How to build a CRM team

Mike Berry, Senior Director of CRM Technology, Shutterfly Inc.
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Mike Berry, Senior Director of CRM Technology, Shutterfly Inc.

When I came over to Shutterfly the first thing I did was put together a gap analysis of the current state and the desired state of the marketing operations environment. The team here was very small. We had three people who were writing SQL all day long for creation of email campaigns and reporting on their performance. The approach was not scalable and we were leaving money on the table by not identifying marketing opportunities through advanced segmentation.  We needed a vision that proscribed the system architecture, the organizational structure, how and when we going to see a return on our investment and a philosophy of continuous improvement.

In December of 2011 I presented this vision to our CEO who replied, “It’s about time we got CRM.” 

System Architecture 

I began with the most important aspect of CRM: data. Our first step, therefore, was to build a new database dedicated to CRM Marketing. In conjunction with the development of this core component, we selected Unica (now IBM) Campaign as our campaign management solution. I had experience working with Campaign after launching it at Apple and eBay and knew it was a great fit for Shutterfly. We spent a lot of time working back and forth between the Unica implementation and the database design to ensure that we had a very smooth hand off from data store to operational execution.

 Data, analysis, targeting, execution: This is the never-ending cycle of operations and improvement in the world of CRM 

As time has gone by we have enhanced our segmentation capabilities by adding in business rules to prioritize campaigns and offers and just last year added real-time decisioning to our targeting capabilities. Our campaign management services now support campaigns running in many marketing channels including email, social, direct mail, telemarketing, onsite, and package inserts. A well-thought out data model and segmentation solution implementation were necessary to support these many channels with minimum effort. 

Connecting to these channels is not easy. Although my team continuously automates processes, there is a still a manual touch required for every campaign. For email, we instantiate the campaign in our email service provider, schedule the data upload from our database, and launch the campaign itself. For social, we pass on the customer list to the teams that launch the campaign on Facebook and other channels. Similar processes exist for other channels. There are pros and cons to this manual stage – it adds a QA step, but it also limits scalability. It is a constant balancing act as we streamline process while preserving quality. 

Without the high quality output of marketing data to our channels, we would not get the high quality input of response data back to our systems. This is where our Analytics and Reporting environments come into play. Those teams are charged with helping to shape marketing efforts by providing insights into our customers as well as analyzing their responses to help improve future marketing communications. We have several statisticians who look at billions of records of data to find untapped markets, as well as provide a self-serve reporting environment to our stakeholders for them to quickly gleam insights into campaign performance.  

Data, analysis, targeting, execution: This is the never-ending cycle of operations and improvement in the world of CRM.  

The Supporting Organizational Framework 

Of course, there are many more teams involved in running a successful CRM team that the ones I have listed above. My largest internal stakeholder is the Marketing Strategy team. Based on insights provided by the analytics team and others, they determine what the campaigns are actually going to be. They identify the team who will develop the campaign from creative to reporting, write creative briefs, and shepherd a campaign through all the steps of creation. Helping them is our Integrated Marketing team, a strong planning team coordinating efforts across channels. CRM would not be able to function at all without data, thus we owe our jobs to our powerful Data Warehouse team. We rely on our Web Development team to build the HTML that goes into our email which is based upon the designs of our Creative team. Our Web Operations team works to ensure our real-time decisions properly display, and our many vendors to support us through launches, tests, and triage. It is a large interwoven community of organizations that must work together seamlessly in order for CRM to achieve its maximum potential. 

Return On Investment 

Shutterfly has invested millions of dollars and created a large team to ensure their CRM efforts are working at peak efficiency. The resulting incremental lift in revenue has been strong.  

A few months after we launched, Shutterfly acquired Kodak Gallery and a vast majority of those users become Shutterfly customers. Significant effort was undertaken to ensure that email communications would elicit a high response rate based on complex segmentation, contact strategy, and multi-channel messaging that only a true campaign management solution and team could accomplish.  

In addition to that, we have launched over 100 behavior-based trigger email campaigns and added dozens of segments to our regular communications. These precise, targeted offers and messages have led to a high response rate. This despite the ever-increasing size of our user base which usually leads to decreased response rate. 

Always Improve 

Finally, you cannot rest on your laurels. There is always a way to improve what you do today. You can build upon your success, you can optimize the way you operate or you can start up in new areas. I have a team dedicated to software improvement. They are always coming with up great ideas on how data can flow better, software can operate faster, and manual efforts can be automated. I attend conferences, I meet with vendors, I keep in touch with the marketing operations community and trusted consultants. I’m always on the lookout for how Shutterfly CRM can improve. 

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