What a year!   Mars rovers, Olympics, Hurricanes and Elections—oh my!  As 2012 comes to a close (might not quite feel like that for those of us buried neck-deep in year-end efforts), below is a  brief review of the trends in CRM that captured my attention this year.

CRM is nothing without analytics.

“Analytics” is the CRM 2012 word of the year.   If 2011 was the year of “big data,” then 2012 is the year of “too much big data for data’s sake.”  As marketers get their warehouses in order and find ever-increasing ways to get information on consumers, sorting through what all of this actually means (and carrying the cost of storing all the data), is increasingly leading some to question the drive to collect everything and anything.

And so, 2012 is the year of big data analytics—focusing on developing advanced tools to find meaningful and actionable insight that can actually impact their relationship with consumers given all the data sources that are now trackable.

We are not talking results tracking here, no matter how fancy your dashboard.  This goes far beyond the kind of reporting most of us have access to every day—what was my response rate, how did segment X do, did my test work?

Rather, CRM-driven analytics approaches are using increasingly sophisticated techniques (modeling, clustering, filibustering…) to drive insight where possible.

How is this working for marketers?  The landscape is definitely evolving. One of the more interesting case studies made lots of headlines this summer, and in case you didn’t catch it, here is the New York Times’ article about Target’s efforts with analytics to drive sales.

SoMo CRM.

I just totally made that acronym up. But I am referring here to social and mobile CRM.

If 2011 was the year of social and mobile hype, then 2012 was the year when marketers really dug into the trenches of trying to figure out how to actually not only capture social and mobile data, but to connect and integrate that information with customer and constituent’s behavior in more traditionally trackable channels.  The industry darling turned into a fully fledged teenager.

If I click on a mobile ad on my mobile phone that I saw on my mobile Facebook ad, how do you associate that with the account you have for me in your CRM that stores how much stuff I’ve bought from your holiday catalog?  Around this tricky issue have sprung up hundreds, probably thousands of start ups that help aggregate, overlay, and,  use increasingly advanced (if not sometimes questionable) techniques to track consumer behavior across the mobile/digital/offline world and connect things like IP addresses to email handles to zip codes.

What does this all mean for us nonprofit marketers? For most of us, this is still just interesting reading: we’re still figuring out how to corral all our of our other data into some sort of unified format  and then lying awake at night thinking about the trend I identified above, but this does mean that this sort of integration is coming our way too, and we need to start at a minimum thinking about what this means for us.

Of note, the larger an organization, the more complex to sort out this issue is likely to be, but there are some vendors and organizations out in the nonprofit world making great strides at starting out. Read more about some of these pioneering nonprofits in Blackbaud’s white paper on engaging social influencers.

The Regulators are getting to regulating.

Regulators are still behind, but starting to make inroads into catching up with privacy and other marketing regulation in a new CRM empowered world.

Ever taken a look at the DMA’s action center on issues pertinent to marketers or review its privacy  guides on how to behave in the less than clearly regulated waters of social tracking, mobile privacy, and other such issues? Ever wonder why these guides exist?

Precisely for the reason that legislation has not kept up with the pace of change and innovation that CRM-powered marketing now allows.  But legislators are starting to catch up and take notice. This year saw all sorts of proposals out of the EU to strengthen privacy  laws (where they are already stronger than in the US).  In the US, recent FCC rulings at least clarified mobile opt-out regulation (so far apparently with positive impact to marketers).  Expect more attention to privacy in a CRM enabled world in 2013.

So what does this all mean for CRM in 2013? Stay tuned on this blog for thoughts on that as we round the corner into the new year.

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