CRM: What, Why and How?

I know what you’re thinking. Why are they banging on about CRM again? It doesn’t really seem worth the hassle to get. Let me tell you, you could not be more wrong. Let’s investigate: what really is CRM, why should you use it and how can it be helpful? The simple answers?  

What: Customer Relationship Management system.  

Why: it will help you automate and streamline every aspect of your business.  

And how: define, analyse and consider your needs.  

Maybe that was too brief, let me expand. 

What is CRM? 

CRM systems will help you marry up your marketing automation software with your CRM, meaning that information is shared between the two locations. Your marketing leads are automatically copied between the two, and all associated information is too. Your lead nurturing will experience a wondrous improvement when you know exactly what you’ve already said to a contact, and how they’ve responded. Giving you the edge in sending out the right content next.  

Plus, half the fun of marketing is knowing you’ve influenced someone else’s decision. Reporting is where every marketer’s heart lies. Well… that may not be entirely true, but it is something every marketer must do. From within CRM, measure the value your marketing programs bring. See what worked and what didn’t and amend accordingly.  

Why you need CRM

Two words. Process integration. Essentially it refers to how two systems interact together, and how each system will influence the other (with its permission of course). When your CRM is integrated, it allows actions to be synchronised across the platforms. For example, when certain criteria are met, your CRM itself could send orders to your marketing automation system to trigger a campaign to send. Need another example? Imagine a lead has downloaded a resource, they’re engaged with your brand and they’re based in Surrey. That’s all your marketing software needs to know who to assign the lead to, which is sent back to CRM, triggering an email alert to the assignee to notify them of the leads actions. Ensure every lead is followed up in adequate time.  

And are your needs pretty complex? Mould your CRM with customisable dashboards and reports to match the level of complexity your business needs. Customise every aspect of your CRM until it fits your company like a glove.  

How to identify the right CRM?  

We’ve put together a three-step process to identifying the best CRM for you.  

Step 1: Define your needs. How do you use marketing automation? Is it just for emails, or do social media and lead generation play a part too? Work out what you will need to get out of your CRM. One size does not fit all, so be sure to adapt the CRM to your needs.  

Step 2: Analyse the vendors. Compare the Giants scrambling to serve you. Every CRM system will bring its own quirks and pitfalls. Ask each company how their software can help you achieve your end goal and know the differences between what each can provide.  

Step 3: Make some trade-offs. You may not find the perfect match, it’s a big ask, and each company will prioritise one thing over another. But, you just have to find the one which works best for you. Think of it as a positive. You’ll know exactly what you’re giving up from each alternative. Identify the system that doesn’t ignore something critical. Make sure it meets all your basic needs, and work around the other issues as you come to them, they’re only minor after all.  

Choosing the right CRM can take time. It’s a commitment, and as such you want it to be perfect. If you need a bit of extra help, download our checklist of CRM criteria in the form of the Marketers guide to CRM integration 

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