Below is part 3 of our 6-part series aimed at helping you understand key trends that Small and Midsized Businesses tend to consider investing in as they aim to scale their business. To read part 2 of this series, click here.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
CRM systems and platforms are powerful tools designed to help businesses manage customer interactions and client and prospect interactions. You may ask, what is the difference between a CRM system and a CRM platform? While they have their similarities, we will talk about their differences. CRM systems are standalone applications that offer a very defined set of capabilities. CRM platforms tend to be the more extensive offerings. At its core are a CRM system and an ecosystem of other solutions that can be integrated with, subscribed to, or enabled via the same vendors and technology stack. We may use these terms interchangeably, but the difference is subtle. Chances are, if you’re talking about top-tier CRM vendors, they offer CRM platforms, whereas smaller niche CRM vendors tend to offer CRM systems as an offering.
The capabilities of CRM platforms vary depending on the specific software used, but generally, they include the following:
This allows businesses to store customer information such as name, contact information, and purchase history in a centralized database. The concept of managing your contacts is essential to any CRM platform. Considered the origin of CRM platforms, they evolved to be so much more.
CRM platforms can help sales teams manage their leads, opportunities, and deals by tracking interactions, creating tasks, and setting reminders. The salesforce management aspects of CRM platforms have driven the immense need for businesses to invest in CRM technologies.
Some CRM platforms have built-in marketing automation tools, which enable the creation of targeted campaigns, tracking email responses, and analyzing campaign performance. Marketing Automation has been considered the rocketship pushing innovation and technology to expand beyond the origins of CRM from fifteen years ago. Top-tier CRM platforms such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and Zoho CRM offer Marketing Automation modules and components that enable the platform to deliver a wide range of capabilities. For more sophisticated needs, Marketing Automation platforms outside of the CRM platform can be leveraged and integrated with CRM platforms to tie marketing efforts back to the customer, client, or prospects.
CRM platforms can help businesses manage customer inquiries and complaints, assign tasks to team members, and track customer interactions. Considered to be essential for any modern business to succeed, the service components of a CRM platform can help you deliver the customer experiences that drive customer satisfaction.
Reporting and Analytics
CRM platforms provide businesses with access to data and analytics that can help them track sales performance, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions. Most CRM platforms come with an array of reporting tools. For sophisticated business needs, it is more common to integrate the CRM platform to leverage BI and Analytics Platforms, especially if data lives across several other platforms or databases. In this blog post, we shed some further insight on the key trend that customers are investing in, “Scale your Business – BI & Marketing Analytics.”
Many CRM platforms offer mobile integration, allowing sales teams to access customer information and perform tasks on the go. Today, most CRM systems and all CRM platforms are web-based deployments, with a few that offer on-premise or hybrid deployment technologies. As a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering, these platforms provide an easily accessible user interface (UI) and accessibility. Some vendors provide mobile integration in the sense of having device-specific applications that streamline the user experience that is highly configurable for the user’s interaction with the CRM platform. Some allow you to custom-build bespoke applications tailored for your business that integrate seamlessly with the CRM platform.
For example, let’s say the sales team in your business does a lot of traveling and is required to track their mileage with each client visit; you can create a simple app on their phone that tracks these activities, which tie it back to the CRM platform. This phone app can be as simple as a few fields and one button for submission, which ties back to the sales representative’s leads, opportunities, cases, or contacts within the CRM platform.
Configuration and Customization
CRM platforms can be configured to fit the unique needs of a business, including branding, workflow, and reporting. The industry-leading CRM platforms such as Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365 offer exceptional reconfigurability options. A properly configured CRM platform can deliver tremendous value to any business. Many of these platforms also allow customization by introducing code configuration that further introduces configurations defined by business needs, thereby allowing unique customer-tailored implementations.
CRM platforms are essential tools for businesses looking to manage customer relationships and improve their overall customer experience. If your business doesn’t have a CRM system or platform today and you’re considering what this would entail, read our past blog post, “Best prepare yourself – that CRM go-kart you thought you got is an F1 Racecar!” where we shed some considerations at a high level of what to think through before diving into acquiring a CRM platform.
Marketing automation is a technology that automates repetitive marketing tasks such as email campaigns, social media posts, and other digital marketing activities. It involves using software to streamline and automate marketing processes, such as lead generation, lead nurturing, and customer segmentation. By automating marketing processes, businesses can save time, increase efficiency, and improve the effectiveness of their marketing efforts. Marketing automation technology enables businesses to automate and streamline their marketing processes, increasing efficiency and effectiveness.
Here are some of the key capabilities of marketing automation technology:
Marketing automation technology enables businesses to manage their leads and track their progress through the sales funnel. This includes lead generation, scoring, nurturing, and qualification.
Marketing automation technology provides businesses with tools to create and send targeted email campaigns to their prospects and customers. This includes email templates, personalization, segmentation, and A/B testing.
Marketing automation technology enables businesses to create, manage, and track marketing campaigns across multiple channels, including email, social media, and SMS.
Analytics and Reporting
Marketing automation technology provides businesses with insights into the performance of their marketing campaigns, including open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and ROI. In this blog post, we shed some further insight on the key trend that customers are investing in, “Scale your Business – BI & Marketing Analytics.”
Marketing automation technology enables businesses to create personalized experiences for their prospects and customers by leveraging data and behavior-based triggers.
Social Media Management
Marketing automation technology provides businesses with tools to manage their social media presence, including scheduling posts, monitoring engagement, and tracking performance.
Overall, marketing automation technology enables businesses to engage with their prospects and customers more efficiently and effectively, increasing revenue and customer satisfaction.
CRM and Marketing Automation are often used together to improve customer engagement and drive business growth.
For example, by integrating CRM data with marketing automation tools, businesses can create targeted marketing campaigns based on customer preferences and behavior, which can help increase customer loyalty and drive sales.
As mentioned above, many top-tier CRM platforms offer Marketing Automation as an integrated capability, additional functionality and solutions that can be layered onto the CRM platform, and seamless integration with many other Marketing Automation technologies in the market. Marketing Automation is also a broad spectrum of technologies, some are designed to serve a particular industry, and others are designed with a particular set of capabilities in mind.
How StrataNorth can help.
Are you in need of scaling your business? Do you need help with your business’s CRM and Marketing Automation strategy? Let us help you. If you are ready to evaluate CRM and Marketing Automation technology and are looking for experts to guide you, StrataNorth has Technology consultants with decades of experience. We can help you reach Strategic Growth and deliver a CRM & MarTech Strategy. Reach out for a no-cost, no-obligation chat with an IT Consultant today.