Retention & Engagement

Ace Retention by Building CRM into Your Product

7 min read

Your tech stack is an important part of your growth strategy but it’s also integral to your retention strategy. CRM is important to maintaining engaged, happy users who come back again and again. That’s why we talked to Christian Eckhardt, CEO and co-founder of Customlytics, for the latest episode of Retention Masterclass.


Customlytics is a full-stack mobile marketing and tech consultancy that specializes in working with mobile app strategy, product management, analytics, and technology integration. Christian adds, “My co-founder and I, well I think it’s fair to conclude that we never really have done anything else than mobile marketing in our lives.”

The company was born while Christian and his co-founder were working at DeliveryHero. “So we’re sitting there, my co-founder and I, and we were doing the paid campaigns and quickly we realized that everything that we did was just like super inefficient, essentially because we didn’t have any data to optimize our campaigns on,” Christian says. “So naturally the first thing that we looked into was the attribution and marketing tracking for the apps.”

Once that problem was solved, the team moved onto the next challenge — mobile CRM. They became the go-to experts for their mobile colleagues and friends, explaining “how mobile works.”

Christian jokes: “And we were paid in food, and then at some point we just realized, hey, this is not good for our health and maybe we should find another way of monetization, and then started a company.”

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Situational marketing vs. personalization

Christian and Customlytics are advocates of situational marketing that aims to feel like something more than marketing. “Now having said that, the idea behind those situational messages is that the user feels that it’s actually exactly what he or she would have expected to receive from this brand in this specific situation … hence the word,” he adds.

What does situation marketing look like in the real world? “One last example that I always pull is the sand storm which is frequently happening in the Middle East, so it’s kind of the Middle East version of rain,” Christian says. “And in that situation, well, nobody wants to go out, nobody can go out really, and then good situational messaging is about how the weather outside is terrible, why don’t you order food?”

If you’re wondering how that differs from personalization, Christian has the answer. With personalization, food delivery apps might suggest you order from a restaurant you’ve ordered from in the past. However, with situational marketing, marketers can take it further, suggesting your favorite restaurant for delivery when the weather is bad and you’re unlikely to want to leave the house.

Product is the new marketing

This idea of “something more than marketing” begs a question in Christian’s view: Is CRM even marketing, or is it more aptly described as part of the product? In other words, the functionality to provide this kind of marketing service has to be built directly into the product.

“I think this is what you see in some companies — I’m thinking like Netflix and the likes — it’s not even like different teams,” he says. “It’s like one team that’s creating the product and part of the product is the messaging that comes with it.”

The tech stack behind retention

Situational marketing sounds ideal — but complicated. Getting the messaging right means implementing the right technology. The particulars will look different for each company but Christian says, “I can name some of the constant components that we always see, especially in successful setups.”

“So, I think very fundamental to any mobile CRM system that I’m building for my business, is that I have to have a tool that manages the segmentation, triggering, delivery of the messages.” He adds, “This is typically the combination that you see in mobile CRM tools today, like CleverTap and a ton of others.”

If your needs call for, “it can make sense to have another tool in the mobile CRM tech stack, if you want to call it like this, that is caring about data collection and management.”

But beware the temptation to just throw technology at your problems and end up with too many cooks in the kitchen. “If you would ask me today what’s the bigger problem, people having too many tools for funny different things and striving to connect them, or…missing the right tool — I would probably say that the more common scenario is the one with the too many tools actually.”

To learn more about building the right set of tools to accomplish your marketing and retention goals, tune into the entire interview above or read the transcript below.

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