Positive relationships with customers and coordinated marketing efforts are essential for any modern business. Regardless of the quality of products or services offered by a company, interactions with customers are always an essential variable in the formula to success. It’s a no-brainer that keeping customers happy will lead to more sales, but many small and midsized businesses struggle to maintain a complex web of customer connections and marketing initiatives across various platforms.
The knowledge that customer interactions are essential to success has driven the customer relationship management (CRM) software forward to incredible growth over the last few years. Recent data shows that investing resources into customer relations is certainly not a waste. In fact, the average return on investment for CRM was $8.71 for every dollar spent, according to a 2014 survey by Nucleus Research. This was a sharp increase from the $5.60 return per dollar seen in 2011.
The bottom line of customer relationship management
CRM is ultimately all about improving workplace efficiency and increasing sales, both from existing customers and potential ones. Managing company profiles and responding to customer feedback on Facebook, Twitter and other social media destinations can become a huge time sink for team members. This is a big problem – especially for smaller businesses that serve a large customer base or are experiencing a period of high growth.
Social media provides businesses with an opportunity to connect directly with individual customers. However, it also allows customers to readily share their experiences and opinions with one another. A single unsatisfied customer can spread their views about a company, discouraging others from purchasing its products or services in the future. Thus, having a combined CRM and marketing automation platform is a must.
Fortunately, software that has a killer combination of marketing automation with CRM solutions is now available on a scale suitable for organizations of any size.
Advantages of combining CRM and marketing automation platform
1. Present a consistent image. Confusing customers is never a good idea, as it can create false expectations or diminish their interest in a product or service. One of the biggest advantages of a combined CRM and marketing platform is the ability to deliver a consistent message across many platforms. An overwhelming majority of consumers expect to see consistent information on different contact channels, according to a Synthetix survey released in 2012. Consistency is particularly important when a company offers sales and other limited offers.
2. Conveniently track and analyze vital information. In the Information Age, marketing and sales efforts increasingly focus on collecting and analyzing as much data as possible. This information can provide deep insights into what draws consumers to a company or product. Centralizing customer service and outreach efforts consolidates data collected from all points of contact, which allows for easier analysis and distribution within the organization. A consolidated platform allows users to access the information they need without wasting time.
3. Improve quality of customer service. For a customer, few things are more frustrating than explaining their problem to a new customer service representative each time they contact a company. Centralized CRM solutions allow each customer’s history to be stored and accessed by many different employees, which improves customer service and reduces the number of conflicting communications with consumers. Developing individual customer profiles also allows for targeted marketing efforts that appeal to their specific needs.
4. Respond to complaints quickly. Turning an unsatisfied customer into a loyal one may simply be a matter of how long it takes the company to respond to the customer’s message. More than one in four people who contact a company or brand on social media to voice a complaint expect a reply in one hour or less after their post, according to statistics released in 2012 by Edison Research. Without a centralized CRM solution, reacting to posts this quickly is impractical to say the least. Software can be set to notify team members of any communication from customers, giving businesses the opportunity to reach out immediately.
5. Integrate contact channels. Another big advantage of combining CRM and marketing automation software is the connection of all points of contact to one platform. These solutions allow the user to access information from emails, social media and other online sources, as well as telephony integration for phone calls and recordings. The platform can also integrate SMS and billing plug-ins, like Stripe or FreshBooks. Software solutions are easy to update, so new capabilities can be added in the future to accommodate new contact channels and technology.
6. Tailor marketing initiatives easily. Combining CRM with marketing automation lets businesses control all of their connections with customers from a single point. A simple drag-and-drop interface allows the user to manage targeted email campaigns, newsletters and other communications. Automation of routine or repetitive tasks also liberates employee time, giving them the opportunity to pursue bigger objectives. Email responses can be set to automatically send at a given time based on actions of the intended recipient.
CRM and marketing software solutions for small and midsized businesses
As the number of channels for customer outreach increases, so does the complexity of CRM and digital marketing. This is part of the reason that modern businesses, even small and midsized ones, are turning to combined software solutions to fill these needs. The global market for CRM software increased by more than 10 percent between the years 2013 and 2014, according to research released by Gartner in 2015.
The rising popularity of these programs is partially due to their adaptive and customizable nature, which allows organizations to tailor them as needed. Some software services are all-in-one solutions that scale as the business grows. They offer smaller businesses and organizations an easy way to handle customer relationship management and marketing automation from a single platform.
Shreyansh Surana is head of marketing at Agile CRM, which offers an all-in-one solution for CRM and marketing automation platforms. He is also a tech blogger who writes primarily about CRM, marketing automation and digital marketing. He has more than eight years of experience in digital marketing.