Power belongs to the consumer. This certainly was not always the case, but it is today. Think about it: Consumers are armed with their PC’s, laptops, tablets and phones and they can research anything; they can bounce from site to site; they can be as fickle as they want, and it is the responsibility of each business to establish and maintain relationship with customers and potential customers that keeps them loyal. Getting this done through web-based strategies is harder, sure, but it can be done.
What’s Wrong with Current CRM?
Businesses are still using antiquated CRM system to keep track of customers, and most of these old systems were built for B2B use, not B2C. The old systems just don’t manage the new consumer very well, and here’s why:
- There is one system that manages current customers, one for leads, and another marketing tool that is attempting to identify and profile the persona of target customers. Nothing is coordinated.
- New customer data (how they shop, where they shop, what devices they use, what engages them, and what moves them into the sales funnel) is not integrated with marketing campaigns.
Both Marketing and CRM Must Think of Customers as Friends
- When you communicate with a friend, you know what devices and social media s/he uses
- You know your friends’ backgrounds, their likes and dislikes, what time they are up to receive your communications, etc.
- You know their values and needs
- When they come over, you know what to talk about and what their favorite snack is.
Marketing technology does a lot of these things through analytics. And it tracks consumers as they engage with content. Once they get into the “funnel,” however, CRM becomes critical, whether they are new leads, returning “lookers,” or ready to buy. And once they do buy, how do CRM and marketing work together to maintain loyalty from that customer?
Now translate that to CRM and the new systems that are available to you.
How a State-of-the-Art CRM System Can Support Marketing
All current CRM systems keep track of current leads and customers – names, emails, phone numbers, purchasing history, and all communications between the company and those customers, and most of this is done so in the cloud. This allows a single source that can be accessed by any interested and involved company staff member, especially successful marketing pros as they continue to develop strategies to convert and keep. But here are the other things that a really great CRM system can do:
- It can tell the sales force who has been most active on the site and what they have looked at, so that they can be contacted and re-targeted through a variety of methods. This is the kind of thing that personalizes a consumer’s experience and makes that consumer believe that s/he matters to this company.
- If it’s integrated with other marketing software, then you have a complete picture of your targets and how to engage them even further thru emails, social media, etc., especially with special promotions, free trials, discounts and opportunities to engage. Again, this personalizes a consumer’s experience with a business and builds the kind of relationships that support conversions and loyalty.
- It can monitor conversations occurring on your blog, or on social media regarding your or your competitor’s brand or product name.
- It can give customers and potential customers multiple means of communicating without just a call center (Millennials really hate these) – chat, messaging, etc.
No business is too small for a CRM system. There are products out there that serve new companies and expand as those companies do; there are products for medium- and large-sized enterprises. And with fickle consumers, a CRM system will allow you to:
- Know as much as possible about your customers and prospects
- Provide rapid responses to inquiries and issues and document all of these in one place
- Deliver a really personal experience to anyone who is at any point in the conversion process.
- Allow access by everyone to individual customer/lead information as well as aggregate data that can drive marketing decisions
- Allow an enterprise to move away from inefficient spreadsheets which are also impersonal.
- Keep all aspects of the customer lifecycle in one place.
- Ensure that customers and leads do not fall “through the cracks.”
- Promote relationship-building by personalizing customer experiences.
- Can schedule follow-up with leads, “lookers,” and customers
- Can refine email and social media campaigns based upon groupings of customer profiles.
Marketing and CRM have never been more intimately tied than they are in today’s consumer-driven market. To not bring these two functions together means real loss of customers and business growth.
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