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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

Customer relationship management

Customer relationship management is the process of managing the information that you have about customers across all of those customer touch points to maximize customer loyalty.

We’re in a world where customers can access the goods and services that you have to offer through many, many different channels at many, many different times with many different sets of needs. So the relationship with the customer is becoming more and more complex and more and more intricate than it ever has been before, enabled by digital, enabled by the number of access channels that the customer has.

So customer relationship management is the process of ensuring that you’ve got the right information about the customer, about their needs, about the relationship that you have with them, about the way in which you’ve delivered to them before. And it’s about managing that information in order to ensure that you are delivering relevant content, relevant assistance at the right time in the relationship with the customer, in order to get the best possible outcome.

So that can range from recognizing that a customer has actually been in contact with you before about a particular question or a particular issue. It can be upselling or cross-selling other goods or services to a customer based on your knowledge of their needs being most relevant for those particular goods or services. But it requires the right infrastructure within the organization, and it requires the right level employee motivation and commitment to be able to deliver the most effective customer service experience.


Customer relationship management brings a number of a benefits:

  • Enhancing loyalty
  • Creating ties, structural ties and bonds (such as loyalty schemes)
  • Creating customer delight

The goal of really great customer relationship management is almost to go back, in a way, to the days when a customer had a relationship with a shopkeeper. They would walk into a shop every day, they would know the shopkeeper, the shopkeeper would know them, they could have a chat about it, they would get what they needed, they can get advice from them.

And what digital customer relationship management is enabling is trying to reconnect some of those more personal relationships, some of that greater knowledge an organization can have about a customer to deliver them things in timely ways, in relevant ways and in timely ways, to build that relationship over time. Because if you’re offering a customer something that’s not relevant to them, or you’re not aware of a previous conversation that they’ve had, then that relationship is weakened. It’s not as strong as it could be and it’s probably not as strong as your competitors are being.


There are a number of tools that are enabling customer relationship management. Salesforce are the leaders in this field. So you can have software which basically will enable you to have the right kind of view of your customer, to bring the right kind of information to the employees of an organization, so that they can communicate that to the customer, to offer them opportunities, to solve problems that they have and fundamentally to build that relationship.

Case study: E.ON

E.ON is an energy company. So energy is not traditionally an area that’s associated with really good customer management. Typically, they have quite disconnected journeys. Customers can feel quite alienated from the brands and the service that they’re being given. So fundamentally, E.ON worked with Salesforce to reduce the complexity of the customer journey and try and integrate the multiple channels through which customers were contacting them more effectively. And fundamentally, to aid the frontline staff, the call center staff and the web chat staff, to have productive conversations with customers.

That means two things:

  • They’re able to prioritize the nature of the requests that the customer has. So if it’s a billing query, if it’s a customer complaint, if it’s a request about changing their service, they’re able to prioritize that and channel that to somebody who’s got the right knowledge and the relevant knowledge in that field.
  • They can ensure that when that conversation is taking place, the advisor who’s having the conversation with them has all the relevant information about that customer and their needs, to be able to try to meet it. It’s always going to be more effective if the advisor knows a lot of detail about the customer, what they’ve previously told the company, what they’ve previously bought from the company. Because they can tailor the conversation, they can make it more relevant. And they don’t have to go through the annoying process of saying “Can you give me all these details?”, which the customer may have given to somebody else in the organization two months ago. So as far as the customer is concerned, they’ve told the company that that’s the information about them. So when they talked to the same company and somebody else asks them exactly the same questions, it’s a massive irritant to the customer because they expect you as an organization to know what they’ve told you.

This is known as a single customer view. You recognize that a customer may work with you in different parts of the business. Consider insurance business, where you might have different brands. So a customer may have been a customer of one particular insurance brand, and then they may have switched to another insurance brand, but those two may be owned by the same company. If they’re owned by the same company, then t you’ve got to be able to deliver better service, because you have a corporate memory of that customer, is so much greater.

ERP software

ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. SAP is probably the most well-known example of this. This is basically the overall software that sits within a business that generates all of the management information that’s used for that business.

  • It enables forecasting inventory, manufacturing and production.
  • It shows you the sales that are being generated.
  • It enables budgeting and financial control.
  • It helps to generate the relevant KPIs.

And again, it’s about having consistent data delivered at the right time within a business to enable that business to function efficiently. If you can’t generate the right amount of data at the right time to be able to make a decision, then you can’t make that decision, or you can’t make an effective decision. And therefore you’re unlikely to be as effective as you could be.

So marketing fits very squarely within the ERP software, because the ERP software is what’s generating, very often, the sales data, which is generating the profitability data, which is generating the forecasting data. So marketers need to understand how the ERP software in a business works and how their marketing variables will fit within that, in order to be effective in both building budgets and operating those budgets.

HR software

HR faces a number of challenges in the digital world, in terms of attracting people, recruiting and maintaining people, and training them and developing them over time. And software too has a role to play here. You can automate contract management, pay details and attendance tracking. They can be tracked more effectively, more reliably and more easily than was traditionally the case.

So that has benefits not only in terms of the validity and the robustness of the metrics that you’re tracking for HR, but also it enables people to perhaps spend more time on some of the important challenges that HR is facing around training, around development, around morale. And you don't have to spend huge amounts of time on perhaps more manual tasks which HR software can now start to help you with.

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John Garnett

John Garnett is Managing Director at Bee Dance Consulting. He specializes in advising and helping businesses with strategy, marketing, and innovation challenges.

Data protection regulations affect almost all aspects of digital marketing. Therefore, DMI has produced a short course on GDPR for all of our students. If you wish to learn more about GDPR, you can do so here:

DMI Short Course: GDPR

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You can find more information and content like this on the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library

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Budget and Resourcing
John Garnett
Skills Expert

This module dives deep into budgeting and resourcing digital campaigns to set them up for success. It begins by focusing on how to plan a digital marketing budget including the key budgetary factors to consider during planning. It covers how to maximize ROI for a given budget and best practices for recruiting and retaining key digital talent. It also covers topics on setting a budget, addressing campaign objectives and KPIs, timeframes, forecasting, organizational structure and systems, and supporting processes and software. Applying a budget is also covered, including specific topics on traditional media budgets, optimizing digital media budgets, digital media pricing, channel integration and attribution, and budgeting for creative.