CRM is a discipline balanced on the axis of analytics, technology, and marketing; mastering all three is difficult, but when achieved, it maximises the effectiveness of customer communications. However, when limitations are placed on any of these elements, CRM managers must get creative to address their audience.
Joel Fransson (Joel), Global CRM Manager at Anyfin, is acutely aware of the challenges of managing a CRM setup with limitations. In this article, Joel shares his tips for overcoming these limitations to build engaging customer relationships.
CRM at Anyfin
Anyfin is a consumer credit company that focuses on ethical lending practices across Germany, Sweden, Norway and Finland. While most consumer credit companies try to maximise their profits at the expense of customers, Anyfin takes the opposite approach and always strives to improve the financial situation of its customers. Therefore, it only refinances existing credits, and only gives out offers if they are able to reduce the overall cost.
As the first dedicated CRM resource, Joel had to take several steps when joining Anyfin. “I began by reviewing the situation and noted we were only doing newsletters and didn’t have the technology necessary to create automation. So I researched about different CRM vendors, selected Braze, and set about creating a long-term strategy for the team,” Joel explained. “Now we’re at the stage of scaling the team and building out more automated journeys for our customers.”
One of the biggest adjustments Joel had to make in his position was understanding the regulatory hurdles that must be overcome when marketing consumer credit products. The main challenges were:
1. Product Differentiation
Generally, customers are familiar with what a consumer credit company offers, but because we refinance loans and only do so when we know we can benefit the customer, we have to explain this and contrast this against the unethical practices of other companies. We have to be succinct and get this across in the limited amount of time we might have with an interested customer.
2. Communication Regulations
Consumer credit and financing is a highly regulated industry, with strict rules about what can be said and how it can be presented to the customer. For example, we can’t show our product as an ´easy fix for a customer’s problems´ because that’s not considered to be a moderate statement. On top of that, we’re not able to incentivise usage of our products with discounts or be as intrusive in our targeting compared to other brands.
3. Data Restrictions
Modern CRM teams work heavily with data and partner with Performance Marketing teams to improve targeting on advertising platforms. But due to our product offering, we’re restricted on how we can target, and the data we’re allowed to use, which forces us to get very creative in how we reach customers.
Overcoming CRM Restrictions
While the challenge of building relationships with customers under these limitations seems daunting, Joel views it as an opportunity to get creative and pursue other avenues. These are the methods he shared from Anyfin and believes other companies could leverage.
1. Create Relevant Content
Because we’re restricted from using certain language or expressions and are not allowed to make specific asks of the customer, we focus on developing engaging and informative content. For example, by explaining the issues that financing can cause, we’re creating content that the user can be interested in AND positioning ourselves as more ethically-minded versus our competition. We focus on quality and relevancy because we can’t use cheap marketing copy and tricks.
2. Invest in Alternative Channels
Because we face limitations in what we can say over typical communication channels, we’ve put a lot of resources into our chat function where there’s the possibility to have more of a dialogue with customers. Customers can have a lot of worries and concerns when it comes to Finance, but our customer success team is open every day so that we’re able to patiently answer questions and highlight our positioning versus the competition.
3. Leverage the Data You Have
While we can’t use most of the features or data offered by advertising platforms to improve targeting, we can use our zero- and first-party data to create specific audiences that are more efficient in how they target. My background in analytics has helped me immensely in my ability to hone in on the data that matters and understand how we can leverage it.
Joel’s CRM Experience
Joel’s journey to CRM began with studying statistics in school and leveraging that expertise into a position as a CRM analyst. “I’ve always believed there is truth in numbers, and having this belief and knowledge gave me a different perspective on CRM,” Joel said. “I had a clear understanding of how data works, where to get it, the limitations it has, and what you’re able to do with it. What I learned in my initial roles was then how to put data into practice.”
Joel believes that people in CRM often have three areas of competency – marketing, technology, or analytics, and he believes it’s rare to find someone with all three. “I think analytics and tech are slowly taking over as the more important competencies, but still feel there’s a place for marketing. For me personally, I spent my early career understanding analytics, and in my recent role have committed to learning more about tech and marketing.”
Before ending our conversation I asked Joel for one piece of wisdom he would like to share with other CRM professionals. Here is what he said:
You need to balance long and short-term value when investing in CRM. While ad-hoc campaigns can create immediate value, you need to be mindful of creating automation that creates efficiencies over time. Define a strategy that respects both approaches if you want to achieve success.
|1||CRM includes three important dimensions – analytics, technology, and marketing – with marketing becoming a waning force against the other two|
|2||Investing in analytics helps CRM Managers recognise what data they need, how to acquire it, and the best ways to utilise it|
|3||When faced with limitations in either marketing, technology, or analytics, look for creative solutions that focus on the message you’re trying to convey and the audience you’re trying to reach|
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