What is CRM and how does it help influence marketing?

As your company grows and you gain more customers, you have the requirement to effectively manage prospects and customers at different stages in the purchase journey. This is where a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool goes into play.

Because you will likely have a set of customers at different stages of your sales pipeline a CRM will become a key tool in how you interact with prospects and customers to influence conversions more effectively.

What is a CRM?

A CRM is a really simple and easy way to see what stage of your sales pipeline a customer sits (are they new, in bid discussion, just an interest), who spoke to them, have you had meetings with them, where you acquired them (email, social, at an event) and what the last action was (did they interact with an email, did your team call them etc.). They are becoming increasingly more common in businesses as the industry fine-tune its offerings and more competitors come in with new ideas.

If you don’t have one then you should be thinking about moving to one. They can be much more effective than the old way of managing prospects, like Excel spreadsheets.

Who offers a decent CRM?

There are some key players in the industry at the moment, the biggest name that people know is a Silicon Valley-based company called HubSpot who offer a free tier for small businesses. This is also the one I recommend if you are just starting out, it helps you get used to how they work.

Other major competitors in the industry include Microsoft Dynamics, SalesForce, NetSuite, and Sage. As it becomes easier to sell to and market digitally for businesses of all sizes, this will likely grow over the next few years as more companies come in with better and bigger ideas.

SalesForce is the second most popular that I have come in contact with, Microsoft Dynamics coming in third.

So, what does this all mean for Marketing?

In a previous post, I talked about how the relationship between Sales and Marketing is becoming ever-closer and a CRM is just another thing to tie these two functions together.

Sales and Marketing can use CRMs to great effectiveness in all stages of marketing from campaign planning, campaign monitoring, and post-campaign sales actions.

MailChimp user? Read my post on the pricing structure change and what alternatives you have.

Because you can tie specific actions and goals to specific key clients or prospects in your CRM throughout the campaign you always know how well it is working and who you need to talk to.

It also helps plan out your marketing automation campaigns because you can see particular prospects interests and position in your sales pipeline. This enables you to get the right campaign out to them at the right time, particularly useful if you use lead-scoring in something like DotDigital.

If you know someone in the pipeline is interested in a particular product, then you can slot in articles relating to that specific product. This increases the engagement of mailing lists, because you are showing relevant information, but also makes a conversion much more likely.

Using a CRM to grow your marketing lists and contribute to your statistics

The best CRMs also plug seamlessly into your mailing lists and website. So not only are you helping your sales team manage their contacts, but you can also understand if these people are voluntarily signed up to your mailing lists and what they want to hear about from you. Adjusting their interests as you build a relationship with them.

Another great bonus to having a system that helps focus on marketing is its ability to build out your statistics, understanding how businesses are interacting with particular mailers, visiting your website, and interacting with your social media channels.

This helps you understand the right mediums to use and which medium is particularly interesting for certain segments. Overall creating a more fine-tuned approach to marketing.

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