The Invoice – A humble yet profound CRM system

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“I must create segmented marketing campaigns with no CRM in place. I know very little about my customers. Now what?”

Your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems have not been set up. You’re worried that you don’t know enough about your customers. How will you run your marketing campaigns? The situation is not as bad as it looks. After all, you have what every business always had – the invoice.

Every business in the business of selling products or services generates sales invoices. This may be standard issue evidence of sale and payment for the business owner but when a marketer looks at an invoice in the absence of CRM, there is an ocean of campaign segmentation ideas on offer. Taking the example of an online sporting goods retailer, allow me to demonstrate how powerful the invoice is, especially if you do not have a strong CRM tool in place.

7 Key Indicators Within Your Invoice


1. Customer Name

Customer names say a lot. Do they belong to any particular nationality (e.g. most surnames with ‘Singh’ indicate an Indian origin). Can you tailor your marketing campaigns to these particular attributes? For instance, can have a campaign to sell cricket gear to those surnames of Indian, Bangladesh, Sri Lankan or Pakistani origin? Or ping-pong/badminton sports goods to Chinese/Indonesian surnames? We all know that Kenyans are amazing runners. Chances are that many in this type segmentation do indulge in these sports and will appreciate your efforts.

2. Customer Gender

Look at each and every name. Are your customers mainly men or women? Can you segregate your lists and run differentiated campaigns which are gender specific? If your invoice system asks for a prefix, this job becomes even easier.  An example of this type of segmentation could be sending women an entire set of women related sportswear and accessories.

3. The Date

What are the time periods when maximum buying happens and for which products? Based on past experience, prepare your campaigns for those goods accordingly. If you see a spurt in hockey stick and skate sales in winter, ensure you communicate a promotion to your customers just before the season begins. Same goes for skateboards, baseball bats and surfboards in summer.

4. Mode of Payment

The mode through which your customer’s pay gives you plenty of meaningful insight. Do they use Online Banking, Visa, MasterCard or Interac? If Online Banking is a major payment vehicle, then look at tie-ups with Banks to offer a discount when Online Banking is used. Maybe a 5% extra discount when payment is done through Online Banking with XYZ Bank. A promotion like this will help drive sales.

5. The Average Invoice Amount

By knowing the average invoice amount you can bundle products which your consumers want at total amount which they are comfortable with. For example, if your average invoice amount is $200, you could bundle in a combo of sporting goods (shoes, shorts, a t-shirt and a cap) for $200 as a promotional campaign.

6. The Address

Knowing where your customers order from is very important. It gives a clue regarding what products sell where and how frequently. By knowing this you can customize your campaign offerings based on geographies.

7. Pin Codes

Pin code mapping allows you to narrow down your Google search and display AdWords campaigns, thus giving you the option of localized marketing.

Having a CRM system in place is very important for taking your business to the next level but the humble invoice still has a place in a marketer’s hands. When carefully examined and smartly used, it provides a warehouse of ready-to-use information.

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