by Chad Ruff, Chief Technology Officer at Swiftpage
If you’re looking for a strategy to get ahead when it comes to customer acquisition, machine learning can be your secret weapon. While machine learning does fall under the larger category of artificial intelligence (AI), it’s a bit more specific and can be extremely effective technology to pair with your customer and prospect database. True AI can think for itself like Lieutenant Commander Data from Star Trek. Machine learning, however, can automate tasks and apply predictive analytics that drive meaningful growth.
Machine learning is the AI focal point for your customer relationship management (CRM) tool and can be the key to boosting your customer acquisition.
What does a CRM with machine learning do?
Businesses are quickly noticing that a CRM which incorporates machine learning is ideal for companies of all sizes because of the multitude of incredible features they offer. A CRM helps businesses capture important customer information, track interactions and purchases and can help businesses provide an excellent customer service experience. A CRM that includes machine learning adds the ability to access predictive analytics, automate email marketing campaigns and drive customer transactions. According to Gartner, the fastest growing sub segment for CRMs is marketing automation, which increased by 18.8 percent and represented 25 percent of the entire CRM marketing space in 2018.
Additionally, a CRM with machine learning can help with customer acquisition in these key areas:
Defining personas – Analytics from machine learning can help businesses create personas, or sample customers, which can then be used to segment consumers and create persona-specific marketing strategies. By creating a “lookalike” with personas, you can target potential new customers based on solid data points.
Focused content creation –A strategic content creation strategy will assist your company in creating highly-focused content that speaks to specific customer groups. You can also determine which pieces of content get the most click-throughs or engagement and use that to create similar content.
Targeted lead generation – By tapping into the marketing automation aspect of machine learning, you can generate more targeted leads. Rather than sending out blanket marketing and sales collateral and seeing what sticks, use data and automation to deliver content in a timely, targeted and tailored fashion. Companies that have utilized machine learning for lead generation have seen a more than 50 percent increase in leads and appointments.
Effective data collection – Automating tasks such as data collection can be a huge help to your employees. In fact, a recent survey reported 46.5 percent of employees said the time it takes to enter data into their CRM was an issue. Therefore, when accurate customer data including contact info, purchase history and previous communication notes are already loaded in and available to your employees at the click of a button, your customer service goes from average to exceptional — increasing the likelihood of repeat purchase.
Quick response times – Customer retention will increase with the automation of certain tasks, such as order confirmations, serving FAQ answers, requesting product surveys and other broad communications initiatives. Customers will be impressed with your business’ quick response time and it will take these nuanced tasks off your employees’ plates, giving them more time to tend to critical customer interactions.
Cost-related benefits – A CRM that includes machine learning can save companies both money and time, allowing them to direct funds and resources into other facets of the business that dig deeper into customer acquisition efforts. Think about the skilled human hours it would take to analyze all of the data, generate predictive analytics, complete detailed customer entries, generate marketing themes and send out individual emails. It’s shown that sales teams who integrate automation have seen a 40-60 percent cost reduction and a time savings of 60-70 percent. The time and money saved is significant!
Understand the customer journey – At times it can be hard to determine how a customer followed the sales funnel ultimately to purchase. Machine learning can help businesses gain insights into the customer journey, and then use that data to support customer retention for future purchase.
The future of CRM and machine learning.
These are already exciting times for businesses who are taking advantage of a CRM with machine learning, and the future is even brighter! We’re looking ahead to gain a deeper understanding of: the customer journey, the ability to capture data on even smaller pieces of marketing (like the subject line of an email), narrowing in on a specific time of day to send emails based on previous open rates and investigating other avenues where machine learning can help businesses save money. With all of this and more on the horizon, machine learning is becoming the ultimate secret weapon for customer acquisition.
Chad Ruff serves as chief technology officer at Swiftpage, provider of leading cloud-enabled CRM and marketing automation platform Act! (www.act.com). Prior to Swiftpage, Ruff was an entrepreneur, serving as founder of Kuvana (provider of the email marketing and marketing automation solution InboxGuru) before the company’s acquisition by Swiftpage. Ruff also founded marketing automation platform Salesfusion where he served as both CEO and CTO.