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Could NFTs replace your CRM strategy?

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The last decade plus of marketing has been all about data, gathering as much information about your customers and potential customers as possible. But now that the landscape is changing due to privacy regulations, new consumer preferences, and evolving technology platforms, how will great marketers communicate the right message at the right time to the right consumer?

NFT.

Yes, you read that right. Beyond the hype and speculation, NFTs present a real opportunity for marketers. They are creating a new, pseudonymous, authorized way for brands to connect with their customers. They satisfy customers’ need to see attractive advertisements appear on their phones without feeling like their identity is too transparent for the brands advertising to them.

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems are the traditional way of managing your customer identities, and a good CRM should have four key aspects: contact management, interaction tracking, real-time communication, and workflow automation.

An NFT, or non-fungible token, is an asset on a blockchain with unique identification codes and metadata that makes each one unique and distinct from the others. NFTs work like a receipt, storing who bought or received or interacted with what at what time, in a permanent record stored in the blockchain. This record of two interacting parties creates a foundation for NFTs to function as a CRM.

So, are NFTs up to the challenge?

Functions of a CRM that NFTs could replace

1. Contact management

One of the goals of blockchain transactions is transparency: that is, the owners of NFTs are inherently visible to the brand (and anyone) because NFT transactions are stored publicly. Currently, these owners are only identifiable by their wallet, a string of random numbers and letters, which may not offer much functionality to link to an IRL identity. But all other transactions in that wallet are visible, which can create a series of data points to flesh out the holder’s demographics and interests.

Also, some activity visible in a wallet is explicitly telling, such as buying the domain yourname.eth, which looks a bit like a domain name (eg www.metaxmoda.com) but for Web3. Such activity may make it appear that a specific shopping address belongs to a particular person or business, aka “your name”.

As the space expands, new technologies will merge these identities to give marketers a clearer picture of their customers and prospects. And since people are explicitly buying or receiving transparent NFTs, there may be an implicit solution to privacy issues, although this is likely a matter of contention and debate in marketing.

2. Tracking interactions

Imagine this scenario: you are hosting an event, either in person or in the metaverse. There is a POAP token available to participants, a “proof of presence protocol”. These NFT POAPs would be like concert t-shirts, if the t-shirts were forever tied to the original attendees who purchased the item at the specific gig and wanted a way to show they were there. They are not transferable; each is unique and they are recorded in a publicly distributed ledger or blockchain. The presence of this person, through a pseudonymous crypto wallet, is permanently recorded.

A POAP is the epitome of authentic and exclusive; there is no way to transfer this POAP to another person or claim to have been at the event. Participants can highlight or show the POAP to friends and acquaintances across the digital world. The technology for this isn’t transparent now, but it will be in a few months, much like Twitter checking NFT profile pictures.

3. Real-time communication

A B2C example that highlights the real-time communication options of NFT begins with the sale of a physical item, say a pair of shoes, which comes with its mirror image, a digital counterpart that you can wear in augmented reality, on social media or in a game like Fortnite. A “phygital” offer, if you will. Buyers upload the NFT to their crypto wallet, immediately alerting the brand to the data elements that form their identity. And if the original transaction is accompanied by an email address, the merchant has an even more complete picture of the customer.

Marketers will know what other NFTs are associated with this wallet. They will create a customer profile using verified information, combining it with other CRM data to create a complete customer profile.

And then the magic happens: client wallets act like a mailbox for the savvy marketer who is ready to “drop” information there, in real time. You can send a message to your customers; you can drop offers into their wallets; you can create unique and exclusive spaces, for example Discord channels or real events and metaverses, to bring them further into your world.

4. Workflow automation

An NFT is, basically, a receipt for a collection of smart contracts. Since the terms of the contract are executed as code running on a blockchain, they are inherently automated.

We’ll see more sophistication in these channels as brands harness the power of NFTs to communicate with customers, but the building blocks of automated workflows are part of the design of an NFT. As noted earlier, brands can push additional NFTs into NFT holders’ wallets or invite them to exclusive NFT holders’ channels and implement other automated workflow solutions.

The genesis of this technology means that the communication workflows within the main NFT-wallet link cannot be too far apart.

How to Prepare for NFTs in Marketing

The huge surge of interest in NFT means such technologies will be around for the near future. The technology base exists and technologically advanced brands are testing the opportunities and limits of using NFTs to track and communicate with customers.

Startups like Arianee are developing mechanisms for marketers to easily use NFTs to connect with customers – mechanisms that maximize the NFT customer experience by tailoring unique ownership experiences for customers. Any savvy marketer should test the waters personally, perhaps by buying or hitting an NFT for fun, to see how various brands and groups are using the technology.

Great marketers should also learn what their customer base wants and needs from the NFT space. And in every operations discussion, they need to consider what aspects might be affected by linking their traditional CRM to this new customer information channel.

More importantly, marketers should develop products and experiences that are worth linking to an NFT. It’s fun and exciting to launch an NFT, but if no one wants to own it, marketers lose the valuable opportunity to connect more with their customers.

Maybe NFTs won’t completely replace your CRM, but they will undoubtedly become a valuable channel in your mix.

More Resources on CRMs and NFTs in Marketing

Evaluating your CRM implementation: two questions to ask yourself

What Marketers Need to Know About NFTs

11 Signs B2B Marketing and Sales Teams Need a CRM [Infographic]

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