These days, it seems like everyone is talking about customer relationship management (CRM) in marketing circles. And with good reason — the average return on investment for CRM is $8.71 for every dollar spent. That's why including CRM initiatives in your overarching marketing strategy can be central to your company's success. In fact, CRM provides support across myriad operational aspects, including:
- Data capture
- Marketing automation
- Customer Service
Getting started with CRM may seem daunting at first, but if you keep the following 3 key points in mind, it can unfold relatively painlessly:
1. CRM DOESN'T HAVE TO BE COMPLICATED OR EXPENSIVE
It’s easy to get hung up on the technological aspects, but CRM is simply the culmination of data, creative and technology all working together. Here’s how:
- Data allows us to drive insights and identify motivators
- Creative drives the messaging, dialogue and brand interaction
- Technology gets it done
All of these things come together to facilitate touch points with your customers and, if done correctly, will transform into a meaningful dialogue and an increase in sales that can have a serious impact on your bottom line.
It's also important to recognize that there are a lot of “off the shelf” CRM platform solutions that are extremely flexible and affordable. For example, at CBD Marketing, we’ve found SharpSpring to be a very economical and powerful choice for a lot of our clients. Its lead capture, email and marketing automation capabilities are extremely flexible and scalable. Additionally, some CRM platforms are even designed to be “outgrown”. They purposely include migration tools for when it's time to move to a CRM platform with more robust capabilities.
Another platform solution worth exploring is Google Contacts/Gmail. This can be used as a CRM if set up that way! Naturally, if automation and other more complex functionality is required, you’ll need to cast the net a little wider. Just remember to base your assessment on how the platform improves the customer experience.
2. CHOOSE AN UNBIASED AGENCY PARTNER
One of the most crucial steps to getting started with CRM is choosing an agency partner that will assess how your business goals can be achieved through various platforms - not just their favorite one.
Don’t get me wrong — I have my favorites too (here’s looking at you, HubSpot!), but there is no single, perfect CRM or marketing automation solution for every client. Each business is unique, with its own requirements, so CRM integration really calls for a “platform-agnostic” approach. A good agency partner will make you aware of your options and offer informed recommendations that will best serve your goals.
3. EASING INTO CRM IS THE WAY TO GO
Once your CRM solution is in place, design your implementation plan to start with the basics. At CBD Marketing, we've refined a systematic approach to using CRM that can be adapted to our client’s individual needs and budget.
Typically, this approach follows these stages:
- Stage 1: Build/Optimize the Base
- Stage 2: Create a Nurture Strategy
- Stage 3: Include Advanced Automation and Optimizations
This methodology can be applied based on a client’s overall business goals and level of comfort with CRM. It's a phased approach that can be “grown into,” especially when budgets are thin and the return on investment stakes are high.
We start by mapping every touchpoint the customer has with a brand and consider what the customer is thinking, feeling and doing at every stage. We then build conversion strategies and automations around that — which provide consistent, positive experiences throughout their decision journey.
For example, when working with our client Whirlpool Corporation on their CRM program, we began by laying the foundation through creation of their persona-based website, Whirlpoolpro.com . Then, by applying a deep understanding of the specific business challenges of each of their target audiences - including builders, architects, designers, distributors, etc. - we continually help to guide them through their purchase journeys, by delivering relevant content and optimizing as we go.
Leveraging CRM allows Whirlpool Corporation to deliver a consistent brand interaction across every touchpoint, tailored to each building professional's needs. Plus, they are able to cement their position as the appliance partner who offers relevant and helpful information - designed to ensure their customers' success.
If you’d like to know more about how to get started with CRM, we’d love to connect!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adrian Tumiati oversees enterprise level digital production and CRM initiatives at CBD Marketing in Chicago. He is a scrum master and agile coach with over 15 years of digital marketing experience, primarily within CRM and marketing automation disciplines.