Nine ways to nail your CRM spend

Rather than being a task you do once, twice or four times a year, managing your CRM budget effectively is an ongoing process. You need to continually monitor your spending to make sure it nets the kind of measurable return on investment that you can demonstrate clearly to the wider business.

How do you do this? Here are my top tips:

  1. Map out all the business-critical requirements for your CRM strategy. You might need significant resources and financial input to meet these, so identify what to assign money to upfront. For example, one of our clients needs several regular campaigns to support its loyalty programme, so the budget to support this needs to be ring-fenced.
  2. Build in contingency for unexpected costs. Typically, these arise from making essential improvements to existing activity, for example updating templates or amending captured data fields, which can deliver a big lift in ROI. Keep some budget available for this work later in the year.
  3. Avoid the trap of thinking purely short term, especially when faced with a shrinking budget. Although some projects can require a large upfront investment, the long-term maintenance costs may be very affordable – especially when you consider overall costs in the following financial year. Unless you’re very lucky, your budgets probably won’t get dramatically bigger next year, so it’s worth bearing long-term cost implications and benefits in mind.
  4. Start small and use the ‘tried and tested’ approach whenever possible. When looking at building out your channels, make sure you’ve already nailed down the fundamentals of email. As the most highly rated marketing channel for ROI (as confirmed by Econsultancy’s 2018 Email Marketing Industry Consensus Report), it’s the obvious place to start. Email is also very measurable and a natural channel for direct, personalised communications.
  5. Allocate your leftover budget to projects that are likely to net you a high, measurable ROI. You can then use the results of these projects to build a business case to justify more budget the next time it’s up for review.
  6. Build a clear, achievable plan for the next year. A good tip is to use a calendar view to make sure you don’t front-load your annual project activity. This will help you manage your resources effectively too. Try to get a complete view on the costs of each of the activities and projects you’ve planned for. This will reduce the likelihood of any budget being wasted on activity that you won’t be able to afford to complete or keep up later in the year.
  7. Have robust tracking and benchmark metrics in place for all your business-critical activity, especially when it’s sales driven. This way you can reassess the ongoing impact your activity is making and adjust your priorities depending on what is lifting engagement or revenue. Setting this up properly will come at a cost, but it’s well worth the investment.
  8. Use a set of creative templates for your campaigns. In terms of design and build, this will be more cost and resource effective than re-designing each campaign separately. If you design your templates so that several modules can be used in different combinations (including large editable header image sections), your communication will look consistently fresh.
  9. Add a well informed testing plan to your activity plan for the next year. This must align with your commercial objectives and allow you to track sales attribution at campaign and individual level, so you can compare ROI easily and accurately.

For some complimentary advice on how to manage your CRM budget more effectively, email Matt at mattr@profusion.com.

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