Customer Portfolios' Blog

Challenges Every CRM Marketer Faces


The first wave of customer relationship management (CRM) was heavily focused on call centers, today’s CRM landscape has evolved with the times and is focused on the digital space. Although new technologies exist and marketers and businesses have adapted to the changing environment, many of the issues that plagued CRM marketers in the 1990s, still persist today.

Disparate Data Collection.

In the earliest days of CRM, very few retailers were collecting point-of-sale data. Even the ones that were, many did not know what to do with the data. In addition to POS, retailers began collecting data from credit cards, and eventually began asking customers for their email address. That said, if a customer purchased from a catalog and then made a subsequent purchase in-store, the retailer would have no way of connecting the data sources to determine that this was a unique customer instead of two different customers.

Today, multichannel retailers are faced with the same challenges of being unable to connect multichannel purchases to a single customer. This requires retailers to connect their data sources through a single marketing database to have the ability to attribute online or offline purchase to a single customer profile. For most, this is easier said than done, as many do not have the right resources and technology in place to manage integration of multiple data sources.

Sale Attribution Issues.

Marketers continue to be plagued by the ability of attributing a sale to a single channel. For CRM marketers in the late 1990’s, if a customer bought from a catalog, they were a catalog customer and the catalog marketing was attributed the sale, if they purchased in-store, then in-store was credited with the sale. During this time, each facet of marketing was trying to stake their claim and own the customer sale. Thus, they did not recognize that a customer could purchase from multiple channels. Rather, this was a completely new customer all together.

In 2015, there are over 40 different marketing channels all of which can influence a purchase, regardless if it takes place in-store or online. This further complicates the attribution process because according to Forrester Research, the Internet influences up to 54% of all purchases that take place in-store. Even before the sale, there are points of influence that increase customer interest and play a role in capturing the sale. It is now the job of the digital marketer to connect all points of influence to create a holistic view of the customer. However, this is much easier said then done…


Lack of a consolidate view of marketing.

As alluded to above, the various facets of marketing have historically operated in silos. In the early days of CRM, catalog marketing was separate from email marketing, which was separate from in-store marketing, etc. Not only did you have the attribution issues, but this also creates an unbalanced marketing experience for the customer. Because there was little to no communication from one function to the next, there was no visibility into what was working, what was not, and how these marketing disciplines could work together to create a unified experience for the customer.

Even as marketing has become much more sophisticated in 2015, retailers are still faced with this same issue. Today’s digital world is comprised of many point solutions that address individual marketing functions. For instance, a retailer may have an SEM partner, a retailing solution, a CRM system, an email marketing platform, a social media analytics tool, and so on and so forth. Each of these solutions provide best-in-class capabilities, yet it remains siloed and as a result, they operate independently without orchestration.


There are many challenges that lay before today’s CRM marketer that are not unlike the challenges they faced when CRM was burgeoning in the late 1990s. In coming blog posts, I will address how to connect CRM to the digital space and in doing so, tackle the challenges outlined above.

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