales and loyalty, and more confusing to act on. Dave Williams shows exactly what needs to be done. It's about time. And we should all thank him. A lot!”
Steve Cone

Steve Cone

Executive VP, Integrated Value and Strategy, AARP

“The marketers who truly learn to harness the power of customer analytics and big data will take the spoils in an increasingly digital age. Those who don't will quickly find themselves on a growing heap of failed marketing plans.”
Paul Guyardo

Paul Guyardo

Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer, DirecTV

“A must-read for CMOs and more importantly CEOs to simplify all the buzzwords around 'big data' and to dimensionalize the organizational change necessary to become truly customer centric.”
Theresa McLaughlin

Theresa McLaughlin

Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, Citizens Financial Group

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