In the first marketing toolkit I discussed desktop publishing and the role it played in changing marketing strategy and processes. In this post I want to discuss what was the second major technology impact to marketing over the past 20 years, the creation of the World Wide Web and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems.
I was fortunate enough to be working on a Sun workstation in 1994 and was able to use Mosaic the first web browser. I was fascinated by the technology since it was a gateway to information, but more so in that I saw the web as the game changer in marketing. In the same way that the first PCs and desktop publishing gave us a greater level of control over communication, the web was going to be an even bigger leap.
At the same time that the web was being developed we also witnessed the evolution of database technology and its application towards customer data. CRM systems allow us to collect data about our customers in addition to managing and tracking our communication and interactions with them. Each customer touch point could be analyzed and trends identified to help marketing professionals determine the best method of communication and engagement to the customer.
Both of these technologies were perfectly suited to work with each other in today’s business environment. As a business culture we wanted some of the basic marketing and customer support functions to be more self-service. Marketing departments were able to get more valuable feedback as well as respond in a timelier manner. By integrating database information our web sites went from billboards to dynamic information resources.
The marketing geek in me embraced these technologies as they were eliminating some of the most painful and challenging aspects of my job. Now if there was a change in any part of the marketing message, I could do it easily and with fewer costs. Of course there would be an entire set of new business rules, best practices and technology challenges to follow.
For today’s marketing professionals the corporate web site has become the main focus of marketing communication. It’s the first place business people and consumers turn to for information, points of contact, contests, locations, store hours, warranty info, etc. These sites have powerful backend databases that allow us to search, sort and filter information in the form the receiver desires.