All companies are eager to send emails and notifications with the right message at the right time to the right target. But finding the tool that matches your needs is like a crusade. Most teams choose an easy-to-use tool to start things off, with a limited amount of features actionable by everyone: uploading a contact list, A/B testing a subject line, shooting the email at a specific time, etc.

But when companies grow and need more flexibility, such software quickly show their limits: impossible to set up campaigns or automatic triggers, no database segmentation, etc. Raphaël Gravaud encountered this issue countless times at Withings, then acquired by Nokia Health. He had to contact the CTO each time he had to do a database extract. “That was impossible on a daily basis. We had to plan things one week in advance to just launch a mere campaign in order not to overcharge servers. It was unscalable,” he remembered.

As time went by, he and a few of other Withings pals, backed by Withings’ CEO Cédric Hutchings, realized how useful a custom-made tool would be. Trying a middle-ground solution was also considered but did not match their expectations. “We gave Sendgrid a go, as you can connect everything to it, but it wasn’t what we needed exactly,” Raphaël told us. Exactly, that’s the keyword here.

CLEAR EXPECTATIONS LEAD TO THE BEST DECISIONS

Knowing what you want to improve your daily life at work is easier when you get your hands dirty to send thousands of emails and notifications everyday. Raphaël recalls his continuous questioning about the strategy he wished to set up and what kind of information he wanted to have in order to offer a great customer experience to every user, the end goal being increasing the company’s revenues.

But first, let’s explain a classic customer journey at Withings. A customer buys a connected device like a smartwatch or a body scale, then installs the Withings app and links it to this newly-bought product. They can also log in to their web account on any browser, generating a considerable amount of data.

Raphaël’s dream CRM was a tool able to segment the database according to the users’ profiles (device used, age, gender, regular use or not, transaction or not) and perform several actions depending on one specific trigger such as email, push notification or in-app messaging. The end-goal was to have Withings’ CRM strategy managed internally, which would keep all the data in-house and make it available to everyone, especially the marketing team.

The best way to start is to define your key terms and ask yourself basic questions: what will be your actions? Which canals will you use? Will your emails be recurrent or not? Manual or automatic?

After a few rounds of coding, the emailing tool came to life, but the idea to link it to HealthMate, Withings’ mobile application, made them blush with envy. “Every action a user does on their connected device ends up in HealthMate, then in our database. The power of our tool lies in the fact that we can be smart with that endless source of data,” Raphaël summed up.

AN INTERNAL TOOL TO EMPOWER MARKETERS

The goal of every app or software is to turn a technical process into an easy journey for everyone. So was it for the CRM department. Searching through data to make segments was initially impossible for marketers. So giving them an instant access to data was a huge step forward. “This new tool has helped us strengthen the links between the marketing team and our different products. They could access new data, especially behavioral ones, without having to do any SQL requests or ask a tech colleague,” Raphaël told us. Most CRM tools at the moment were indeed focused on empowering marketers to create custom messages and treating the whole customer lifecycle.

On the tech side, Withings created its tool using PHP and chose PostGreSQL for its database, keeping performance and stability in mind. For the front side of the solution, they naturally used the design of the Withings platform. “When data comes from our application or from a body weight scale, it triggers a database update”, Raphaël added. Through a custom-made shooting planification engine, Withings’ CRM team can use new segments recalculated every hour. A very powerful asset when your messages have custom variables. “I can pull out all the people that have set up a Smart Body Analyzer and didn’t weigh themselves in the last 10 days for example. I can even have information coming in from the customer support team to avoid sending any promotional content to an unhappy customer,” Raphaël explained.

DESIGNING YOUR OWN CRM: WHERE TO START?

Choosing to build your own CRM tool is not a decision to take lightly. First, it will obviously take you some time and internal resources throughout the whole process. Here is what Raphaël lists as mandatory points:

Audit all solutions: be up-to-date on the state of the art of CRM, make sure that you have checked all existing solutions — both old and new. It will help you craft a vision and formalize your needs.
Get your top management approval: analyze the company environment, onboard your CTO to get him involved on top of convincing your CEO of your ROI approach.
Design a clear roadmap: count 6 months for creating and implementing new features, between short-term actions and long-term projects
Prepare an efficient resource planning: especially on the developers’ side. Appointing a product owner is a must-have. Also, bear in mind that every developer should keep his/her autonomy.
Remember to be patient: it can take a lot of time to kick off the project. Fight for your priorities and your patience will pay off.

ANTICIPATING YOUR NEEDS FOR FUTURE IMPROVEMENTS

Raphaël shared with us one of his biggest projects to date: the creation of the Prospect Relationship Manager feature. The company stored data from people identified not through their Withings account, but through their email. These prospects had entered their details following a blog post, on the website, to download a white paper or get informed of the next big announcement.

The CRM team made a simple remark: the email address enabled them to cross-reference CRM data and prospect data. A prospect might or might have not created an account, yet he showed interest in Withings’ products. Opening the CRM solution to the “consideration” part of the buyer journey is very powerful, as all the e-commerce data and the CRM data could be linked. Direct uses of this feature, such as being able to send a notification when a product is available again or prioritizing the sending list by person who registered first, are crucial to Withings.

Another example is the possibility to upload a specific segment for targeted Facebook Ads directly from the tool. “It allows us to create paid digital campaigns to increase our reach. We can target people who didn’t open their emails, which is often happening around times like Black Friday”, Raphaël says. “The good thing with the Internet of Things is that we know everything, especially where the user got the device from. It can help us improve the relationship we have with BtoB platforms, starting with Amazon. We launched dedicated campaigns to Amazon buyers and saw a 5x increase in revenue when we sent them a coupon to use on Amazon. We would have never been able to do that without our tool.”

CONCLUSION

Thinking globally and long-term is the key. Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, having your perfect CRM tool up-and-running will take some time. But imagine the power and potential of such a platform, combining and aggregate so much data from prospects, customers, etc.

As explained in one of our latest articles, retention is the key metric you should follow. By following the behavior of your customers and sending them the right content, you can create a wow effect with your tailored message, avoid potential churn and boost cross-selling. Just think of the Amazon recommendation engine: do you realize the impact can such a tool have on your business.

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