For those of you in Sales and Marketing teams at academic publishers, your data has to perform in certain ways.

You need to obtain, store and use granular data that is able to bisect across disciplines, courses, subjects and departments. You have to  understand what your customer uses and needs are (e.g. are they journal subscribers, want books, require research updates, etc.) And you should be able to target your sales and marketing campaigns accordingly.

It’s a complex process, with the need for segmentation and customised knowledge for each type of customer and their specific needs. 

Without the necessary data structures and processes already in place to extract the right information for your campaigns, starting on the journey to unlocking the value of your customer data can seem daunting.

For Jo Greig, Sales and Marketing Director at Bristol University Press, and Andrew Crenshaw, Senior Product Manager and Technology Director at Macmillan Learning, it’s all about breaking it down, creating a prioritised plan and solving the puzzle piece by piece.

In a webinar session we ran in 2020, Jo and Andrew shared their experiences undertaking significant customer data transformation – the technical, workflow and process solutions they have put in place, the challenges they faced, the opportunities they have uncovered and the efficiencies they have seen. Watch it here.

What can you learn by catching up with the session? Here are 5 things from the session that stood out to us:

1. CRM champions will save you

Get select people within your sales and marketing teams on board as your Customer Engagement champions. They will help to ensure there is plenty of momentum behind the changes that need to happen at various stages of the data transformation process – and have an understanding of why these changes are so vital. 

To do this, you could: 

  • Run detailed workshops to outline company requirements and user journeys across all departments in the business.
  • Schedule blocks of time for face-to-face or online “focus sessions” with the right people to accelerate, discover and design how the system needs to work.
  • For larger initiatives, engage working groups to help you transition from requirements-gathering to go-live readiness testing and sign off.

2. Top-level buy-in is a must

In addition to the people in your teams, establishing executive, top-level or senior buy-in and support is essential. This will help you to obtain that all-important funding and wider organisational support you need to carry through the changes.

Once you have collected information from your teams about how your customer data needs to perform, socialise the business value and goals with the entire organisation. You might want to engage all the relevant stakeholders within the team by setting up a CRM steering committee that will lead the way when diagnosing problems and forming strategic solutions that align with the core business goals.

3. It’s all about the what, how and why of data

Understanding the current state of your customer data and how it is being captured is one of the fundamental stages of the journey. Cleansing, matching, identifying gaps and migration efforts of your existing data shouldn’t be underestimated. 

Review the state of data, audit and organise a big data clean up to remove duplication. This will give you a clear idea of how your customer information currently functions, how limited your data might be and identify common issues to start with.

4. Be prepared to prioritise

Not everything can be done straight away. It’s likely that the actions you take will be largely driven by feedback from stakeholders and the overall business strategy of your organisation. You might not have much room to manoeuvre at first, so you will need to weigh up the short-term fixes versus longer term solutions that will be addressed as priorities. But you can start to uncover quick wins early on by starting small, and starting somewhere.

Establish project/platform governance to align and prioritise initiatives based on business value, and course-correct frequently to help keep things on track. Define early on what was in and out of scope according to budget – and stick to it!

5. Take it step-by-step

Solving the customer data puzzle doesn’t happen overnight, and there will be a number of steps to work through.

Start by defining and developing a “minimum viable product” that functions in the basic ways you need to address the problems you’ve already identified as priorities.Trial small-scale campaigns to experiment with what is possible and iterate only if it’s truly necessary. This will allow you to build in things that will work for what you need.

Testing and training is also key. You’ll likely have to sell any new system and the business benefits to the Sales and Marketing team who will be using it. If you have never had a fully-functioning CRM this will all be new! Have an ongoing training and communication plan in place for teams and system users. Take it slowly, and integrate changes gradually with step by step onboarding so everyone can get comfortable with the new system.

To access the recording of our webinar with Jo and Andrew, click here.

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