When we work with clients on their web marketing and general marketing strategies we’re often asked “Why use CRM?” Even more surprising is that we’re sometimes asked “What is a CRM?”
I’d like to answer both of those two questions in reverse order from what’s written:
So, what is a CRM?
Well, in short, a CRM is a database of contact and customers. CRM stands for Contact/Customer Relationship Management and this system enables you to keep track of contact with those on the list. The system also enables you to develop marketing campaigns and track success rates.
There’s plenty of stuff out there on what a CRM is but the key point of this post is why you should use CRM.
So, key question: “Why use CRM in your business?”
- Centralised data on clients/contacts
First off, a CRM helps to keep data on your clients and contacts all in the same place. So, your sales and marketing or client handling staff should be able to quickly find out about what communication you’ve had with the people in the CRM.
This should help to prevent duplicate efforts between staff and sections of the business.
- Sales lead tracking
A CRM gives you a great way of tracking what’s happening within a sales team in that lead tracking is quite easy. A sales person would be able to easily make notes on contacts with potential customers and then the effectiveness of the process could be monitored and improved where necessary.
- Relationship tracking
this is an area where almost all small businesses fall down: keeping track of who said what to clients. With a CRM system you can keep a handle on contact with clients so if you speak with a customer you will know much more about the history of the relationship and won’t run the risk of embarrassing yourself by repeating stuff.
- Marketing campaign tracking
One of the most common problems with many businesses that don’t do as well as they could is that they don’t track the effectiveness of their marketingMany companies, especially small businesses, will spend money on advertising and promotion and then fail to track whether the activity has generated a profitable (or even desirable) response. A CRM enables you to do this so that if you decide to repeat a marketing activity you’ll know what kind of response you got last time and whether it’s really a worthwhile activity.
A good example here is email marketing. Using a CRM system you’ll be able to find out how many recipients opened the email and who is clicking through to look for more information and how many of those will buy (especially if what you’re selling is sold online). Have a look at the image below for an example report.
- Automated campaigns
In our view, one of the best things about CRM (particularly online CRM) is the ability to automate certain elements of campaigns. In our case we have a free report on our home page and if you register for this you’ll get an automated series of emails that further promote what we’re about and encouraging you to get in touch.
On top of that we’ve run automated email campaigns where we set up a series of emails that need to go out and then the system just sends them out at the scheduled times. It really helps to make marketing so much easier. This can also work with SMS marketing too.
- Data segmentation / Targeted marketing
The strength of CRM and how it supports your marketing can be how well you segment the data that you’ve gathered. Many CRM users break down their data into parts according to how they want to market their products and services. An obvious way is to separate your clients from the other contacts in your database so you can target your marketing messages depending on whether they’ve bought or not. You could even break your client list down into smaller lists of products bought so you can maximise cross-selling opportunities.Many businesses segment their data along the lines of common demographics such as age, gender, where the contact lives and so on. But, whichever way you use the data, being able to put it into groups for targeted marketing campaigns can mean the difference between poor and good responses from your efforts. You’re also less likely to hack off the other folks in your database who may not be interested in what you’re offering.
- Data capture and Autoresponse
This is slightly different from automated campaigns. Autoresponse can be used to send automated messages (email/text) to contacts who take certain actions, such as download a free report from your website (as we have done).
This means that you can build a database of interested names and keep in touch with them without having to manually send the messages (unless you want to at some point).In the example on our home page you will see a form which is linked to our CRM system and when you complete the form you will receive a series of emails about us and the report. Although the email is personalised, it’s all been automatically sent by our CRM.
Most businesses that use CRM just do the basics and this can be as simple as sending out a newsletter. The benefit with a CRM system is that you can track how many people have opened the email and how many have clicked on any links within the email. This way you’ll know whether your newsletter is being read and by whom.
- You choose
There are loads of other reasons to use CRM and it’s wise to think about what you want out of the system before you go full steam ahead into buying.Some words of advice though: choose carefully, take your time, try some out before committing. The reason we say this is that you’re going to be investing time (quite a bit of it), money and effort into this system. So make sure you know what you’re letting yourself into.
In many ways we could rave about CRM all day since it’s helping our business to grow through targeted marketing campaigns, autoresponders and email newsletters.
With any business product there is a large variety of CRM systems out there. We’ve tried a few and now use a company call InTouch CRM who are based here in the UK. The reason we use InTouch is because their system is very comprehensive, it’s affordable, their customer service is outstanding and they are always willing to look at ways of improving the system if you have a good idea.
You can try InTouch for free by clicking on the image to the right but if you’ve any thoughts on using CRM or have any great examples of how CRM has helped your business then let us know in the comments below.