Get More from CRM with Marketing Automation and Social Media
Once upon a time, automated CRM systems were essentially name and address books with some useful scheduling, and paper diaries and fancy pens continued to rule. Clearly, much has changed, and now most businesses couldn’t imagine operating effectively without a CRM system to manage all of their current and prospective client interactions.
At the same time there’s been a huge increase in the number of systems that complement CRM (for instance marketing automation) as well as the arrival of completely new channels (such as social media). Successful relationship management needs to embrace these developments, and this post looks at the bigger picture for a CRM approach that meets the needs and expectations of today’s customers.
Marketing Automation has become increasingly important to the business world and is largely about automating repetitive tasks, managing and measuring marketing activities and workflows, and obtaining qualified leads to feed to the CRM system.
There are many flavors of marketing automation. Some systems have an embedded approach, others are integrated; some tackle basic marketing tasks and others span the entire marketing process. As a result, marketing automation solutions vary widely in price and functionality, and increasingly their functionality overlaps with other systems, including CRM.
No matter which marketing automation solution is selected, however, it’s important to have a closed loop with CRM so that relevant data is available to both systems and client actions can be related back to the marketing activities that initiated them. Where there are already links between the CRM and marketing automation systems this is relatively straightforward, however if there are no links it may be necessary to engage an integration specialist to ensure synchronization.
Email automation is hugely popular, and companies consistently rank it as one of their most important marketing tools. It may be provided as part of a marketing automation product, or be a simple tool that focuses primarily on automatically generating, sending, and tracking email campaigns. It may even be managed fully from within the CRM system.
Whatever the email automation approach, again it’s critical to ensure consistency with information in the CRM system. Client details coming from email campaigns – such as unsubscribes or information requests – need to get to the CRM system along with details about which campaign was involved. The type of email automation tool being used will affect how easy it is to move data between the systems and keep it synchronized.
Social Media Marketing
The meteoric rise of social media has presented some great business opportunities as well as distinct challenges. With so many platforms available, companies need to think hard about which ones are the most appropriate for their business to focus on.
Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook are widely used by businesses, and there’s also Google+, YouTube, Pintrest, Yelp, Foursquare and more. These platforms provide a channel for reaching clients, whether it’s to strengthen brand, attract new and repeat business, acquire market knowledge, or simply connect with clients.
Although companies don’t have to be represented on every social platform they cannot afford to ignore them completely, and there are lots of ways to automate this area. Many social media postings are generated from marketing automation or email automation, or even from the CRM system (sometimes referred to as social CRM). There are also many independent apps to help manage and schedule social media activities.
Once again, it’s important to make sure that links are in place to accommodate data movement between the relevant systems. Any interaction on a social media site (for instance, that Joe Bloggs, looked at your new car ad 5 times in the last 10 minutes) needs to be analyzed to elicit an appropriate response (Hey Joe, you seem to like the look of our new car. I see you have the previous model, want to chat about some exciting upgrade offers?), and then take any number of actions depending on Joe’s response.
It’s clear from this example that compelling, targeted interactions need to share a diverse range of client information. Once again, the need for transparent data integration across several different systems is evident, and although it can take real effort to achieve a smooth data flow, the benefits can be huge.
The need for CRM to exchange data with other systems, such as ERP, has been appreciated for some time, but now there is a whole lot more to wrap around the CRM environment and it can be tricky to figure out which tool or set of tools will provide the best business results.
Following these guidelines can help:
- Invest in a good marketing automation system, or at least a solid email automation tool
- Make sure that information loops are closed; this lets you quantify the success of marketing campaigns and also helps provide to a 360° client view in the CRM system
- Decide on the most appropriate social media platforms for your business and make sure they are integrated as needed into other systems in your company
- Try to minimize the number of different automation tools being used without compromising business objectives; fewer systems mean less training, less maintenance and less external development
- Identify gaps in work flow and bridge these gaps with integration to ensure that business processes aren’t hampered by a lack of information
- Retain a clear view of your business objectives and how data flows tie into these: you shouldn’t have to warp the way you work to fit in with rigid automation solutions
A CRM system supported by tightly integrated marketing automation and social media will take time and thoughtful implementation to get right, but is well worth the effort. It will provide the tools for a market leading customer strategy, position the company to quickly leverage new channels, and deliver tremendous returns on the CRM investment.
InaPlex Inc. provides the digital glue to connect CRM with other systems for a complete customer management experience. Please visit www.inaplex.com to learn about our CRM integration and migration solutions.