It’s no secret that strong customer relationships are essential to business success. CRMs, or Customer Relationship Management systems, can be a helpful way to improve these relationships and stay organized, especially when running an e-commerce company. E-comms always have a diverse audience – sometimes they’re talking with the person in charge of purchasing, other times they’re talking to a middle-man, people are always at different points in the sales funnel, etc. It can get confusing to keep it all straight, which is where CRM systems can come into play.
CRM is one approach to managing a company's interactions with not only current customers, but also future or prospective customers. It involves using a technology-based platform to organize, automate, and synchronize sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support, so it’s basically a one-stop shop for your customer support.
You’ll find when making a decision that there are a few really great CRM platforms out there, so the sooner you can understand the benefits and how they work, the better.
A Little Bit of Background: Finding Success with the Help of CRM Software
Content marketing organizations that seem to be climbing in popularity and authority are not just depending on shares, traffic, inbound links or social media platforms (you could be waiting a long time for those things to really take off). A key attribute of successful organization is the recognition of their sales team as an important force (a sales force, if you will) that can extend the reach, life and overall effectiveness of content and customer relationships.
As you are probably aware as an e-commerce company, content is key, so this is especially important to keep on top of if you want to continue to grow.
Customer Relationship Management tools have always worked in favor of salespeople. They allow your team to track, measure and monitor every aspect of the sales cycle while keeping a close eye on the relationships that are developed throughout the process.
Most marketing departments need to gather a variety of information from the web and deliver that to sales. They need to monitor and track where that marketing data comes from so sales can use that data to make smart sales decisions and keep track of that for each customer. CRM tools help with this effort while simultaneously making sure you are improving you ecommerce content marketing in the best ways possible.
So what is the link between content marketing and CRM? Sales professionals who are well-trained can take an asset like an e-book, whitepaper, webinar or an infographic (really any type of content) and use it as an intro for a one-on-one conversation with leads and their customer base.
A good sales team has so much available to them with access to a CRM, and they can make notes here about what worked and what didn’t for specific clients. Just like treating each social media platform as a channel to engage, you need to treat your CRM as another channel for engagement in regard to your content marketing.
Tips to Getting Started with a CRM System
When it comes to CRM systems, you usually have several different dashboards that you can work with, but all usually fall into two categories – Sales and Marketing and Customer Service. Below explains (in a very basic sense) how these two categories can work for you:
Take care in organizing your online libraries and customer information.
Some of us have the organization bug, others of us don’t. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, don’t immediately start putting all of your customer relationship notes (contact information, purchase history, questions and past interactions, etc.) into a generic folder titled “content” or “customers.”
Make sure you create labels and organize content in a logical way that will be easy for any member of your sales team to search. This is one of the major benefits to having a CRM system in the first place. The screenshot below comes from Salesforce and shows how CRM systems allow you to stay organized if you take advantage of their features:
Note: Organizing data can be overwhelming if you have no experience with it on any other platforms. You can learn more about organizing information using Excel spreadsheets here, and once you have a good feel for what data you want tracked you can move to a CRM system to get even more advanced.
Create promotional email templates and use segmentation features.
It is best to have a promotional strategy and really craft emails to your contacts in advance. You should be doing the same thing for your sales team. Write email templates for the sales team for every major content piece you push to CRM and include it among the assets in your folder. The cool thing about CRM systems is that they allow you to not only manage relationship notes and contact information, but you can segment your audiences easier so that you’re always serving the most relevant content possible.
Content Marketing in the CRM: The Benefits
Below explains some of the benefits and ways marketing and sales departments can work together better using a CRM system. The major way this can happen is by integrating the marketing and sales departments and their processes into a single CRM platform and then using that information in several different ways:
- Quicker Data Transfer. If e-commerce content marketers integrate their marketing data collection and various monitoring processes with sales CRM, they are better equipped to deliver necessary data to their sales department in a quick and efficient way. For an e-commerce company, the ability to get this information quickly is a major benefit. Oftentimes marketing comes up with conclusions that can help the sales team better serve customers, so the easier it is to transport that information the better.
- Better Reporting Integration. The data that marketers receive from PPC campaigns, social media, blog posts, whitepapers, and everything in between can now be integrated directly into the reports tools built into your sales CRM.
- Deeper Audience Insights. The variety of reports available when using a CRM show sales staff and executives how users read content, how they came to the site, what actions they took after viewing your content, the next actions to take to move prospects further down the sales funnel and more. This works similarly to Google Analytics, except it’s all in one place that can be sliced and diced by different departments all in one system.
- Direct Impact Analysis. You can better understand the direct impact your content marketing strategy has to a sale. This should help marketing departments in the future know where they need work and what strategies are no longer worth it.
- Purchase History Tracking. You can track the purchase history of a customer with a CRM system. This will allow you to better craft your pitches based on what (content, products and services, etc.) specific people engage with most. New lead data points can also demonstrate what content they read, how they got to your website, their activity on your website, and their engagement with your company socially.
- Overall Organization. As discussed above, you can now see not only how many times a prospect has been on your website or what search terms drove them there, but also the phone conversations or face-to-face meetings with sales people. As an e-commerce company, you are now able to see the full scale of activity with a prospect or customer.
Of course, how you want to use a CRM system is completely up to you and the needs of your company. You can visit here to check out some of the top CRM systems available for e-comms, and then I recommend giving a few of them a free trial to see what works best for you. Once you make your decision, you can start getting more and more advanced as your company continues to grow.
Without a CRM, it’s possible that your sales team may not be fully engaged with marketing initiatives, and it’s easy to get disorganized when it comes to customer relationships. The more data points and in-depth understanding that you have on your prospects and customers, the more compelling content strategies can be put in place.
Do you have experience with CRMs as an e-commerce company? Do you have any additional benefits or tips that I didn’t cover in this article? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comment section below.