Having a Customer Relationship Manager system is an invaluable asset for any small business. A CRM can take care of the automated communications for your business so that you are free to handle more complex and critical business tasks. It can help increase the visibility of your business by engaging customers through email and social media channels. Salespeople love CRM software to help them track their successes. The wealth of data and information that is stored in your CRM can be used to help you figure out your next online marketing strategy.
Only 65% of new businesses start using a CRM within the first five years. For those that do, the difference is remarkable. They can grow more quickly and create loyal customers more quickly. In modern business markets, companies are looking for every edge that will help them succeed, yet over one-third of them completely overlook the one tool that makes it all happen: a CRM.
Your CRM is worth more to you than you might realize. There is a wealth of data in your CRM that you can use to help you with your next marketing strategy, and the one after that. Unleash the marketing power hidden in your CRM by utilizing the features you’ve been overlooking and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.
Consolidate Your Sales Funnel
Experienced salespeople have their own methods for handling their sales leads. While it’s generally a good idea to encourage your sales team to be successful according to each team member’s style, it’s hard to determine the cost to benefit ratio if you can’t compare your sales team’s efforts using the same scale. One salesperson may seem like a good performer, but in reality, he or she may be spending twice as long on the phone, in meetings, and on the road in order to make the sales quota. A new sales associate may perform sporadically, because they don’t keep track of how they achieved their sales.
You can configure your CRM to allow your salespeople to record what stage of the sales process they’re at with their active customers. As customers move through the pipeline, the CRM can trigger different events, including emails, alerts and schedule meetings, so your salespeople can see at a glance how/when they need to follow up with a lead. You can then use the metrics that the CRM stores to study where the bottleneck or choke points are in your sales pipeline are and focus your attention on how to overcome these problems.
According to a study done by Salesforce, a CRM platform can increase sales by up to 29%, and boost sales productivity by up to 34%. Not only does having a CRM for your sales team gives everyone the same advantages, but it can also shorten the sales cycle by up to 14%. That’s more than one additional customer for every ten new customers you onboard. And, every one of those customers is one that you snatched away from your competition.
Automate Your Email Communications
A top-quality CRM software package will have email functionality built right into it. By teaching the system how to respond to incoming email queries by responding with specific templates, you don’t have to spend countless valuable hours copying and pasting emails to countless potential leads that may not amount to anything. You can set your CRM to respond to requests based on choices that visitors make in their inquiry, add them to your newsletter list (you have a newsletter list, right?), and remarket valuable incentives to them in order to convert them to customers.
A customized email message is a gateway to your entire online presence. Whether it’s useful articles or links to your social media channels, giving your customers a way to engage with your company online is essential for any small business. Create a light but effective email template and use it in your CRM to send targeted messages to different segments of your customer base. Offer your customers incentives they can only receive by validating their purchases with codes they can only get from their email. Send loyalty rewards to good customers. Get creative with your email.
Email is still one of the strongest and most reliable online marketing tools available to any business. It’s cheap and easy to track engagement with your email subscribers. You aren’t limited to small advertising boxes or five-second video clips that can be easily ignored.
Drive Customers to your Social Media Channels
When your customers decide to sign up with your company, your CRM should be able to record and track their social media accounts. You can correlate the types of customers with the different social media channels they use and use that information to market specifically to them on those channels.
Let’s say you have three different tiers of a product; you can sort out which customers have social media channels based on the product tier they’ve purchased and direct your cross-marketing efforts to different social media channels depending on their purchase history. If most of your low-tier customers have Twitter, and most of your high-tier customers have Facebook, you might consider focusing your high-tier cross-marketing efforts on Facebook. This works in reverse as well; if your high-tier customers haven’t identified which social media channels they’re on, you might consider pushing your Facebook presence to them to get them to like your business’ Facebook page.
Don’t forget the emerging social media marketplaces, either. Companies are offering their products and services directly in their social media channels so customers can make purchases however they’re most comfortable. If you find that a growing portion of your sales fulfillment originates in your social media channels, you might consider using more company resources for building that marketplace, rather than your “tried and true” methods that are slowly becoming outdated.
Social media has created an entirely new way of looking at and working with business-to-customer communication, marketing and sales. Instead of aiming for the broadest markets, you can now target specific customers in well-defined markets, using social media outlets as an effective and relatively inexpensive marketing tool.
Track Your Customer Experience
A CRM that can interface with your visitor analytics is a wealth of information that can help you improve your customers’ online experience. How visitors reach your site, where they go, how long they stay, and whether they convert to sales is all part of any analytics package. Your CRM can help you determine where your marketing efforts are best spent, and which marketing strategies should be revisited at a later time.
One example scenario starts with an email sent out by your company through your CRM. The email has a link to a specific page. When the page is visited, your CRM can track which customers have clicked on the link, and which pages they have visited once they reach your site. Another example would be to set up a tracking link for your social media channels, so you can see which customers have followed you through which social media platform. This can help you decide where to invest marketing and advertising dollars most effectively.
Online users are always wary of how web sites track their online behavior. They feel that it’s too intrusive and a little creepy. The truth is, when you take your customer behavior as a set of data, you can find patterns of behavior that will help you with your marketing strategy without compromising your customers’ private or personal information.
Use Your CRM Data for Predictive Analysis
One of the newest buzzwords is predictive analysis. It’s a method of determining future performance based on the current data of your business. It’s a business metric methodology that’s been around for decades, but recent innovations in programming technology have made predictive analysis algorithms accessible to small businesses.
Businesses have always used sales data for prediction. If your business has seasonal offerings and you’ve already been through one season, you already know you’re going to need more staff, more products, more of everything, in order to handle the seasonal increase in volume. That’s predictive analysis in a nutshell, but it’s more complex. You can feed it different data sets in order to get more detailed and sometimes surprising insights into the sales behavior of your business.
Let’s take swimsuits as an example. If you have any familiarity with retail, or swimsuits, you are probably thinking that swimsuits are a popular pre-summer item, and you’d be correct. Using predictive analysis tools in conjunction with your CRM data, you might notice that there is a modest increase of inquiries (search terms, communication keywords) just after the new year as well. This would tell you that people who are interested in going somewhere warm for winter vacation are querying your site for swimwear. Knowing this in advance by using predictive analysis with your CRM data can prepare you to create a marketing campaign for swimsuits when it wouldn’t necessarily be intuitive.
Predictive analysis relies on data that you’ve gathered in order to make predictions on how your business is going to perform in the future. Luckily for you, your CRM is a wealth of data about your customers, your marketing campaigns, your sales pipeline, and your customer’s behavior that can give you the edge over your competition in ways you never even thought of.
Sort Your Customers into Markets
Not all customers are created equal. It’s not a very popular opinion, but that doesn’t make it less true. The fact of the matter is that some of your customers are the “good” kind, with loyalty demonstrated through multiple purchases, positive online ratings, and other social engagements. Other customers were only engaged once, and you never heard from them again. Don’t spend time chasing after business that’s hard to get, focus on your markets that have given you their business happily and repeatedly.
Wouldn’t supermarkets love to be able to change their displays to attract each individual customer that walks in the door? What if you knew that the next customer who walked into your shop always headed for the gourmet coffee shelf first? Maybe the next customer who comes in always heads for the discount items, but never seems to buy anything? Fortunately for you, online marketing is much easier to tailor to your specific customers. Each of the examples mentioned above demonstrates a different type of customer who would respond to vastly different kinds of marketing approaches.
Your CRM can identify and sort out your different customer types so you can send marketing materials that speaks to each one individually, so you can make decisions on who you’re trying to target and how to target them. The coffee connoisseur might get a rewards program email, while the casual browser might only receive end of season clearance emails. Your CRM does the hard part for you.
Use your CRM to create tags for different customers, based on their behavior patterns. This way, you can target them more accurately when it’s time to run a campaign. Do you have customers that open almost every email? What about customers that consistently use your hashtags? Or customers that share your posts? Those are three very different types of marketing, and with your CRM, you can tailor your efforts to engage your customers the way in which they prefer the best.
Having a CRM for your business that consolidates your data gathering can help you decide on your next marketing strategy. Whether you’re using it to streamline your sales process, keep in touch with your customers by using automated emails, improve audience engagement with your social media, learn more about your users’ behavior and browsing patterns, try to determine your plan for the coming business year, or managing your customers by their purchasing behavior, your CRM is a key element towards giving you a competitive advantage, and making your business thrive.