Instantly Improve Your CRM Strategies With 1 Simple Change

06 Jun


CRM strategies are an essential part of modern marketing methodology, the meteoric rise of the consumer-brand relationship has made CRM practices almost mandatory to stay relevant. However, the current state of CRM strategy is extremely limited in scope, with most brands sticking almost exclusively to online tactics. This article demonstrates the inherent similarities between CRM and face-to-face experiential tactics, making the case that a combination of the two is far more effective than either individually.


Consumer Experience Trends

The age of the faceless consumer is over – no longer can brands employ the classic scatter gun approach to marketing and expect to remain competitive.

According to a Marketo survey, 63% of respondents are highly annoyed by the way brands continue to rely on the old-fashioned strategy of blasting generic ad messages repeatedly.

Instead we have seen the rise of personalisation, enticing customers with marketing content designed specifically for them. To contextualise how popular this has become, 77% of marketers believe real-time personalisation is crucial according to Adobe.


Data-Driven Tactics

One of the main reasons for this popularity is the wealth of data, now available, which fuels it: social media data, company website information, marketing information, customer preferences, previous customer purchases and current trends all help brands paint a detailed picture of their customers.

Common elements and recurring themes can then be used to build buyer personas – a staple of inbound marketing, enabling brands to tailor communication to prospective consumers they know nothing about.


A Shift Towards Retention

The other likely cause is a shift in the perceived importance from acquisition to retention. Acquisition isn’t dead, which we can see in the use of personas; consumers simply want to buy from brands that will work hard to retain their business.

Results-wise, this trend has brought success for brands – 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name, recommends options based on past purchases, or knows their purchase history (Accenture). One prime example of a brand doing personalisation right is global marketplace Amazon.

The upshot is that the modern consumer experience with brands is no longer purely transactional. Consumers buy from brands that treat them as more than a walking wallet; brands that actively seek to build and maintain deep, genuine relationships.


How To Improve CRM Strategies With Experiential Marketing


Definition of CRM

Enter CRM strategies. defines CRM or Customer Relations Management as such:

“Consumer relations, also known as customer relations, can be defined as the process in which an organization creates and maintains a positive relationship with their consumers.”

So far so good, and when you add Salesforce’s definition:

“Customer Relationship Management enables you to focus on your organisation’s relationships with individual people”

It’s obvious this is the tool all marketers should be using to nurture relationships and develop the consumer experience. It shouldn’t then come as a surprise that the revenue from CRM software alone is forecast at 36,509 million USD for 2017. (SuperOffice)

However, the biggest problem I have with current CRM methodology is that it’s considered, almost universally, to be a completely online process. Whereas, when we explore the topic, it’s clear to see the vast majority of CRM strategies would benefit from including face-to-face experiential marketing practices as well.


Experiential Marketing Definition

In order to understand the similarities between experiential and CRM practices, it’s important to understand both methodologies. Experiential marketing, as the name suggests, is heavily focussed on improving the customer experience and involving consumers with the brand.

According to CMO, “Experience marketing is a mutually beneficial interaction between customer and brand in an authentically branded engagement.”

Similarly, Econsultancy argue, “The premise is to create a closer bond between the consumer and the brand by immersing them in a fun and memorable experience.”

Simply exploring definitions we can see similarities starting to appear, both are customer-centric, both seek to develop relationships with consumers and both have the end goal of creating mutually beneficial relationships with individuals.


The Benefits

Both also have the potential to create huge amounts of value for brands, with the correct execution, which we will discuss below.


By The Numbers

Both experiential and CRM strategies are supported by impressive statistics – according to Salesforce:

CRM applications have a proven track record of increasing sales by up to 37%, sales Productivity by up to 44% and forecast accuracy by 48%.

Whilst the EMI annual EventTrack survey found, “A significant 98% of the respondents said that assuming the product or service promoted was one they were interested in, participating at the event or experience made them more inclined to purchase.”

Just in terms of sales these are impressive figures which may, on their own, be enough to convince you how effective these two methodologies are individually. However, since this article is about a combination of the two, we’re going to take a look at exactly how experiential marketing synergises with CRM strategies: both attracting new customers, and retaining existing ones.


Attracting New Customers

Experiential marketing and CRM strategies share an abundance of similarities when it comes to acquisition.

In the same way a customer signs up for a newsletter, a customer approaching and engaging with an experiential activation is registering their interest in the brand. Tactics like tradeshow booths, free samples and brand ambassador interactions are all effective ways to attract customers and lay the foundations for lasting relationships.

For acquisition, it’s all about what our actions say about our brand. For example, a sponsored influencer post aims to demonstrate an alignment between the consumer and the brand’s values. A free sample does the exact same, it demonstrates that the brand values your opinion of their product so much they want you to try it for free.



Experiential tactics like free samples or product demonstrations can lead to a consumer actively seeking information about the brand online: registering for the aforementioned newsletter, following a brand’s social channels or seeking out their next event – all of which perpetuate the cycle of CRM strategies, allowing further interaction and deeper relationships to be build.

When acquiring customers, experiential marketing is another link in the chain that is CRM strategy, providing further opportunities to gather data and encourage consideration of the product.


Developing Relationships With Existing Customers

Much like experiential marketing, CRM strategies don’t stop once the sale is closed, it’s a powerful tool for what inbound marketers would call delighting customers. In a perfect world, these activities create repeat-purchasing brand evangelists who go forth and spread the brand’s message off their own backs.

In this, experiential marketing has a pedigree – 96% of consumers that tell a friend or family member about their experience mention the company or brand running the event, and 100% of consumers who capture content at an event share that content online (EventTrack).

We have a perfect illustration for this – as a non-profit organisation, Dogs Trust relies on repeated donations from committed supporters, and how do they build those supporters? CRM! It’s certainly much easier than ambushing people in town centres.

Dogs Trust’s free training classes demonstrate the inherent similarities these two methodologies share. For new visitors, they’re a great way to immerse themselves in the brand; whilst existing customers have their faith in the cause renewed by seeing their money is being put to good use. And, naturally, the content is tailored to the personalities of the dogs present.

Either way, both take home a deeper relationship with, and appreciation for, the brand providing the service.



Finally, experiential marketing tactics like product demonstrations and invite-only events help customers feel valued after their purchase, incentivising them to do so again. A great example is O2 who use their priority moments system to give customers access to discounted tickets, unique experiences and VIP areas like the O2 Blue Room at Twickenham.

Again, we can spot similarities between the two strategies: both the attempts to develop relationships with customers by increasing perceived value of the product; and the creation of brand advocates who spread powerful WOM promotion.


Round Up

In conclusion, it would be foolish to try to argue that CRM and experiential marketing are the same thing, at least under the current definition. In outlining the similarities, we have also, inadvertently, covered the differences between the operations of the two methodologies, which can easily work independently of each other.


Ocean Spray Case Study


However, it’s also true to say that when a brand uses both, the two synergise extremely well, whether it’s the brand’s intent or not. Some consumers may need to see the human face of an experiential activation to set them on the road of CRM and consideration – similarly, an extensive CRM database enables brands to target forensically the demographics they think will be most responsive to their experiential events.


Either way, it’s high time brands started using the two in concert, as the human element of experiential marketing gives future CRM practices a more authentic feel, in a time when authenticity is king.

To quote Mark Bonchek and Cara France of the Harvard Business Review, in the past, “you had a relationship with a brand. But in this social age, brands are the relationships.” (HBR 2017

Just as the age of the faceless consumer is over, so is the age of the faceless brand.



If you’d like to find out what eventeem can do for your next event, feel free to contact us, we’d love to hear from you!