Tech in marketing: Harnessing customers and content

Plan International reveals how its new CRM and CMS platforms will enable greater customer insight and might even boost fundraising to a new digital level

Metrics, metrics, metrics

Given one of Plan’s board members is a senior manager at Google Australia, there are high expectations around the ROI metrics generated by both the CMS and CRM platforms, plus the team’s ability to use them as the basis for good, solid customer decisions.

Right across the marketing spectrum, marketers are increasingly trying to measure things that weren't feasible to in the past, Holgate said. “For example, we’re looking to ascertain all sorts of metrics and proxy measures in relation to the number of times and quality of engagements we have with constituents, be they major donors, journalists and so on. We are trying to make sure we have a clear picture to make sure all the things we do are in some way being measured.

“The great thing about fundraising as a discipline is that it makes the metrics straightforward – you know how much money you are raising from which donors and when, and there’s a canon of experience in how you use that knowledge to improve the yield from those donors. We are good at that. But in other areas like retention, external engagement through PR, media and advocacy, it has been much harder to measure and we’re now finding ways of measuring that too.

“The more the transactions become digital transactions, the more hard data we can use to get a sense of how these things are working.”

Holgate also claimed many charities are still grappling with how best to tackle the mobile space both in terms of interaction and its influence, using apps as an example. “A lot of charities in our space have tried to rollout apps and on the whole, they haven’t been that convincing in terms of the value they provide to the organisation or the user,” he claimed.

“We don’t think it’s right to launch an app unless we think it’s going to be something someone is going to need. But clearly it’s something we need to look at.”

Whatever might appear on the digital horizon, Holgate believed marketing and technology are synonymous, drawn together by dramatic changes in consumer behaviour led by online, mobile and social media. “It’s absolutely critical that we become fluent in using digital technology and that we’re also sufficiently adaptable to account for how that technology use is changing radically as time progresses,” Holgate warned.

“I have been around long enough to see the arrival of the Internet and been able to look back at how much things have changed in that time. If it changes the same amount in the next 15 years, we’ll be living in a totally different world. Marketers have to adapt to that.”


One of the rising challenges for marketers as they utilise more and more technology platforms is their relationship with their IT department. Both McDermott and Holgate agreed working collaboratively with their own IT team was key to achieving the best result for Plan International during its CMS and CRM overhaul.

Plan’s IT team was involved in the website redevelopment from the get go, McDermott said, although the project was led by the marketing and communications division. Activities ranged from workshops together to scope out the project to ongoing management.

Because of the size and significance of the CRM deployment, the project was managed by a control board that had representatives from right across the organisation, with project management then driven by the IT team.

“We are greatly invested in the success of what they [IT] were doing,” Holgate said. “The fact that both projects went to market precisely when they were supposed to, and more or less within budget, is a testament to the fact that there was close collaboration in our two areas.”

To be truly effective as a marketing director, you should be speaking to the CIO on a daily basis, Holgate claimed. “In the rollout of two fairly major pieces of technology – the CRM and the CMS – we’ve literally been interacting daily and we’ll continue to do so.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia.

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