young man looking up in a forest
As the New Year kicks into gear, we can expect new CRM trends and technologies to emerge, too. PHOTO: Erkan Utu

The cost of acquiring a new customer can be anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive that retaining an existing one.

That's why in today’s competitive digital marketing landscape, smart businesses do everything they can to show their appreciation for existing customers

This reality is reflected in the unprecedented growth of customer relationship management (CRM) technologies, which have become an essential component for marketing departments in all verticals. As the New Year kicks into gear, we can expect new CRM trends and technologies to emerge, too. Here's what to expect.

Brace for More AI-Based Bots

Marketers are faced with an overwhelming amount of data. The challenge is finding insights and creating relevant actions from copious amounts of data. 

In a world of constantly connected customers, where data grows at speeds too great to comprehend, artificial Intelligence (AI) powered bots are a key to marketing insights.

Machine learning and predictive algorithms can help take the guesswork out of marketing decisions; so AI-based bots will become essential tools for marketers who are committed to building creative, exciting, hearts-and-needle-moving campaigns.

Contextual CRM Will Take Center Stage

Today's customers are increasingly savvy and well prepared to filter their marketing messages. In an environment in which many customers view ads as noise that needs to be blocked, becoming a “best-friend brand” is the only way to break through the marketing clutter and gain customers attention and trust.

In 2017, we will witness a surge in technologies for real-time hyper-targeting, catering to micro-segments of customers and embodying the vision of contextual marketing: targeting every customer with the right message, on the right channel, at the right time.

Omnichannel CRM Will Take Over

With the average adult connected to the web by 4.5 devices, marketers will no longer be able to ignore the multichannel reality.

Customer communications will increasingly be conducted through orchestrated multichannel campaigns. As more traffic is directed to mobile, CRM on mobile will overtake other CRM channels.

The ever-connected user will leave marketers no option but to be always on, and their efforts will be directed to always-on channels. Robust mobile CRM backed by powerful multichannel capabilities will be the name of the game.

Social CRM Will Thrive

Despite the unsurpassed popularity of social platforms, CRM has yet to truly harness social media for customer marketing. 2017 may be the year of social CRM, with growing retention activities on all social channels and a deepening emphasis on social influence and sentiment analysis.

The factor that may finally tilt CRM towards social may be customer support: Facebook and other platforms are putting weight behind customer support, via both humans and bots.

Predictive Analytics Will Come Into Its Own

The buzz of predictive analytics (PA) has been going around the CRM space for years. But most systems still incorporate only a semblance of PA, if they do so at all.

2017 will be the tipping point for CRM PA. We will see the real integration of PA into CRM platforms, allowing for future value calculations that will lead to more powerful monetization methods.

Verticalized CRM Will Set In

As users come to expect more from brands’ communications, and CRM managers require more bespoke customization, customer marketing platforms will offer different solutions for ecommerce, gaming, financial services and other verticals.

These systems will cater to the radically different business and monetization models of each vertical, with more product-and cart-centric methods for ecommerce, longer time horizons for financial services customers and so forth.

The Suite/Best-of-Breed Seesaw Will Keep Swinging

On the one hand, brands are looking for integrated solutions. On the other hand, cloud technologies support best of breed platforms. There is a trade-off between these two ends, and CRM is still seesawing between them. 2017 will not provide a conclusive answer to this conundrum.

Data-driven retention marketing technology has become a must-have for customer-facing brands. In 2017, customers will expect contextual and emotionally intelligent communications that acknowledge their preferences, wants and needs. This is the time to make sure that your CRM technology can deliver.