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How responsive design is shaping eCRM strategies

In the second instalment of a series looking at the evolution of electronic customer relationship management, Jessica Davies explores the role of responsive design in eCRM.

Electronic customer relationship management (eCRM) is undergoing a transformation fuelled by big data, mobile, social media and technology, ushering in a new era in which marketers can drive cross-channel, personalised communications experiences with customers at scale. The role of email in the marketing mix is being redefined by its integration with social media and mobile, with recent findings from the Direct Marketing Association showing that email has evolved from a direct response channel to a vital role within eCRM.Channel 4 is reviewing the nuances of behaviour across mobile to ensure its email marketing is tailored to each device. Steve Forde, head of viewer engagement at the broadcaster, explains: “An increasing number of emails are opened on mobile and we’re looking at ways to deep-link into the 4oD app. The trick is recognising where someone is viewing the email – whether it be on a tablet, desktop or iPhone – to serve the relevant link into those places so the viewer’s experience is seamless.”“So if I open on my email on a tablet the link should take me through to the iPad app whereas if on a desktop it should take me through to the web-based version of 4oD,” he says. With mobile becoming increasingly integral to people’s daily lives, marketers must work hard to understand this behaviour to contextualise the sort of messages, propositions and calls-to-action to send people, according to LBi’s head of customer strategy, Oliver Spalding. “Responsive design is a very useful way to simplify integrating mobile devices into email communications, but it is not the panacea. By understanding routines it is just as important to test the impact of tailoring messaging specifically for mobile and tablet,” he says. Others believe responsive email design will play a crucial role in the future of email marketing. James Bunting, head of the Email Marketing Council’s Benchmarking hub, says: “Email is having new life breathed into it because of the buzz around its integration with mobile and social media. Responsive design lets marketers create a single version of creative which can adapt to any screen size or device type. However, The Internet Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) programmes consultant Clare O’Brien believes marketers adopting responsive design must apply adaptive content approaches to ensure the experience is tailored to each device. “Adaptive content is still a pretty unexplored area but one that is extremely important,” she says. She also reckons technology alone is not enough to safeguard the future of eCRM. “True eCRM is an evolution of art and science which has been on the development path for decades. “But it’s not science alone, and while technology is allowing us to bring so much data together and gives us the flexibility to create true single customer views, our ability to drive this stuff hasn’t kept pace. We need some human advances to help us keep pace with technology. Perhaps standing back from the technology and thinking about what eCRM is for would help accelerate our ability to manage and produce more effective and innovative marketing responses,” she says. Ultimately, it will be those who can integrate and interpret data from a wide range of channels, to create a more complete profile of a customer’s multi-device consumption habits and offline behaviour, who will be the foundation of future eCRM strategies – strategies which help marketers cultivate consumer relationships and communicate with and serve that sought-after market of one. This article is part of a wider look at the transformation of eCRM, fuelled by big data, social media, mobile and technology, and was first published as part of a feature sponsored by target360 in The Drum magazine.The first instalment explored the role of big data in the evolution of eCRM.

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