Imagine it’s your job to develop relationships with your web site’s customers and prospects online.
Prevailing wisdom would have you developing an extensive Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution.
Hopefully, you’d build a customer database driven by opt-in principles.
You’d optimize the targeting and content of your outbound emails.
Perhaps you’d segment your list and generate a variety of different newsletters.
You’d create feedback opportunities for your site visitors.
You’d ask every visitor and customer to declare their preferences and interests.
You’d track activity and adjust your outbound marketing accordingly.
You’d test the text of every email.
You’d strive to make this system so sophisticated that you’d come as close as possible to that holy grail – genuine one-to-one marketing.
Pretty cool stuff.
And you just might be wasting your time and money.
I know I’ll get it in the ear from a lot of smart CRM solution providers, but I think that most online businesses could spend their money a lot more wisely.
Instead of spending all that cash on CRM, spend it on making your site a lot more user-friendly.
Here’s what I’m thinking…
Let’s say I came to your site last month to buy a widget and had a pretty crappy experience. Poor navigation. Trouble finding the right widget. Not enough info on the product. Painful checkout. Slow delivery. No tracking. Wrong product. No return policy. Etc., etc….
And let’s say today I receive an email from you that is beautifully targeted, perfectly timed, and addresses my widget needs precisely.
Will I come back to your site? Unlikely. Because I had such a horrible experience the last time.
Now let’s say that your competitor – The Other Widget Company – has a site that is a user’s dream. I find what I want in two clicks every time. Smooth checkout. Real-time tracking. Live help. Beautiful, simple, seamless experience every time.
As for their CRM expertise, it sucks. They don’t even know what the letters stand for.
But who gets to build the better relationship?
The guys with the better web site. Every time.
You can’t compensate for a poor web site with a nifty CRM solution.
You’ve likely experienced this for yourself if you shopped online during the run-up to Christmas.
Some sites delivered a user-friendly experience. Some didn’t.
It really doesn’t much matter what they do today – a few weeks later – in terms of sending you fancy emails or customizing the information they deliver at their site next time you visit.
You already know which sites you like.
It’s all about the customer’s experience at the site.
Not about the “after-experience” solutions.
By then, it’s too late.
So if you’re about to invest tens of thousands in CRM, you may be better off spending that money on improving your web site first.